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Notebook: Urgency high for Patriots defense

The Patriots defense is off an improved start over 2020, but some key letdowns in big moments have played an outsized role in the current standings.


Despite the Patriots' record, the defense has shown improvement over the 2021 season through six games when you consider the big picture. A run defense that ranked dead last in the league in DVOA is now ranked 9th, one significant part of the improvement that overall saw the defense go from 26th in 2020 to 11th in 2021.

Of course, it's hard to highlight improvement coming off a loss to Dallas that saw the defense surrender 567 total yards, but it's still a reason for some optimism.

"Play the next game and play Patriot football in the game," said Kyle Van Noy on Thursday about what the Patriots have to do to get on track. "We're so focused on the Jets and so ready to get back on the field... especially in front of our fans that deserve better than what we've been doing. The guys are hungry, we're working hard, we just need to go prove it."

What does "Patriots football" mean to Van Noy?

"Play smart, tough, physical football," said the veteran. "We've had that at moments in spurts but we just need to do it for an entire 60-minute game. I think that's what we wanna get accomplished on Sunday."

Van Noy is right. Their defense has played well, often for large stretches, they're 10th in points allowed and 14th on third down to go with their other improved areas, but it's the letdowns in key moments that have been the problem. Just a handful of mistakes and miscues have had a big impact on the poor start in the standings.

"It stinks, honestly," said Matthew Judon of the 2-4 record. "I can sit up here and say we could've been or we should've been or we could but the reality of it is we're 2-4. Nobody in the locker room wants to be 2-4, nobody in the locker room is happy about that record but the one thing that we all are is encouraged because it's not the end of the season."

"Just every day you gotta keep the energy and urgency up and we better have it on Sunday," said Van Noy.

Practice Report

The Patriots were back on the upper fields for Thursday's practice session and both Dont'a Hightower and Deatrich Wise were in attendance after Hightower had been missing on Wednesday and Wise was listed as a DNP with a knee injury. Both Hightower and Wise were listed as limited. Those not spotted included Jonathan Jones (shoulder), Davon Godchaux (finger) and Shaun Wade (concussion), all did not participate.

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