After a thrashing of the New Orleans Saints a week prior, the New England Patriots were expected to carry that momentum into their home field against the Houston Texans.
The opposite is true, despite their best efforts, the Patriots couldn’t keep Houston out of scoring position. Stellar play from the likes of Stephon Gilmore and Trey Flowers kept the Patriots alive. The defense was able to apply pressure through two sacks, eight separate QB hits, and pressure on several other occasions.
Even with the impressive stat line, Deshaun Watson’s elusiveness still seemed too much for the Patriots to handle. Dont’a Hightower was missing from the lineup allowing the Texans to take full advantage of that and expose the outside edge.
A prime example is late in the fourth quarter Malcolm Brown and Adam Butler each had an opportunity to sack Watson and missed. Lawrence guy and Kyle Van Noy looked like outfielders going for a pop fly and collided with each other while trying to converge on Watson. Watson then rolled right and Flowers and Roberts who were in zone coverage, failed to sack Waston which resulted in a quick dump off to D’onta Foreman who broke free for 31 yards.
Flowers was understandably frustrated, as the slippery Watson had been alluding number 98 like a crazy ex-girlfiend all day.
The Texans and Watson deserve plenty of credit for the numerous exposures of the Patriots secondary and pass rush but the Patriots do t to themselves. The defensive line was able to apply plenty of pressure and took advantage of the horrendous entity that the Texans call their “offensive line.” That being said, players were unable to capitalize on the chances presented, whether it was missed tackles, poor coverage, or the numerous players not finishing plays.
Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia will look to change personnel groupings heading into next week against the Carolina Panthers, who have a Watson like threat at QB in Cam Newton. While Newton may not be as elusive or quick as Watson, he is much stronger and harder to tackle than Watson is. The defensive line needs to wrap up and drive through in order to bring Newton to the ground on one hit. Containing the outside edge is pertinent in order to prevent Cam from having extra time to throw the ball. If Hightower returns to the lineup, look for either him or Van Noy to shadow Newton all day or drop an end into zone contain.
If Newton has time, he will hurt you and his ability to deliver the ball on a rope is impeccable and nearly impossible to stop as a defensive back.
Contain Newton, come together as a unit, and DO YOUR JOB.