Blame for Patriots Secondary Struggles Start at the Top

4. The Patriots have given up 33 passing plays of over 20 yards and 5 passing plays of over 40 yards through six games.

Those numbers are almost inconceivable. An average of 5.5 passing plays of over 20 yards per game is just unacceptable. I haven’t seen much to signal that things are going to get much better. It’s simple to say that a personnel change would make things better. Ras-I Dowling can’t be any worse than what we have seen, right?

With the way the defense is aligned and the plays are called in, it makes me wonder if it would even matter if good players where back there. The ball skills that the Patriots exhibit are pathetic. Players who looked good in college suddenly lose their ability to locate the ball and make plays when the ball is in the air. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.  It makes me seriously question just how and what they are being taught on the practice field.

5. It also makes me wonder if the way Bill Belichick coaches defensive backs is a thing of the pass.

It’s clear that he has been slow to adjust to the rise of the spread offenses. It’s astounding to watch someone who is considered so innovative and usually ahead of his time on most things schematically related struggle to adjust to the spread offense.

6. My last point is something that Ty Law brought up on CSNNE after the game last night.

He said something to the degree that with Bill Belichick so instrumental in all phases of the Patriots program, that when it comes to finding defensive backs and drafting in general, there is no way he can put in the same time and effort that he does into coaching the football team.

Belichick has done a fantastic job picking in the first round, look at the track record, there are very few busts. But, when it comes to drafting in the second, third and fourth rounds he has struggled as of  late and struggled badly (except for 2010). Especially when it comes to defensive backs and wide receivers.

It makes me wonder if he is really spending the time and effort that is necessary to find the best of to the best at these positions. Or is how he evaluates those players and the traits he looks for in those players the wrong ones for the NFL in this day and age. It’s much easier to draft in the first round, but as the draft goes on it’s becomes tougher to find talent, more preparation and studying needs to be done.

All the decisions of an organization can’t fall on one person.

The Tavon Wilson pick has Bill Belichick’s finger prints all over it. Wilson was consensus ranked much lower than the Patriots took him. I haven’t heard one person tell me, that’s where we had him ranked or hear that they needed to take him there because he wouldn’t have lasted. Believe me he would have lasted at least a round longer.

I find it tough to believe that the Patriots Head Scout Jon Robinson would stump for a player who is so far down draft boards in the 2nd round. They talk to other scouts, they know where a player is ranked across the NFL. It was Belichick’s decision. I don’t know that for sure, but I know it.

As I said at the time of last year’s draft the Patriots need another voice in the organization when it comes to personnel moves. Someone who will stand up to Bill Belichick and challenge him on moves like that or free agent signings.

When I started this article I posed the question who is to blame. Well, in this case it has to be blamed on the coaches. They are the ones choosing which players are out there and what coverages they will be in. They are the ones coaching them on technique and ball skills and they are the ones trying to develop them.

In the Patriots case the coach just so happens to be the one who picks the players as well. The blame for the poor secondary play has to be put on Bill Belichick.

He must do something to fix it and even if that means completely abandoning what he is so accustomed to doing; so be it. One thing is for sure I have had enough and I’m sure other Patriots fans have as well.

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Tags: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, Pat Chung, Seahawks, Tavon Wilson

15 Responses to “Blame for Patriots Secondary Struggles Start at the Top”

  1. Lundahl says:

    I don’t see how our secondary is bad. I mean, it seems like everyone has forgotten that the Patriots offense did play a secondary. And honestly, usually the Pats roll in the red zone, and that Seahawks defense was disgsuting. Welker was embarrassing them, Brady was sitting in the pocket, no sacks. They were pathetic. Just like the Texans and the 49ers were at home, finally facing some real offenses, and which proves they are frauds.

  2. james says:

    I think the pats could use 1 more pass rusher with speed who can help close out games. Like when the play is extended can chase down the qb and fly around the field… Theyre DL and front 7 r strong so far but there big, not fast. Too many times against russel wilson the DL would get pressure but it wasnt serious because they had no real chance of catching wilson… Not to mention making him throw on the run was almost to his advantage.

    Speed on the DL will help close out games defensively i think…

  3. qwerty says:

    Patriots are VERY STRONG in the trenches. No complaints.
    No complaints on receivers either.

    Most of the secondary played well. No need for more draft picks.

    The NFL Vice President of officiating said there should have been a Offensive Pass Interference call on the Dennard TD.

    Dennard and McCourty played very well overall. There are passes that even the best CB’s can’t defend. No complaints.

    Arrington is weakest CB so he will get picked on the most. Arrington’s strength is from short to maybe medium range at most. Arrington needs a safety net behind him to help him out.

    Why coaches not using Dowling much is still a mystery.

    Chung doesn’t seem like his old self and lot of injuries to starters. Putting two rookies to backstop defense was a coaching decision. Tavon just made rookie mistake. On hindsight, Dowling should have been at CB and McCourty at Safety. Tavon doesn’t have the burning speed to catch up once behind otherwise Tavon has played well. I have no doubt that Chung could have defended that straight down the field pass.

