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The Struggling New England Patriots

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are not the team people thought they would be through four weeks.

Tom Brady has been Tom Brady, but both the entire defense and the offensive line haven’t just been bad, they have been historically bad.

The defense has given up 128 points through four games. On the other side of the ball, Brady has been sacked 13 times, the most in his career through any four weeks.

The defense has given up 457 yards per game, including 324 passing yards, which are both dead last in the NFL. In week 4 against the Panthers, the Patriots gave up 444 yards, which actually helped their season average.

It’s only week 4. The last time the Patriots were 2-2 and the sky was falling, they won the Super Bowl. Let’s not count them out yet, but lets dive into the real problems here. We can also give it a few weeks before we scream “The Patriots, lets face it, they’re not good anymore.”

Offensive Line

The New England Patriots
The Patriots O-line and Tom Brady. (Photo from Footballscoop.com.)

There have been quite a few times that Tom Brady has had a less than stellar offensive line.

This season, Brady hasn’t turned it over and has thrown for over 1,300 yards in the first four weeks. The offense has converted on 44.4 percent of their third downs, which is good for seventh in the NFL.

The production is there, but some sacks have cost the Patriots a few important possessions.

Marcus Cannon has been banged up on the line with an ankle injury, and a week 2 concussion has also hurt the teams unity as they try to stop pass rushes moving forward.

Defense

The Patriots have blown a few major covers this year. They have given up chunk yards to almost all the quarterbacks they have faced and have struggled to get turnovers.

Now at this point, it could be a level of familiarity. Dont’a Hightower has missed two of the four games to start, and he is the vocal leader and defensive captain. Stephon Gilmore has only played four games with the Patriots, and Eric Rowe has been in and out of the secondary with a groin injury.

Ben Volin’s twitter here shows the 28-yard Fozzy Whittaker touchdown. What it also shows is Ed Dickson eight yards down field wide open as well.

Three New England Patriots chased Christian McCaffrey across the field leaving both Whittaker and Dickson all alone on the opposite side of the field.

The biggest struggle has been communication, and the secondary has taken the blame for that. Devin McCourty stated that “We are bad right now and we are letting the team down.”

For all the good that Tom Brady has done this year with limited receivers and a statistically bad defense, the Patriots are 2-2. There is only room for improvement as of right now, and that’s the bright side for the New England Patriots.

The Good News

New England Patriots
Patriots in the 2012, Super Bowl XLVI. (Photo by CBS Sports)

This is a small sample size, but last time the Patriots were this bad on defense was 2011.

The Patriots were second to last in both yards given up (411) and passing yards given up (294). They also were 28th in the league on third downs defended at 43.1 percent, which is slightly worse than this season’s 44.4 percent.

The Patriots ended up a possession short of winning the Super Bowl that season. The one key difference here is that the 2011 team was a bend but don’t break defense.

This season, the Patriots’ defense needs to find an identity, and they need to fast. Otherwise, the defending champs could be watching this year’s Super Bowl on TV.

 

Featured Image from BostonHerald.com.

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