- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Patriots defensive end Andre Carter thinks the pass rush is close to clicking.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots made a conscious effort to beef up their pass rush coming into the 2011 season, bringing in veterans like Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis, and Albert Haynesworth, but through three games the numbers are actually more anemic than last season.
While admitting improvements are needed, Carter stressed Thursday that he feels the pass rush is on the cusp of putting it together and noted how frustrating film review has been because the Patriots are just a step slow on getting the necessary pressure.
"As far as from a technical standpoint, we’re almost there," said Carter. "It's as close as it can be, but we can always get closer. It's not an effort thing, as far as taking off the ball or being effective when it comes to power rushes or bull rushes or speed rushes. We watch film and and we’re like, ‘We’re almost there.’ It’s not necessarily a level of frustration, but it is to a certain extent. We just gotta say, 'OK, what can we do to get there maybe a second [earlier]?'"
The Patriots rank 28th in the league generating a sack on a mere 4.65 percent of opponent's total dropbacks through three games. That lack of a pass rush has aided opposing teams in their passing attacks and the Patriots rank 32nd in the league in passing yards allowed per game (377) and 31st in first downs allowed per game (26).
What's more, New England is tied for 20th in the league with just six sacks overall. According to coaches' stats after film review, the Patriots have generated 17 quarterback hits, but it's sub linebacker Dane Fletcher who tops the team at four (Myron Pryor, now on injured reserve, has three others). The Patriots' defensive linemen additions in Carter, Haynesworth and Ellis have combined for just one quarterback hit (it belongs to Carter).
Things won't get any easier this week. Not only do the Raiders boast the league's top rushing attack, forcing opposing linemen to gamble less in rushing the quarterback with the possibility of opening rushing lanes, but Oakland has only allowed two sacks all season.
Carter said the defense is seeking consistency and players have stressed taking accountability for mistakes.
"One thing about this group of guys, we constantly push ourselves to be the best," said Carter. "With the leadership we have here, we’re definitely more of a veteran defensive line. We're not necessarily pointing fingers at each other, we all just come together, talk to each other as men,and say, 'OK, let’s get this done.'"
One milestone note on Carter: When he steps on the field Sunday, he'll be appearing in his 100th consecutive game, tops among all active defensive ends in the NFL.