How Bill Belichick Built The Defence That Beat Peyton Manning Out Of Thin Air

The New England Patriots’ defence hasn’t been great this year.

They came into Week 9 ranked 22nd in defensive DVOA. They have been below average against the pass (20th) and even worse against the run (28th).

But they were fantastic in Sunday’s 43-21 win blowout over the Denver Broncos.

Playing without their best pass rusher (Chandler Jones) and linebacker (Jerod Mayo, who’s out for the year), the Patriots held Peyton Manning to season lows in completion percentage and QB rate and forced two interceptions. Denver only gained 43 rushing yards on 17 attempts. It was a rough performance for an offence that destroyed everyone in October.

The Patriots’ defence is still very much a work in progress, but it’s trending in the right direction. Considering the incredible number of players who didn’t meaningfully contribute to New England last year, it’s promising that the defence appears to be coming together.

Bill Belichick has cobbled together an assortment of veterans, cheap trade pieces, and late-round draft picks and made a defence out of it.

Of the 13 Patriots defensive players who played more than 30% of the team’s snaps on Sunday, six weren’t there last year:

Alan Branch, who was signed before Week 9 also played 12 snaps.

Belichick has made a career out of moves like these. It’s not like he signed a bunch of free agents who people thought were prized commodities. Even Revis was cut because the Bucs couldn’t find a trade partner.

With the way Tom Brady is playing, the defence just has to be average for the Patriots to win.

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