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Patriots Midterm Grades: Passing Defense

We're officially at the mid-point of the Patriots' 2011 season! That being said, over the course of the next few days, we'll take a quick look at several aspects of the team and leave it to the Pats Pulpit community to grade the Patriots in each category. At the end of the week, we'll put together a post tallying the results.

This morning, we'll wrap up our Patriots midterm offensive and defensive evaluations by taking a look at the Patriots pass defense.

I know what's coming here - the Patriots have simply been downright awful in this area this season. The team is dead last in pass yards allowed, and can never seem to put together a complete game even when they do see some success. They've also allowed 64.8% of passes to be completed for an 8.0 average. On the bright side, opponents' touchdown to interception ratio has been moderate at 14-10, and the Patriots are becoming a slightly better defensive third down team. However, the team hasn't produced nearly as many passing turnovers as they did in 2010.

The pass rush, led by Andre Carter and Mark Anderson who are both tied for the team lead in sacks, has shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks but as things stand, the team is on track to have its lowest sack total since Bill Belichick's inaugural season in 2000 (15 sacks currently, had 29 in 2001).

And the play of the secondary has been pretty atrocious. Safety Pat Chung has been the most consistent force at safety, but one player can only do so much. Cornerback Devin McCourty, who was a Pro Bowler as a rookie last year, has shown some recent signs of improvement but had an abysmal start to the year. Cornerback Leigh Bodden, the opening day starter opposite from McCourty, has been released. Kyle Arrington has outplayed Bodden with five interceptions, but has still been inconsistent at times. Meanwhile, the Patriots have also had their fair share of injuries at the position, with Ras-I Dowling landing on injured reserve. Currently, the Patriots have Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams as their third and fourth corners. Gone are the likes of Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite, James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather, and Brandon McGowan - all cut this year. This group has performed poorly and is in need of some serious help.

Greg's Grade: D-

Feel free to discuss your grades in the comments section!