Patriots 60-second rant: Ochocinco, running game missing in loss

Posted Sept. 27, 2011 @ 7:40 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Well, the Patriots sure gave everyone plenty to rant about.

After two weeks of near-perfect football, on offense at least, the wheels came off for New England in Week Three, as they blew a 21-0 lead to the Bills, who hadn't beaten the Pats since 2003.

Last week, I focused on the Patriots' defensive struggles in this space, and how they cannot let those miscues allow for an upset.

The defense didn't do the Patriots any favors. The pass rush is still missing and CBs Leigh Bodden and Devin McCourty got beat on a couple big sideline throws. Safeties Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown each had their miscues, as well.

But we knew the defense wouldn't have its best game. Without SS Patrick Chung and with plenty of injuries on the D-line, there was some inexperience for a unit that has been struggling. That's no excuse for not getting after Ryan Fitzpatrick, but enough on the defense.

Where is the running game? And when will Chad Ochocinco make an impact?

Last season, Tom Brady won the MVP, but the running game ranked ninth in the league behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. Against Buffalo, Green-Ellis had 16 yards on nine carries (1.8 ypc) and Woodhead had six rushes for 21 yards.

Thanks to a 19-yard run on a reverse by Wes Welker and a 16-yard run by rookie Stevan Ridley, the rushing numbers don't look terrible (26 carries for 108 yards). However, this was against last year's worst run defense. The Bills have certainly improved their defense, but the Pats should have been able to get the ball moving on the ground.

That would have taken pressure off Brady and kept the Bills' offense off the field. What made Brady and the Pats so unstoppable last season was their ability to have a balanced offense to keep defenses honest. The Bills gladly dropped plenty back in coverage and were in the right position to make plays on Brady's misthrows.

Speaking of the passing game, three games have passed and Ochocinco still is not doing what he was brought in to do — make plays. Leodis McKelvin jumped his route to make an interception and Ochocinco finished with just two catches — not to mention the ball he didn't catch, a surefire touchdown that he dropped. With Aaron Hernandez out and Ochocinco with another week under his belt, I thought he would break out against an average Bills secondary, but Ochocinco remains a mystery. He has kept his mouth shut throughout, although it makes you wonder how much longer he will stay quiet with the pressure mounting on him.

Brady simply cannot carry this team on his own. The defensive personnel, especially in the secondary, is still lacking, but he has all the weapons he needs on offense and there's no reason that side of the ball should slow the Pats down.