Sunday 7: Patriots defense not getting as much love as it should heading into 2021


1. When it comes to the Patriots, the quarterbacks — Cam Newton and Mac Jones — have received the majority of the headlines this offseason and now it’s been Stephon Gilmore’s contract situation. While those are two of the biggest storylines surrounding the team, what hasn’t been discussed as much as it should is the potential for the defense. With the additions it made in free agency to go along with some younger players having more experience, it’s not out of the question to believe the unit has the potential to be a top-five defense. While it may not be the No. 1 defense it was in 2019, getting Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy back to go along with adding Matthew Judon, Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson, Jalen Mills and Christian Barmore, etc. will improve it a great deal from a year ago. It is also worth noting Josh Uche, Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings and Kyle Dugger all have another year of experience and all seem primed to make big jumps this coming season. New England’s offense has received the bulk of the headlines this offseason and even into the spring, but when it comes to the regular season it should be the defense being the unit to lead the way.

2. All of this is with Gilmore as one of the starting cornerbacks, which even though he has publicly shown displeasure for his contract, it still feels like the matter will be worked out in time for training camp. The Patriots and Bill Belichick have to recognize how important he is to the defense and at least give him a boost in salary for the 2021 season. It’s understandable why they wouldn’t want to commit to a long-term extension, but with upwards of $15 million in cap space, giving some of that extra money to Gilmore feels like the direction things are headed.

3. The Patriots have a new member of the coaching staff, as Richmond cornerbacks coach Ross Douglas has joined the organization as a quality control coach. Douglas played at Michigan and Rutgers, and then served on Greg Schiano’s coaching staff in 2020 at Rutgers. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise for the Patriots given Belichick’s connection with Schiano, as it’s almost a guarantee that is how he got the job. Keep an eye on him for a future bigger role with the staff, as Belichick prefers to promote from within.

4. We still don’t know the entirety of the coaching staff or official titles, as that will come once the media guide is put out typically as training camp nears. Matt Patricia will be one of the names looked to first, as his official title with the organization is not yet known.

5. Tom Brady will be in the news on Tuesday, as he and Phil Mickelson will take on Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau in “The Match 4.” It will air at 5 p.m. on both TBS and TNT as it is a Turner Sports production. Players will be mic’d up and in Brady and Rodgers’ case, they could reveal some interesting nuggets when it comes to their respective situations in the NFL in a more laid-back setting.

6. It was pointed out by many this week, but it really is amazing to believe the NFL had nothing in terms of a report on the findings of the independent investigation into the culture of the Washington Football Team, but yet had 243 pages when it came to the Deflategate investigation. This certainly is not a good look for the league and commissioner Roger Goodell.

7. Training camp dates were announced last week for the Patriots, which will be open to fans. The first four days will be July 28-July 31. It’s great news that these sessions, and the rest of training camp, will be open to fans. The first day is always a popular day to go, but it may be worth waiting a few days until the team is able to practice in full pads.

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