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Monday, September 20, 2010
Has Bill Belichick's genius license expired?

By Tim Graham

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has the reputation of being a defensive mastermind.

Cold, Hard Football Facts overlord Kerry J. Byrne scoffs at that.

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had the best game of his career Sunday, clobbering the New England Patriots at the Meadowlands.

To Byrne, that was just one more instance of Belichick's defensive genius being a myth.

"The Belichick Defense is no longer great," Byrne writes. "But it's worse than that: The Belichick Defense doesn't even show up half the time, and allows even average quarterbacks to have their way with it."

Byrne adds the Patriots' defense is "a nameless, faceless unit that's been virtually incapable of making a big play, or even a small play, since its three picks against Donovan McNabb in Super Bowl XXXIX -- six seasons ago."

Byrne claims the Patriots' defense has suffered from Belichick's inability to draft capable defensive backs. To a point, I might disagree with that assessment in terms of safeties. Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung could form a nasty duo, although Meriweather didn't start Sunday because, as he explained, he didn't practice well enough.

But the Patriots have cycled through a lot of draft picks dedicated to finding satisfactory cornerbacks. Last year's second-round pick, Darius Butler, was benched late in the game because Braylon Edwards was abusing him. Terrence Wheatley, a second-round pick in 2008, was deactivated before the game.

The list of quarterbacks to "torch" Belichick's defense include A.J. Feeley (twice), Chad Pennington, Kyle Orton, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Drew Brees.

Some middling quarterbacks in there. Some great quarterbacks, too, but is a mastermind supposed to be able to defuse them more often than the Patriots do?

By the way, as much as fans of opposing teams love to poke fun at him, Sanchez is 2-1 against the Patriots.