New England Patriots

Nov 28, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) reacts after intercepting a pass in the Tennessee Titans end zone in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 Patriots improved by three wins and made it back to the playoffs. But despite their numerous roster improvements, they actually took a step back in terms of First Team All-Pro selections.

Granted, the Pats’ First Team All-Pros in 2020 were punter Jake Bailey and punt returner Gunner Olszewski. But after a down year overall for the Patriots’ punting units, neither of them garnered All-Pro votes in 2021. Two Patriots, however, earned enough votes to be named to the second team.

Cornerback J.C. Jackson received the third-most All-Pro votes (25) from the Associated Press at cornerback, based on the official results. Jackson is a second team selection at his position, along with the Falcons’ A.J. Terrell (8 votes). The first-teamers at corner are the Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs (33 votes) and the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey (32 votes).

For Jackson, it’s his first career AP All-Pro selection on either team. The 26-year-old followed up a nine-interception 2020 season with eight more picks, and also led the NFL with 23 total passes defended while starting in all 17 games.

Jackson is set to earn a lot of money in the 2022 offseason. He’s on track to become an unrestricted free agent, and would be one of the most expensive at any position. The Patriots could also decide to franchise tag him, likely for north of $15 million.

  • Still Special

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 18: Team Owner of the New England PatriotsRobert Kraft talks with Matthew Slater #18 of the New England Patriots prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 18: Team Owner of the New England PatriotsRobert Kraft talks with Matthew Slater #18 of the New England Patriots prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Special teams captain Matthew Slater is the Patriots’ other second team All-Pro in 2021. The Saints’ J.T. Gray received the most votes at “special teamer” with 18. Slater finished second with 10.

    Sneaky-good stat for the Patriots’ special teams units: they allowed the second-fewest punt returns with 16, behind only the Rams’ nine, and just ahead of the Bills and Chiefs. The punt blocking wasn’t as sharp as Patriots fans are used to seeing, but when they get punts off, they’re still one of the best coverage teams in the league. Slater is a massive part of that.

  • Who Else Got Votes?

    Oct 31, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) and safety Adrian Phillips (21) celebrate after the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Chargers 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 31, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) and safety Adrian Phillips (21) celebrate after the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Chargers 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Six other Patriots received at least one All-Pro vote for 2021. Here’s the full list, in order of vote total:

    CB J.C. Jackson: 25
    ST Matthew Slater: 10
    LB Matthew Judon: 3
    LS Joe Cardona: 3
    S Adrian Phillips: 2
    G Shaq Mason: 1
    K Nick Folk: 1

    Judon’s vote count likely would’ve been higher if he kept pace with the first half of the season, but his production took a nosedive in the second half. Judon posted nine sacks and 16 QB hits in his first nine games, but only 3.5 sacks and nine QB hits in his last eight. He had zero sacks or hits over the Pats’ final four games.

    Phillips and Mason got recognized for quietly having excellent seasons in their own right. Folk, meanwhile, grabbed a vote after converting field goals at the second-best rate of his career (92.3 percent).

  • Full All-Pro Rosters

    FOXBOROUGH, MA – NOVEMBER 04: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Here are the full AP All-Pro rosters, pulled directly from the AP website.

    First Team

    Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

    Running Back: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis

    Tight End: Mark Andrews, Baltimore

    Wide Receivers: Davante Adams, Green Bay; Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams; Deebo Samuel, San Francisco

    Left Tackle: Trent Williams, San Francisco

    Right Tackle: Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay

    Left Guard: Joel Bitonio, Cleveland

    Right Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas

    Center: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia

    Edge Rushers: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh; Myles Garrett, Cleveland

    Interior Linemen: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh

    Linebackers: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis; Micah Parsons, Dallas; De’Vondre Campbell, Green Bay

    Cornerbacks: Trevon Diggs, Dallas; Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams

    Safeties: Kevin Byard, Tennessee; Jordan Poyer, Buffalo

    Placekicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore

    Punter: A.J. Cole, Las Vegas

    Kick Returner: Braxton Berrios, New York Jets

    Punt Returner: Devin Duvernay, Baltimore

    Special Teamer: J. T. Gray, New Orleans

    Long Snapper: Luke Rhodes, Indianapolis

    Second Team

    Quarterback: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay

    Running Back: VACANT (Taylor: unanimous selection)

    Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City

    Wide Receivers: Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati; Justin Jefferson, Minnesota

    Left Tackle: Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

    Right Tackle: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia

    Left Guard: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis

    Right Guard: Wyatt Teller, Cleveland

    Center: Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers

    Edge Rushers: Robert Quinn, Chicago; Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas

    Interior Linemen: Chris Jones, Kansas City; Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee

    Linebackers: Demario Davis, New Orleans; Roquan Smith, Chicago; Bobby Wagner, Seattle

    Cornerbacks: J.C. Jackson, New England; A.J. Terrell, Atlanta

    Safeties: Justin Simmons, Denver, Micah Hyde, Buffalo and Budda Baker, Arizona (tie)

    Placekicker: Daniel Carlson, Las Vegas

    Punter: Bryan Anger, Dallas

    Kick Returner: Andre Roberts, Los Angeles Chargers

    Punt Returner: Jakeem Grant, Chicago

    Special Teamer: Matthew Slater, New England, and Ashton Dulin, Indianapolis.

    Long Snapper: Josh Harris, Atlanta

  • Sports Hub Underground Podcast

    I host a podcast every week with Ty Anderson called the Sports Hub Underground. We didn’t talk any football on this week’s episode, but there’s plenty of hockey. Have a listen above if you’re interested. You can subscribe here.