FOXBORO — The Patriots defensive line is pissed off about their performance on Sunday night, and they should be after the Lions gashed them for 159 yards on the ground.
After reviewing the tape, the Pats coaches and players are all preaching fundamentals as the solution to their struggles with defending the run.
Defensive line coach Brendan Daly said on Monday’s conference call that, “I think there can be a combination of both [scheme and technique],” when asked about how to improve the run defense.
When asked what techniques in particular the defensive linemen need to do better Daly added, “one of the things is just creating separation extension and using our hands a little bit better I think would go a long way for us right now.”
As you’d expect, the Patriots defensive line coach hit the nail on the head with his critique of the Patriots’ fundamentals on Sunday night.
There were far too many instances like the play shown here where you can see the entire defensive front with their arms bent up against their chests instead of extending out to leverage and eventually shed blockers.
The Lions had the Pats defense on its heels, as they were the aggressors bringing physicality and power to the Patriots defensive front before the Pats could get their hands inside or their arms extended.
Defensive tackle Adam Butler explained to me in the Pats locker room that to play with good arm extension you have to be the aggressor, and contact the offensive lineman before they get their hands on you.
“You have to do it before they get a good enough grip on you because if they do it will be dang near impossible, but it starts with playing with extension from the get-go,” the second-year defensive tackle said.
Butler also added that the defensive line needs to focus on getting their hands inside the frame of the offensive lineman, that why they can control how the play goes rather than the opponent.
But it’s not just hand usage and arm extension that will fix the Patriots issues with defending the run.
As defensive tackle Danny Shelton put it, “ playing with better pad level will fix everything, really.”
As you can see here, the Patriots defensive line was unable to get underneath the Lions offensive line to gain leverage and either hold their ground or push them backward. You see multiple Patriots across the board practically standing straight up as they take on blockers, and as a result, there’s a gaping hole for running back Kerryon Johnson to spring into the secondary.
Shelton, who was brought in to fix some of the issues the team had with stopping the run last season said, “it’s annoying to see it on film,” in response to the Lions’ success rushing the football.
The Patriots hope that it can get back to playing fundamentally sound run defense on Sunday against the Dolphins, and they believe that will fix the issues that we saw on Sunday night in Detroit.
For all CLNS Patriots Videos SUBSCRIBE to our CLNS Media YOUTUBE Channel.
For the most in depth and comprehensive player and game analysis check out Patriots All-22 with host and Patriots beat reporter Evan Lazar. Listen and Subscribe HERE