Grading the 2019 Patriots III: In just two years, Belichick completely revamped passing defense

Before an NFL team turns the page on the previous season and moves forward to the next, they put the team and their players under a microscope to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be changed/altered to make progress in 2020.

Obviously, we have no idea what the Patriots’ internal grading looks like, and we don’t anticipate Bill Belichick opening up his grade book to the public anytime soon. So, we’re left to do our homework with some assistance from people who have knowledge of how the Patriots view things.

So we’ll start our dissection (which is a homage to my mentor, Bob McGinn) with an overview of the team and positions, and then we’ll move onto individual player grades/assessments. Finally, we’ll conclude with our imitated but never duplicated offseason depth chart coded for performance and contract status, and with a comprehensive analysis of team needs headed into the ’20 offseason.

Here's the 2018 version.

Part IGrading the 2019 Patriots: Patriots were better overall, but tilted too much to the defense; Brady improved
Part II — Team grades for passing offense, rushing offense.
NowPart III — Team grades for passing defense, rushing defense, special teams.
Next: Part IV — Team grades for personnel moves, coaching and overall.
FinallyPart V—Individual offensive, Part VI—Defensive grades.

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And with that, let’s get started…


[table id=421 /]

Patriots posted a 62.8 defensive passer rating, which was the best in the league and the best under Bill Belichick since 2003. What's amazing is just two years ago, the Patriots posted their worst-ever DPI under Belichick . ... Patriots also ranked first in DVOA (-32.2%). Two seasons ago, the Patriots were 21st in passing defensive DVOA. ... Patriots allowed an NFL-best 56.5 completion percentage. New England was second to San Francisco in passing yards per game (180.4) and play (5.38). In 2018, the Patriots were 22nd (246.4) and 8th (6.52). In 2017, they were 30th and 21st. ... Patriots had 47 sacks, tied for 7th in the league. They were also 7th in sack percentage (8.0). They were 30th in 2018 (5.23%). ... ranked the Patriots as the No. 1 pass coverage unit (92.7). The pass rush was ranked