Bill Belichick, long known as a defense wizard, trotted out a bend-but-don't-break D that ranked near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories in 2011.
However, that defense was still good enough to send the Patriots to a Super Bowl, and a couple of new faces in the mix this year could have the Pats in position to return.
By adding a couple of high draft picks and some veterans into the defensive pool, New England could be looking a lot different on defense this time around.
Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones, the Patriots' two first-round picks in this year's draft, will be expected to contribute right away from their linebacker and defensive end positions, respectively. On the flip side of the newcomer spectrum, veteran Steve Gregory is expected to come in at safety and stabilize a defensive backfield that struggled throughout last year, while lineman Trevor Scott will be counted on to fill the void left in the trenches by the departures of Mark Anderson and Andre Carter.
The Patriots offense is still expected to be the same high-octane unit it was last season. Will one of the defense's newest members help the Pats D join the league's elite ranks as well?