Bill Belichick has been coaching NFL defense for longer than many fans have been alive.
He has game plans enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Yet, right now, he and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia oversee the worst unit in the NFL.
Many are searching for answers as to why a defense that led the NFL in points allowed a year ago is suddenly dead last in that category and many other areas to start the new season.
According to the Washington Post Belichick, and his defensive philosophies, may be the biggest problem.The paper offers up plenty of stats to back up its theory.
A couple weeks ago former Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler was surprisingly absent from the starting lineup on defense against the Saints.
Though he played a significant role in that win after Eric Rowe left with an injury, Butler's first non-start in more than two full seasons left many questioning his role and his future in New England.
But last Sunday Butler was back in the starting lineup against Houston – although the fact that Rowe was inactive due to injury remained part of the situation – and his performance against the Texans drew rave reviews from Patricia.
The Boston Herald says Butler put in the work and has gotten "his mojo back." The Herald also has Danny Amendola talking about the new helmet he got from Patriots equipment manager Brenden Murphy. "He's the best in the entire world," Amendola said of Murphy. "He saved my life."
Herald columnist Ron Borges writes that if the NFL really wants to show unity, it should start by giving Colin Kaepernick a job. The Herald has Devin McCourty talking about a meeting he and other players had with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week regarding national anthem protests.
The *Boston Globe *passes along Rob Gronkowski passing on a chance to talk about the controversial ending the last time the Panthers and Patriots met in 2013.
The Boston Globe also has a look at McCourty taking part in the meeting with Goodell.
The Globe notes that the five major Boston sports teams launched a new public service campaign against racism.
The Providence Journal has a look at Patriots fans burning gear at what the paper calls a counter-protest regarding the national anthem protests from last Sunday. The ProJo has Belichick paying tribute to Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. The ProJo also notes the ant-hate video made by the Boston sports teams. The ProJo also passes along word that running back Rex Burkhead was once again absent from the practice field on Thursday.
ESPNBoston.com has Gronkowski joking about his future as a defensive player after his appearance defending Houston's last-second Hail Mary attempt last Sunday. ESPNBoston.com notes that despite a knee injury, Carolina receiver Kelvin Benjamin will start on Sunday.
WEEI.com wonders what happened to Cam Newton and his ascension to the level of elite NFL quarterback. WEEI.com has Patriots Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett saying he was "proud" to see New England players take a knee last Sunday during the national anthem.
CSNNE.com writes about McCourty saying the Patriots will be united in how they handle the anthem on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. CSNNE.com also says that the Panthers suspect offense provides an opportunity for the Patriots defense "to get right" this weekend.
NFL.com looks at some crazy stats relating to this week's action, including the fact that Brady is on the cusp of tying Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for most regular season wins, doing so in far fewer games played. NFL.com predicts a 34-20 Patriots win over the Panthers on Sunday.
The Ringer has a story about teams building an offense without a true No. 1 receiver and includes the Patriots in the discussion.