The Patriots gave up three points in their Super Bowl LIII win over the Rams, which was a big improvement over the 41 points they gave up while losing to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
New England’s defensive plan has led to much deserved praise for head coach Bill Belichick and former de facto defensive coordinator/current Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. Safety Devin McCourty pointed out that you also need the right players to be able to switch things up quickly while getting the job done on the field.
McCourty identified that as a major difference from the team that lost in Minnesota.
“I’d say last year, it was harder for us to be able to jump from all zone to all man the way we were able to do it this year, personnel-wise,” McCourty said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “Steph [Gilmore] and Malcolm [Butler] are great players, but they’re more man guys. So you can have the best player, but having guys that are able to think and do different things, it helps. People don’t usually talk about that, they talk about the scheme, or this was a great call by the d-coordinator or Bill, but you need guys like Kyle Van Noy, like [Dont’a] Hightower, that can play down at outside linebacker, can play off the ball, Trey Flowers plays on the end and at 3-tech, because now it’s alright, we move Trey Flowers from end to 3-tech, dang, we’re blocking a whole different type of guy in here and now we’re in a different front. It’s harder to deal with, but you can’t do that unless you have guys that are physically versatile and also mentally can be like, ‘yeah, I’m not what I do 80% of the time, I’m in my other role.’”
Flowers is set for free agency and his departure would force the team to find someone else who can adapt to different situations at a moment’s notice. They’ve had to do that plenty of times in the past too and history speaks well of their ability to get the job done.