What was the real reason the Patriots dropped Sunday’s much-anticipated matchup against the Jets? Was it Kevin O’Connell‘s wise eye? Probably not. Was it the impressive play of rookie Mark Sanchez? Partly. Was it a stellar defensive effort by New York? Probably.
Was it a lack of defensive prowess on the part of New England? No. After all, the Patriots D held the Jets to just three points in the first half of a 16-9 loss.
On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Dean Pees told reporters that New England just didn’t execute its game plan as efficiently as it wanted to in the second half.
“No matter who the opponent is, you can’t let somebody run the ball and it started out pretty well there,” he said. “Then, we got into a couple of different things where they hurt us in the run. Then, we kind of settled down a little bit…. There are two things that every week, always hurt you — penalties and big plays. Usually, if you can avoid those two things… We didn’t get penalized on any defense on Sunday. But we gave up a big play — that was a direct correlation to leading to the one touchdown.”
The Patriots defense — despite losing numerous key contributors in the offseason, including Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Ellis Hobbs — has given up just three touchdowns in two games. It could be worse.
But one particular problem for Dees’ crew has been the rush defense. Against New York, the Patriots surrendered 104 yards on the ground and 5.0 yards per carry.
“There are certainly some things we can improve upon,” Dees said of the rush defense. “We’re never pleased when we give up more than 100 yards in a game, but some of it is a scheme thing. Sometimes we have to play better and coach it better. When you come out of a loss like that, you’re really not happy with anything.”
The rush defense aside, the secondary will have its work cut out for it next Sunday, when Matt Ryan‘s versatile passing attack comes to town.
“They are a really good offensive football team,” Dees said. “They had two good receivers in [Michael] Jenkins and [Roddy] White. But the things they?ve added now, [with] Tony Gonzalez ? probably one of the best tight ends to ever play ? if you add him to that offense, along with the year that Ryan had last year ? It looks like [Ryan]?s picking up right where he left off. This is a very, very potent offense. We?ve got our hands full.”