New England Patriots third-year safety Kyle Dugger has put together a really impressive start to the year. Whether it’s lining up in the box and making a tackle for loss or rotating to deep safety on motion across the field, Bill Belichick has found a safety that can do it all.
At 6’2″ 220 pounds Dugger has the physique to match the flexible personnel many of the 2022 offenses are trying to roll out. Leading the team in tackles this week for a defense that held the top running offense in the league to 100 yards less than their average.
The Patriots have amassed 3 safeties (Adrian Phillips and Jabrill Peppers) who make their defense malleable to whatever formation they see.
Dugger, who had a fumble recovery for a touchdown in Week 5 against the Detroit Lions followed it up with an interception in the Week 6 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Add 23 total tackles and 2 TFL he is quietly becoming the most consistent player on the New England Patriots defense.
Kyle Dugger thriving in a versatile New England Patriots defense
The defense is not built on one or two players to carry them every week. They are pretty evenly balanced across the board, the team just has players who make plays in their roles.
The guys who can do the basics well then start making big plays within the defense become stars in this system. Vince Wilfork, Trey Flowers, Richard Seymour, Devin McCourty, JC Jackson, Dont’a Hightower and many more.
Dugger is beginning to insert himself in this conversation with his consistent play and big play ability. Dugger has coverage skills to shut down some of top tight ends one week then stuffing rush attempts against top run offense’s the next.
The Patriots defense has had a strong start to the season.
Baltimore has been the only team to constantly move the ball and score this season. In the last 3 weeks (Green Bay, Detroit, and Cleveland) the defense has had 8 turnovers and converted 2 of those into touchdowns.
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As the New England Patriots offense continues to develop the defense has given them a chance to win in every game this year.
In order to make the playoffs the defense will have to be one of the top units in the league. Kyle Dugger in only his 3rd year has become a veteran leader of this squad.
Adrian Phillips said following the victory vs Browns:
"“He literally watches film 24/7. You don’t see that from a lot of young guys but the fact that he takes it so seriously and it shows on the field is cool to see.”"
Earlier in the week in a press conference Dugger said:
"“Just leaning heavy on the fundamentals, what I’m coached and what I am taught to read. Things like leverage, pre snap and post snap and just having patience and making sure that I’m focused on the little things and fundamentals in those plays.”"
It sounds like Dugger is a prototypical Belichick defender that should be anchoring the defense for many years to come by doing the little things right extremely consistently.
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