Dean Pees returns to the team as Defensive Coordinator, so I don't expect any drastic changes to the base 3-4 defense in New England.
Skeptics of the Patriots in 2008 were quick to point out some questions in the New England secondary such as age, inexperience, lack of speed and size, as well as injuries.
Yet in the aggregate, New England gave up 201.4 yards in the air (11th in the NFL) and 107.6 yards on the ground (14th in the NFL); so based on their NFL rankings, they were worse against the rush than against the pass.
The problem for New England seemed to be their exposure to the deep pass, while their front seven could apply pressure over the course of a game, when an opponent could find the chance to go downfield, New England didn't always have the answer.
Patrick Chung from Oregon comes in at Strong Safety and Darius Butler comes in at Cornerback, both second round selections from this year's draft.
At the moment the Patriots have 14 Defensive Backs on their roster, and one key addition is veteran Shawn Springs, who might not have the flash that he once had, but has a great ability to read plays and knows his position well. Leigh Bodden 27, signed a one year deal with New England after playing cornerback in Detroit.
Suddenly the secondary is looking solid.
The linebacking core should see another great year from Jerrod Mayo, the 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and the Defensive line, if healthy is an elite force.
With Jason Taylor going back to Miami, Julius Peppers lingers as a potential addition to the front seven.
The Boston Globe suggests that the Patriots could also be interested in former Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who would be an interesting fit in the 3-4 defensive, but the athletic talent and defensive awareness is certainly there.
The loss of Mike Vrabel gives New England some salary to play with, but also leaves the team without a dynamic leader and fan favorite.