Merely a few weeks ago, the entire world witnessed a backup quarterback throttle the New England Patriots defense. This statement is not meant to discredit Nick Foles. He was fantastic. However, that just should not happen. If a team is led by one of the best defensive minds in football history, it should not be giving up 41 points on the biggest stage in sports. There simply is no reason for it. When your quarterback had perhaps the best season of his career, combined with quite possibly his greatest playoff performance ever, you should never come away with a loss.
If someone were to tell Tom Brady that his team would accumulate 600 yards of offense and put up 33 points of the Eagles defense he would have said, “wow, how much did we win by?” The truth is that the Patriots have been more relaxed in recent years in configuring their defense. In Super Bowl LII, it caught up to them. Losing players like Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones wasn’t entirely necessary. However, the coaching staff seemed to believe they would have enough to win it all. Their front 7 has gotten worse. Lastly, the secondary hasn’t been as good as it should be.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Stephon Gilmore proved to be a good addition. However, this defense was dead last in most categories for a good chunk of the season. Every time the Patriots have won a Super Bowl in this Belichick era they have had a great defense. They have tried to go the offensive route where Brady carries them to another Super Bowl and it historically hasn’t worked. It didn’t work in 2007, 2010, 2012 and it didn’t work this year either. This team was carried by a 40-year-old quarterback who made us all overlook a defense was ‘okay’ but not good enough to win a Super Bowl and it is time for that to change.
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With Edelman coming back next year and most of the offense returning the focus should be almost solely on the defense this offseason. Whether it’s through the draft or free agency it is time to build a top 5 defense that is fast, mean and tough enough to hang with anybody. We’ve seen it time and time again over the years now. No matter how good a quarterback is, as long as they have a good defense they have a chance. Peyton Manning was barely needed when the Broncos won in 2013. John Elway recognized that Manning was a shell of his former self and created a monster of a defense to carry him. Brady is not there yet which makes this even more important. Imagine if Brady had the Broncos defense while he was still playing at this level?
Obviously, Butler is going elsewhere. Therefore, why not inquire about Aquib Talib or Richard Sherman? Give us a high draft pick if necessary but bring in top level talent. With Hightower returning, surround him with young hungry linebackers and another pass rusher that is on the rise. Create a top-level defense and this team will continue to be dominant. If they don’t do this then the team will go as far as Brady will go and nobody is sure that he can keep up this level of play forever.
Time is of the Essence
Maybe Belichick simply got too cocky this year? Perhaps he felt that it didn’t matter who he had on the defensive side of the ball? However, he was not going to be stopped. The combination of injuries and underwhelming play led to a mediocre defensive regular season which led to a terrible performance in the Super Bowl. Matt Patricia is now gone. Bill must begin to pick up the pieces around him in order to figure this all out. The offense will be fine as it always is but until the defense is fixed, the Patriots may have just gone on their last Super Bowl run.
–Jared Talbot is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots of the NFL, as well as the NBA. Follow him on Twitter @JaredTalbot17