On Tuesday, we began our biannual Patriots report card series with a look at the Patriots’ offensive performance through the bye week. If you missed those grades, you can check them out here.
Now, it’s time to focus on the defense. Coming into the bye week the Patriots’ defense is allowing 23.8 points per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL.
That ranking has come among a turbulent year for the defensive unit. Despite starting the season against the Eagles and Dolphins – the current third- and first-ranked offenses in the league – the defense allowed 19.7 points per game in the month of September – and ranked ninth in the league at that point.
That’s before injuries started taking their toll. Highlighted by the losses of pass rusher Matthew Judon and cornerback Christian Gonzalez, the defense was forced to dive deep into the depth chart in October. During that month, the defense allowed 29.8 points per game. The group has seemed to settle in a bit in recent weeks – albeit against lesser offenses – allowing 20 points against the Commanders before holding the Colts to 10 points last week.
What’s led to that up-and-down season? Let’s take a look. As a reminder, grades are compared to initial expectations and put more weight on more recent games. Grades take into account not just player performance, but how the coaching staff has managed each position.