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Former Patriots linebacker and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The D.A. Show on Monday night, and has faith the young Patriots defense can turn things around this season.
“I just think they have a good group of young guys, they have some playmakers. They could upgrade in a few areas but the nucleus they’re building can get it done,” said McGinest, who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls during his 12 years in New England. “This is the same team that made the Super Bowl with a little upgrade in certain positions. They can get it done.”
It’s been a frustrating month watching the Patriots secondary get called for numerous pass interference calls for simply not turning around on pass plays. Is this from lack of talent among the corners and safeties, or lack of coaching from Bill Belichick’s staff?
“Trust me, they’re definitely getting coached that. They are real precise telling guys what to do in game planning, especially when you have something that consistent like that in the passing game,” said McGinest. “Bill knows all these things, and points it out as soon as it happens. This is something that was trying to get corrected a year ago, and they’re still working on it. I don’t know if it’s because of the youth or inexperience. I know they’re smart players and I know they’re tough, because to play for Bill Belichick you have to be smart and tough. I just don’t understand where the breakdowns are coming during the game.”
The Patriots defense couldn’t get a stop on the Seattle Seahawks’ final drive on Sunday, letting them score a touchdown in the final two minutes — a 46-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to Sidney Rice.
“Even last year, if you see what the Patriots were doing on the back end, they led the league in big plays – more than 20 yards. It’s same as this year; they’re pretty consistent at that,” said McGinest. “They were good at takeaways and keeping teams out of the end zone. I just know being in those meeting rooms that’s something Belichick teaches; don’t give up big plays and don’t let people get behind of you – especially in crucial situations. It just seemed like some of the corners were losing focus on that.”
“When you get into those last play situations, you have to be reminded of what the situation is; how many points are they down, you can’t let guys get behind us, don’t be staring at the backfield – all this stuff goes through your head,” said the 15-year NFL veteran. “We were taught to keep everything in front of you and come down hill and tackle, make them go the long-hard road. We just didn’t see that (on Sunday).”
“We had a lot of guys that were real accountable and had a lot of pride. They didn’t want to be the guy to give up the big play,” McGinest said of his days in New England. “We all counted on each other to do your job. We were saying that back in ’01; that’s one of those things that is planted in your head.
“I don’t know if the communication is there, if the urgency is there. But I can attest these things are being taught in the meetings daily,” he said. “If there is a point in time where you can’t get it in this system, with Bill Belichick and this team, he’s going to go find someone that can.”
Listen to D.A.’s full chat with Willie McGinest: