Rodney Harrison: Patriots defense has ‘some vulnerabilities’


Through eight games, the Patriots defense has the chance to statistically be one of the best ever.

It is on pace to allow 122 points for the year, which would easily beat the 2000 Ravens for the fewest ever since they allowed 151 in that season. Of course, the Patriots haven’t faced many top offenses so far, but that will change with games against the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs coming up.

So, is this a historic defense? This was a topic that came up on a NBC Sports conference call this week to preview the Patriots-Ravens game.

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison pointed out how the team hasn’t really faced much competition this year, while also adding the unit has “some vulnerabilities.”

“Just watching them on tape, they do have some vulnerabilities,” Harrison said. “You look at them last week against Cleveland. Nick Chubb ran through them. If he doesn’t fumble the ball twice, it’s a totally different game.

“You look at the level of the competition — and I think that’s what Coach is kind of referring to. The first seven, eight weeks of the season, they really hadn’t played anybody. Now you get into the meat and bones of your schedule, where you have to play Baltimore, Philly, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City with a healthy Patrick Mahomes. That will really tell how great of a defense they truly are. But to put them in an all-time great category after eight weeks, after the garbage schedule they’ve faced, I mean, we could say they’re playing extremely well, but I think the next month of the season will tell what type of defense they truly have.”

Tony Dungy agreed with Harrison by saying it cannot be considered historic until it actually faces real competition.

“I think the next few games will determine that, and obviously, if they keep this up all year and they do it with every quarterback and every offense they face, then you’re going to have to put them in that category,” he said. “I say we just wait a little bit and slow down and see how they do.

“Rodney’s kind of mentioned some of the quarterbacks, young quarterbacks they’ve faced, and they’ve certainly just blanketed those guys, but let’s see a little bit. They’re fantastic. Their secondary is great. They have the ability to play different styles. I love a lot of things about them, but I think we need to slow down on the all-time great just to see how this season turns out.”

The Patriots will get their first real test of the year Sunday night in Baltimore.