There is a silver lining to every cloud, even when that cloud is as dark and foreboding as the New England Patriots pass defense is porous. Instead of coaching the pass defense with the worst start after the first seven games of the season during his tenure, head coach Bill Belichick is only coaching the second worst pass defense with the worst statistics after seven games during his tenure, thanks to some favorable interception numbers. Otherwise, he would indeed be coaching his worst pass defense since he took over the head coaching position in 2000.
So far this season, after seven games, the Belichick’s twelfth Patriots squad has allowed opposing teams to complete 66.7 percent of his passes. Only the Patriots defense from 2010 allowed a higher completion percentage to quarterbacks in the first seven games of the season (69.8 percent).
Additionally, the Patriots have allowed opposing offenses to garner 8.3 yards per pass attempt, 7.7 adjusted yards per pass attempt, 7.5 net yards per pass attempt, and 7.0 adjusted net yards per pass attempt. For good measure, the Patriots also give up 12.4 yards per completion.
The yards per pass attempt and net yards per pass attempt numbers are the highest any Belichick-coached team has given up after the first seven games of the season, but as I alluded to earlier, interceptions have saved them from looking worse than they already do.
For the season, the 2011 Patriots pass defense has an interception percentage of 3.2 percent, meaning they have intercepted 3.2 of the passes their opponents have thrown. Then again, their interception percentage is the fourth lowest of Belichick’s tenure so even in the category that is saving them a little bit, they are still one of the worst defenses Belichick has ever coached.
It is that reason why their adjusted pass attempt numbers are not as high as the ones given up by the 2005 Patriots. That season, after seven games, the defense allowed a mind-boggling 9.0 adjusted yards per pass attempt and 8.1 adjusted net yards per pass attempt.
One reason why the 2011 Patriots are giving up so many passing yards is because of a lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Patriots only have a sack percentage of 5.0 percent, which only tops the 2010 team that had a sack percentage of just 4.5 percent after seven games.
At least for this season, no one can call Bill Belichick a defensive genius unless one is only doing so in an ironic manner.