It’s driven you insane hundreds of times at this point. The Patriots defense is picked apart by a supposedly mediocre offense until miraculously stopping them in the red zone and forcing a field goal. Some seasons it feels like it happens on the first drive of every single game.
Yes, this is the Bend-Don’t-Break, a mantra muttered by football-philes like myself who have bought into Bill Belichick’s philosophy that sound coverage and tackling can make up for not attacking a quarterback with blitzers on every down. The Patriots certainly pick their spots to blitz defensive backs, but generally their philosophy is about 11 guys all doing their jobs and it’s hard to argue with the results even if the stats don’t rank them near the top of the league.
What matters most of course is points, and the Patriots have ranked below 13th in the league in points-per-drive just twice before this season.
My statistical way to breakdown the Bend Don’t Break is to rank plays- and yards-per-drive (BEND) and points- and turnovers-per-drive (BREAK). While the results in 2017 are expectedly putrid they’re not exactly in uncharted territory and there’s still plenty of time to turn things around.
Here’s a look at the Bend-Don’t-Break chart to see how the 2017 Pats stack up after five games.