The last time we saw the Patriots defense, it was getting steamrolled by the Bills offense in a postseason game that ended without the Bills punting or turning the ball over on their way to a 47-17 victory.
Given the lopsided nature of that loss, it’s not a surprise that the Patriots defense is going to look a lot different in 2022. Players like J.C. Jackson, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Kyle Van Noy have moved on to other teams or remain unsigned at this point in the offseason.
The last three of those players are linebackers and a number of the players who are left have no track record with the Pats. Cam McGrone, Ronnie Perkins, and Raekwon McMillian have never played a regular season snap for the team, Anfernee Jennings missed all of last season, and Mack Wilson was acquired in a trade with the Browns. That makes it hard to know how things will come together, but inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is embracing the uncertainty of the situation.
“That is the exciting part — the unknown,” Mayo said, via NESN.com. “And we’re going to go into it as a unit, we’re gonna go into it together. And, I would say, even right now, not having some of those older guys in the room is beneficial for the younger guys because older guys would be bored out of their minds with some of the things we’re talking about. At the same time, it’s forcing young guys to really take that step forward, and really grow and develop without being hindered by any other guy’s experience.”
Mayo has found his name on search lists for head coaching jobs and finding the right mix of players to make the Patriots defense a successful one should ensure that’s the case again in 2023.