Answer: an elephant...
I know I'm gonna get killed here, but I'm just too frustrated not to throw it out there again.
First off, I'm not exonerating the offense. I think poor QB play and choices, poor personnel decisions and questionable playcalling have factored greatly into losses for a few seasons now and certainly this season. And yes, I do realize they are/were the number 1 offense in the league rolling into last week, but sometimes you can't look at the big picture. Sometimes the glaring flaws get covered up by the end result. When the team scores 35, no one wants to look back at the game and discuss Brady overthrowing or underthrowing 4 or 5 critical plays and that's becoming more and more common. And apparently, no one is seeing the fact that late in games when we're trying to come back after a catastrophic defensive (and/or offensive) letdown, the offensive line has a hard time handling even a 4 man pass rush if it's dialed up aggressively with heat on the outside and a stunt up the middle.
My biggest issue however, is with the defense and more specifically, Belichick. At what point does Belichick have to start accepting some REAL accountability for this putrid defense? In fact, how about some accountability for the entire team? I'm not talking about the mundane press conference response where he says "we have to play better, we have to coach better, it's as simple as that... blah, blah, blah." He's the one that drafts the players on the field. He's the one that hires the coaching staff... he makes the personnel decisions. He signs off on the gameplan... If you want to play that "bend but don't break" style of defense, fine... but you kinda need corners and safeties that don't allow receivers to get 10 yards past them in coverage. The whole freaking point of the bend but don't break defense is to keep everything IN FRONT of you! Bend but don't break is bent an broken... In any event, the buck stops with him on everything pertaining to the organization aside from ownership concerns. So at what point does he become accountable?
Everyone from fanboys to the media love to throw about buzz words, such as "defensive genius" or "guru." I can assure you, he's neither. If he were, he'd have a defense that people fear, rather than laugh at. Yes, I said LAUGH AT! Nothing worse than Russell Wilson knifing you up in the second half for a comeback victory... No one fears this defense anymore. I've been a Patriots fan for many, many years and suffered through the bad days and enjoyed the good, but the conclusion that I've come to is that there seems to be an elephant in the corner of the room that no one wants to address when it comes to Belichick... The fact that all of his titles were won playing with house money.
As a defensive coordinator for the Giants in the '80's, he was coaching the likes of L.T., Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson and Leonard Marshall, just to name a few. Pretty hard not to be successful with that bunch. But guess what... he didn't draft any of those players. Another Bill, last name Parcells did. So, when we fast forward a decade to when he takes over the Patriots, he wins early and often on his way to 3 titles in 4 years, and everyone crowns him as a defensive genius. Once again, he's riding on the coat tails of that "other" Bill, last name Parcells. Belichick won 3 titles in New England with the likes of Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Willie Mac, Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law... ALL PARCELLS' GUYS! Then throw Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weiss into the mix and you have two MORE Parcells guys! What happens after all those guys are long gone? The "guru" is exposed for the fraud he is.
Are you seriously telling me that a defensive "genius" can't come up with some sort of plan to keep a rookie qb from looking like Joe Montana? Really??? This has slowly been happening for the last few seasons, but now it's just a joke. Last season, Dan Orlovsky went 30 of 37 for 353 and 2 TDs and the Colts gave us all we wanted... Dan "no-longer-in the-league" Orlovsky... and now, RUSSELL FREAKING WILSON?
We've been seeing other defenses rebuilt with quick turnarounds over the past two or three season, while the Patriots defense is floundering. Why? How is it that other teams are fielding solid defenses while ours is the laughing stock of the league? Please don't say it's where we draft. We've traded down or out of the first round quite a few times over the years, when we could have picked up a stud player, instead opting for "value" or "future picks"... It doens't matter how many picks you stockpile for the future if you're never going to use them, or use them on guys like Darius Butler and Pat Chung. And honestly, who knows? Maybe those guys (Butler and Chung) are/were actually good picks, but if they were, then the "genius" has done a pizz poor job in hiring assistant coaches to coach them up and teach them. There may actually be something to that, considering so many of our high DB selections seem to merit the place they were drafted, only to regress after the first season, then continue to spiral downward.
Some will say, "relax, we got to the superbowl last year."... Yeah, but here's why. In the playoffs, opposing teams seem to get conservative against us. They don't want to make a big mistake in a playoff game. If you get too conservative against Brady, he will beat you. The proof is in the 2007 season. Late in the season, the Eagles, Ravens and Giants figured out the formula for slowing down the undefeated offensive juggernaut. They pressured Brady to the extreme and we won all 3 of those games by a mere 3 points. The formula was out, but in the playoffs, Jacksonville and San Diego were too conservative to even try. But then we meet up with the Giants again in the Superbowl and they didn't really even blitz that much... they just brought a lot of 4 man pressure with stunts in the gaps. And once again last year, the Giant's just overmatched and outcoached us. They were not afraid of us. Some will say, yeah, but the offense choked... perhaps, but we led late in the game... the offense did it's job. The D couldn't get off the field.
The bottom line is that the buck stops with Belichick. Whether it's lack of personnel, or poor coaching (or both), there's an inherent problem with technique and personnel on this squad on both sides of the ball. He apparently has the guys that he wants, since he's the guy drafting them... so, either he's not the coach everyone thinks he is, or, he's not the personnel evaluator that HE thinks he is. If he is indeed a "genius" then why are guys like Chung and Arrington even on the field. They are clearly liabilities. Not only can Chung not cover, but he can't even lay a big hit anymore because he's always so out of position that he can't get to the play until it's well over... and even then, it's only when he's not injured.
I'm not saying I want Belichick's head on a platter. I'm just tired of all the "genius" or "guru" stuff flying around. People want to know why the Patriots are not playing well... why they can't win the big one? Facts are facts, and the fact is that he hasn't won a title, either as a coordinator or as a head coach without the Parcells drafted players and assistants around him. His claim to fame is drafting Tom Brady and having the sense to put him in when Bledsoe went down. Now we're seeing Brady in decline. He's just not clutch anymore... hasn't been since '07. He's now forcing balls, making bad decisions, jawing to other players "see me after the game"... Uhhh... you might want to break yourself there Tom, because this defense certainly isn't going to close for you or back you up. I cringe everytime the opposition drops back to pass... even on 4th and 15... and certainly no one wants to see Gostkowski come in with the game on the line. We've learned our lesson there... So, Tom, maybe ease up on the "see me after the game stuff"...
So, go ahead, call me a troll. It's just a word made up by internet bullies who want to slam those who don't agree with or won't conform to the status quo. So, I'm a troll, but at least the elephant in the corner has been addressed.