Howe: It’s Fair To Question Patriots For Going ‘Against The Grain’ With Gilmore Signing

BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots defense has been as bad as any unit in the NFL through the first four weeks of the season, especially in the secondary. But where on the list do you put defensive coordinator Matt Patricia?

The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe spoke at length on the Patriots’ struggles on Monday morning with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich, citing ways that everyone involved in the team’s bottom-ranked pass defense failed on Sunday against the Panthers. The players have shown accountability after games for the poor performance and communication issues, but Howe acknowledged that the coaches should also accept a fair portion of the blame.

“You’ve got to split up the share equally at this point,” said Howe. “You’ve got some basic concepts that the Patriots are running … so why is the message not being sent down to the players to execute it properly? You’re going on a month now. There’s gotta be some accountability from the coaching staff. We can’t sit here and praise them for years when they do things right and not put it on Patricia’s shoulders when things aren’t going correctly. But then the players have to be accountable too, and they have been.”

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore will be under one of the biggest microscopes in the coming days after a game filled with more blown coverages and costly penalties. While Howe has “heard good things” about Gilmore’s work with the team so far, it certainly hasn’t translated on Sundays. Howe couldn’t help but hearken back to the beginning of free agency, when the Patriots signed Gilmore to a big-money deal on day one – something that other teams have been criticized for in the past.

“I wrote before free agency that I had people looking at the Patriots saying that, ‘Hey you know what? It’s funny to see how teams operate in the opening hour of free agency. Because they come out with these massive deals and the Patriots just sit there and say ‘What are you doing? … A few days later, what happens? The Patriots sign Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million contract, the most Bill Belichick’s ever given to a defensive player, and the news of that contract breaks in the hours before free agency even opens.

“So you’ve got the Patriots days earlier laughing at other teams for mistakes they’ve made in free agency, and the Patriots went and did exactly the same thing, which was against the grain for how they usually operate in free agency. And now you’ve got an issue where four games into the season, you’ve got Stephon Gilmore standing there at his locker saying, ‘The communication issues are my fault and I’m the one who’s got to get it right.'”

Listen to the full podcast above!

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