The Patriots defense has struggled this season, particularly when defending the pass. In fact, New England currently ranks last in pass defense - and that was with Leigh Bodden. The Patriots reportedly released the eight-year veteran Friday despite the fact that he was serving as one of the team's top three corners. Generally, the Patriots used Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington as the starters in their base defense and brought Bodden in as part of their subpackages in passing situations.
Now it appears as if someone else will have to fill that role in Bodden's absence. Rookie Ras-I Dowling would figure to be a prime candidate, but he's dealing with myriad injuries and has missed practice recently. Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams are the only other corners currently on the roster, although there are also candidates on the practice squad.
Given that lack of depth and performance thus far in the secondary, this week's Samsonite Make Your Case wonders if things can get any worse?
This week's debate is simply:
Are you comfortable with the secondary without Bodden?
PFW's Paul Perillo says yes ...
The secondary has struggled and it's hard to ignore that fact. But it's not like Bodden was making things much better. Clearly he dealt with injuries that affected his performance because he seemed to be slow in coverage right from the start of the season. However, that doesn't change the fact that he wasn't getting the job done.
At this point it may be time to try some new options in the secondary and see if there are any potential Kyle Arringtons waiting for their chance. Let some new blood into the equation and see how things come together. Bodden wasn't the answer and his injuries were putting his availability in question almost every week. Things couldn't get any worse without him.
The team is 5-1 with a pass defense that is ranked dead last in football. Clearly it has demonstrated the ability to win despite suspect play in the secondary. Hopefully Ras-I Dowling gets healthy enough to step in and contribute consistently, but if not than someone else will have to emerge.
In the past Bill Belichick has let go of several players who were more talented than Bodden and certainly he lived to tell about it. I don't see this as being any different.
PFW's Andy Hart says no ...
To be fair, at this point I wasn't comfortable with the secondary with Leigh Bodden. And even though the unit can't rank worse than 32nd in the league, I actually do feel less confident about the pass defense. Because while the group may stay ranked 32nd, if it starts playing a larger role in losing games than the pass defense could indeed get worse.
I was stunned when the team cut James Sanders and the play at safety has left much to be desired in the back end. Maybe we don't know the whole story why Bodden was cut, but he was certainly one of the more proven players in the secondary. He had not played well to date and had battled a variety of injuries. But rookie Ras-I Dowling has been even more banged up - for the bulk of his football life!
So I don't feel great about going to battle with Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and, I guess at this point, Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams. A bad defensive backfield that was already disgustingly thin at safety is now scarily lacking of depth at cornerback. That with guys like Mike Wallace, Hakeem Nicks and DeSean Jackson on the upcoming schedule.
I hope Tom Brady enjoys playing in shootouts, because it looks like he's going to have to do that the rest of the way. Bodden wasn't great. But the alternative could be much worse.
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in the Samsonite Make Your Case poll.