This will be my final post on the Steelers loss as we turn the page to a challenging Giants squad. Just some quick hit thoughts and we’re burying the football on this one.
– Even with two days perspective I’m not going to try and sugar coat anything, the glaring softness of the Patriots defense that we’ve become horribly familiar with was back in all its non-glory and it’s justifiable for us to wonder if this defense has the talent to win when it’s all on the line.
– The only point of positivity that I will cling to is that this is a young defense, and in a scheme where communication is vital it has to be expected to have bumps in the road. Still, with 3 of 4 starters back from last season in the base secondary this excuse won’t last forever.
– I’m surprised more teams haven’t gone directly after Guyton and Ninkovich in pass coverage. I’m really starting to question if we’ve already seen Ninkovich’s ceiling. If he’s going to play SLB in the 4-3 and he is a liability in coverage teams will continue to attack him.
– If Fletcher can get back healthy I’d love to see him take some snaps from Guyton.
– I’m not overly concerned with the offense though their point totals have declined each and every week of the season. But one thing that does concern me is the amount of man coverage they’re seeing more and more of each week. This is where you need explosive playmakers who can gain separation off the line, and this was the real reason we saw Chad Ochocinco brought in. The receiver group is going to have to show they can beat tight man coverage and that someone can bust the top off the defense.
– Bill O’Brien spoke today about getting Taylor Price more involved and with his speed I couldn’t agree more. He could be the answer instead of Ochocinco, but he needs experience in games. Keep putting him in there.
– Brandon Spikes might be a liability at times in pass coverage but I will take him over Guyton everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. I think he and Mayo are the only linebackers on the roster I’m convinced are building blocks for the future.
– If you thought the third down performance was bad against the Steelers (10/16 = 62%) don’t forget what Peyton Manning did to this defense last year: 11/14 = 78%. Though the Pats D were able to get 3 interceptions and that was the difference in the game.
– Ultimately this was the 7th game of the season, and I’m not going to make overarching judgements of BB’s personnel moves until the season is over. Each Patriots team is judged by how their season ends, and until we see where the defense and offense are in January I’ll hold off on the report cards for who should and shouldn’t have been acquired or let go.
– Sometimes losses like this are a good thing in the long run, but let’s just say the defense is absolutely on double secret probation. If they don’t start putting together some consistent efforts there will have to be some major personnel moves made this off-season.
As someone who has watched Bill Belichick re-build (or should say “try” to re-build) his defense after the dynasty years as closely as anyone I’m just about out of excuses and positive perspectives. Is there anyone left who thinks the Patriots have the ability to stop the pass against an elite offense that knows how to attack it? I sure don’t, especially if that team avoids turnovers.
The offense was out of sync yesterday but I don’t see major philosophical, schematic or personnel problems on that side of the ball like I do with the defense. If the D makes a couple stops on third down in the first quarter the Pats offense very well would’ve found their rhythm.This game should’ve been a defensive struggle if our defense had showed up.
So Brady and the O will get a pass at least for this morning, despite all the talk of TFB shredding the Steelers defense in the last three meetings they are an elite defense, and to get 17 points on limited possessions is still enough points to win you games if you have a defense. They just needed more chances, chances the defense did not give them.
For this Patriots defense it’s seems that just when they take a step forward they take a big step back. They continue to play like a young secondary that is out of sync and captain Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and a limited Jerod Mayo seem incapable of getting everyone on the same page.
Many are pointing to the lack of talent in the players surrounding the few high picks that are actually out there as the problem and that is a valid argument. BB has been getting a free pass starting undraftees and castoffs under the assumption that with experience their level of play would rise, but with yet another 60%-plus third downs converted game even the biggest homers like myself are questioning if it’s ever going to happen with this group.
But it’s not just about talent, it’s about fundamentals.
It’s about Heath Miller getting off the line unscathed for almost every snap in the first quarter. It’s about the defensive backs all looking around in confusion when there are wide open receivers on 3rd and long. And finally it’s about continuing to miss tackles, a problem I’m unsure can be fixed given the limited number of padded practices allowed.
It’s hard to really attack the schematics of the Patriots defense when they’re playing such poor fundamental football. When they did blitz they didn’t get there quick enough and when they dropped eight into coverage the Steelers still found the soft spots.
The scary thing is that there’s no one who can get healthy and help unless you want to make Josh Barrett the savior, which he is not. So the Patriots are stuck with this group and it’s up to them to turn it around.
It’s not easy coming up with a positive outlook on this defense, and I don’t feel the need to try too hard to come up with one. They look untalented and confused out there and the same problems continue to pop up for what feels like the third season in a row. Something has to change, and none of us are sure that “just playing better” is ever going to make this a consistently strong defense.
However the fact is that they did only lose by eight points to a very good team on the road, playing pretty much as bad as you can play. The one time they did actually play capably was in the red zone, and let’s not forget to point out that they did not give up a touchdown in the second half.
Also take note that every team in the AFC has looked horrid in at least one game this year, with perhaps the Bills as the only arguable exception (which is kinda insane).
The Patriots defense is capable of playing better and they will win their fair share of games this year, but defeating one of the top offenses looks pretty much impossible at this point. Luckily it’s only week seven, but it will take a minor miracle for this team to win a Super Bowl if these problems continue.
Quick hit reactions to the Patriots loss to the Steelers
Our pass defense is who they say it is and they will be ripped to shreds this week by anyone who talks about them. Deservedly so. They have to play a lot better, and no one is sure if they really even have the horses to play better.
They still like Kevin Faulk A LOT more than Danny Woodhead. I’m sure they wanted to use Green-Ellis more but they were always behind and passing. It is crazy to have Faulk back out there almost like he barely missed a beat. He should really be an asset in the long run. Not sure what this means yet for the rest of the backs.
What happened to Stevan Ridley?
Alright now I’m starting to wonder if Ochocinco will ever come around. He’s seen this Steeler D twice a year for his entire career. They really could’ve used something out of him and got nothing.
Will have to take a closer look at Taylor Price’s snaps.
Nate Solder will have at least a couple goalline receiving touchdowns before his career is over with the Patriots.
There’s no sick or injured player to point to and say “when they get back this pass defense will be better”.
Well at least there shouldn’t be a problem getting tickets this week.
Really it was a crazy loss the likes of which have no been seen in a long time. No turnovers, had to work for everything, still only got 17.
The downward trend of points scored by the Patriots offense continues.
Let’s hope the team can rally around this loss like they did the Cleveland one last year. With that one we killed ourselves with turnovers, here there’s no excuse. Just completely outplayed.
Please get back to 100% Mayo so that we can see about 33% of Guyton. The Steelers looked to expose the Patriots linebackers in coverage and Guyton and Spikes were targets one and two.
I don’t usually put much value in “blueprint” talk, but I’d bet that teams with great tight ends try to isolate them in coverage against us more. The Patriots had no answer for Heath Miller early on.
But hey only two plays over 20 yards, that’s improvement, right? (Punching self in gut…)
We need a little, take that Polamalu today!