Here’s one that was less talked about: The Patriots’ tackling.
It was pretty clear in January that a more physical team (Baltimore) punched New England in the mouth to deliver the season’s knockout blow. But as Football Outsiders’ numbers prove, the problem was hardly an isolated one.
The Patriots were 11th in the league with broken tackles allowed on 6.2 percent of their defensive snaps. On the flip side, the offense “produced” broken tackles on 6.3 percent of their offensive snaps, a very high number for a team without a particularly potent running game that probably has a lot to do with slippery passing-game weapons like Kevin Faulk and Wes Welker.
Maybe just as interesting is that when FO listed the 12 worst tackling linebackers and 12 worst tackling DBs in the league, not a single Patriot appeared, indicating that this was more of a team problem than anything else.
So what does it mean? Well, it could mean more two-a-days, more padded practices, and more conditioning during camp for the guys. But it could also mean more technique work, too, since we can all remember more than a couple missed “kill shots” during the 2009 season.
Either way, this is a problem that seems atypical of the real good New England defenses of the past, and likely one to be a focus in the next few months.