My Slant: Patriots defense - 2011 vs 2012?

925811.jpg

My Slant: Patriots defense - 2011 vs 2012?

Tom E. Curran makes the comparison between last year's Patriots defense and this year's edition.

We know, the defense has been bad, but Curran has something to say about it.

"These defensive passing numbers through eight games, 2,544 passing yards against, a 65 completion rate, 41 pass plays of more than 20 yards, 48 third down conversion rate, 14 touchdowns given up. Awful right? A team either already mired in disaster or headed there."

But wait...

Those are the Patriots defensive numbers from last year.

They were 5-3 at that point and went on to reach the Super Bowl.

This year's squad has allowed fewer yards (2,102), the same completion percentage, better on third down, more TDs (16), and fewer completions (39) of 20 yards.

So as Curran notes, the Patriots have won with numbers like this and they can do it again. But is that a route the Patriots have to take? Do they have to make it that difficult on themselves?

Look a little further back. Curran says with the exception of Rodney Harrison, who was a top-5 player at his position, the talent level is about the same between the successful Patriots defenses and the defense of today. In fact, this year's defense is younger and faster than the Harrison-led defenses.

But when you look at the defenses of the Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel years, problems got fixed and didn't re-surface. We're still seeing the same problems we've seen for the last two years on defense.

So is it coaching?

Is it players?

Belichick makes surprise address at NCAA lacrosse banquet

Belichick makes surprise address at NCAA lacrosse banquet

It's been well-established that Bill Belichick has a strong affinity for the sport of lacrosse. That the NCAA Division I men's and women's lacrosse Final Fours are taking place at Gillette Stadium this weekend means that the Patriots head coach has an opportunity to be around the highest level of college competition the sport has to offer. 

And he's taking full advantage. 

Not only did he meet with and speak to the Boston College women's team on Thursday, he's also met with the Ohio State men's team, and he took a few minutes to speak to all eight finalists at the Division I lacrosse banquet on Thursday night before the weekend of play got underway.

"I know that for us, fortunately, we've been to a lot of these games, and we've come out on the good side on some and not on the good side on others," Belichick said. "But just the experience, the competition of playing at this level and playing against this type of competition for what's at stake this weekend, it's just an awesome experience for you and your families."

Belichick explained that he had seen all eight teams play at one point or another this year, and he sounded like a fan of them all as he closed his remarks.

"It's really exciting to watch," he said. "You guys play with a lot of class, a lot of heart, a lot of toughness, and that's what I admire. Hopefully, we can play like that this coming year."