Brown: Communication issues hurt Patriots DBs

Brown: Communication issues hurt Patriots DBs
September 9, 2013, 12:00 am
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For a secondary long maligned for its ineptitude in a perennially playoff-bound organization, the specter of corralling a rookie quarterback led by a rookie head coach seemed a rather fair way to start the season on a strong note.

The Patriots defensive backs obliged, limiting E.J. Manuel to 150 yards through the air on 18-for-27 passing.

But, two touchdown throws from the Florida State product, making his first NFL start, left a sour taste in the mouths of a unit looking to gain respect.

Those two plays turned out to be particularly egregious because they involved a massive failure in communication, something that is troubling to one particular ex-Patriot receiver.

"Overall, they did OK, just some blown coverages I think," said Troy Brown, the handyman of the early 2000s Patriots dynasty. "Just some communication problems, an area I thought they would not struggle…because they have some experience now, these guys are in their fourth, fifth, sixth years on defense. They need to start communicating much better than what they did today."

He wasn't the only one with such grievances.

"You look at those two touchdowns that Manuel threw and it was disappointing because they were too easy," said Mike Flynn, a former NFL offensive lineman now of 98.5 The Sports Hub. "It's just blown coverages, [Steve] Gregory and [Aqib] Talib on one and [Devin] McCourty and I think [Kyle] Arrington on the other. That could be improved pretty easily just being on the same page."

The back four on the defense appeared to lose its stigma as a significant liability in the latter half of the 2012 campaign. With one mediocre performance in the books in 2013 though, questions could resurface, especially with Alfonzo Dennard's legal fate still not decided at this point.

The Patriots should be hoping the secondary looks better when Geno Smith and company come to town.

Still, there is good news.

While the cornerbacks struggled to remain on the same page, there is some reason to believe this pass defense won't play like Swiss cheese.

The defensive backs should improve, but the best way to halt the pass is a fearsome pass rush, and it appears the Patriots have just that.

"One thing I really liked, you look at the front four. A new kind of rush package where they brought in [Michael] Buchanan as a defensive end and you move Chandler Jones over a guard, you have Vince Wilfork as your big guy in there and then you have Rob Ninkovich," Flynn said. "And they had a lot of success rushing Manuel, flushing him out of the pocket, Chandler Jones in there a few times…I really like that front four on third downs."