The New England Patriots are 4-3 and look like a very mediocre football team right now.
“The Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL”, well at least that is what everyone was saying before the season started. After the week one beat down of the Tennessee Titans, it looked like those people were correct, but since then it has been a different story. The Pats lost two very close games to the Cardinals and then the Ravens. After beating a lousy Bills team and holding off the Denver Broncos, the Pats then blew a 13 point fourth quarter lead against the Seattle Seahawks to drop to 3-3. This past week they blew another fourth quarter lead, but pulled out a win over the Jets in overtime. They are sitting at 4-3, and do not look like a top NFL team right now. Many improvements need to be made if the Patriots are going to go anywhere in the playoffs.
Many people have been blaming the defense for the blown fourth quarter leads and that is deserved, but an equal amount of blame should be placed on the offense as well. The offense has been doing absolutely nothing in the fourth quarter. They are constantly punting the ball away and more often than not going three and out. The defense plays nearly the entire quarter, they never get a rest. When they don’t get a rest, they become tired, and it is much easier for the opposition to score. That is just common sense. The offense needs to start playing much better in the fourth quarter.
Better offense starts with better quarterback play, and Tom Brady has looked down right average so far this season. With the exception of the Buffalo game, Brady has gotten worse as the game goes on and has looked dreadful in the fourth quarter of some games. I have never seen Brady as inaccurate as he has been this year. There has been tons of times he has just flat out missed open receivers, and he is throwing a lot of balls basically at the ground or well over his receiver instead of giving them a chance to catch it. Brady is not to blame for all the problems however, a quarterback can only do so much.
The last place where significant improvement is needed is in the secondary. The Patriots’ pass defense has been very hit or miss. They either make an interception or get burned deep on long touchdown. More often that not, they are getting burned. The front seven is the best we have had since the Super Bowl years with Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Richard Seymour. We have a solid defensive line with Vince Wilfork and company, and our linebackers are top five in the league. Run defense is not a problem, but pass defense is. The secondary has been atrocious at points this year. Mark Sanchez threw all over them the second half of last week’s game, and he isn’t even a good quarterback. This is the biggest problem with the team and also the toughest to fix. I think we can get by with the players we have, but they need to really step up and be as good as they can be. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are the two best defensive backs we have and they need to start playing at the pro bowl level they have before.
The Patriots have the coaches, players, and scheme to be a Super Bowl calibre team, they just need to improve in these areas to get to that level.