6 Frustrations from Patriots loss to Jets

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

3. Coverage of Brandon Marshall

Normally, the Patriots’ strategy of covering the No. 1 receiver with Logan Ryan and safety help works out pretty well. Malcolm Butler owns his matchup against the No. 2, and the No. 1 guy has a tough time in the double team.

We saw first hand in Week 16 that Devin McCourty is the crucial cog in that approach. McCourty and Ryan blanket most No. 1 receivers, but Duron Harmon just isn’t the caliber of safety.

Week 16 stock watch: Collins up, safeties down

Marshall enjoyed an afternoon of eight catches for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The latter of those scores was as much an error on the part of Harmon as it was a nice play by Marshall. Had McCourty been in the game, you can bet that he would have snuffed it out.

Ryan has bene a serviceable No. 2 corner this year because of the McCourty safety blanket. Without D-Mac patrolling the back end, the Patriots’ secondary borders on mediocrity.

Next: Third down play