When you watch the Patriots on Sundays, it feels as if the defense is loaded for bear, while the offense is forced to piece together their attack with sticky tape and paperclips.
Your eyes do not deceive you.
One of the exercises we like to go through around here every so often is placing a chip value on the Patriots, usually in relation to opponents. Basically, the more Blue (elite at position vs. the league) and Purple (good starter) chips you have, the better your chances for victory. And, really, it comes down to how many of those players execute at that level — or better — on game day.
In an effort to breakdown this roster, we broke out the chips and applied them to both sides of the ball — Blue, Purple, Red (NFL starters) and White (reserves).
After looking at the results, it's clear that Bill Belichick feels that doubling down on defense — often at the expense of the offense — is the best way to win a seventh Lombardi Trophy. The rest of the league is running wild to find receiving targets and dangerous running backs. Belichick thinks multiple and versatile linebackers are more important.
Whether that turns out to be true remains to be seen and we're making no judgments on it (the Patriots were our preseason pick, and they remain so).
We're just pointing out what is largely obvious: Belichick has prioritized defense over offense this season. You can do all the fudging you want — He drafted N'Keal Harry in the first round ... He signed Demaryius Thomas ... He signed Antonio Brown — but the bottom line is the roster is the roster. It's what will or won't win them another Super Bowl.
And what Belichick has done is certainly to prioritize the defensive roster over the offense.
For example, in our estimation, 12 of the 26 offensive players for the Patriots are White Chips, or reserves in most circumstances — they would not start for most teams in the league. That's almost half the offensive personnel (46 percent).
On defense, just three of 23 players (13 percent) are truly reserves.
That means the defense is rolling with