One look at the numbers will tell you that the Patriots aren't a balanced team at the moment.
They rank first in the NFL in yards per game (423.8) and they're second in points per game (32.3 points). Defensively, no one is allowing more yards per game (456.8) and only the Colts are giving up more points per game (32.0).
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Former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi looks at the two latter figures comes to the conclusion that even with the league's best offense, Bill Belichick's club isn't going very far.
"The Patriots defense, that's not a playoff caliber defense right now," Lombardi said on his GM Street podcast. "That's not a playoff caliber team. You can't outscore people. This isn't the ABA."
Lombardi suggested that Belichick and Matt Patricia simplify things defensively as the cure, though Patriots players said after the game on Sunday that they've already simplified things to a great extent.
"It’s not getting better, and it’s not going to get better anytime soon," Lombardi said. "The Patriots have always had a hard time playing against quarterbacks that move around . . . I thought the Patriots offense would control the ball 34 minutes in the game and keep the Panthers off the field as much as they could. They couldn't control it. Even though they won the time of possession they didn't do it well enough.
"They punted twice a game and it cost them. They only had nine possessions, which is really bad. Typically you get 12 possessions in a game. You can’t go into a game and have everything lay at Tom Brady’s feet. Thirty points should win a game for you. And now they’ve lost two home games because their defense can’t stop anybody."
Lombardi also noted the obvious, which is there wasn't nearly enough resistance provided on multiple Panthers scores.
"They’re not good in the red area, and the one thing you can’t give in the National Football League is give free-access touchdowns," he said. "They don’t give you free houses in Beverly Hills; they shouldn’t give you free access touchdowns. And the Patriots are good at giving free-access touchdowns.
"We’ve seen it every week. We saw it in the opening week against Kansas City. It didn’t happen in New Orleans, but it happens every week. And there’s a huge communication problem. There’s a complete disconnect that I’ve never seen before in my career around Bill Belichick in terms of the back end."