As always the final word of the week on last weekend’s debacle comes from Greg Bedard and his thorough breakdown confirms much of what I thought I saw. No one is going to ever say the 2012 Patriots defense is elite but usually they’re okay, but against the Bills they just had a horrible game. That happens to every defense, even the elite ones. It’s just when you’re average to begin with your bad games look like football blasphemy as it did with the Pats.
So let’s put this one behind us and try to get back on the train of improvement.
Give a good portion of the blame to the players, who failed to perform the fundamental duties of the defense, things they had no problem doing before Sunday. They were the ones who missed a season-high 15 tackles (on 10 plays), which gave the Bills another 70 yards of offense. They were the ones who at times totally disregarded their gap and edge responsibilities against the run, and in pass coverage were often more concerned with what was happening in the backfield instead of on the routes developing in the acreage behind them. They alone are responsible for the undisciplined penalties that gave the Bills free yardage and moved the chains. But the coaches must also share in the blame. The coverage players looked lost trying to sort out some of the bunch concepts the Bills used through the air. The Bills did absolutely nothing new. The Patriots obviously weren’t drilled properly. There was a plethora of communication mistakes that showed a lack of preparation. And the Patriots coaches apparently didn’t have much up their sleeve, either, because there were hardly any adjustments made. No extra pressures dialed up (five blitzes total, or 10.2 percent), and the same vanilla coverages (mostly Cover 3 with a safety and two cornerbacks playing over the top) for much of the game. However, if recent history is any judge, there is reason to believe the Patriots will right the ship.