BOSTON (CBS) – The Patriots offense is receiving a lot of attention this week here in New England for their ability to muster a measly 16 points against the lowly Raiders, widely viewed as the worst organization in professional sports.
But what about the defense?READ MORE: Hurley's Picks: The Dallas Cowboys Remain Stuck In Loserville, USA
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak spent part of Tuesday morning discussing the D, assessing a grade through three games and areas of improvement.
“I’d probably grade them as a B, B-,” said Zo. “You can’t forget what happened in Miami. You’re up 23-10 you should be able to roll the dice more. Was it the weather coming out of the half? Systematic failure across the board. All three phases.”
Gresh adds, “I like where this defense is at. I think they’ve taken strides each week. I love the fact that they are taking pride in the red area and holding teams to field goals and not giving up touchdowns. That, to me, is the biggest development I’ve seen from this group this year compared to last year.”
Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr was not afraid of targeting All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis on Sunday, and he did so with surprising success. Carr completed five of his six passes thrown Revis’ way for 63 yards.
Both Zolak and Gresh feel like the expectations for Revis are too high.
“Everybody is getting all up in arms about Revis with the six targets and five catches,” said Zo. “Revis said after the game, ‘This is the NFL. Guys are gonna make plays. I’m gonna make plays.’ What do you want Darrelle Revis to do? Knock every damn pass down?”
“I think there has been a little bit of an overreaction on Revis. Are there things he can tighten up? Of course. Maybe he could have made another play or two,” added Gresh.READ MORE: Police: Brookline Dunkin' Customer Threw Hot Coffee At Man For Not Wearing Mask Inside Store
Zolak has also seen the Patriots implement three different game plans for each contest through the first three weeks, and he believes once the defenders are up to speed on what they’re being asked to do, they’ll be a formidable unit.
“From a three-game standpoint I saw them play a very vanilla defense in Week 1, I saw them crank things up in Week 2, and Week 3 what did they do? Super-sub. When you hear me say that on the broadcast it’s seven defensive backs,” Zo explained. “That’s even more than dime. It’s more than nickel. You’re bringing Nate Ebner in to play a sort of linebacker/safety-type role. The more and more they layer things, and the more confidence they get, I think it’s the better of the two groups. The defense is carrying your football team right now.”
Thanks to research put together by producer Jim Louth, here are some Patriots defensive stats to digest:
– Patriots defense has had 36 total possessions. Three of those have been kneel down, or end of the half possessions. So in terms of real drives, where the other team has the ball and is trying to score, it’s 33 drives being evaluated.
– Patriots opponents in those 33 drives: 4 touchdowns, 7 field goals, 8 turnovers, 12 punts, 1 turnover on downs and 1 blocked field goal
“In 33 drives you’ve given up four touchdowns. That’s pretty amazing,” said Gresh.
“I think they’re going to get better as the season goes on. The most non-talked about thing that’s going to happen in about a week is Brandon Browner is going to be activated from suspension. He’s coming back to help this unit. You’ve still got Alfonzo Dennard that has to come back. I think they’ll just get better,” Zo concluded.
Listen below for the full discussion, including the improved pass rush and more!