Re: Dreadful Defence
posted at 11/13/2012 8:40 PM EST
I take two positions. First, the defense is what BB wants it to be, up to a point, and what BB wants isn't what most fans and the media expect. Second, the Patriots defense looks pretty sub-par compared to many years.
The New England defense is usually built around stopping the Jerome Bettuses of the NFL. A huge massive nose tackle or two huge defensive tackles, some 290 pound defensive ends and three extremely heavy linebackers can plug any hole up the middle.
No defense does everything well. Flyweight C.J. Spiller ran around the Patriots' ends way too much. Also, the heavy-handed approach doesn't get as many sacks as the Indianapolis Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis blitzing approach. If it weren't for Chandler Jones New England would be getting almost no sacks at all. This approach tends to leave the backfield exposed.
Under Bill Belichick's rather specialized defensive system, the defense should be giving up primarily short passes up to the 50 yard line and should hold the opponent just shy of field goal range on third down, or shy of the goal line on third down. I assign a fairly low point value on all individual first downs that don't move the football into scoring range, especially if the ball is thrown for short passes, and I suspect that BB does also. As a result, we see lots of long opposition drives, a few interceptions and fumbles, a few punts, and rather low opposition scoring.
Also, the defense's mainstay, if the offense has done its job and put them up 14 points or so, is the prevent. New England ran the prevent all of the fourth quarter and it almost failed them. If I had to make a suggestion I'd say get some life into the Patriots' absolutely colorless vanilla prevent defense. Then again, New England is running rookies in the backfield so they have to go plain vanilla. At the very last second the prevent worked, but only because a Buffalo rookie receiver finally blew his job.
I think that about half of the public's criticism of this defense is earned. BB is starting rookies, and then they're getting injured so BB is starting some real wild cards. That's one good reason why BB is taking a shot at Aqib Talib. The non-criticizing other half is BB loving his prevent. Statistically, prevent defenses and prevent offenses win a higher percentage of games than would a standard football mix of formations. Prevents just ring up terrible yardage statistics.
Finally, I think that the Patriots were jobbed by replacement refs in the Arizona game (the winning touchdown run was unfairly called back) and in the Baltimore game (everyone know that the Baltimore kicker missed the winning kick). If the Pats were 8-1 only the regular boo-birds would be complaining.