Patriots Defense Isn't What It Was in 2019
The most important factor for the New England Patriots in 2020 is the play of their defense. Even before Cam Newton was signed, they were a crucial part of the team's potential success.
But Week 2 wasn't a good week for the defensive unit.
The Seattle Seahawks walked all over the Patriots defense. After New England picked off Russell Wilson on the opening drive and took it to the house, the Patriots struggled mightily on that side of the football.
Wilson had an amazing game. He threw for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns. What was most impressive was Wilson's ability to extend plays. He uses his speed to leave the pocket and give extra time for his receivers to get open. This was one of New England's biggest mistakes. Numerous times Wilson bounced outside and was able to take advantage. The secondary can only cover players for so long. Eventually, one wideout will get open.
Still, even when New England got pressure, Wilson still took advantage. When the Patriots sacrificed coverage and blitzed, Wilson made some amazing throws.
The Seahawks also did a great job running the ball. This once again shows just how much the New England defense misses Dont'a Hightower. He is a player who always finds the ball and can make some great plays. Also, this shows just how much New England misses players like Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. They were integral parts of the Patriots front seven in 2019.
Chris Carson had 17 carries for 72 yards for Seattle in Week 2. What stood out is how Carson averaged 4.2 yards per carry. The Patriots need to do a better job of hitting the running back at the line of scrimmage. Carson was able to gain yards in bunches and made Patriots fans wish they had a running back like him.
Finally, one of the more surprising outcomes on Sunday night is that Stephon Gilmore had a disappointing effort. Gilmore was simply outmuscled. D.K. Metcalf physically dominated him. This was evident in Metcalf's 54-yard touchdown catch.
To Gilmore's credit, he did his best job. He was all over Metcalf and the wideout made a better play.
This could be a problem for New England going forward. Gilmore is supposed to lock opponents down. So far in 2020, he hasn't done that. Gilmore was tasked with covering DeVante Parker in the season opener and then Metcalf. They combined for eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.
In Week 2 the Patriots face the Las Vegas Raiders, and one of their biggest threats in the passing game is tight end Darren Waller. Standing at 6-foot-6 and with receiver speed, this could be a difficult challenge for Gilmore. But this is why Gilmore was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. He needs to be able to cover anyone no matter their size or speed.
New England's defense isn't having the start that they had in 2019. But if they can settle down after a poor Week 2 performance against an MVP quarterback, they can still prove to be one of the better defenses in the NFL.
However, if there's one thing that unit has proven through two weeks of regular season action, it's that they are far from the 2019 version of themselves.
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