The Patriots made multiple mistakes on the field against the Seattle Seahawks. Blown coverages, poor edge contain, blown coverages, fumbles, and a Brady interception all contributed to a 7-point loss. Overall, the team is still in very good shape to win the AFC but the team cannot continue to make mistakes. These are the type of mistakes that in the heat of a playoff race that can prove deadly. In the final 7 games of the year, the team needs to tighten their grip on the ball and play more fundamentally sound. If not, it’s probably another AFC Championship Game loss, either in Denver or Kansas City.
Ball security has been a problem this year with the team leading the NFL in 18 fumbles (7 lost). Cyrus Jones got put in the doghouse for fumbles on punt returns and nearly had a disastrous fumble on a kickoff return that preceded a costly Julian Edelman fumble. The Patriots fumbled the ball 3 times against the Seahawks, which is absolutely unacceptable in any game, especially against teams that can take advantage. Once the offense and special teams puts a tighter grip on the ball, that should put the defense in better position to make stops.
Defensively, the Patriots need to stop with the soft zone coverages unless there is a bigger fundamental problem. I’m not sure if the zones were because the Patriots were not confident in their players to man up against the Seahawks or they were too afraid of Wilson’s scramble ability. The Patriots also provided a weak rush against Seattle’s terrible offensive line. They were able to get some shots on Wilson, Trey Flowers picking up 2 sacks, but the secondary was terrible in their zones. Wilson set a career high in passing yards and was comfortable all night. The defensive issues are not just the players playing horribly, it’s also on the coaching staff for putting the players in position to fail.
Fortunately, the good news is the Patriots play three cupcake teams where they don’t have to scheme their way to win and can basically have a 2nd preseason before preparing for the last two good teams left, the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. The Patriots performance on Sunday, especially on defense was embarrassing to the point where the coaching staff threw their hands up in the air. The Patriots need to look themselves in the mirror and question whether they really want to win a championship or not. The Patriots offense will be fine come playoff time, the issue at hand is the defense and if they’ll ever at least play at a competent level against good teams. While they’re capable of shutting down a bad offense with an incompetent QB, they got roasted by the one good QB on the schedule. When the playoffs coming rolling and the Chiefs or Raiders come into Foxboro, the defense needs to play better.
The Patriots have been getting by with mostly enough effort to outlast opponents, despite some horrific mistakes in each game. However, they were unable to overcome them when they played a playoff caliber team. To add insult to injury, the loss came at home which had to sting worse than losing that way in Seattle. The Patriots have to realize that showing up and going through the motions is not enough to win football games, especially in November through February. Perhaps getting kicked in the face and arse by the Seahawks might be exactly what the team needs in order to refocus on the season and its ultimate goal of winning a championship. If not, we may be looking at another 2009-esque season where the team beat up bad and squeaked by decent teams but struggled against good teams.