- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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NFL Network put the Patriots under the spotlight on Tuesday night as part of its "32 teams in 32 days" series, with analysts Daryl Johnston and Jamie Dukes going back and forth on the team's defense.
The question was posed to them: Have the Patriots fixed their defense?
Johnston: "They're on the road to fixing it. I like the draft choices. They got Chandler Jones, who is going to be a good pass-rusher off the edge. Dont'a Hightower. You can see the mindset, to trade up in the first round twice, when you've traded down in the previous four drafts. They're getting Ras-I Dowling back. Alfonzo Dennard, the Big 10 defensive player of the year, some people think he could be a potential steal of the draft. We'll have to wait and see, but you could tell, when you have a wide receiver [Julian Edelman] playing in your secondary, things are not good."
Dukes: "I guess the silver lining is that they finished 15th in scoring [defense]. So at the end of the day, if they can continue to finish middle of the pack as far as giving up points, with the offense they have ... And everything we're hearing is that [Brandon] Lloyd has been that piece we thought Chad Ochocinco or Johnson would be. So adding that piece and element to [Wes] Welker and Gronk, I think they have potential to be special offensively. And it really won't matter as much as where they are defensively."
Johnston touched on the high total of big plays allowed by the defense last season, pointing out that better consistency is needed.
As a lead-in to the segment, NFL Network had receiver Brandon Lloyd on the phone for a quick Q&A. His best answer might have been when he was asked one thing that has surprised him being around Bill Belichick.
"He actually wears the cut-off sweatshirts all of the time," Lloyd said, laughing. "That’s actually the way he does his clothes, so I was definitely impressed by that."