What ESPN Believes Has Been Patriots’ Biggest Surprise Thus Far

Pats fans probably shouldn't be worried about this issue

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An expected area of strength for the Patriots has yet to surface for New England on the young NFL season.

After beefing up their front seven over the offseason, the Patriots were poised to be lethal against the run. But that wasn’t the case in Weeks 1 and 2, over which span New England allowed a combined 226 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Those numbers aren’t necessarily bad, but they should have been better against teams with weak running games like the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

ESPN believes the early struggles of the run defense is the biggest surprise for the 2021 Patriots thus far. But team reporter Mike Reiss can’t see the issue being a long-term one.

“The limits on padded practices have had a noticeable trickle-down effect on those who play on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, essentially making the first month of the season feel like an extended preseason when it comes to technique,” Reiss wrote. “The Patriots rank 30th in post-contact yards per rush allowed (2.02), which points to tackling issues. But, they are too talented on the defensive line and at linebacker for this trend to continue.”

Run defense should be a point of emphasis for the Patriots in Week 3 when they host the New Orleans Saints, who boast one of the league’s best backs in Alvin Kamara.

New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry
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