Things did not go well over the first month of the season for the Patriots. That was especially true on defense, where New England allowed the second-most points in football ahead of only Indianapolis in that department.
The problems have been widespread on defense, with the secondary in particular coming under fire. Newcomer Stephon Gilmore has struggled with communication, and that has led to several big plays allowed for a defense that normally does a great job of limiting those types of gaffes.
The front has done little to help as well, failing to stop the run while providing little to no pressure on the passer. And the offensive line also has had its share of problems, as Tom Brady has been sacked 13 times over the four games.
It has all added up to a 2-2 start, which is well below the Patriots normally lofty standards.
So this week we ask in or Samsonite Make Your Case question: Which Patriot most needs to improve his performance?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
It's never easy to single out one guy but in this case it's really hard not to. The Patriots secondary figured to be the strength of the defense after adding Gilmore to a group that already had established players like Devin McCourty, Malcolm Butler and Patrick Chung.
But Gilmore doesn't seem to be fitting in and the well-documented communication issues seem to be centered around him. Unless Gilmore can get his game straightened out and start performing up to his capabilities, the secondary will continue to struggle.
One player in the wrong spot at that position can cause the entire process to break down, so Gilmore needs to turn things around quickly if the Patriots defense is going to climb its way out of the basement of the league rankings.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
I expected there to be some growing pains with the guys up front rushing the passer. With so much turnover in that department, some struggles were expected. But Trey Flowers has been solid and others have chipped in with some occasional plays.
What I did not expect was the widespread breakdowns that have taken place in the secondary, and anytime that happens the guy that I focus on is Devin McCourty. McCourty spends most of his time at free safety and is in control of the communications as the captain on the back end. Yet the Patriots have suffered through countless communication breakdowns that have left receivers wide open.
Rodney Harrison called out McCourty for these communication breakdowns recently and until the leader gets back in Pro Bowl form things won't improve.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.