FOXBORO – When a defense goes from playing like the ’85 Bears in one half to having the opponent go through it like poop through a goose in the second half, it raises an eyebrow. Like, did you guys mean to do that?
Which is what I asked Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on Monday. Of course, he didn’t go into the locker room at halftime with the Patriots leading 24-3 and say, “Let’s see if we can get this game to the point where we need an end-zone interception to preserve it.” But did the Patriots play a little softer in the second half?
What in God’s name went on?
“I think there are definitely some things, when we go back through it, we’ll go back and correct, but certainly,[Miami is] a very good team with extremely good and explosive skill players,” Patricia began. “We talked about that earlier in the week. Obviously, [Jarvis] Landry, and the quarterback and all those guys, the tight ends, those guys are extremely fast and they’re good players. I think the biggest thing is just a couple instances there we have to take a look at and make sure everything is on par as far as what we’re trying to do and the target that we’re looking at, and make sure we just kind of stay consistent with it throughout the entire game.”
Patricia has a penchant for speaking vaguely. He adheres to Bill Belichick’s desire for things to be spoken about in general terms rather than going chapter-and-verse on what went wrong where.
But interpreting Patricia’s offering that there were “just a couple instances there we have to take a look at and make sure everything is on par as far as what we’re trying to do and the target that we’re looking at,” indicates that there were spots where everyone wasn’t reading off the same sheet of music. Or at least weren’t hitting the same notes.
There were a number of checkdown throws Ryan Tannehill hit in the 5-to-8-yard range that, after a while, became clear were working well and would continue to unless something else was done.
Nothing really was. For which Patricia assumed some responsibility.
“There are certainly some things, I’ll always look at myself and try to make sure I can do better to keep it moving from a defensive standpoint, but I think it’s something we definitely can learn from,” he said. “Obviously, we came out and played well in the first half, but it’s a 60-minute game and it’s still part of the process of the early part of the season where you don’t really get to that until you get to the first game. Obviously, it’s the second game and you’re working through making sure you can get to a point where you can play a complete game for 60 minutes.”
In their two games so far, the Patriots have built leads and hung on at the end. This week, with rookie Jacoby Brissett the likely starter, it’s probably not realistic to suppose the team will get out to a jackrabbit start.
The 60 minutes of hell will be preferable to the 30 minutes of heck the Patriots defense played on Sunday.