Found November 13, 2012 on
Boston Sports Nut:
It was either really good defense or really bad defense for the New England Patriots this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills- that’s for sure. At times, it seemed as if the Pats were able to get adequate pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the entire second half seemed as if he was getting plenty of time, and the running backs had plenty of running room to make their moves.
There were three things that saved the defense from losing this one, though. First, the key interception with 23 seconds left for Devin McCourty- without that, what would this game have been?. Second, the 14 penalties for 148 yards the Bills had. Third, there was a lost fumble at the New England 1-yard line for Fred Jackson that could have led to a touchdown when the Bills were down 34-24 with 9:35 remaining in the game.
The Pats defense has gotten better, admittedly, with the likes of rookie defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The improved pass rush led to three sacks and four quarterbacks hit against the Bills, a better number than most posted by the defensive line this season.
From what we’ve seen from the rookies, it looks like the Patriots will be in good shape going forward as they continue to assemble a squad that figures to be competitive in future years.
Jones, the rookie out of Syracuse, has been a godsend for the Pats’ inside game. According to the Patriots website, he has forced three fumbles in the nine games he has started. He also has issued six sacks and 34 total tackles.
As for Hightower, he has 2.5 sacks and 29 total tackles in his seven games. He missed two games with an injury in the middle of the season.
Sure, the secondary is a little weak with the likes of Devin McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard and Marquice Cole, but, overall, the defense is improving. It’s something that has really taken a beating with the loss of Patrick Chung at the safety position. Chung is a pretty solid safety, but it helps Devin McCourty’s career, as well as his motivation, to play that position. McCourty has played a free safety position since Chung went down a couple weeks ago and has played fairly well in 2012. He has totaled three interceptions, one forced fumble and 46 total tackles. Sure, it may not be the excellent mark of seven interceptions he had back in 2010, but he seems to like being able to see the plays develop in front of him instead of just playing the receivers when his back is to the ball.
Yes, they are easy to throw against and sometimes commit too much to a pass and commit some key defensive pass interference penalties late in games, but the Pats can stop the ball from reaching the end zone. In fact, one guy that really has shown improvement has been Jermaine Cunningham. Cunningham did not play well at all in 2011, but has really matured the last few games to force fumbles and get to opposing quarterbacks. He even has played well against the short pass attempts, something he faltered in last season.
The 24-year-old has seen less playing time since joining the Patriots in 2010. He has only started two games in 2012 with 15 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. He actually had a sack and a fumble recovery in the game against the Bills. He made some really smart plays, but he also committed a couple penalties that cost the Patriots some yards.
The Patriots allowed 481 total yards, including 162 rushing yards, which is almost 80 yards more than they have allowed per game this season. This stat is a little troubling based on the fact that it is trending downward when the defense should be clicking on all cylinders midway through the season.
Luckily, this is the first game out of the bye week for the Pats. It gives them seven more games to be a little more consistent on both ends of the ball, especially the defensive end.
Photo via Flickr/Keith Allison
The post Evauating the Patriots’ Defense: Week 10 appeared first on Boston Sports Nut.
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