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Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots Defense Were Actually Worse Than You Thought

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I said in Monday’s Knee Jerk Reaction to the Panthers’ game that I’d probably do a deeper look at the debacle that is the Patriots’ defense right now. And here it is. My analysis. Based on both statistical analysis, film study and the opinions of the experts. Get ready. Here it comes: Sweet Jesus, are the awful. And Stephon Gilmore is more lost than he looked watching it live.

Those four Tweets above barely tell the story. There are plenty more where those came from. The most valued free agent  of the Bradichick Era played Sunday like he’d never been to a Patriots practice before. Worse. Like he’s not really clear on the whole concept of cornerbacking and doesn’t know who to ask because nobody around speaks his language. I’m convinced you could pull me up on stage at a production of The Sound of Music and tell me to play one of the Von Trapp kids, and I could do a fake my way through the part of Leisl better than Gilmore did approximating a Patriots defensive back Sunday.

By no means should what I’m saying be taken as letting anyone else off the hook. There’s a holocaust of wrong going on with this defense right now:

–Last year they gave up 15.6 points per game, best in the league. This year it’s double that.
–All four quarterbacks they’ve faced have had 300 yard games.
–They’ve surrendered 156 more passing yards than the No. 2 team. That’s a bigger gap than between teams 2 and 7.
–The difference in total yards between them and No. 2 team is bigger gap than between teams 2 and 14
–Like I said in the KJR, they’ve given those QBs a passer rating close to 2016 Matt Ryan.
–They’re giving up 10.0 AY/A. Meaning teams are averaging a 1st down with every throw.

So yeah, when you’ve lapped the rest of the field like the Pebble Beach Tiger Woods of Shitty Defense, it can’t possibly be just one guy. And the advanced stats would seem to let him off the hook:

–Gilmore only gets thrown at once every 11.5 passing downs, third fewest in the league among corners.
–His 16.7 coverage snaps per reception is 12th lowest among CBs, ahead of even Aqib Talib.
–He has a passer rating against of 101.8. Not good. But 24 corners are worse, including Malcolm Butler, 109.2.
–And the guy Gilmore replaced, Logan Ryan? He is dead last in passer rating against with an unfathomable 147.2.

But it’s definitely one of those situations where the numbers lie through their teeth. Gilmore is blowing so many coverages so badly that the numbers can’t account for it. He’s so far away from the scene of the crime that, statistically speaking, he stops being a suspect. You can’t convince me that all of a sudden everyone else in the secondary forgot the system they’ve all won two Super Bowls playing in.

And for the life of me, I don’t know what you do about it, particularly on a short week where you’re going to be facing DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans. Maybe you just put Gilmore out there tell him to forget about reads and assignments and stay with whoever splits wide on his side. But that goes against everything Belichick does. His  scheme works like a Spartan phalanx, with every man protecting the guy next to him and the pieces fitting together. Even Darrelle Revis wasn’t totally put on an island; it was more of an archipelago.

All I do know is that Belichick benched Gilmore for the start of the second half and only put him back in when Eric Rowe got hurt. And unless he gets with the program immediately, the worst defense we’ve seen in our lifetimes isn’t getting any better.

Gilmore

@jerrythornton1