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Mailbag: Sizing Up The Pats' Defense?

New England Patriots defensive end Chase Winovich (50) leads the defense in the huddle during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Mass. New England won 27-13. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)

Given that Matt Patricia comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, will the Cowboys have an advantage in preparation for the Patriots' defense given they just played the Lions, or are the schemes and personnel too different from that of the Patriots? - JAMES M. HOLDEN / RUMFORD, RI

Lindsay: The funny thing about the Patriots? Even if you know everything about them: scheme, personnel, tendencies, and the fact that they have the greatest quarterback of all time – you still don't know enough. They are known for completely changing and rearranging their identity week to week based on the team they're facing that particular week. So, unfortunately, I don't think playing the Lions gives you an edge to the Week 12, 2019 Patriots at all.

Rob: They've probably seen some similar core philosophy from the Lions and the Dolphins earlier this season, too, since Brian Flores was on New England's staff last year. But you never quite know how Bill Belichick will attack you, either. The Patriots' defense is playing at a historical level this year with an elite secondary and linebackers who can capably rush or cover. It's a different level in terms of opposing personnel.

In the game Sunday, it was obvious that they were limiting Amari Cooper's snaps. Was he just limited this week, or should we be expecting him to take limited snaps the next few games? I'm concerned with the opponents we have coming up and Cooper is, in my opinion, the deciding factor in winning or losing. - AARON BUCHMAN / GRANTVILLE, PA

Lindsay: Although I do think he's playing less than 100% and will be limited for the time being, I think his presence alone gives you an edge out there. But if he's in uniform, this training staff knows he's ready to go. And if he's ready to go, any play he steps on the field, he must be accounted for at all times. Coop can muster up a burst for 2-3 chunk plays in the game, and be a complete game-changer for you on those alone.

Rob: Head coach Jason Garrett said Cooper is still dealing with that knee contusion, though he was able to play 41 snaps and make three impactful catches against Detroit. You bring up a good point with the schedule. The Cowboys are about to play three games in 12 days. It's something Cooper will have to manage. But he's a pro and he's in good hands with the athletic training staff.

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