I think most people can agree that for *some reason*, the Patriots have problems with pass rush, and also with pass protection for Brady. The easy conclusion is that this team simply needs better talent at linebacker, or better talent at O-line. I would disagree and argue that the overall talent of this team is as good as anybody, and that the scheme issues underlie our pass rush and also protection issues. The main problem is in scheme predictability, and in how that limits the possibilities an opposing O-line or opposing defender has to process or worry about...which makes the opposing team much better at attacking our QB, or blocking our rushers. Consider the following. Pass Rush: Pre-snap an opposing O-line and QB have to figure out how many people the defense is bringing, who is blitzing, and from where. Because the Patriots more often than not play their LB's, corners, and safeties off the line, the O-line can easily identify who is coming, make correct assignments, have less uncertainty/confusion. When we do occasionally blitz a non-BantaCain player, the blitzer is usually so far off the line they can't arrive in time, and the D-line also can't flat out pass rush because they must play their run gaps first usually. Pass Protection: A team's pass protection improves if it knows a defense must respect running gaps -- it limits the moves, space, and locations a defender can juke to for an O-lineman to anticipate. Look at the play by play of the last game. Sean Payton intentionally keeps Drew Brees under center as much as he can. Why? Because he knows the inherent benefit that the threat of run does to the opposing D-line, the corners, LB's and safeties. Even a 4-man D-line can wreak havoc against a 5-man O-line if they essentially blitz all day against our shotgun-happy offense. When you don't have to mind any running gaps it's MUCH easier to sprint, juke, and pull moves against offensive linemen. It is also tougher for the O-lineman to block since the defender can now move in any number of places, not having to cover any running gap responsibility that the blocker can anticipate. The problem is that 75% of our passes are from shotgun, and that from shotgun we pass over 86% of the time. When we are in this formation, teams are essentially blitzing. This Saints game was too similar to how the 07 Giants stopped us. These issues are not Belichick-related. It's clear from the 1st half stats that the pre-game planning and scouting works, which Belichick no doubt has influence on. The more a game goes on, the influence of our coordinators increases. The problem is that Belichick's hands are tied by not being able to hire coordinators past a certain salary, and has to coach up his own coaches who revert to their predictable tendencies as the game goes on. .