Champion Concerns?

The New England Patriots. They’ve been one of the best franchises in the NFL over the last sixteen years. They win their division each and every year, you can automatically pencil them in for a first-round bye, predict that they will win 12-14 games a season and in the last seven years, they’ve made it to the NFL’s version of the final four otherwise known as conference championship weekend. After a historic come from behind win in the Super Bowl, they attacked the off-season and stacked their roster up as if they lost. We should all know by now about the acquisitions of Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen, and how they added some pieces to their defense. Many felt this felt like 2007 all over again and they’d go undefeated (which was stretching it). Things haven’t panned out as many people expected it to go. So, here’s the question that everyone wants to know the answers to. What in the world is wrong with the defending Super Bowl champions? Let’s look at both sides of the football. When you look at their offense, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are still one of the best overall units in football. They can score with ease and they’re still showing off their prolific passing attack even without Julian Edelman who tore his ACL during the preseason and will miss this entire season. Other guys have stepped it up. Gronk is still Gronk, Amendola has made a few clutch catches here and there, Hogan has really stepped it up and Brandin Cooks is becoming more comfortable with the system. I’m not really concerned about their running game because here’s the thing about New England: They don’t really have an identity if you truly think about it. They gameplan as the game goes along and exploit your weakness. If you can’t stop the pass, they’ll attack that and if you can’t stop the run, then they’ll capitalize on that.

Their biggest problem has been their defense and after their game last week against the Houston Texans, I stated that I was extremely concerned and yesterday against the Carolina Panthers proved exactly why I made that statement. Look at these numbers here: 42 points given up to the Chiefs and 33 points given up in back to back weeks. Notice a trend there? When I watch their defense closely, I take away how flat they look and the lack of effort they display which is very “unpatriot” like. For years, the Patriots have always had a guy who’s specialty was rushing the passer and they’ve had a long history of that with guys such as Richard Seymour, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich and Chris Long from last season. The defensive line is getting pushed off the line of scrimmage five to ten yards per play. The linebackers don’t tackle nor stay in their lanes and the secondary has been awful. This is where Devin McCourty needs to step up and be a leader and get those guys on the same page. I’ve seen so many blown coverages left and right, up and down and back and forth and teams now aren’t afraid to take those shots down the field now in the secondary. They’ve also been running the same defensive scheme and the great defenses can mix it up and give you different looks and that’s what they need to do. This team will not contend if they continue to play such lousy defense and they can’t continuously depend on Brady to bail them out each time.