The Kansas City Chiefs came to town last week and not only defeated the Patriots but they dismantled their defense. Alex Smith enjoyed one of the best games of his career in leading the Chiefs to over 500 yards of offense and 42 points, the most ever allowed by a Bill Belichick defense as coach of the Patriots.
The big plays were plentiful and alarming as Kansas City had touchdowns of 78 and 75 yards while also adding a 58-yard run. It was ugly, but it was also just one game.
Should this season-opening performance be cause for concern or just a minor blip on the radar? Dont'a Hightower manned the left defensive end spot while Jordan Richards, normally a safety by trade, took on a full-time linebacker role. These switches seemed to give the Patriots a light front seven, and Kansas City took advantage by rushing for 185 yards.
So, it would seem some improvement could come strictly from some changes in personnel, but how much improvement can legitimately be expected. That's the basis for this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question, which is simple and straightforward: Are you concerned about the defense?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Obviously it's still too early in the season to have any major concerns but there have been some troubling signs going back to the preseason.
I was expecting some struggles up front, particularly in generating pressure on the passer. But the front seven has also had problems stopping the run and the secondary has allowed a ton a big plays. Many of that came during the preseason when backups were on the field but they continued against Kansas City with the starters in place.
The secondary needs to be the strength of the defense and the early part of the season has seen Malcolm Butler struggling a bit and some uncharacteristic sloppiness. So far the coaches seem to be searching for lineup consistency and the play has been erratic. Things need to be tightened up.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
The opener was as ugly as it gets and there's no way to sugarcoat that. The big plays and lack of communication were obvious. They're also not things I worry about over the long haul.
Bill Belichick's defenses always seem to improve as the season goes along and that will be case once again. He is still deciding exactly how he wants to employ the troops and once he settles on his best lineup I believe the performance will improve. I also feel the defense will continue to benefit from the offense, as it has for most of the past decade. The offense will be clicking most weeks and that will make the job on defense that much easier.
The start of the season saw stalwarts such as Alan Branch struggling to perform. Things will get better and the defense will be good enough.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.