For this week's GMC Playbook question, Marshall Faulk asks what area of this Patriots team needs to be sharpened down the stretch.
For the Patriots, the answer is easy: it's the pass rush.
Although there is a good chance the Patriots get back Chandler Jones for their week 14 match-up against the Chargers, they still need to find a way to consistently produce pressure as he works to get back to 100%. Akeem Ayers has been solid, but his sack total can be a bit misleading. Rob Ninkovich has been up and down, and hasn't been able to consistently win one on one match-ups against better linemen.
The Patriots need to be creative in how they manufacture a rush because of this. They need more a-gap blitzes with their linebackers, stunts that send Ninkovich / Ayers inside, etc. Last week against Green Bay proved that against upper echelon quarterbacks, the Patriots cannot simply expect to send three or four linemen up the field and get results.
The Patriots get a good chance to turn things around against the Chargers. Their offensive line has been suspect all over. Rob Ninkovich will have a plus match-up against D.J. Fluker. The middle of their line is a mess, as they are onto their fifth starting center of the season. Nonetheless, while the Patriots can probably have their fair share of one-on-one wins, it would be wise to work in some creative looks to confuse Rivers (who is most effective in the pocket).
What are your thoughts on the Patriots pass rush? Will getting Chandler Jones back solve their woes?