Harrison disappointed in Patriots soft coverage

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Harrison disappointed in Patriots soft coverage

There was once a time when opposing wide receivers feared the Patriots defense.

Rodney Harrison. Ty Law. Lawyer Milloy. Tedy Bruschi. Mike Vrabel. The list goes on.

If Hines Ward was to skip a game against the Pats in those years, it wouldn't be because he wasn't needed by his team. It would be because the Steelers would be worried that Harrison could end his season.

You can understand then why it was so painful for Harrison to watch the Patriots secondary get run all over.

"Well, I think the biggest thing for me is when I look at that secondary and that defense, they blitzed Pittsburgh, yes they did, but I saw those corners and those linebackers playing so timid, playing soft coverage," Harrison told Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran on 'Quick Slants'. "You need to get up there. I know those guys are fast, Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace and those guys, they're very fast, but you have to get up there and challenge these guys. I just see just such soft coverage and I'm very disappointed in that."

So now the offense is a "finesse" style and the defense is "soft". Hey, when did the Patriots cheerleaders make the 53-man roster?

The secondary is a glaring weakness on the Patriots, one that opposing teams (at least the ones who did their homework) will surely take advantage of on a weekly basis. Curran points out that the Jets and Cowboys didn't do it, but why wouldn't anybody else?

Harrison is quick to note that the young and defenseless Pats are supposed to make up for inexperience with speed -- speed that they don't seem to have.

"Well, I mean, when coach Bill Belichick developed this defense and he brought younger guys in, the one thing I hear everyone say is, 'Well, he wants to get younger, he wants to get faster.' Well, where's the speed? I don't see a fast defense. I don't see an explosive defense out there.

"When I look at other defenses I see the speed. I see the speed on Green Bay's defense or even Pittsburgh's defense. But I don't see that fast speed with the New England Patriots. I'm just very disappointed because I look at that team and I say, you know, get up there and jam those guys, play some man-to-man coverage, blitz, and force the quarterback to make some mistakes."

At least the Patriots can fall back on their offense, right? It's bailed them out many times before, but when the playoffs roll around, it's got to be a team-wide effort, or again they'll be one and done.

"I think the thing is Belichick understands the strength of this team is in the offense," Harrison said. "They believe that they can go out and score 30 points a game even if they give up 23 points or 400, 500 yards on defense, it doesn't matter.

"But my problem with that is, when you start reaching in November and December in those critical months and the playoffs and stuff like that, you're going to have to be able to come up and play good defense and you can't rely on your offense because now you have to run the ball more and you have to have shorter passes."

Bills trade down, land a corner to help replace Gilmore

Bills trade down, land a corner to help replace Gilmore

Give the Bills some credit. On Thursday night they made the kind of move that even Bill Belichick might stand up and applaud. 

With an opportunity to sit at No. 10 overall and draft any number of players -- perhaps a quarterback not named Mitch Trubisky, perhaps the consensus top corner in the draft Marshon Lattimore -- they took advantage of the Chiefs' interest in Texas Tech gunslinger Pat Mahomes and traded out.

What they ended up with was the No. 27 overall pick, Kansas City's first-rounder next year, and an addition third-round pick this year. 

A corner-needy team after Stephon Gilmore signed with the Patriots as a free agent this offseason, the Bills watched Lattimore come off the board at No. 11 overall to the Saints. They also saw Alabama corner Marlon Humphrey head to Baltimore with the No. 16 overall pick.

But Buffalo held tight at No. 27 and still picked up one of the better cover men in this year's class. LSU's Tre'Davious White is the kind of player that new Bills head coach Sean McDermott believes will help solidify his secondary. 

"He plays inside, he plays outside, he's also a returner in terms of the special teams value," he told reporters, via Matt Fairburn of NewYorkUpstate.com, "so we feel good about it."

White is 5-foot-11, 192 pounds and was a four-year starter for the Tigers. Though he may have issues helping in run support, he seems ready to check talented wideouts at the next level after compiling a backlog of good experience against tough receivers in the SEC.

The pick wrapped up the night for Patriots competitors in the AFC East. All three clubs opted to go with players who will try to slow down Tom Brady and his offensive teammates twice next year.

The Dolphins went with a pass-rusher while the Jets picked up arguably the best defensive back in the class.

Best of BST Podcast: Charlie Weis

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Best of BST Podcast: Charlie Weis

On this episode of "The Best of Boston Sports Tonight Podcast" with Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith...former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis joined us in-studio to discus a wide array of topics. Also, the Celtics look to close out the Bulls, and Lou Merloni weighs-in on another dominating effort by Chris Sale.

  • 0:41 - Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis joins BST to discuss what it was like coaching Tom Brady early in the quarterback’s career and how it came about that the Patriots drafted Tom Brady in the 6th round.
  • 3:18 - Weis gives us an insight into what Bill Belichick is like during the NFL draft, how trades are made while the draft is going on, and why the Patriots have struggled with getting tall wide receivers.
  • 7:38 - Weis tell us which quarterback in this year’s draft he thinks will be the best pro and how Jimmy Garoppolo compares to the QB’s in this draft class.
  • 11:15 - Discussion on if the Celtics would have a 3-2 series lead if Rajon Rondo did not get injured and how the Celtics have found a way to get the job done.
  • 15:37 - Lou Merloni joins BST to talk about Chris Sale once again dominating but not getting the win because of the lackluster Red Sox offense, and John Farrell letting Sale pitch in the 9th inning this time around.