    Injuries, not so stellar Chung play and coaching decisions have been behind the bad secondary performance. SEA game plan was to pick on Arrington and then the backstop of the secondary especially more when Chung left.

    I have no doubt the secondary will keep improving. They were horrible last year but tightened up down the stretch. I have no doubt this is the best secondary talent the Patriots have had in a long while.

    Patriots on the whole have a lot of talented secondary irregardless of what the stats say.

    The achilles heel of the Patriots is their safety position. That’s it. Every thing else is strong.

    Every loss this year has been to teams that I strongly think the Patriots will win if they are played again. The key this year is to win the division. Do that and these losses are moot.

  4. Catman316 says:

    Totally agree!!!! why we are keeping players that are getting burned in a daily basis when we have players with more upside in the sidelines? How come players like gregory that do a decent job in SD and here they cant cover a deep ball? This is come down to bad drafting, bad coaching and bad play calling!!

  5. qazmlpgh says:

    What worries me, as you pointed out Mike, is that all these guys have done well in their rookie years then regressed dramatically. Is the coaching staff to blame?

  6. ANB says:

    The next draft should go something like this:

    CB, S, S, WR, DT, CB

    It’s at the point now where we’re surprised if the secondary does something productive.

  7. Phil says:

    My idea? I personally think they should drop this “4-2-5 hybrid” scheme they are running and they should revert back to a 3-4. It’s working for Houston isn’t it? Devin McCourty excelled in a 3-4, did he not? They should then play a 2-gap up front, therefore each lineman and linebacker is responsible for only 1 gap. Therefore, they won’t need to bring a safety to help defend the run up in the box. With some more safety help over the top. It will greatly benefit the CB’s. It’s working pretty well for Alabama ain’t it?

    • Jamaal says:

      I agree on going back to the 3-4 zone defense.. Bill has this defense all out of position with the 34 d i think it allows brandon spikes to be even better he should never be asked to play man to man thats not his game. And he is able to shoot gape much easier. sterling moore and kyle arrington shouldnt be asked to play on the outside they are slot corners and i believe they can be very good slot corners. dowling/dennard on the other side .dowling should always be used when having to play tall receivers like he did against marshall when he was with miami. to me its more scheme then players but they need to learn how to turn around

    • james says:

      umm… 3-4 is a base defense. Pats are in there base 40 % of the time. The rest of the time there in a nickel or dime. The 4-2-5 defense isnt something thats been adopted its a totally necessary sub defense that every team has been running over the last 5 years to match up with spread offenses. There are multiple versions of the nickel and dime defenses that teams mix in. Idk where youv got this idea from…

      And the point on Houstons defense running the 3-4.. its a base defense. There in sub defense over half the time just like the pats.

      Also the patriots play 2 deep safeties basically all game every game this year and allow the front 7 to stop the run without bringing down a safety like chung.

      Devin mccourty wouldnt be effect by the scheme ran up front he still has to be able to execute the coverage called for the secondary.

      I thinkk your a little confused on defensive scheming…

  8. Mike I says:

    It’s definitely the coaching. You can add in Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Mike Richardson, Jonathan Wilhite as Patriot draft picks over the years that didn’t make it.

    No one seems to turn for the ball, I don’t understand it. All you have to do is play the game like it is Madden on the Sega Genesis and you can torch the Pats with either a long bomb or pass interference and just about any QB can accomplish this.

    You can legitimately say that the lack of a competent secondary has cost this team three more Super Bowls. 2006 AFC Title game and Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. On all three of those drives, touchdowns were scored. You could throw in that Lee Evans had a TD if he corralled the ball properly as well. You can only expect the offense to do so much and we shouldn’t have to think as fans that when we punt to the other team with the lead, the game is lost. Belichick has known this for years, and this is why he went for it on the 4th-and-2 play in Indy.

    This team signs 20 tight ends when they already have two of the best in the game, but does not really bring in a veteran presence in the secondary. Steve Gregory is a veteran, but he only has 31 NFL starts at age 29, which is less than Chung and McCourty. Why Bill hasn’t brought in a true veteran presence to ease the troops when times get rough back there is beyond me.

  9. jibri says:

    We need 2 draft CB & S that look for the freaking ball

    • Mike Loyko says:

      Dennard has shown the ability to find the ball.. I have honestly been impressed with what I saw.. techinique,etc. need work but he has skills..It’s time to try something new thats for sure

    • Derek says:

      We need to put our players we have now in positions to be successful. There is talent there they coaches just aren’t using it correctly. Everyone is saying that we need a stronger pass rush, well our pass rush isn’t amazing but no pass rush gets to the quarterback in less than 3 seconds EVERY play. We can get to the QB, what we need is coverage that can do their jobs and be in position to make throws so we can hold the QB’s in the pocker longer. If the coaches start using the secondary to schemes they are comfortable in and the secondary improves the pats d will be a scary one with how they are run defending right now.






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