Borges: Patriots’ secondary woes not limited to Stephon Gilmore


FOXBORO — You paid $65 million for that? Now that’s a communication problem.

But it’s not the only problem Bill Belichick has at the moment, which going forward may be the larger problem for him and the Patriots.

The easiest thing to do after yesterday’s stunning 33-30 home loss to the Carolina Panthers is to conclude the Butler didn’t do it, the Gilmore guy did. Stephon Gilmore did indeed do it — committing at least four killer mental mistakes on defense at the worst of times — but the truth is he didn’t do it alone.

You don’t give up an average of 32 points a game and 456.8 yards a game, which amounts to 7.2 yards per play, which amounts to a first down every other play if you’re counting at home, because one guy can’t seem to decipher the messages. It takes a lot more than one guy breaking down to play defense like these guys did yesterday and have consistently done for the season’s first four weeks.

When your defense is allowing a 69.7 percent completion rate and a 43.5 percent conversion rate on third down, it’s a team effort. It takes a village to play that badly.

That does not exonerate the Patriots’ $65 million cornerback of course. Frankly, with big cash come big expectations and a month into his time here Gilmore has yet to fulfill the expectations that come with a $13 million a year salary. He doesn’t stand alone when it comes to the problems in the Patriots defense but Sunday the guys he was supposed to cover were standing alone on Cam Newton touchdown throws of 28 yards to Fozzy Whittaker and 10 yards to Devin Funchess. Add the second of two illegal hands to the face penalties that negated a third-down sack on the Panthers’ game-winning drive and you have all you need to indict Gilmore.

But, as with most crimes, Gilmore had accomplices.

On Funchess’ touchdown catch, for example, slot corner Eric Rowe had no idea what he was supposed to do and Gilmore jumped the wrong man, hanging Rowe out to dry. That was bad but let’s take that play a step further because it’s illustrative of the number of thumbs Belichick needs right now to plug the holes in his defensive dike.

Yes, Gilmore indeed blew his coverage. But who was supposed to be covering Christian McCaffrey, who was equally wide open in the middle of the field and, had he got the ball, would have scored right up the seam just as easily as Funchess did?

So was it Gilmore or was it worse than that?

If you took option two you would be correct,…



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