Matt Burke: Patriots sorely lacking impact players on defense - Metro US

Matt Burke: Patriots sorely lacking impact players on defense

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Sunday night’s 31-24 loss to the Seahawks at Gillette Stadium should have been a wake-up call for all Patriots fans. This defense is not only not good enough to win a Super Bowl as presently constructed, but it’s also a defense that could absolutely cause an early exit from the playoffs.

The Raiders, a team scoring 27.2 points per game right now, could absolutely light up the Gillette scoreboard in a divisional or conference championship game. Ditto for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, two teams with mediocre offenses that would suddenly own legit offenses if they were lucky enough to meet up with the Pats’ horrid D. Even a team like the Ravens should scare Pats fans after what we witnessed Sunday night. “Average Joe” Flacco is “heating up” after all, and he’s had success in the past in Foxboro against Patriots defenses that were much better than this one.

Now, the Pats suck-ups will tell you this week that there’s no cause for alarm, and they will continue to remind you that the team did the right thing by letting Darrelle Revis walk away in March of 2015 (I won’t even get into the Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones stuff today).

The Revis gloating is with merit as he is a bottom-tier cornerback now, and the Pats absolutely cut the cord at the right time. But many forget that the Patriots also once employed Aqib Talib, currently the secondary anchor for a Broncos defense that remains the best in football.

When the Pats lost Talib to the Broncos in free agency in March of 2014, they turned around and replaced him with Revis. But when Revis walked out the door, who replaced him?

Yes, Malcolm Butler is a very good cornerback and he was the least of the Pats’ worries against the Seahawks Sunday night as he played an outstanding game. But wouldn’t it have been nice on Sunday to have had Butler as the No. 2 corner? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have had Logan Ryan on the bench?

When the Patriots traded for Talib in 2012 he alone changed the entire dynamic of the Pats’ defense. Revis did the same thing two seasons later. Butler is a fine player, but he is not that force of nature this defense sorely needs.

It seems that Bill Belichick is oddly obsessed with the idea of winning with a no name defense, a defense in which no one player racks up too many sexy stats like INTs and sacks.

The Patriots as a team have just five interceptions on the year (24th in the league). They also have just 16 sacks as a team (also 24th in the league).

Maybe defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is part of the problem, but let’s be honest. This defensive roster is not exactly loaded with talent.

Defensive lineman Malcom Brown, who the Pats drafted in the first round in 2015, had two sacks against the Browns a month ago and he hasn’t been heard from since. Rob Ninkovich has been MIA since he returned a month ago. Devin McCourty has been underwhelming. Patrick Chung has been underwhelming. Barkevious Mingo can’t get on the field.

It should be noted that Belichick has never won a Super Bowl without impact players on his defenses. There was Revis in 2014, and names like Law, Harrison, Seymour, Bruschi, McGinest and Vrabel for the first three.

Where is that impact player this year?

The last five Super Bowl champions (Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks, Ravens, Giants) won it all thanks, in large part, to top-flight defenses. This defense is far from top-flight, and it’s why Patriots fans today should be hesitant before booking early February flights to Houston.

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