Patriots' defense struggling with YAC

June, 19, 2013
6/19/13
12:00
PM ET
The New England Patriots are arguably the most disciplined, well-coached team in the NFL. But one area where they struggled mightily last year was tackling in the secondary and preventing yards after the catch.

New England was 27th in the NFL with 1,845 yards allowed after the catch last season, according to ESPN's Stats and Information. The Patriots struggled to cover. But once receivers made the catch, they were oftentimes able to run freely and/or break tackles from New England's secondary. The Patriots were 29th against the pass last season.

The New York Jets, even without star cornerback Darrelle Revis (knee) for most of the season, led the NFL with the fewest YAC in 2012. Here are the YAC totals for all AFC East defenses last season:
  • No. 1: Jets, 1,301 yards
  • No. 27: Patriots, 1,845 yards

Tackling receivers and tight ends must become a huge priority for New England’s defense this year. The Patriots’ top-ranked offense carried the team most of last season, but personnel changes and injuries may force this group to take a step back. Therefore, New England's defense must make major strides and fix its weaknesses.

This further explains why New England signed physical, hard-hitting safety Adrian Wilson in free agency to add an intimidating presence on the back end of the defense. The Patriots also were wise to bring back No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib, who was a midseason acquisition last year.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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