It’s time for Part 2 of the Patriots mid-season report card for 2021, focusing on defense and special teams. If you missed Monday’s grades for the offensive side of the ball, those can be found by clicking here.
As a whole, the Patriots’ defense has been excellent in 2021. They’ve allowed the fourth-fewest points per game in the league through nine games. Their 16 forced turnovers also ranks fourth in the NFL. That defensive dominance has shown up at all three levels, from returning players to new additions, veterans to rookies.
On special teams, the Patriots are once again one of the best teams in the league. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, with just about every player returning from last year’s excellent unit.
Before we get to the grades, just a few notes – first off, all positions are graded against expectations. Basically, it’s not just how well or how poorly the players at the position are performing, but how that level of performance compares to what was expected at the start of the season. Secondly, the grades are weighted with a recency bias. Football is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ game, and these grades reflect that.
Now, onto the grades…