Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
If it feels like a long time since the Patriots had an above-average pass defense, that's because it has been.
2007 was the last year the Patriots finished in the top half of the league in pass defense defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), per FootballOutsiders. That year, they finished seventh, but they've been 16th or lower every year since.
Despite the pedigree of many of the players who shuffled through the defensive backfield since then—Darius Butler, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Ras-I Dowling and Brandon Meriweather were all first or-second rounders—the Pats continued to struggle.
Why? Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Mike Dussault may have the answer: a startling lack of continuity.
Noticed the heavy turnover year to year for the Pats DBs, Dussault postulates that continuity and chemistry may be reasons for the failure of the pass defense.
If that's the case, the Pats may finally produce a respectable pass defense for the first time since 2007. Thanks to the return of top corner Aqib Talib and slot CB Kyle Arrington, the Pats may start the year with the same defensive backfield they ended the previous year for the first time since 2007.
See the correlation?
That's good news for cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer and safeties coach Brian Flores, who came under fire in the past for the performance of the secondary. Boyer, in particular, has overseen some terrible defenses since taking over as defensive backs coach in 2009.
If both coaches can finally maximize the talent of a familiar secondary, New England's passing defense could actually be watchable in 2013.