Originally Posted by Hervoyel
You know, I'd take that one step further and say that neither points or yards completely tells the tale on the Pats season defensively. The Patriots entire approach to the season is different from a lot of teams. It's almost like the first quarter of the regular season is still their preseason. They're making adjustments, making changes, lose a game nobody worries. They've got guys playing who sit for most other teams as a matter of procedure. In New England those guys are getting reps. Middle eight games New England starts to come together and seems to focus on making sure they're in the postseason. They jump all over their division opponents (who are by and large pretty bad) and win their division. Last 4 games it goes into overdrive. I'd almost say that the Patriots start playing playoff football 4 weeks before the regular season ends. By the time they get to the postseason they're focused on destroying their 2 playoff opponents and getting to the Super Bowl.
Now that may seem off topic but my point is that they're seeing these statistics that we all hang our collective hats on in an entirely different way than the Houston Texans do. Where they finish doesn't seem all that important to Belechick as long as by the end of the year when it matters they're holding people down and taking their lunch money. It's really a thing of beauty to look at. Start out looking like you've lost a step, finish up looking like your defense found the fountain of youth. It's impressive and very smart. Getting out to an early start is nice but the season is a marathon not a sprint.
You are correct BB like to tell his team the season begins at Thanksgiving.
This year was very unique, if you look at the core of the Pats D it is very young, almost all of the players are from the 2009-2012 drafts.
This year we have a number of rookies playing starting roles/big minutes this year.
The other thing that happened is that the Secondary was transformed over the course of the season after getting shredded early. People were aware of the Talib addition, but that triggered a domino effect, the most important was McCourty taking over the FS role from Chung who is good against the run but a horrible against the pas as a safety. The other was Dennard emerging as a good press corner, (he slipped from the first to seventh round for punching a cop) this allowed Arrington who isn't good on the outside to move to a slot CB in the nickle where he plays quite well. These changes have transformed the secondary.
You are also correct that the NFL season isn't a sprint, actually I like to think of it as a war of attrition. I read a few years ago that the Pats had more guys making a million+ than any other team in the league IOW they have a large middle class of role players who can fill in when a starter gets injured.
Of course having the guy who (IMO) will be regarded as the GOAT at QB doesn't hurt. I am enjoying it while it lasts I have been following this team for 50 years and will never have it this good again.