Patriots

Lombardi on Pats: 'You can't just outscore people . . . This isn't the ABA'

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Lombardi on Pats: 'You can't just outscore people . . . This isn't the ABA'

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."

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Marcus Mariota threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Taywan Taylor with 5:29 left , and the Tennessee Titans beat the Indianapolis Colts 36-22 on Monday night to snap an 11-game skid tied for the NFL's longest active losing streak against one team.

Mariota didn't move around much on a cool night after missing a game with a strained left hamstring, but still managed to throw for a season-high 306 yards. He completed each of his three passes on the drive that ended with Taylor's tiebreaking score.

The Titans (3-3) also snapped a two-game skid with the win.

Jacoby Brissett tried to rally the Colts (2-4) to a second straight overtime. But Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard forced Brissett out of bounds shy of the first down marker on fourth-and-inches with 2:19 left. Coach Chuck Pagano lost his challenge.

Derrick Henry then clinched the win for Tennessee with a 72-yard TD run with 47 seconds left. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, finished with a career-high 131 yards on 19 carries. DeMarco Murray also scored.

The Titans looked like the NFL's worst scoring defense in the first half instead of Indianapolis, with Brissett directing the Colts to a 13-9 halftime lead. John Simon then intercepted Mariota's first pass of the third quarter and returned it 26 yards for a TD.

But the Titans forced the Colts to go three-and-out on three of their first four drives of the second half, and Avery Williamson stripped tight end Jack Doyle of the ball after a catch.

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