The Patriots’ defense is largely the problem this year and it’s affecting Cam Newton.
Before you go out there and blame the offense for not coming through on the final drive vs the Houston Texans or call out the game plan for not focusing more on Damien Harris, perhaps it’s time we talk about the real problem with the New England Patriots.
Without question, it’s the defense, and it’s hard to really defend the unit after Sunday’s 27-20 loss. Deshaun Watson walked all over the Patriots in the first half to the tune of 21 points and that was enough to put Newton’s offense in a near-insurmountable hole.
Newton is still learning the offense, and there clearly aren’t enough weapons to orchestrate a high-powered comeback or flawless two-minute drill. More weeks than not, the defense has put the Patriots in a precarious position, but here fans are calling out Newton for untimely turnovers or not coming through every time in the clutch.
The fact of the matter is that Newton and the Pats defense are a terrible match.
New England features a run-first offense, so going down 11 at the half to an up-tempo Texans squad isn’t a recipe for success. That, once again, leaves Newton with the task of coming from behind, which he’s had to do against the Seahawks, Bills, Jets and now Texans. He also had to against the Broncos, but that game largely fell on him.
And the only time that formula has been successful was against the Jets, which really had to be the case, or else this team would be one of the worst in the NFL. Every other game the Pats have won this year (Dolphins, Raiders, Ravens), they held the lead and kept it throughout. This Patriots team cannot play from behind, and the defense is forcing them to do so a majority of the time.
Truth be told, Newton’s 365 passing yards probably should’ve been enough.
The defense is more experienced. Newton, in this offense, is not. And the Patriots don’t boast the necessary star power (aside from the offensive line) on that side of the ball to make up for the defense’s shortcomings.
We know the losses of countless studs like Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, Elandon Roberts and others have no doubt had an effect, but this secondary still boasts big names and the defensive line features the usual performers. The linebacking corps really only suffered the irreplaceable losses.
The Patriots are also a defense-first team and have yet to figure out their flaws through 11 weeks, which is almost unforgivable. We’ve seen the offense make strides with a new QB, new starting running back, new tight end, new No. 1 wide receiver, and a completely shuffled offensive line.
New England is losing because the defense is not getting the job done and Newton isn’t in a favorable position to lead them to constant come-from-behind triumphs. You can’t be pinning that on a new QB learning the complex system. Bill Belichick may have thought this would be a good match, but his defense is really letting him down.