New England Patriots: 5 Things Bill Belichick Must Fix Immediately
The 34-31 defeat raised a lot of questions about the Patriots and what kind of team they are going to be for the rest of the season.
Bill Belichick has been excellent throughout his coaching career at making adjustments throughout the season. He recognizes the weaknesses on his roster and doesn't hesitate to make the changes he feels are necessary.
Here are five things that Belichick must fix in order for the Patriots to get back on track.
All three quarterbacks that the Patriots have faced have been able to find success against the Patriots secondary.
They have allowed two passing touchdowns in each of the games, and the lowest yardage total they have been able to hold a quarterback to was 369 against Ryan Fitzpatrick yesterday.
It is clear that there are some serious holes in the secondary.
Devin McCourty, who stood out as a rookie last year, has been getting torched thus far this season. He is facing the toughest receivers that each team has to offer, but he just hasn't been the same lock down quality corner.
The safety position is a problem as well. After releasing James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather in the preseason, they were replaced by a group of career back ups.
The weakness was even more evident with the absence of Patrick Chung yesterday against the Bills.
Belichick is going to need to figure out a coverage scheme that can give his young secondary a better chance to succeed.
If he can't, offenses will continue to have a field day against the Patriots.
The Pass Rush
The Patriots added several new pieces to their defensive line during the offseason to help bolster the pass rush.
However, that improvement has really yet to be seen.
New England has only compiled six sacks over the course of three games. However, we know that a good pass rush isn't all about sacks.
The Patriots have routinely only been sending four guys after the quarterback. This could be because Belichick believes in the quantity over quality strategy for his secondary or he thinks that is all he needs to generate a good pass rush.
Belichick is going to need to either increase the amount of pass rushers he sends or change the blitzing schemes to make the current rush more effective.
The secondary is struggling enough on their own, giving the quarterback ample amounts of time to throw will only make things worse.
The Running Game
It is clear that the Patriots running game is going to take a back seat to Tom Brady and the passing game.
However, there is going to need to be some consistency if New England wants other teams to treat it as a threat. In each of the Patriots' three games, they have had a different running back lead their team in rushing.
Belichick has three different running backs that all bring a variety of skills to the table. I have always been the first to praise him for using those backs in the situations which give them the best chance to succeed.
Sunday, we saw that mold broken. BenJarvus Green-Ellis essentially disappeared for a large portion of the game. Danny Woodhead only really had one drive where he was a factor.
We did get a brief glimpse of Stevan Ridley, but then he too disappeared.
Belichick needs to straighten out what these backs' roles are going to be in this offense and start using them before teams stop treating it as a threat.
Chad Ochocinco has taken the brunt of Patriots fans frustrations of late.
Possibly unfairly so. However, it is clear that Ochocinco's inability to grasp the offense is becoming a bigger factor every week.
On Sunday, we saw Ochocinco again be a non-factor. He only caught two passes, but the memorable highlight will be his dropped pass that was surely a touchdown had he hung on to it.
We also saw him run a lazy route on a pass that Brady threw one of his four interceptions on.
Belichick hasn't hesitated to take him out of situations that he feels Ochocinco can't perform in.
How long can this go on?
Ochocinco is going to need to contribute in some form or get off of the field. In a close game, like Sunday's, every play matters.
We can't afford to give plays away, and I am sure that Belichick will be addressing that.
Don't misunderstand me; there is nothing wrong with Tom Brady.
The main problem is that the New England Patriots can't turn in to the "Tom Brady Show". Belichick needs to recognize that the only reason we have won the games we've won is because of Tom Brady.
Even referencing the Bills game, Tom Brady still drove the team down the field to tie the game at 31. Even with four interceptions, which not all of them were his fault, he kept the Patriots in the game.
He is our best weapon and he is our star.
That doesn't mean that the fate of our team's success should ride on his shoulders.
Belichick is going to need to take the weight off of the shoulders of Brady through all the other phases of the game. When Brady is working at his best, he makes it look so easy.
The last thing we want is Brady to start forcing passes.
Belichick has his work cut out for him with this team, but if he can pull it all together, the Patriots have a chance to be a championship caliber team.