The New England Patriots’ defense has its sights set sky high for 2021.
“I know one of our goals defensively like it always is is to be top five,” Van Noy said Wednesday on a video conference call. “That’s always the goal, and we have the pieces, so why not?”
Van Noy joined a Patriots free-agent class highlighted by linebacker Matt Judon and defensive back Jalen Mills among others. New England also will be getting back linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who opted out for the 2020 season.
“I’m excited,” Van Noy said about playing with Hightower. “That’s my brother. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve played a lot of games together. It’s nice when you … can just use hand gestures or look at each other to know what each other’s thinking. I’m excited to get back to work with him.
“I think his impact is bigger than people think just because he’s such a force when he steps on the field. Everybody’s like, ‘That’s Dont’a Hightower.’ Hopefully, when we both step on that field again people will say the same thing about both of us. I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited to see him every day and I know how excited he gets to see me every morning, baby. No, but it’s going to be good. He’s going to be good, I think.”
The Patriots ranked 15th in total defense and seventh in points allowed in 2020. They were 26th in total DVOA, a Football Outsiders metric, 18th in pass defense DVOA and dead last in run defense DVOA. Those numbers should improve across the board in 2021 despite losing defensive tackle Adam Butler in free agency. They also lost safety Patrick Chung, who opted out in 2020, to retirement. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy remains a free agent.