A lack of identity at tight end isn’t the greatest area of concern for the New England Patriots as they embark on their latest Super Bowl title defense.
That’s what ESPN believes, at least.
With the help of the folks at Pro Football Focus, ESPN ranked the rosters across the NFL as the 2019 campaign nears. The Patriots earned the top spot thanks in large part to the maintained high play of quarterback Tom Brady. ESPN believes New England’s greatest shortcoming will come on the opposite side of the ball.
“The Patriots have long lacked a true pass-rushing threat along the edge. Coupled with the loss of Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn this offseason, this unit once again sticks out.” ESPN writes. “Outside of Flowers and Clayborn, no Patriots edge defender had more than 30 QB pressures a season ago, as the returning unit brings back only nine sacks, 12 QB hits and 42 QB hurries on a combined 697 pass rushes.”
New England did take steps this offseason in bolstering its pass rush, albeit not all on the edge. The Patriots swung a trade for veteran defensive lineman Michael Bennett, brought back versatile linebacker Jamie Collins and used a third-round draft pick on Michigan product Chase Winovich. Replacing Flowers’ production will be a tough task for New England, but it just might be able to do so by committee.
And with Bill Belichick reportedly calling the shots on defense in the upcoming season, there’s probably no need to worry in Foxboro.