The New England Patriots have gained attention for how they are coming along on the offensive side of the football, but it’s its been their defense that has been the most consistent (and dominant) thus far during the 2021 campaign.
The Patriots — following four straight wins with dominant efforts against Justin Herbert’s Chargers and Baker Mayfield’s Browns — allow the second-fewest points and sixth-fewest yards in the NFL. They have come along against the run while pass rusher Matthew Judon and cornerback J.C. Jackson have made it tough on opposing teams to throw the ball., as well.
That now will be a challenge for the Falcons, and specifically offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, when the Patriots travel to Atlanta for a Week 11 clash on “Thursday Night Football.” Ragone explained what stuck out to him most while watching film on Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
“First and foremost, this goes without saying, they’re obviously well coached,” Ragone said Tuesday, as shared by the team. “They’re big. They’re thick at the point of attack when they need to be. Their secondary does a very good job of making you earn it throughout the whole route. They’re very sticky. The linebackers do a really good job of rerouting the certain routes to help the defender behind them or next to them. They have a great understanding of leverage. Defensively, they know where all their help is at all times. So they’re always trying to lead you to their help.
“So for us as coaches, we have to understand that. Players have to understand that,” Ragone continued. “It doesn’t deter you from trying to go out there and run what you need to run. But at the end of the day, understanding that they play fundamentally sound so how you beat fundamentally sound is you have to make sure you’re fundamentally sound. … They don’t beat themselves so you have to go out there and you have to earn it.”
Ragone specifically was asked about Patriots second-year safety Kyle Dugger, who played his college football at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University and is a native of Decatur, Georgia. The first-year coordinator shared that Dugger fits what the Patriots do everywhere.
“Yeah, I mean, he’s one of many that have stood out in terms of making plays, but being in the right position,” Ragone said. “That’s the one thing that, I’m sure there’s been a lot of things said about how well they’ve been coached and how good the defense is, but I’ll say this, they’re usually in the right spot when they need to be. That’s a credit to the player, obviously, also credit to the system and he’s (Dugger) no different.”
The Falcons could be without a crucial offensive weapon Thursday with Cordarrelle Patterson possibly sidelined. It will make the challenge all that much more difficult for quarterback Matt Ryan and Ragone.
Patriots-Falcons is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET on Thursday.