After rewatching the game and collecting second/third opinions, let's start with the D;
We need Jerod Mayo back at linebacker instead of Gary Guyton. Obviously. We also need to find a LB better at covering TE's than Guyton, who BTW is in a contract year. Brandon Spikes had a masterful game on Sunday, earning the best grade of any LB in the league according to ProFootballFocus. He needs to continue that, and allow a healthy Mayo to make some plays. Gary Guyton had a couple of nice plays but quite a few atrocious ones which resulted in lots of yardage that we didn't need to give up and can't afford to give up to a team like the Steelers..
We need to figure out the LDE issue. That issue would be Shaun Ellis who's best game of the season was an average one at best. Andre Carter is doing a wonderful time at RDE and we're pretty deep at DT(Wilfork, Haynesworth, Love, Warren, maybe Brace/Deaderick). LDE is the weakest link of the d-line. Deaderick might be a better fit there than Brace, but either way, Shaun Ellis needs to either get rested or get reduced playing time if not both before the Pats play the Steelers.
Figure out Devin McCourty. He needs a cornerback-whisperer and some rest. He's played a lot of snaps but has to be consistent in the good way. I still think he was a better pick rather than Kyle Wilson but his struggles against Dallas were quite discouraging. It didn't help that Gary Guyton and Shaun Ellis were on that same side of the field as McCourty for much of the game. McCourty needs to get ready for the Steelers,
Logan Mankins needs to become Logan Mankins again. He had some stiff competition on Sunday and was manhandled. He got beat in the pass game and run game. Some rest will do him some good. On Sunday he was no Brian Waters. We'll need him to be when the Pats visit the Steelers. The guy we have between the guards isn't the worst center in the league but he's definitely not the best, either.
The tackles need some rest. They got demolished especially when facing DeMarcus Ware. Matt Light looked dinged up and Nate Solder needs to work on his technique. Sebastian Vollmer should be ready for the Steelers.
The return game for kickoffs and punt-returns. I am so sick of seeing Wes Welker trying to evade guys who are flying with such a huge running-start. Julian Edelman should be ready for the Steelers.
Who's the featureback? If it's Green-Ellis, he should use the bye-week to get ready to pickup some Steeler blitzes. He's a great runner but has struggled at times in pass-protection. Given the use of the no-huddle it's important for the runningback in that set(2 TE/2 WR/1 RB) to be able to be more versatile in either the passing game or the running game. Shane Vereen got some snaps in on Sunday protecting Tom Brady, Woodhead returned(still not a great rusher), and Kevin Faulk is back at practice. We'll see what the near future holds in Heinz Stadium.
Who's the #3 receiver? No matter who it is, they need to figure out how and when to get open where Tom Brady wants them to get open. Out of 9 seasons, Deion Branch played in all 16 games just once.
Last but not least;
Tom Brady needs to build off of that last drive against the Cowboys. That was the 1st quarter Tom Brady of the first three-games averaging a 90-something percent completion rate. The first 57-minutes of the game looked a lot like the Pats/Jets playoff game, except GreenEllis got more carries than Woodhead, Hernandez was playing, Waters was dominating from the rightside of the Pats o-line, and the defense looked better up front.