Well, another week of killing the Patriots defense has begun around the interwebs, and really, there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said multiple times through the first seven games of the 2012 season.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Patriots team that has struggled this much early in the season, especially with problems so glaring that they just can’t seem to solve.
There is so much frustration surrounding the Patriots right now. For the first time in five years they actually look like they have a legit front defensive seven. The pressure could be more consistent at times, but they are as good at stopping the run as any Patriots team in recent memory. It’s just the back end that cannot execute pass defense at an NFL level.
I’m not overly optimistic it will happen, but if this defense could ever just cut down the big plays they give up through the air from 6 per game to 3, they’d be one of the better defenses in the NFL. Of course that is easier said that done. But the simplicity of the solution is right there staring us in the face, and it’s maddening.
The offense is still looking for an identity, and Brandon Lloyd picked the wrong game to get a case of the dropsies. The Pats couldn’t stretch the Jets defense out at all and as a result the offense sputtered until crunch time, when clutch Brady made what has recently been a rare appearance. If Lloyd makes a couple of those catches it would’ve really opened things up.
There are a lot of teams out there with a lot more problems than the Pats have. I still have full confidence that by the end of the year the offense will be clicking. What it really comes down to is tightening up the pass coverage. That’s really it. Fix one thing and the entire team improves by leaps and bounds. And if the front seven continues to improve it will make it even easier on them. The elements are there, but they have to start improving.
Get Gregory and Chung back healthy and hopefully that will be the spark, but it’s hard to be overly optimistic since even when those two were out there we were getting torched.
The Pats now enter the final stretch before Thanksgiving and that’s when the proverbial shit starts getting real. These next four games are not exactly a murder’s row of quarterbacks so really no matter how much improvement the defense possibly shows it will always come with the caveat that it wasn’t against any elite QBs. But at this point I’d take shutting down Sam Bradford as something to build off of.
Still, the next four games give the Pats the chance to not only improve on the back end and in closing out games, but put a firm stranglehold on the division by beating the Bills and Jets.
There’s no question there are no more easy games this season, regardless of the opposition if the defense continues to allow these kind of passing yards. But I still believe it’s at least possible for the Pats to improve and be the “team no one wants to face”. They just need to get to the bye, try to get a little more healthy and then start putting it all together.
Maybe it’s time to take a page from the Giants and eek out an average regular season before peaking in January. We’ve seen plenty of unstoppable September/October Patriots teams, and say what you will about their 2012 performances but at least they’re something novel.
It’s been painful to watch at times, but let’s keep the lesson of 2007 in mind. It only matters how you finish, and the Pats are far from finished.