New England’s loss to Pittsburgh, like every Patriots loss during this decade-long run of success, has caused some soul searching in the most navel-gazing sports town in America.
The focus this Monday is on the lack of defensive talent, as it should be. With a weak pass rush and a worse secondary, it appears that the Patriots have huge flaws on defense that haven’t improved in the season’s first half.
“Belichick the general manager has let down Belichick the coach,” Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe writes. “The Patriots simply don’t have enough talent to beat the elite teams in this league.”
We’re not sure what team is elite anymore. The AFC is littered with good, not great squads. Everyone has two losses. There aren’t many complete teams, although Pittsburgh has a chance if their offensive line holds up.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com wrote something about Belichick’s shaky defensive acquisitions before the loss to the Steelers, noting how much the team has swung and missed in the secondary. After the game, things only looked worse.
“Has Belichick lost his fastball when it comes to defense, both in terms of schemes and personnel evaluation, and is it time for him to open his mind to outside thinking?” Reiss asked.
Other than Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, the entire secondary is made of “street free agents,” undrafted players, and waiver claims. Too many players with key roles were picked up just before or during this season.
“It was leaking a little in the back end so they were giving us a lot more opportunities to do a lot of different things, and I think we took advantage of it,’’ Antonio Brown of the Steelers said.
Mike Wallace echoed those words, telling Chris Gasper of the Globe the Patriots “still were 32nd” in pass defense, no matter what the reasons were.
Bill Belichick teams traditionally play better late in the year, especially on defense.
Belichick the coach has his work cut out for him this time around because the defensive roster simply isn’t very impressive.