ulian Edelman is no longer on the New England Patriots roster but that doesn’t mean he is out of touch with his former team. As the 2022 regular season inches closer, the former wide receiver is worried about the Patriots.
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New England is coming off a regular season where they finished second in the AFC East with a 10-7 record. The Patriots were knocked out of the playoffs in the Wildcard Round by fellow members of the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills.
Mac Jones came into his own in his rookie season throwing for 22 passing touchdowns last season. Those were the most passing touchdowns of any rookie in 2021.
But Edelman is worried about the Patriots heading into 2022. The wide receiver appeared on the “I Am Athlete” podcast and didn’t talk about the offense. Edelman is more worried about the defense.
“They weren’t tossing the ball out after the stadium. It was a defensive-built team,” Edelman said. “That’s the thing that I’m worried about with the Patriots. Is their defense gonna be there to allow Mac to have this slow progression into becoming what he becomes?”
What Has Changed on Defense?
New England has one major change on defense. J.C. Jackson is no longer on the roster and leaves a massive hole in the secondary.
Jackson had led the Patriots in interceptions the last two seasons. With 17 interceptions over the last two years, the corner back showed that he was a capable defender.
The Patriots also experienced some loss at linebacker. Kyle Van Noy left the team and Dont’a Hightower still remains a free agent. As the season continues to get closer, it’s less likely that New England brings him back.
How Will the Patriots Fill These Holes?
Malcolm Butler will be relied upon to take the top corner duties in 2022. Butler came out of retirement to return to New England and will bring veteran experience to a relatively young group of cornerbacks.
At 32 years old, Butler’s prime is in the rearview mirror but the fact that he sat out the entire 2021 season might mean that he comes back refreshed in 2022. Jonathan Jones will also look to help Butler and the Patriots defense out.
At linebacker, New England has some major players returning. Matthew Judon will continue to be a major piece of the defense. The success of the unit as well as the entire team will be predicated on his performance.
Judon was one of the best players on New England’s roster last season. Judon led the team in sacks (12.5) and earned himself a Pro Bowl nod.
The Patriots also re-signed Ja’Whaun Bentley. The 26-year-old will be a key part of the defense after leading New England in tackles (109) last season. Bentley recently signed a two-year deal worth $6 million.
So the Patriots will need to fill a large hole on defense which has Edelman rightfully concerned. Fans in New England will have to wait and see if the Patriots legend was overthinking things or rightfully predicated that the team would struggle.