So, last night over at nepatriotsdraft.com, they came out with a great 2,000+ word diatribe titled, Blame For Patriots Secondary Starts at Top in which he blames Bill for the woes back there. I highly recommend you reading it; it's very good. However, I am going to give you a little review here, as well as provide some opposing viewpoints. As always, follow me @CultOfBelichick
1. The Patriots need to develop talent.
So, he starts it off talking about how Patriots defensive backs are regressing, instead of improving as the years go on. This is something that I have noticed too, and is definitely worrisome You look at Butler, Wheatley, McCourty, Chung, And now Dowling this year. All of them have seemed to regress. Wheatley never looked great, but got worse. Both Butler and McCourty were great in year one, with terrible results in year 2. McCourty is having a little bounceback year this year, but still not great. As Mike Loyko, points out, "There is a definite trend here and the question has to be asked, why the regression from year one to year two?" I don't know how to answer this, and I wonder what Bill's honest answer (which obviously we would never get) would be. Maybe it is time to start bringing in secondary players. Playing Devil's advocate for a sec: people were saying this about BB and TE's with Dan Graham and Ben Watson, and then they got GronkNandez.
2. When I look at the Patriots secondary right now I see a bunch of mismatched pieces.
This is where he really started to get to me. This was just an incredibly astute observation. We have McCourty, who can only play zone. Chung is playing a FS role, when he should be playing in the box. Arrington is a great slot guy, but he's being forced to play outside too much, etc. etc. I think this can really be related to Bill doing some trial and error, both in what type of defense to play, as well as what type of players to draft. Bill really puts a premium on versatility, and I think the secondary is where it is hardest to achieve this. There really are not many, if any, guys that can play multiple techniques at a high level. I think what Belichick needs to do, is decide how he is going to play defense, and what he puts a premium on in DBs, and stick with it. He seems to be changing his mind too much, and it shows.
3. In game play calling especially at the end of games is atrocious.
This one has been beaten to death. They play prevent too much in the end of game situations when they are up. My only retort to this is that they are trying not to allow like a 45 yard touchdown pass or something ridiculous like that to beat them....oh wait. If you are still going to get burned with those, at least mix some stuff up and try to make them think.
4. The Patriots have given up 33 passing plays of over 20 yards and 5 passing plays of over 40 yards through six games.
Yeah, if you haven't seen that stat yet, that is just horrific. The majority of this is on the safeties, who have been just abysmal. For some reason, I had thought (without looking at stats) that they had done well with this, at least until the game against the Seahawks. This is just bad. Real bad. Granted, we had Wilson and Ebner out there for last game, but a lot of these are from games that saw Chung and Gregory in there. When you are getting killed for playing too soft of a zone, and already have 5 plays of over 40, what the FUCK is going on? Something needs to change here.
5. It also makes me wonder if the way Bill Belichick coaches defense backs is a thing of the past.
This I dunno about. I am not one to question the way Bill coaches, but there has to be something going on here. Is he giving them too many responsibilities? Maybe. When guys just go out and play in their first year, they play well, but then once they start getting all the way into the playbook, and have so much time with the coaching staff, they start thinking too much, and seem to forget to use their instincts. The lack of turning around seems to increase as the years go on. Coincidence? Coaching? Not sure, but it's something.
6. My last point is something that Ty Law brought up on CSNNE after the game last night. He said something to the degree that with Bill Belichick so instrumental in all phases of the Patriots program, that when it comes to finding defensive backs and drafting in general, there is no way he can put in the same time and effort that he does into coaching the football team.
This is where I jumped off the wagon on this article. This is maybe the dumbest line of criticism Bellichick gets. Oh, he can't draft? Yeah, he got Hernandez in the 4th round, Gronk in the middle of the 2nd, Spikes in the (laaaaate) 2nd, Vollmer in the 2nd, Solder (who is looking like a stud), Chandler Jones, etc etc. EVERYONE is going to miss here and there. Find me one person that doesn't, you can't. The dude can draft, and there is nothing you can say to convince me otherwise. The time and effort in drafting is done at a different time of the year than he is coaching, it really doesn't overlap.
Conclusions? Something HAS to change. I don't know what it is, but something does, and I gotta agree with NEPatriotsDraft on this one, the blame starts and ends with Bill.