Not much has gone right for the New England Patriots this season. While most of the attention has fallen on Cam Newton and the offense, Bill Belichick’s team has an even bigger problem: stopping the run.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, their chances of improving in that area just suffered a massive blow. With Beau Allen ruled out for the remainder of the year, Belichick the GM has to give Belichick the coach some help…fast.
New England’s defense has regressed mightily from 2019
A year ago, the Patriots fielded a historically dominant defense. But with Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, and Danny Shelton all leaving in free agency, and Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung opting-out of playing this season, New England has regressed mightily on that side of the ball.
After finishing first in points and total yards in 2019, the Patriots have plummeted to 12th and 14th, respectively. While Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, and the rest of New England’s secondary has still played at a fairly high level, the same cannot be said for the front seven.
Due in large part to poor personnel, the Patriots have surrendered 140.4 rushing yards per game. That represents a 45-yard increase over last year’s mark.
Hightower’s absence certainly has played a factor in New England’s struggles against the run. However, the lack of a dependable nose tackle has also affected the team’s ability to shut down opposing running backs.
Of course, it wasn’t supposed to be that way.
In an offseason in which the Patriots largely remained out of the free-agent market, the team did sign Beau Allen to a two-year, $7 million deal. However, the veteran run-stopper did not take the field in training camp and has yet to play a down this season due to an undisclosed injury. As a result, New England has had to rely on less-experienced options at one of the most critical positions in Belichick’s defense.
Bill Belichick just lost his $7 million answer to the Patriots’ biggest problem
Bill Belichick bet big on Beau Allen to be the answer to the Patriots’ problems against the run. After all, he let Shelton walk in order to sign the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle. That decision looks like a massive mistake.
Throughout the summer and the beginning of the season, Patriots fans waited eagerly for an update on Allen’s availability. On paper, he seemed like a perfect solution to help shore up a porous run defense. Unfortunately for Belichick, his $7 million answer to stopping the run won’t suit up this season.
When asked if he anticipates Allen being to help the team, Belichick responded with a blunt message that left no room for interpretation.
“No, Beau won’t play this year,” he said during Monday’s media availability.
Belichick declined to comment on the specifics of Allen’s injury or why he won’t take the field.
Instead, he simply responded with, “He just won’t be ready.”
With Allen done for the year, the Patriots just lost a potential solution to their biggest problem. An already-thin defensive tackle depth chart won’t get a big boost from the 6-foot-3, 327-pounder. Instead, it might be time for Belichick to explore the free-agent market to find a defensive tackle who can stop the run.
Do the Patriots already have a replacement for Beau Allen in the works?
At this point, New England barely has enough bodies at defensive tackle just to get by. And now that the team knows Beau Allen won’t be making an appearance in 2020, it’s time for Bill Belichick to sign a starting-caliber player at that position.
According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots recently brought in Ryan Glasgow for COVID-19 testing and an eventual workout. The 27-year-old entered the league as a fourth-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017. He started just three games in three years, but he has shown some ability to anchor against the run.
Still, New England should aim a little higher than the former Bengal.
Instead, the Patriots would be wise to take a look at Marcell Dareus. The former No. 3 overall pick spent the last three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Before that, he terrorized Tom Brady and the rest of the AFC East as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
Though Dareus does come with some red flags about his attitude and work ethic, the 6-foot-3, 331-pounder has played at a Pro Bowl level in the past. He would add much-needed size and power along the interior. Plus, perhaps joining Belichick’s program would help reinvigorate his NFL career.
Ultimately, the Patriots have to add another defensive tackle sooner or later now that Beau Allen is done for the year.
Let’s see if Bill Belichick agrees.