No Where to Go But Up For the Patriots Defense
Sitting at 2-1, the Patriots find themselves in a familiar situation as while their offense is leading the league in total yards and points per game, their defense isn’t faring quite so well through three weeks.
However, one important point of consideration is simply to remember that given how long the season tends to be, it’s better to see them struggle in September than in December. The only question will be how many bumps they encounter along the way while trying to remain in contention for a high playoff seed. As the last two Super Bowl runs have shown us, when opposing teams to have to come through Foxboro in order to advance, good things tend to happen.
It certainly won’t be easy, and there’s definitely a little bit of a reason to be on edge until Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia are able to work out the kinks in New England’s defense.
As it stands right now, following Sunday’s exciting win over the Texans, the Patriots managed to move past the woeful Saints into sole possession of last place in the league defensively. They allowed 417 total net yards to Houston, including 301 passing to rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, as well as 125 total rushing yards.
It’s been rough. Through three weeks, the Patriots have already allowed eight passing plays of over 30 yards, more than halfway to the 14 they finished the 2016 regular season with.
Patricia is no stranger to staying the course and working out the kinks on defense.
Overall, after the 33 points they gave up to the Texans, they’re also last in the league with that total pushing their average up to 31.7 points per game. Belichick admitted on Tuesday that this is obviously an area of focus, and that they’ve still got plenty of work to do.
“We’re always looking to give up as few points as possible, so there’s a lot of things we can improve on in all three phases of the game,” said Belichick. “Plenty of them on defense, plenty of them on offense, plenty of them on special teams. We can score more points, give up fewer, have better field position, don’t turn the ball over, take it away more. We need to work on all of those things.”
While most critics will likely begin to pile on these numbers, lost in the mix is the fact that they were still without Dont’a Hightower, who went down late in the game in Week one and is obviously one of the biggest keys to their defense. Also missing Sunday was cornerback Eric Rowe, who has also been an important player in the secondary and had them a little thin depth-wise. Stephon Gilmore showed his first glimpses in what was his best game thus far in New England, and Malcolm Butler also looked like he’s finally starting to settle in. As a result, there are still quite a few moving parts in this defense that aren’t quite up to speed just yet, which will likely change as the weeks continue.
One thing we know quite well, where this team is in the first month of the season tends to be much different from where they are by the time January approaches. Hopefully, for their sake, after what’s clearly been a slow start, that trend will continue.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2017 Patriots Season Bill Belichick Dont'a Hightower Malcolm Butler New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Stephon Gilmore Trey Flowers