Getting a bye and HFA for the playoffs is an important goal, but for the 2012 Patriots I think that growth and development mean more. 3 losses in the books are already a strike against the shot at a bye and 2 against a #1 seed and HFA. But the level of talent on this team is sufficient to beat anyone anywhere, but this team needs to develop. The issues are clear, they just must be corrected. For some reason offensively with a lead, we cannot decide whether we want to go for the throat, or milk the clock, and we have consistently ended up handling this by trying to do both. While I'm not jumping on the negativity train, and pretending it always happens (because we have protected a whole lot of leads) it does happen more than it should. Defensively, this team is not going to be what it is now in December. Let's hope that means it is better then. History is on it's side in that way. Up front, it seems like a step in the right direction happened by accident moving Ninkovich out of the LDE spot and to an OLB position, and playing Cunningham full time. Cunningham is a more gifted and disruptive player. Other than Cunningham sliding inside in sub, we simply have to figure out how to get any type of inside rush. The scheme may need to develop in this case, and add in more blitizing. Jones, Hightower, Cunningham, Spikes and some lesser contributors should continue to get more comfortable in the system and their evolving roles. In the secondary, I am hopeful that yesterday was the end of the Arrington era. I am fine with Dennard taking over, and it seems like a Hobbs kind of rookie emergence about to happen. I would prefer that Dowling takes that job, and hope that he is still getting back to 100% and will increase his health and role as the season wears on. Its possible he won't do more than he already is as well. I am not ready to kill the safety position just yet, because there is hope of improvement. Wilson has had his ups and downs, but certainly looks capable as he develops. Gregory is not a nightmare, but is limited. Chung still seems tentative in zone coverage. That is the maddening part. This D priorotizes not giving up the big play, and then we have games like yesterday. There is no way that happens in Decemeber or January. The problem is though, that to stop that from happening, we leave the short and intermediate stuff in the middle of the field open. I really think a key to this defense is the LBs as well as the nickel and dime backs. The LBs have to start becoming effective in the passing game. Whether it is blitzing the speed up the play, or playing better in coverage so the safeties are in a kill me with the big play or bleed me to death with papercuts dilemma. I think the pass defense has been better in many ways this year. A lot of the completions being allowed are much more contested than they were a year ago, but its still not good enough. What happened yesterday is just inexcusable though. But I'm pretty sure that will get corrected, based on 11 years of seeing how corrections get made around here. This season is about fixing these issues. The team that played the first 6 games won't get it done in the post-season, but the team it has potential to grow into by January could be as good as ones that have won rings here. This season, like quite a few others is going to come down to getting the job done in 2 minute defense, when the other team must throw. I don't doubt that failure in these situations now can create success in them later, by changing players and scheme.