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Monday, November 7, 2011

Wait, So Kyle Arrington, Sergio Brown And No. 26 (Philip Adams) AREN'T Championship Quality Defenders?

Admit it. When Eli Manning and the Giants got the ball with a minute in change left in the game, you already knew. You knew that this defense wasn't going to step up when it mattered most.

On balance, they did a decent job versus the Giants, but thanks to a perfect combination of below average talent, bizarre personel decisions and poor coaching, the Patriots defense was not able to stop the Giants on their final possession on Sunday in Foxboro.

Barely protecting a lead after a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots defense wilted. A tough 30-yard pass interference penalty by Kyle Arrington put the Giants in great position to tie the game at 20. Sergio Brown then had an inexcusable pass interference penalty in the end zone on his only snap of the game. Brown was surprised to get flagged. I'm surprised that he is on an NFL roster. Manning connected on the game-winning touchdown pass over the head of, you guessed it, Arrington.

With regards to the last few editions of this defense, there has been more than enough blame to go around. As with most franchises, success and failures start from the top. If we praise Bill Belichick for the unparalleled level of success from 2001-2004, we must also question some of his personnel moves over the past few years.

With the exception of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo (and possibly Patrick Chung one day) the Patriots have failed to acquire any impact players through the draft, even though they stockpile draft picks like the football version or A&E's Hoarders. Rather than use their first rounders on proven collegiate talent, the Patriots regularly trade down to get more "value" from their picks.

Using this philosophy, they have failed in drafting players (the terrible cornerback trio of Terence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, Darius Butler) and have replaced them with more mid-level draft picks to make up for their failures. Thing is, these replacement players quite frankly, suck.

The Patriots have also failed in free agency (Adalius Thomas, Shawn Springs, Duane Starks) and thus have been unable to actually develop talent on defense. I find it maddening that the Patriots feel that the best team they can roll out there features special teams staple Tracy White, Brown and Arrington. Releasing Brandon Meriweather amd James Sanders earlier this year looks like the worst move ever right now.

I don't blame the players for being out there, it's not like it this is an injury ravaged unit either. Yet I can blame them for the way they have defended in the passing game, especially over the middle of the field. Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller looked unstoppable on the Steelers first drive two weeks ago and they could not get off the field.

Last week they looked a little better, but their inexperience showed in the biggest point of the game. I shudder to think what will happen if this team makes the playoffs with the defense the way it is. The trade deadline has came and went and there isn't much out there for free agents. This is our defense, Pats fans get used to it.

Tom Brady will not be here forever and if the defense keeps playing like this, Belichick will have his toughest test to date.

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