FOXBORO, Mass. — Bring on the Miami Dolphins — Tom Brady already has faced one of the NFL’s premier defenses.
The New England Patriots quarterback raved about his team’s defense and how well they’ve prepared the offense for the 2014 season. On paper, the Patriots look primed to have their best defense since 2007.
“They’ve got a great style,” Brady said Wednesday about his defense. “They’re a very fundamentally sound defense. We work on the fundamentals all the time. It’s just tough to go up against them. They do a lot of things very well — very good secondary that’s tough, aggressive, jump a lot of routes.
“Our defense is tough to go against. Our linebackers all have experience, (defensive) line is experienced. It’s been great work for us as an offense to go up against a really well-rounded group because that’s what we’re going to face here this week — a very well-rounded group that’s good on all levels of the defense.”
The Dolphins, the Patriots’ Week 1 opponents, also have a great defense, but they don’t have a cornerback like Darrelle Revis, who has helped to refine New England’s offense over the past five week.
“It’s great, just having him on the team,” Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson said. “He’s obviously a great defensive player. Seeing him every day is just making me better and helping me perfect my craft. He’s an older vet, so I can go to him, ask him questions about things I can do in my routes.”
“I mean, he’s a great player,” Patriots slot receiver Danny Amendola added. “He’s played at a high level for a very long time, and he’s played for some quality ballclubs. We’re excited to have him, and we get good work in every day. He’s a professional, and it’s good to work against him.”
This is just Amendola’s second year with the Patriots, but he already has noticed a dramatic improvement on defense. Not only have they acquired top-tier talent such as Revis and Brandon Browner, but young players like Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower have shown improvements since entering the NFL.
“They’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve got here,” Amendola said. “They continue to get better every day. We get each other better. They’re a great group of DBs, and we work hard together. It’s good work.”
Part of the defense’s strength as a unit is in its versatility. The Patriots can run a 3-4, 4-3 or modified nickel alignment with the same personnel. Head coach Bill Belichick prefers to stay away from specialized players who only excel in one facet of the game, whether it’s against the pass or run, and that helps if they get stuck going against a hurry-up offense.
The Patriots will find out just how good their defense can be in Sunday’s season opener. Even then, their best days might be four weeks ahead when Browner returns from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.