The New England Patriots had no answer for the Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Watson threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another score, as Houston beat New England 27-20. The Patriots offense didn't exactly light up the box score vs. the vulnerable Texans defense, but their D certainly didn't do them any favors either.
Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson hasn't been impressed with the Patriots defense all season, and he made his feelings known during NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Postgame Live.
"I kind of thought it'd be a foregone conclusion this season that the defense was going to kind of pick up where they left off. Maybe there would be a little bit of a dip because they were so dominant last year," Johnson said. "But man, there's a huge precipitous drop in performance from this year's defense vs. last year's defense. It's missing Dont'a Hightower, I get that, and it's missing Patrick Chung. But still, this team, historically its pass defense is usually good in the red zone and in third down and in two-minute. This year, they're middle of the pack in all those categories.
"Today, they were particularly bad. Forty-five percent given up on third down. Half the plays for the Texans were converted first downs on third down. Seventy-five percent the Texans were in red zone. The Texans were 3 for 3 in first-and-goal situations today. Then [the Patriots] gave up that touchdown right before half, so their two-minute defense was not there.
"They can't pressure the QB. They have 13 sacks on the year. And I believe at this time last year they had at least in the high 30s. I mean, that's a huge difference. The tackling is as bad as I've ever seen it on this team. The secondary can't tackle. And then you've got to look at who stands out on this defense? Who are the leaders on this defense? ... This is a really bad defense, and I don't think people are acknowledging or talking about that enough."
The Patriots lost several key defensive players to opt-outs and free agency, but there's no excuse for such a steep dropoff from last season.
It won't get any easier for them in Week 12. They'll host another dual-threat quarterback in Kyler Murray when they host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.