The Patriots defense this season has been abysmal.
Now, this could be viewed as a mute point based on how well the New England Patriots offense has performed thus far, but, the poor performances of the Patriot defense should not go unnoticed.
During the first three weeks of this 2011 NFL season, the Patriots have allowed 487 yards per game, putting them in last place in total defense. That means they are giving up 7.1 yards per play. The Patriots are currently ahead of the next worst defense by an entire 40 yards per game.
Lets break it down by game:
NE 38 Miami 24
- This game was a shootout until fatigue set in on the Dolphins defense and Brady took over in the 4th quarter. The Patriots defense did little to stop Chad Henne as he willingly moved the ball up and down the field to a tune of 416 yards passing and 488 total yards. Since then, the Dolphins have scored a total of 30 points and Chad Henne has thrown for a total of 425 yards in two games against supposedly lesser defenses (Texans, Browns).
NE 35 Chargers 21
- Another shootout win for Brady and the gang. Once again the Patriots DBs got torched by bigger receivers in Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson (12 catches, 231 yards). The defense gave up 370 yards passing and 470 total yards. While they were facing Philip Rivers, Rivers has looked suspect in his other two games, throwing four interceptions and posting a lower QB rating than he did in this game.
NE 31 Buf 34
- See the trend? 369 passing yards, 448 total yards. Half time adjustments by the Bills had the NE offense reeling in the 3rd quarter and most of the fourth. The defense failed to help the offense out. Poor defensive back play finally catches up with the Patriots.
This trend can be seen in all three games. Poor safety play by Pat Chung and Josh Barrett has really exposed the youth at the corner position. Opposing defenses are having their way with the undersized corners, who have poor over-the-top help and a non-existent pass rush from veterans Ellis, Haynesworth, and Wilfork. Although they have been stout against the run, the defensive line is getting no push on the opposing QB pockets, thus allowing ample time for the QB to survey the field.
It will be tough to improve the talent halfway through the season, so the Patriots are going to have to work with what they have. They must figure out a way to get pressure on the opposing quarterbacks in order to give their defensive backs some help.
Don't get me wrong, the pats are one of the elite teams in the NFL, but without an average-at-best defense, I am not sure how long they will last in a playoff-type game.
A win is a win you say? Fair enough, but the New England Patriots are going to have to do better down the road as teams figure out how to limit Tom Brady. Historically, as the temperature cools down, so does Brady.
Time of possession will be a concern for the Patriots as Brady tries to keep his porous defense off the field.