The Patriots defense took a lot of flak this past season, as the unit struggled to contain offenses week after week. Though the intensity picked up during the playoffs, allowing for a run at the Super Bowl, the regular season did not go well for the Patriots defense.
Serving as a barometer for the Patriot's overall performance, free safeties Patrick Chung and Sterling Moore slipped on to the Bleacher Report's list of the 32 top free safeties in the game last season. Chung came in 24th, while Moore was the last man on the list, ranked 32.
Chung's potential gives promise to Patriots fans as their aging defense only gets one year older, but he will need to become a more consistent playmaker in order to to make a greater impact.
Though Moore was the last player to make the list, he played a major role for the Patriots. Playing every game at safety, after being cut by the Raiders and then the Patriots in late 2011, Moore made a huge play to knock the ball loose from the grasp of Lee Evans in the AFC Championship game.
In the most recent installment of the Bleacher Report's NFL 1,000 list, a ranking of the top 1,000 players in football, Eric Weddle and Ed Reed were ranked as the two top free safeties.
The young safeties Jairus Byrd of Buffalo (No. 3) and Seattle's Earl Thomas (No. 4) have already made a name for themselves and also sit near the top of the list of the top 32 free safeties.
Kenny Phillips (No. 6) of the New York Giants and the 49er's Dashon Goldson (No. 7) represent their teams' great defensive efforts druing the 2011 season.