Patriots Need to Fix ‘Everything’ If They Want to Compete With Ravens, Texans for AFC Title

by NESN Staff

October 18, 2012

Patriots Need to Fix 'Everything' If They Want to Compete With Ravens, Texans for AFC TitleThe Patriots have a problem. Well, problems.

Sitting on a 3-3 record with the rival Jets coming to town, they're staring down an ailment and hoping for a cure. But the road to recovery is never an easy one.

Bill Belichick isn't pleased with the Patriots performance so far this season. Tom Brady feels the same. In fact, no one around Gillette Stadium seems too enthused about the mediocre start to New England's season.

"It's just disappointing," Belichick said of the Patriots 3-3 record during a conference call on Monday. "We've come up short in three games, not by very much but it's been enough."

Just "enough" has seen the Patriots drop three very winnable games. And those difficult defeats are enough to know that there is still plenty that needs fixing on this team.

The secondary issues stick out like a sore thumb as the primary problem on defense. Whose going to start in the defensive backfield, and will they be able to keep average quarterbacks like Russell Wilson from throwing for almost 300 yards?

On offense, the inconsistent play calling can be looked to as a bit of a quandary. But the futility inside the red zone, which was on full display when scoring just one touchdown in six chances against the Seahawks, is definitely of the utmost concern.

Deion Branch is one of the many Patriots players who see the flaws in his team, and realizes there is still a lot of work left to do.

"Everything," Branch responded when asked what the Patriots need to improve on. "We're 3-3. Everybody wants to say this about our team or say that. But we are what we are. We're 3-3, we need to get better on everything."

Branch isn't alone in criticizing the effectiveness of his team, though. His quarterback is also getting in on the action.

Tom Brady, who's been the ire of criticism for his play at times this season, has always been quick to recognize problems as they arise. And he was no different on Wednesday, acknowledging the team hasn't deserved anything more than their record shows.

"You can't sit here and say, 'We're the greatest team ever' or 'We're the worst team of all time' or compare this year to last year. We're 3-3. We haven?t earned a better record than that," Brady said.

Even through the reality of what has been an underwhelming beginning, Brady maintains a solid level of confidence that the Patriots have still yet to define themselves this season.

"I think we haven't played very well and that?s why we're 3-3. So to focus on playing better and executing better, hopefully the results will take care of themselves," Brady said. "But I don't think six games defines a season and I think that what will define our season is what we do over the course of the next 10 weeks."

With such a wide-open AFC this year, Brady also doesn't seem worried about any team, even the pair currently ahead of them in the standings.

"There's seven teams in the AFC that are 3-3, there are seven that are below 3-3, and there's two that are better than us," Brady added. "We played one of those [Baltimore], and we were up nine points with however long to go, and the other team [Houston] got beat by a bunch of points the other night."

There's still a lot of football to be played this season, and by no stretch of the imagination is anything set in stone. But for the Patriots there's still a lot of work to be done in order to achieve their ultimate goal come season's end. And at least they recognize that.

The first step to recovery is always acceptance, and for the Patriots sake, they better hope that rehabilitation is soon to follow.

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

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