FOXBORO -- Bruce Arians says there's one simple number that wipes out the woeful defensive totals amassed by the Patriots over the first nine games: 23.
That's the number of turnovers the Patriots have forced so far this season. And the Colts' interim head coach said Wednesday that, when it comes to evaluating the Patriots defense, one should, "Throw the statistics out because they've got 23 turnovers and when you lead the league in turnover-ratio (with) 16, you're gonna be in first place."
The Patriots have 10 picks and 13 fumble recoveries this season. They've thrown three picks and fumbled four times for a league-low turnover total of seven.
By contrast, the 6-3 Colts have forced just six turnovers all year and are at minus-9 in turnover differential. And that was before forcing three turnovers last week against the Jaguars.
Arians, the interim head coach in Indy while head coach Chuck Pagano continues recovering from leukemia treatments, has years of familiarity with the New England defense since his time as offensive coordinator of the Steelers.
"They've always been a bend-don't-break group and feasted on turnovers ever since I can remember," said Arians. "There were only a few years where they were totally dominant, but they've always been as well-coached as anyone in this league."
The Patriots are allowing 285.3 passing yards per game and 22.3 points. The second number should be higher given the yards they allow. But the turnovers intervene, says Arians.
"Interceptions, fumbles, kick returns, fake kicks, they've got it all and Coach Belichick does as good a job as anyone putting his guys in position offensively and defensively as anyone whoever's coached the game," he said.
Arians said its hard to project what impact Aqib Talib will have on the Patriots secondary. He noted the Steelers faced Talib when the corner was in Tampa and added, "I know how talented he is and he's got a good passion for the game and he'll be a great addition I think."
But Arians isn't showing Buccaneers film to his offense in hopes of preparing for Talib.
"There's nothing that I could go show them that I know he's gonna do in this defense," Arians explained.