Did Matthew Judon just reveal multiple issues with Patriots defense?

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Matt Judon #9 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Matt Judon #9 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots‘ defense was arguably the best in the NFL up until their bye in Week 14.

The group really hit its stride during the team’s seven-game winning streak spanning Weeks 7-13, during which they allowed a league-best 86 points (12.3 per game). It was that run of form that had so many pundits picking the Patriots as a dark horse Super Bowl threat in what was a wide-open AFC at the time.

It was never expected that New England’s defense would continue allowing fewer than 13 points per game. However, the extent to which the unit collapsed to close the regular season and into the playoffs still doesn’t make any sense.

Fans are still searching for answers, and Matt Judon, who was a non-factor coming out of the bye, did all he could in that regard during a Wednesday appearance on “Felger and Mazz” of 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Patriots star Matt Judon opened up on the team’s defensive struggles down the stretch of 2021.

"“We kind of just played some good teams and we wasn’t playing our best ball,” Judon explained. “You can’t do that at the end of the season. There’s really no excuses. I wish I can be like, ‘Well, this person got hurt,’ but it wasn’t that.“I think after like two games, then everybody tried to start making a play. Like, ‘I’m going to be the player that do this. I’m going to be the player that do that,’ instead of just playing within the defensive scheme and stuff like that. And I kind of think that’s kind of what happened.”"

That’s a pretty eye-opening quote from Judon and begs the question of why so many players deviated from the system. After all, isn’t it that very system that has made the Patriots such an attractive free agent destination for defensive players? That’s what we’ve been led to believe, and Judon offered some valuable insight into that debate by revealing the defensive play-caller.

Is that the problem? Should (Bill) Belichick go back to calling plays? At the very least, it seems like the six-time champ’s decision to defer defensive responsibility to his son Steve and Jerod Mayo midseason is worthy of criticism.

As for Judon, who notched 12.5 sacks before the bye and zero in five games after it, he attributed his late-season struggles to being chipped by tight ends and running backs. With no other consistent edge rusher on the roster, opposing teams could focus all their attention on Judon and force someone else to beat them.

While that clearly had an impact on the Patriots’ defensive collapse, it’s clear their struggles go much deeper than a lack of balance on the edge.