This week, the writers of Patriots Unfiltered regroup as the team gets back to a .500 record while also previewing the Monday night matchup against the Chicago Bears.
What has stood out most to you during the two-game win streak?
Great team defense. The defense has been improving week to week. The "do your job" mantra has been on full display with players at all levels contributing to the execution of the game plan. It's really been fun to watch. -Fred Kirsch
The defense's ability to create turnovers (6 takeaways in two weeks). -Paul Perillo
Bailey Zappe's poise and professionalism has stood out during the two-game win streak. His ability to come in and start in his first two NFL games and not make costly mistakes is impressive, especially with what little we saw of him during training camp. -Tamara Brown
The front seven getting itself organized and shutting down two league-leading rushing attacks. The Patriots have defined roles for several important players at the first two levels, such as Mack Wilson's emergence in the pass rush and Jahlani Tavai stabilizing the edge. It's been impressive to see this group dominate the line of scrimmage against two legit offensive lines. -Evan Lazar
It has to be the play of the defense from the front to the back. Judon and Wise are setting the pass rush tone, while the coverage has been impressively tight. Even the completions they allow are well contested. Despite Detroit and Cleveland not having the pedigree of playoff challengers, they were both good offensive teams with solid lines and problem pieces that needed to be shut down. The Pats defense did that but they'll still have to play this way against a top offense to earn the full respect they deserve. -Mike Dussault
One player you'd still like to see play a bigger role for the Patriots?
Since preseason 2021 we've been waiting for Jonnu Smith to show off more of his big play potential. We saw a glimpse of it last week in Cleveland. If he can become a consistent threat, watch out. -FK
Tyquan Thornton. Hopefully he's just scratching the surface of bigger things to come. -PP
I would like to see the tight ends play a bigger role for the Patriots. For the first time all season we saw both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry used effectively in a game both making key plays in the game and I am hoping the two tight end set is used more often. -TB
Can I say Tyquan Thornton? It's obvious that the team is very high on Thornton as they've thrown him right into a role offensively. But his speed and separation quickness gives them a different dimension. It'll begin to change how defenses play them in the backend with an expanded role. -EL
Anfernee Jennings. I thought he flashed some of the potential against the Browns that he showed throughout the summer. He looks like he might have three-down potential on defense if he continues to get quality reps. -MD
How will your expectations for the quarterback position differ if Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe get the start vs. Chicago, if at all?
If Mac plays, I'm looking for a playmaker, where the play of the quarterback becomes a threat in and of itself. If Zappe plays, I'm looking for more of what we've already seen: limit mistakes, sound decision making and poise. -FK
I don't expect much to change. Continue to run the ball and take some shots with play action, as has been the case most of the season regardless of quarterback. -PP
If Mac Jones is available, I'm hoping that he doesn't come in trying too hard to prove himself as the starter that he makes too many mistakes. Instead I hope the Patriots develop a gameplan that comfortably eases him back in to playing again especially after he's missed three games. If Bailey Zappe starts, I hope the Patriots pick up where they left off last week with the offense. Opening up the playbook a little more and taking off the training wheels. We saw more of Bailey Zappe's skillset last week versus the Browns than we did all training camp and I would hope to continue seeing that develop. -TB
Not much. If it's Mac as reported, I'd like to see the Patriots continue using the under play-action elements they found with Zappe. More blockers in the protection, draw the defense in, and let Mac attack downfield off play-action rather than the volatile spread stuff they were doing before. -EL
I think they'll meet in the middle and ask a similar performance out of either. Both will need to limit mistakes and let the running game do the heavy lifting until they can get a lead. If the game is close or if the Patriots get behind I think it will tell us a lot more about the quarterbacks than if they get another one like the last two where things are never really in doubt and they're playing from a position of strength the entire game. -MD
After another strong performance what is your confidence level with the Patriots defense? Can the Bears attack find success against them?
Confidence level high. Let's face it, the Bears are one-dimensional in that QB Justin Fields is only attempting 19 passes per game on average and has a completion percentage of 54.8% That's way below NFL standards. Khalil Herbert is a good runner but without the threat of a passing game, the Patriots defense should be fine. -FK
I think the defense has played great. I'm cautiously optimistic about the group moving forward, although I don't believe Chicago will pose much of a threat. -PP
The Patriots defense is my favorite part about the Patriots. They are so exciting to watch and every part of the defense compliments each other. I think they will continue to build on that against the Bears by disrupting the line up front, the secondary will continue to be able to make plays and come away with takeaways. -TB
In these types of matchups, very high. The Pats defense has shown it won't get run on by a run-first team that's limited in the passing game. Plus, it can still pressure and scheme up against an overwhelmed quarterback. They should dominate. -EL
Unless the run defense regresses I fully expect the Patriots defense to shutdown Justin Fields and Chicago offense. If Herbert and Montgomery were to get going because the Patriots defensive line starts getting pushed around it would be the only way I could see some upset potential. -MD