During this week's conversation with Westwood One host Jim Gray, the host asked New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady if he gets frustrated with the team's defense for allowing so many points that it increases pressure on the New England offense to score every time that they have the ball. Brady replied that the thought never crosses his mind.
"The first thing you focus on is your job," Brady replied. "We are supposed to score every time we touch the ball, that's why we're out on the field. We're not out to go run three plays and punt."
Brady's defiant comments come at a time when the New England defense has been under deep scrutiny. According to PatriotsWire, the Patriots rank 24th out of 32 teams with 179 points allowed through seven games. This amounts to an average of 25.6 per game, which is the third-worst performance through seven games in franchise history. The porous defensive performance of the Patriots as late has led many to question New England's status as a Super Bowl contender.
"Their job is to defend, our job is to score," Brady said. "That's what makes it a team, to try to win the field position battle. There's games and stretches where our offense hasn't played good. There's games and stretches where the defense doesn't play good. Not everything is gonna be working every week. It just means we got room for improvement."
Brady's comments are accurate, considering that the Patriot's defense wasn't projected to be much better than they have actually performed so far this season. According to the Football Outsiders defensive efficiency rankings, New England is within 1% of their preseason expectations for defensive performance. They actually have the league's 19th-rated defense according to that site's evaluations.
It's also possible that the Patriots defense will experience a renaissance of sorts in the second half. The team has had a reputation for sluggish starts defensively, and the underlying statistics suggest that New England's defense isn't as bad as it seems. Pro Football Logic rates the Patriots defense at #11.
In any case, the Patriots still have their secret weapon -- a 41-year-old quarterback with five Super Bowl rings. Brady's performance continues to defy the odds, as he has led New England to a 5-2 record despite the defense's struggles in the first half of the season. New England's long-established culture of winning suggests that their defensive issues will be sorted out sooner rather than later.
"If we can put together a complimentary game for 60 minutes, I'd like to see what that looks like," Brady said. "And that's what the goal is."