So, obviously it's only one week. Perhaps we'll just have to enjoy this while we can. Still, after years of being at the bottom of the league in terms of passing defense, it's phenomenal to look on NFL.com and see "New England Patriots" on the Team Stats page under Passing Yards Per Game.
So, you're probably still saying. Ok, but who cares? It's only one week, and it was against a rookie quarterback.
Hold it right there, this feat is absolutely something the Patriots defense should be proud of. It's been a very long time since they've been able to put together such a performance in the first game of the year.
In last year's opener the Pats allowed 272 yards combined to Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck.
The year before? They gave up 416 yards to Chad Henne. Yes, Chad Henne.
The year before that? 345 yards to Carson Palmer.
In those seasons, the Patriots defense has been 29th, 31st and 30th respectively in passing yards allowed per game.
The last time the Patriots had a decent opening day in terms of passing yards was 2009, allowing just 212 yards to Trent Edwards and the Bills. That year they ranked 12th in the league in passing, the last time they haven't been at the bottom of the barrel.
Does this mean the Pats have finally turned a corner because they only gave up 150 yards to rookie E.J. Manuel? Obviously not, but it means they are taking a step in the right direction. There were still problems, such as the susceptibilty to the deep ball. However, Manuel was not able to dink and dunk up and down the field at all. That's a huge credit to the Patriots defense.
Saying that Manuel was a rookie in his first start shouldn't be an excuse either. Chad Henne put up 416 yards on this pass defense before. Dan Orlovsky had 353 yards against this team once for gods sake.
If we'e learned anything these past few years, it should be not to take days like today for granted.
The Patriots defense is the fifth best passing defense in the league today. It likely won't last, but it's a much better starting point than we're used to. I'll take that.