The New England Patriots are the hottest team in all of professional football. Winners of a shocking five consecutive contests, the Patriots have completely flipped their season on its head. A win over the hurting Tennessee Titans in Foxboro on Sunday could potentially catapult the Patriots into the AFC's top seed. It's an unforeseen turnaround for a squad that began the campaign at an awfully disappointing 1-3. Championed forward by a physical mindset, veteran defenders such as Kyle Van Noy, Dont'a Hightower, J.C. Jackson, and Devin McCourty are a part of a cast that is allowing a league-best 16.1 points per contest.
New England’s veteran defense has received an injection of energy from a young playmaker that has fit into their unique culture effortlessly. Meet Christian Barmore, a rookie second-round pick out of Alabama that is having a profound impact on the league's stingiest and toughest defense. Barmore may not be filling the stat sheet (he's totaled 26 tackles, 0.5 sacks, two fumbles forced and two passes defended), but he is taking on double teams and giving his teammates free-flowing lanes to the football. Everybody eats in this defense and that's due to an unselfish playing style from all involved, Barmore included.
Belichick's ability to identify the talents and personalities that best suit his defense and coaching style is unmatched around the league. It's a large reason why the Patriots are currently soaring defensively. The offseason additions of Davon Godchaux and Matthew Judon deserve nationwide praise, with the latter especially sticking out as one of the most impactful moves made by any franchise in free agency. Filled out by the return of Hightower, who opted out of the 2020 season due to the global pandemic, and the reacquisition of Van Noy, Belichick was able to fill out his defense with his desired type of players. Barmore belongs in this conversation as a natural, ideal fit for what the Patriots are achieving in the front seven with such terrific success.
Largely considered a first-round talent, the Patriots pounced on Barmore with the 38th overall selection in the second round. It's a decision that has quickly paid dividends for a team that now has the appearance of a legitimate Super Bowl contender. A first-team All-SEC selection in 2020, Barmore would go on to win the National Championship with Alabama in 2021, while being named the game's defensive MVP. It birthed the type of championship pedigree that is currently serving Barmore incredibly well in his new destination, which likely feels a lot like the old destination from a culture and work ethic standpoint.
At Alabama, Barmore showcased the raw athleticism to develop into the type of impact player we are now witnessing take the field on Sundays. As a pass rusher, Barmore possesses the first-step explosiveness and quick-twitch movements that make for a difficult assignment for any and all interior offensive linemen. Barmore is extremely light on his feet with the suddenness and acceleration to reach the pocket in a moment’s notice. As a run defender, Barmore possesses a mature lower half that allows him to successfully meet double teams with the required ferociousness. It’s a versatile and exciting skill set that has quickly served him well as a professional.
Belichick's Patriots have plenty to play for down the stretch of what once looked like yet another lost campaign. A smothering defense has helped change the destination of the GPS, and Barmore's first-year efforts have had an astounding impact on their newfound success.