Throughout the season there's been a glass half full/half empty regarding the Patriots defense. The former group points to the team's 7-2 record and the fact that the unit currently ranks sixth in the league in points allowed. The latter critics cite the lack of a pass rush, troubles on third down and a recent uptick in points allowed with the team surrendering 56 in its last two games.
With New England dropping its most recent outing in a 31-24 defeat at home against the Seattle Seahawks, the noise has gotten louder in the half empty camp. Russell Wilson had plenty of time to pick apart a Patriots secondary that has been struggling most of the season, and some have argued it's time to make some changes.
So this week we thought it made sense to wonder if it's time for Bill Belichick to ditch his tried and true bend-but-don't-break methods and open up the defensive playbook a bit. More blitzing might help the coverage a bit, but it also could lead to more big plays. There's an argument to made on both sides, and when it comes to arguing nobody does it better than PFW.
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Should the Patriots be more aggressive on defense the rest of the way?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
I understand Bill Belichick knows more about defense than anyone and I also understand that despite the bumps along the way the Patriots are still among the best in the league in terms of points allowed. But I still feel the team needs to be more aggressive if it wants to be able to stop the good offenses. Belichick is a game plan coach but it seems the defense generally sticks with a similar approach every game — not too much blitzing, a lot of zone coverages and very little alteration along the way. The bend-but-don't-break theory works fine against Cleveland and Buffalo but against teams who can put points on the board like Pittsburgh and Seattle that style becomes dangerous. No one is looking for dramatic risks that leave a defense open to big plays, but some stunts, blitzes and man coverage might do the trick.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
Bill Belichick understands defense and more importantly he understands his personnel. He believes in keeping opponents in front of him and making teams earn their points. That's why the unit hasn't allowed many big plays and ranks among the leaders in points allowed. More blitzing would potentially be putting the secondary in bad situations and leaving the corners on an island consistently could be exposing them to surrendering more points and more big plays. Keeping the safeties back has forced the opposing offenses to put long, mistake-free drives together and more often than not they haven't been able to find the end zone.Obviously the defense needs to play better than it did against Seattle, but it doesn't need to blitz more to do so. The performance needs to improve, not the scheme.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.