Meanwhile, the other side of the ball was disappointing for reasons of their own. Mainly due to the personnel. Everyone was surprised to see Matt Patricia sending defensive linemen on their way and replacing them with players from other teams trash heaps.
Considering that we expected Bob Quinn to select an edge rusher with their first pick in the 2018 draft, the fact that they didn’t then turned around and purged the defensive line was disconcerting.
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Yet Matt Patricia knew what he was doing as the defensive line slowly turned themselves around and became much better at running his defense.
Now granted it was the acquisition of Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison that completed the transformation, but Patricia’s vision was starting to be realized and anyone watching that defense at the end of the season had to be tantalized about the thought of adding pieces that fit the scheme for Patrica.
With just a couple of additions the linebacker play also greatly improved. It still needs more improvement, but it is heading in the right direction.
Then there was the secondary.
The secondary was expected to be the strength of the defense. They would supply enough coverage and hard hits from Quandre Diggs to enforce a no-fly zone.
Instead, by the end of the season, the secondary was the defense’s biggest weakness. Any cornerback outside of Darius Slay couldn’t seem to cover anyone and dare we say it, Glover Quin looked like he had lost a step.
While there were positives back there, like the play of Diggs and rookie safety Tracy Walker, the negatives outweighed them. They often were hemorrhaging passing yardage to opponents.
Sure part of the blame can be put on an inconsistent pass rush, but the fact of the matter is that they didn’t play particularly well as a unit. The need to make upgrades was more than evident and it was no surprise to see some sweeping changes.