Over the past three games, the Patriots have not amassed more than 20 points in any of them. Ex-Patriots, and current NBC football analyst, Rodney Harrison has a few reasons for why this is, and why Tom Brady hasn't looked as sharp this season, and he explained them to Tom E. Curran on 'Quick Slants':
1. The offensive line isn't doing its job: "You have to start with the offensive line. Teams that are good rushing teams that are rushing different stunts, different types of blitzes, they're putting pressure on Tom Brady. The blueprint for beating the Patriots . . . Tight man-to-man coverage, pressure up the middle, and force Brady to his left. Teams are starting to do that and the offensive line is not protecting him."
2. Brady's comfort level isn't right: "Tom, he's staring at his receivers. He doesn't feel comfortable. People are playing tight man-to-man coverage. He's got a 'robber' playing in the middle of the field so when Wes Welker or guys are coming across the middle they have someone there."
3. Brady is trying to do too much to make up for other team voids: "They're pressing. Tom Brady is pressing because he knows that this defense isn't really very good. They're going to give up a lot of points, they're going to give up a lot of yards, and he's putting a lot of pressure on himself to go out there and make plays. So he just needs to relax, they need to run the football, but they have to, more important than anything, they have to protect Tom.
Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season.
Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder.
Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick.
Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury.
Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad.
Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.
The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues.
Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”
Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September.
Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:
Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."