Can the defense carry the load for a while?
Recently, Matt Patricia was named on a list of the top assistant coaches under 40 compiled by CBS. I’ll give Patricia the “under-40” part but I have yet to see why he’d belong on anyone’s list of top assistants. The Patriots’ defensive coordinator has a chance this year to prove it. With the offense getting reconfigured, the Patriots need their defense to carry it. The talent is there. Six picks were spent on defense in the 2012 draft including first-rounders Chandler Jones and Donta Hightower. The acquisition of Aqib Talib last year was a brilliant move as long as he doesn’t have any brushes with the law and promising young players like Justin Francis and Marcus Fortson have been joined in the offseason by CFL refugee Armond Armstead and former Raider Tommy Kelly. There’s leadership at every level of the defense with Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty and newly acquired Adrian Wilson. It’s time for the defense to do its part and for Patricia to have the same pressure applied to him for the performance of the defense as Josh McDaniels gets for the offense. The Patriots haven’t won a game when scoring fewer than 20 points since December 20, 2009 against the Bills. They are 1-10 since 2009 when scoring fewer than 20 points. The Ravens, by contrast, are 9-14. Every team struggles when scoring fewer than 20. But when the Patriots don’t score 20, they’ve been dead. That has to change.