Opinion: Patriots should help Tom Brady this spring by loading up on defense

Greg Hardy Panthers
Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy wouldn’t look back opposite Chandler Jones on the Pats’ line. Credit: Getty Images

In hindsight, perhaps Bill Belichick and the Patriots jumped the gun after their 2006 AFC Championship game loss to the Colts. After that defeat, Belichick brought in Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte’ Stallworth to finally give Tom Brady the type of weapons that Peyton Manning had been playing with for years. Those moves worked, for the most part, as the Pats rattled off 18 straight wins before running out of gas against the Giants in the Super Bowl.

But despite all of the rule changes over the years favoring offenses, despite the NFL taking a great deal of physicality out of the game due to legitimate concerns about concussions, it still appears that a great defense will trump a great offense. Last Sunday night’s blowout win by the Seahawks over the Broncos was just the latest example. The year prior, it was Baltimore’s defense that got the job done as it picked off Manning two times in the divisional round and then picked off Brady two times in the AFC title game.

The Patriots went into both Super Bowls against the Giants with top three scoring offenses (No. 1 in 2007, No. 3 in 2011). But New York’s defenses held the Pats to just 14 points the first time around and just 17 points two years ago. The 2010 Super Bowl winning Packers were second in the league in fewest points allowed that season and made Ben Roethlisberger look like today’s Jared Lorenzen in the pocket, picking him off twice. The 2009 champion Saints are the closest thing to an exception to the “defense still wins championships” rule, but it should be noted that the two biggest plays in their Super Bowl win over Manning’s Colts were an onside kick recovery and a pick-6 by Tracy Porter. The 2008 Super Bowl winning Steelers? They were first in the league in fewest points allowed.


So, the question remains, how do the Patriots get back to that Super Bowl-winning level? On the surface, they appear to be just a stud receiver away and Pats fans will likely storm the FieldTurf in Foxboro next month if Belichick doesn’t reel in one large pass-catching name in free agency.

But as fans urge Belichick to “go after it, already!” as Brady’s window closes, perhaps their best bet is to go back to basics. Help Brady by helping the defense, first and foremost.

Re-sign Aqib Talib. Re-structure Vince Wilfork’s contract and keep him in Foxboro. Get Jerod Mayo back healthy. Sign a veteran cornerback like Asante Samuel (who was released by Atlanta Wednesday). Trade for a solid safety to back-up Devin McCourty. Maybe even (gulp) overspend, just a little, on Panthers free agent defensive end Greg Hardy (15 sacks in 2013), who would look pretty damn good opposite Chandler Jones on the defensive line. See if Adrian Wilson (remember him?) has anything left. If he doesn’t, release him and use that money to get another veteran defensive back.

Those are just a few ideas that the Pats could entertain this spring. One idea that they should not entertain is breaking the bank on multiple wide receivers, running backs and tight ends that could shatter records in 2014 but not bring home a Lombardi.

Yes, it’s absolutely true that Brady’s window is closing. But it may be time to focus on a different pane.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

Movies

Shia LaBeouf disorderly conduct case pushed to September

A judge on Thursday adjourned until September the disorderly conduct and harassment case against actor Shia LaBeouf, who was charged with disturbing a Broadway theater…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.