New England Patriots: Their Three Biggest Holes to Plug Up

Caleb AbnerContributor IIIDecember 17, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02: Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders catches this pass over Sergio Brown #31 and Antwaun Molden #27 of the New England Patriots during an NFL football game at Coliseum on October 2, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

For a 10-3 team, the Patriots are pretty awful. I mean really, they're only ranked in the top 10 for passing yardage. For pass defense and overall defense, the Pats are at a solid 32nd. 

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and other stars can make up for the horrendous defense for only so long. In a season where the team was made porous by injuries, it's nothing short of a miracle that New England has lost to three opponents. 

Undoubtedly, they will make the playoffs, either as the wild card, or more likely, the AFC East Champion. Yet, this does not change their overall depth and talent problems.

The secondary is an obvious flaw, but the team also lacks a third WR and a consistent pass rush.


Need No. 1: Strong Safety

Right now, Sergio Brown plays strong safety. 


He's a very consistent player, consistently losing wide receivers in man coverage, consistently fudging up easy tackles, and consistently letting players catch terrible passes by being a consistent non-presence. 

I would have kept Brandon Meriweather, even though I never thought he was close to good. Still, better than Sergio Brown, who made a pass interference in the end zone, on a Eli Manning's worst pass of the night, giving the game away. It's one thing to not produce, but it's very different to reduce.


Need No. 2: Pass Rush

Andre Carter has done a great job getting to the quarterback this season, bringing in 10 sacks. Mark Anderson, his counterpart, has seven so far. Yet, Carter is 32 years old and streaky. When other teams drop back to pass as much as they do, (against the Patriots), someone needs to bring in constant, unrelenting pressure to keep the quarterback from getting enough time to find the open man. When the Patriots are leaving several men open each play, someone needs to tackling the quarterback each play.

Don't ask Wilfork; he's got his hands full with the rush. 


Need No. 3: A Third Wide Receiver

Don't tell anyone, but the Pats lack even a solid No. 2 wide receiver. Deion Branch is not fast enough to play to an elite level and is growing old. 

Still, he does what's needed. Besides Branch and Welker, the Patriots do not have a single WR who could start on a different team. They have two fantastic tight ends, yet TEs are not fast enough to get open in the deep field. Sure, Gronkowski can plow his way there after the catch but can't catch Hail Marys. In fact, Brady had to refrain from attempting one this very season, due to the lack of someone who can catch it. 

A deep threat would open up worlds of opportunity. 

Remember Randy Moss?

These holes will not be easy to fill in.

Not at all.