Home » Blog » AFC East: Patriots Need Fine Tuning

AFC East: Patriots Need Fine Tuning

The AFC East has always been a hotly contested division, but over the past ten years has been dominated by the New England Patriots, following the period that the Buffalo Bills with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith had a stranglehold on it.

This season is no different, as we enter the sixth week New England sits perched at the top with a 3-2 record and Buffalo, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are all a game back at 2-3. However, if New England wants to reach another Super Bowl, and they are not stranger to the big game, as they have been there on five occasions in the past 11 seasons, they will have to step it up a notch in certain areas of their game.

New England has deficiencies on defense and other parts of their game that must be addressed between now and the playoffs if they hope to have the opportunity to hoist another Vince Lombardi Trophy.

One flaw that has been apparent through the first five weeks of the season for the New England Patriots is their pass protection. Inconsistency comes to mind when thinking about the offensive line. In week one, Tennessee only sacked Tom Brady once. However, in two of the five games the line has given up four sacks. Coach Bill Belichick knows his linemen are being criticized and says the only way to respond to the criticism is to do your job.

The team is ranked in the middle of the pack (16th) in sacks allowed, that has to improve, especially when the playoffs roll around, and opponents get better.

On the other side of the ball, the defense needs to pressure opposing quarterback better. The pass offense of opposing teams has been able to neutralize the defense pressure by the Patriots thus far in the season. The defensive line and linebackers have done a tremendous job of stopping the run, but have allowed quarterbacks to stand back in the pocket far too long and too often. That gives receivers time to get open, no matter how good the secondary coverage is.

On defense, the Patriots are only 19th in the league in sacks and if that remains the case, experienced quarterbacks will not have much of a problem picking the secondary to shreds.

With weak defensive pressure on opposing quarterbacks comes poor pass coverage. Last year, the Patriots pass defense was ranked 31st. This year the secondary has made strides forward but are not near where they need to be. The secondary is always being tested deep by opposing quarterbacks and has allowed over 294 yards a game. That has allowed teams to throw for 12 touchdown passes against the Patriots in only five games.

A football game consists of four 15-minute quarters, but the Patriots are known for not quite playing the entire 60 minutes of some games. New England lost in week 2 to Arizona as they let the clock run down and then missed a last second field goal, instead of trying to score a touchdown or get in better field position for the field goal attempt. Against Baltimore, the Patriots were ahead by 13 points during the first quarter and lost 31-30.

The Patriots of all teams should be aware of how complacency losses games. All they have to do is remember what happened in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Those two losses should give veteran Tom Brady enough bad memories that he should know it isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

  • 100%