EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 19, 2011

Pats sport new look up front, but huge holes in secondary

On Pro Football
Hector Longo

Patriots fans are brimming with joy this morning, their team a smashing success last night against Raheem Morris (13-19 career as a head coach) and his horrible Tampa Bay Bucs, 31-14.

Tom Brady and the first offense shredded Tampa for 28 quick points in the first half.

The defense attacked and looked like the 1985 Bears.

Jerod Mayo is Mike Singletary. Andre Carter is Richard Dent.

Vince Wilfork? Well, of course, he's better than Refrigerator Perry ever was. Always has been.

But you get my point, right? Well, sorry folks. I cannot and will not believe this defense, not because Mayo terrorized Josh Freeman and Co.

Don't be fooled, either.

The Pats outschemed Tampa last night, with a series of blitzes that Tampa had no wherewithal to handle. In a nutshell, it was nice, but this is preseason, not the playoffs and your football team hasn't won a playoff game since January of 2008.

Bill Belichick and Co. did unleash a furious attacking front with the starters in the game.

Forget his two-gapping 3-4 alignment that brought three Super Bowl championships here. New England is flooding gaps and slicing into teams hoping that penetration equals performance.

Eschewing the usual vanilla, don't-give-any-secrets-away strategy of usual exhibition seasons, the Pats blitzed through every gap, twisting and exploiting a Tampa offensive line that clearly had no idea what was coming.

The 4-3-4 and 4-2-5 nickel sets totally flustered Tampa, to the point that all of New England's inadequacies in the secondary never mattered.

Clearly, New Englanders will focus on this new, attacking front.

Within minutes of the game's final snap, one TV expert branded Mayo and his three tackles/two sacks "amazing."

Another TV type called him "an animal."

Again Carter was "unblockable." And Mayo was "amazing."

In an exhibition.

Folks, I'm going to say this one last time. If you don't get blocked on a blitz, you should make the tackle.

What happens when a competent coach and his staff actually gameplan? And they account for a 7-man blitz with more than five blockers?

The Pats should be petrified with their secondary as it currently stands.

As solid as second-year man Devin McCourty should be, can you count on any other body out there?

Not Kyle Arrington. Not Leigh Bodden. Not Pat Chung. Not Brandon Meriweather. And most definitely not Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite or Sergio Brown.

And those folks are your guys.

Is New England banking that rookie Ras-I Dowling, who is yet to see the field in training camp holds all the answers?

The fact is the Patriots can and will score with anyone. They have done it over and over again since 2007.

Last year, they scored five points more per game than anyone else ... in the regular season.

But until this defense does something to change a game against a quality opponent when it matters, I'll pass on the coronation.

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