It has been an odd year so far for the Patriots and their fans. We have grown accustomed to watching a high-flying offense paired with a lackluster defense, but this year, the script has flipped. It has been the defense carrying the team to victory. And key players on the offense are taking notice.
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Speaking with Mike Felger on Patriots Postgame Live, Logan Mankins spoke to the outstanding performance of the defense and the positive effects it has had on the struggling offense.
I was talking to my buddy Matt Light the other day and I was like, 'This is awesome. We're not even putting up very many points and we're still winning just because our defense is kicking butt out there.' Nothing is more encouraging for our offense when you know your defense is going out there and they're going to stop them. If they get it down in the red zone, we have total confidence that they're going to hold them to three. it's just an unbelievable feeling right now as an offensive player to know your defense is playing that well.
In years past, it has been the offense that consistently bailed out a defense that struggled immensely to keep teams out of the end zone. Brady and the dynamic, league-leading offense were almost always able to win the shootout. When the team sputtered, however, was when they encountered elite defenses (Giants, Ravens, Jets) that were able to stagnate the offense. What resulted were slow-paced, low-scoring games where the team that played the best defensively won. And the Patriots did not come out on top in those instances.
Now, the defense is being relied upon to win games, forcing that unit to improve immediately. That sense of urgency and pressure has not been there in the past. And as Mankins alludes to, it takes a ton of pressure off of the offense, which has had the burden of carrying the team to victory game in and game out for years.
While the defense has played phenomenal, they have not faced a team with an offense nearly as talented and explosive as the Atlanta Falcons, who they will square off with Sunday night on the Falcons home turf. This will undoubtedly be the toughest test the team has faced in the 2013 season. It will shed some light on just how good the defense is and if they are capable of defending top tier players like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White.
Hopefully, the butt-kicking continues.