Patriots Secondary Proving to Be Weakest Link as Big Plays Continue to Wreak Havoc on Defense

Patriots Secondary Proving to Be Weakest Link as Big Plays Continue to Wreak Havoc on Defense

Russell Wilson had a bit of a coming out party on Sunday,
but it wasn't without a little help from his wide receivers. Oh yeah, and of
course the Patriots secondary.

Wilson, a third-round pick back in April's draft, had the
game of his life in a 24-23 win against the Patriots. He completed 16 of 27
passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon, fitting the ball
into tight windows and showing meticulous precision on a number of deep throws.

There's clearly a reason why Pete Carroll decided on the
rookie as his starter entering the season, and we were all witnesses to that
truth on Sunday. Wilson is a talented quarterback with unwavering confidence
and leadership. But, full disclosure, while he may have looked good, the
Patriots porous secondary made him look like Tom Brady at times.

The damage began early on, too, as Wilson lead the Seahawks to
a score on their very first drive of the day. Wilson floated a ball to Sidney
Rice
, just over the top of a covering Patrick Chung. On Seattle's fourth play from scrimmage — just one play later –
Wilson continued wreaking havoc, with an 18-yard connection to tight
end Zach Miller, just out of the reach of Brandon Spikes.

Chung and Spikes weren't the only Patriots victimized by
Wilson on the afternoon, though. Starting cornerback Kyle Arrington was beaten
the worst of all, falling victim to receiver Doug Baldwin twice on one drive, including a 24-yard touchdown grab that gave Seattle an early lead.
Arrington's inability to keep up with Baldwin found him a warm seat on the
bench by the end of the first quarter, as the Patriots instead went to rookie
Alfonzo Dennard on the outside.

The secondary shift seemed to be the only reasonable
decision given Arrington's struggles, and Dennard looked good in his extended
time on the outside, but even that couldn't save a dreadful Patriots defense.

Not taking anything away from Wilson for his effort against
the Patriots — because he was truly tremendous — but for as good as he was, the Pats defense was equally as bad. Let's be honest, you don't just have
career-best games — even if there are only five others to judge it off –
against good defenses.

New England's secondary was historically bad in 2011. And
even though they've appeared to improve in 2012, it's been nothing short of a
mirage.

The Patriots rank 30th in the NFL in passing defense, giving
up better than 290 yards per game and a league-high 15 passing touchdowns.
That's unprecedentedly bad, and should be considered a crime given the usual
efficiency with which the Patriots offense runs.

Change is needed, and fast, if this defense expects to find
a solution. Dennard's implementation is a start, as well as Marquice Cole's
extended playing time ahead of both Arrington and Sterling Moore in the slot.
But even more than personnel, the Patriots need to resolve the issues with
their scheme.

Clearly, there's an inherent problem within the system the
Patriots are running if quarterbacks like Wilson, Kevin Kolb and even Ryan
Fitzpatrick
, who I actually like behind center, are finding success
consistently. Maybe it's time to return to the drawing board and reformulate
this thing.

The problems are recurring in New England's
secondary and Sunday was just another vivid example of the weakest link on this
Patriots team. Now, it's time to reconfigure the pieces and solve the puzzle — before it's too late.

Have a question for Luke
Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

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