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Patriots' 60-second rant: Pass rush must improve

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Posted Sept. 28, 2010 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

It's fair to put a good share of blame on the Patriots' secondary for their defensive woes through three games this season. They are 25th in the league giving up 260.3 passing yards a game, and the youth is starting to show after giving up 30 points to the Bills.

But I'd like to shine the blame spotlight elsewhere — the pass rush.

The Patriots finished 23rd in the league in 2009 with just 31 sacks and were hoping to improve this offseason. Losing DE Ty Warren certainly hurt, as Warren has 20.5 career sacks, but he only notched one last season. The OLBs have rotated through with no one stepping up to put heat on the opposing QB.

The Bills had been sacked seven times in their first two games and were ranked near the bottom of the league with a weak offensive line. The Pats were able to muster up one sack on Sunday on a Jerod Mayo blitz.

Neither D-lineman on the field in their sub package (Mike Wright and Myron Pryor) could create a pass rush against Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. OLB Jermaine Cunningham, their pass rusher of the future, got into the backfield on one of Fitzpatrick's interceptions. He could be the answer as he continues to get more playing time after two consecutive starts. OLB Tully Banta-Cain has not been very productive this season and did not even start in Week Three.

Fitzpatrick showed how much success even the lowliest of offenses can have with a little time in the pocket. The Pats will have a tougher test in Week Four as the Dolphins and Chad Henne opened up the passing game for 363 yards against the Jets' defense.

Mayo's sack could be a sign of where the solution will come from, coming with blitzes from the athletic ILBs (Mayo and Brandon Spikes). But when you have a young, inexperienced secondary like the Patriots do, it's crucial to take pressure off them by putting pressure on the QB.

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