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Crash course in store for Pats

08.27.10 at 1:11 pm ET
By

FOXBORO — Just be glad you don’t have to sit in front of a TV screen, high def or not, and watch a replay of Thursday night’s defensive meltdown at Gillette.

Those responsible are not so lucky as the Patriots players will have the words, discipline, responsibility, awareness, toughness and reaction drilled into their heads by every single member of the coaching staff.

One of the new leaders of the defense is Jerod Mayo. The third-year linebacker said it after the game and said it again to Dennis and Callahan on Friday morning. The Patriots played “dumb football” on defense. Bill Belichick will have no problem making Mayo look smart with that statement.

‘€œPlay smarter football,” Mayo said after the 36-35 loss in which the Patriots D couldn’t get off the field, allowing the Rams – the Rams – to convert 11-of-17 third-down chances. “Do business as business is being done, and go out there and try to make plays and try to get off the field.”

Three roughing-the-passer penalties and countless mental errors kept the defensive unit on the field way too long.

‘€œWe just couldn’€™t get off the field,” Mayo said “Penalties killed us. We have to fix it.’€

Mayo said the defensive unit, though, is confident they can fix things in time for the opener in just over two weeks.

‘€œIt doesn’€™t shake us at all,” Mayo said. “We’€™ll watch the film and make the adjustments and things like that. First two games, we played pretty well as a first unit. We just have to get better.’€

At least they’re aware of it. Now, with only the Giants in the preseason finale standing between them and the newfangled Bengals with Terrell Owens, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley staring them in the face on opening day at Gillette on Sept. 12, the Patriots would be well-advised to start making big adjustments.

‘€œIt’€™s definitely disappointing,” added projected starting right corner Leigh Bodden. “Looking at the film, we thought we could do some good things on defense but unfortunately we didn’€™t do what we planned and we just have to look at the film, get better from it, and move on to next week.’€

Yes, the positive is that Bill Belichick and company have plenty of teaching points. But there’s a fine line between providing a teaching point or two and coming up with an entirely new syllabus to help students in a crash course. The latter is what’s facing Belichick and his staff right now after watching the 2-14 Rams of 2009 hold the ball for over 46 minutes and 84 plays to New England’s 38 plays in 16 minutes of possession.

‘€œIt’€™s going to be rough,” safety James Sanders said. “But we need to go in there and keep an open mind and make the corrections that we need to make and go forward from there.’€

‘€œVery disappointing Anytime you have an offense that’€™s moving up the field at will, it’€™s demoralizing. It’€™s disappointing as a unit that takes pride in stopping teams the way we do out there. So we need to go back and figure out what the reason was for that and do better as a defensive unit.’€

As Belichick acknowledged after the game to everyone panicking about the future of Laurence Maroney in New England, it’s hard to prove anything when “you don’t have the ball.”

‘€œYou get a real feel for your team but it’€™s just one game and we made some mistakes and we have to correct it,” Bodden said. “It’€™s just one game, like I said. This is a game that you do want to go out and show what you have but unfortunately we have to go back to the drawing board and work on it so we can get better for next week.’€

Darius Butler is in a battle with Devin McCourty for the left cornerback position. Both second-year Butler and rookie McCourty were picked on by Sam Bradford on Thursday as the No. 1 over pick threw a paid of touchdown.

‘€œI know we’€™ve got to get better,” Buter said. “I know I’€™ve got to get better personally. Got to make better plays out there. That’€™s what we’€™ve got to do.’€

As for Bradford, Butler said fans and the Patriots themselves should not have been surprised.

‘€œNot really,” Butler said in denying any sense of surprise at Bradford’s numbers. “I mean he’€™s the number one pick,” Butler said. “He’€™s a good quarterback.’€

Another excuse that those looking for a silver lining on Thursday will point to is the time-honored NFL preseason theory that the defense Belichick threw at the Rams and Bradford was very basic or vanilla in football terms. Give Butler credit for this much, he wasn’t using that as an excuse.

‘€œI wouldn’€™t say that,” Butler said. “They just came out and made plays and we didn’€™t in certain situations. I didn’€™t in certain situations, so I’€™ve got to get better on that.’€

Read More: Darius Butler, Defense, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
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