Do the Patriots have an ‘elite' defense? Perry and Giardi discuss

Do the Patriots have an ‘elite' defense? Perry and Giardi discuss originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots defense has done its part to keep the team in games over the first three weeks of the 2023 NFL season.

In Week 1, the Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick-led group limited the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles to one offensive touchdown. It mostly held the explosive Miami Dolphins offense in check in Week 2, then shut down Zach Wilson and the New York Jets in Week 3.

New England enters Week 4 ranked fifth in the league in yards allowed per game (270.3) and ninth in points allowed per game (19.7). On Tuesday's Arbella Early Edition, our Patriots insider Phil Perry was asked what has made the unit so successful.

"Well, number one, they have really talented players," Perry answered. "It starts there, and I keep going back to the rookie Christian Gonzalez. He has exceeded even my expectations. He looks like a stud. The way he moves at his size, he's going to be a matchup weapon for them week in and week out. Christian Barmore flashed and flashed consistently the other day against the Jets. They have high-end talent across the board.

"The other thing that I think plays into that talent is they are aggressively coached, meaning they're not afraid to blitz and they don't even need to at times. They have Matt Judon. They have Josh Uche, who's been really productive through the first three weeks on the outside. They don't necessarily need more than four rushers to get after the quarterback, but they do it anyway and they do it in creative ways."

Perry even went as far as to use the "E" word when describing the 2023 Pats defense.

"The combination of the talent, the aggressiveness that you get from the coaching staff, and the versatility of the pieces and the intelligence of the pieces that are on the field for these guys -- I'm gonna use the elite word consistently over the course of the season until they prove to us they're not, because I think they are that good. They are an elite defense."

Boston Sports Journal's Mike Giardi joined Perry in heaping praise on New England's defense while crediting the "dogs" along the defensive line.

"Top eight or nine, but a chance to be a top-five defense," Giardi said. "I was on here going crazy about wanting to let the dogs loose a little bit more in the last game against the Dolphins. I think their blitz percentage was around 32, 33 percent in this last game. I like that. Give me more of that. Don't sit back.

"And then the discipline that this team has up front. I was asking DeMarcus Covington, the defensive line coach, about the mush rush, where you don't want to get past the quarterback. They've been preaching it here for years. I said, 'How do you get guys to buy into that?' ... He did say, if Matthew Judon turns to somebody and says, 'Hey, fellas, I think this is the play where I'm going to go,' someone will cover for him and it's important that they have that trust up front. I like that. They have dogs up front."

The next test for the Pats defense will come against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Kickoff for the Week 4 showdown is set for 4:25 p.m. ET at AT&T Stadium.