Patriots’ Poor Coaching Among Three Takeaways From Loss To Chiefs

Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Travis Kelce, Anthony ShermanNew England Patriots players have shouldered the blame for many key losses over the past 14 seasons, but it might be time to look at coaching – and that begins with Bill Belichick.

The Patriots had four All-Pros, seven first-round draft picks and two second-rounders starting on defense Monday night in their 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. The Patriots have talent and smarts, so there’s really no excuse to let up nearly 500 yards to a Chiefs team that isn’t exactly the 1999 St. Louis Rams.

Belichick is supposed to be a defensive genius who uses his players to their greatest strengths, but that certainly wasn’t the case against Kansas City.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis’ greatest strength is his man coverage, so why is he playing zone? Dominique Easley’s greatest strength is his explosive first step, so why is he playing nose tackle? The Patriots have three fantastic blitzing linebackers, so why aren’t they rushing the quarterback?

I’m not calling for Belichick’s firing, but it might be time for the Patriots head coach to put himself on blast before Sunday night’s daunting matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals and tell his players that it’s not entirely their fault for getting “beat like they stole something” (as Vince Wilfork succinctly put it) by the Chiefs.

Check out this week’s three takeaways based on charting stats:

PATRIOTS STRUGGLE IN ZONE COVERAGE

The Patriots are built to play aggressively on defense, and they excelled with that game plan against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2 by forcing quarterback Matt Cassel to throw four interceptions. Chiefs signal-caller Alex Smith isn’t as prone to mistakes as Cassel, so the Patriots elected to use more zone looks in Kansas City.

The Patriots struggled to defend the Chiefs’ receivers, tight ends and running backs with this strategy, however.

The Chiefs were able to carve through the Patriots on the ground and through the air, and even All-Pros Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis struggled on Monday night.

Check out the Patriots’ coverage charting stats:

Tavon Wilson – 2-3, 49 yards, pass breakup (PBU)
Jerod Mayo – 2-3, 41 yards, TD
Logan Ryan – 2-2, 28 yards
Malcolm Butler – 1-1, 27 yards
Darrelle Revis – 2-3, 26 yards
Dont’a Hightower – 2-2, 13 yards
Kyle Arrington – 1-1, 13 yards
Rob Ninkovich – 1-1, 12 yards
Jamie Collins – 2-2, 10 yards
Devin McCourty – 2-3, 7 yards, 2 TDs, PBU

It’s rare to see McCourty let up any receptions, let alone two touchdowns. The Patriots allowed three plays of over 20 yards through the air, in part because they were slipping all over the Arrowhead Stadium turf.

PATRIOTS GENERATE LITTLE PRESSURE

The Patriots’ defensive backs didn’t get much help from their pass rush, as Smith was pressured just 11 times by New England defenders. If the Patriots trusted their defensive backs to cover in man, then they could blitz more often with their great pass-rushing linebackers, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower.

Check out the Patriots’ pass-rush charting stats from Monday night:

Rob Ninkovich – four hurries, four pressures
Chandler Jones – .5 sack, two hurries, three pressures
Joe Vellano – one sack, one pressure
Chris Jones – .5 sacks, one pressure
Vince Wilfork – one QB hit, one pressure
Don’t’a Hightower – one hurry, one pressure

Chandler Jones is an All-Pro caliber player, but he’s still too inconsistent at this point in his career. The third-year pro was getting stonewalled by left tackle Eric Fisher too often.

TOM BRADY OFF THE MARK

Brady has yet to really impress through four games, and Monday’s night’s performance was his worst in years. Brady hasn’t been overly accurate on deep passes for the past few seasons, but the Patriots QB was off even on shallow routes against the Chiefs.

A lot of blame can be laid on the Patriots’ offensive line, but there were times when Brady rushed his throws or passed up easier targets without pressure bearing down.

Brady needed a return to form two weeks ago, but now he really needs it Sunday night against the Bengals.

Of Brady’s nine incompletions, four were inaccurate (including both interceptions), three were broken up by defenders, one was thrown away and one was dropped (by wide receiver Julian Edelman).

Rookie signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo had just one incompletion on seven passes, and it was dropped by wideout Brandon LaFell, who otherwise was the Patriots’ best offensive player.

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