Is coaching an issue for Patriots?


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Our pal and AFC East guru Tim Graham posed the question over at ESPN.com, a blog post that played off of Kerry Byrne’s bold statement at Cold Hard Football Facts that “The AFC East race is still far from over. But we do know this: you can
finally put a fork in the “Belichick as Genius” storyline, an effort we
started two years ago, long before it was popular.”

Now seems like a relevant time to look at it, anyway, in the wake of the club’s loss to the Jets and continuing problems a) on the road and b) in the second half of games.

The Patriots are now 1-8 in the stadiums of their opponents (which factors out the win in London last October) since the beginning of 2009, and the one win was a 17-10 triumph over a playing-out-the-string Buffalo club. The second half issue might be more troubling.

Last year, the Patriots had the best first-half point differential in the league, at plus-9.1, yet were outscored on the whole in the second half and overtime. Through two games this year, New England has won the first half by an aggregate score of 38-13 and lost the second half 39-14. One of the reasons? Well, the Jets players believed that their coaches were a step ahead of New England’s, from an adjustment standpoint.

“Whatever they did, whatever they adjusted to, we made adjustments and
counteracted them,” said tight end Dustin Keller, walking out of the locker room after the game. “(Offensive
coordinator) Brian Schottenheimer did a good job, and (quarterback) Mark
Sanchez did a good job putting the ball there.”

Does this mean Bill Belichick forgot how to coach? Heck no, it doesn’t. But there has been a ton of attrition on his staff over the years, and there is the no-coordinator thing, and you have to wonder if there’s a price being paid for all of that. Much as the younger players have to get better, the staff has room to grow as well, so that might be a process of the course of the season too.

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