Thursday night during the Patriots game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England’s defense managed to hold off the Bucs long enough to win the game 19-14. Throughout the contest, the Buccaneers offensive line struggled to contain New England’s defense, even though the Patriots defense is currently considered one of the worst in the league.
Don’t be mistaken, the defensive unit still has a lot of work to do if they plan on making it to another Super Bowl. However, according to Malcolm Butler, things are moving in the right direction.
“Communicating better, went out there and played with good confidence,” said Butler. “Going back to the basics, just playing good, complementary football. We just went out there and got it done.”
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The defense managed to keep the plays and drives short for the Bucs offense. Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston had a hard time throughout the first three quarters as the Patriots defense managed to stop Winston from completing five deep passes. Winston was pressured on 14.9 percent of his dropbacks.
The little heat that was placed on the Buccaneers O-line and Winston proved to be just enough to hold a steady lead in the fourth quarter. It also helps when the opposing team misses three field goals. However, in the upcoming weeks the Patriots defense is going to need a more sturdy solution.
There were no real break out performances throughout this game, but the improvement is there. Over the next three weeks the Patriots will be playing against the Jets, Falcons, and Chargers. These games will give them the opportunity to build confidence on defense. With the bye coming Week 9, the next several games are critical to shaping whether or not the Patriots will be capable of making it to the playoffs. However, knowing that there are only three weeks left until the trade deadline, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have to decide which players may be worth trading and which players would be compatible in meshing with the their defense.
The question is, is three weeks enough time to shape and mold these new players into the elite defense New England has been known for in the past? Quite simply, yes. With Brady and Belichick at the helm, the Patriots are capable of not only making it to the playoffs but also making a memorable statement while doing so.