I find it interesting when a 7-2 team, first seed in the conference, has to do some soul-searching, but here we are with the New England Patriots defense. The Patriots ranked #1 in the NFL in points allowed per game prior to kick off against the Seattle Seahawks, but a horrendous performance sank them down to 6th place.
There’s no way to spin the defensive performance into a positive. The only silver lining might be the red zone defense (“the Seahawks scored touchdowns on less than half of their red zone drives!”), that comes with a gigantic caveat (“oh, they reached the red zone a ridiculous 7 times”).
Former New England Patriots CB Ty Law joined Fox Sports One with a simple message for the defense: step up and have some pride.
"It's not just Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. You got to have some damn pride." — Ty Law on Patriots defense pic.twitter.com/tIXB0mTND5— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) November 15, 2016
“They need to fix it, still, the old adage is defense wins championships and it’s going to carry over. So right now the Patriots are so good at offense, and I think they’re putting everything in Tom Brady’s hands, and you, know if you got a guy like that you got to put the ball in his hands. You got Gronkowski, you got Edelman, you got all these offensive weapons that can move the ball pretty much against anybody.
“Defense, I think the philosophy right now is bend-don’t-break because we have number 12 [Brady] back. But I think as a defensive unit, regardless of what’s going on, what we’re talking about in the media, what the coaches might be saying. But the defensive locker room- kick the coaches out. Let’s get together amongst ourselves and say this is what we got to do. It’s not just Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and everybody else. You got to have some damn pride, and go out there and make something happen.
“So I’m waiting to see who’s going to be that guy. Because you didn’t have to have that in our locker room. You had Willie McGinest, myself, Tedy Bruschi, we had guys that will step up and play, Lawyer Milloy, Rodney Harrison, we had outspoken, vocal, competitive people, we competed amongst ourselves. So that’s what they have to find, that magic that we had back then because it wasn’t about just the offense. It was more of a defensive team. And then Brady became Brady, but at the time he didn’t have to carry the load. So the defense, in my opinion, needs to start taking it personal with all the criticism that they’re getting right now.”
I completely agree with Law. The defense doesn’t appear to have a player that can rally the unit like they’ve had in the past, with LB Tedy Bruschi and ED Willie McGinest and SS Rodney Harrison and NT Vince Wilfork.
LB Dont’a Hightower and FS Devin McCourty are the leaders of the defense and while they’re both good locker room guys, there isn’t a player that fires up the defense. There isn’t someone that grabs their teammates face masks and forces everyone to elevate their play.
There are two ways to fire up a defense. One is by making a huge play and having the team celebrate. ED Chandler Jones and LB Jamie Collins were responsible for most of those plays in recent years and no one is celebrating after good plays this year.
The other is by having a player that can challenge his teammates on the sideline. Maybe it can be DT Alan Branch. Maybe it can be McCourty and Hightower. Point is, someone has to step up and get the defense playing with some emotion, or else they’ll look like the shell of a defense that couldn’t stop a nosebleed against the Seahawks.
“Let’s have some [bleep]ing pride,” - Tom Brady.