There were plenty of moments in Sunday's game against the Saints where the Patriots will look back at the film and be proud of their work. How they handled pick-routes defensively isn't going to fall under that category.
Drew Brees hit Brandon Coleman for a five-yard touchdown when Malcolm Butler got picked by Saints tight end Josh Hill. The play could have been flagged as it appeared Hill was more than a yard removed from the line of scrimmage when the contact was made, but there was no call, and the Saints cut the score to 20-10 in the second quarter.
Could the communication have been better between Butler and Patrick Chung, who was in coverage on Hill? Was the technique botched? Bill Belichick was asked about the difficulty of defending those types of rub routes, especially down by the goal line, during a conference call on Monday.
He wasn't thrilled about how his team handled them.
"Well there are certain fundamental things that you have to do," Belichick explained. "You have to adjust collectively as a team. You have to work togerther because there's more than one person involved on . . . defending those plays. If you don't execute them well, if you don't play the technique properly, then you get beat.
"We gotta do a better job of coaching that. We have to play it better. Souldn't be nearly as much of a problem as it was. We obviously aren't coaching it or playing it very well."
The touchdown to Coleman wasn't the lone play during which the Saints successfully picked the Patriots. On the drive following that score, Brees found Coleman again on a rub route. Stephon Gilmore was wiped out, and Coleman was freed up to make a 42-yard catch down the right sideline.
Expect the Patriots, who use plenty of man-to-man defense, to focus on how they play those man-coverage beaters this week before taking on the Texans.