Communication Is Key For Secondary

Devin McCourty (US Presswire)

The Patriots may have handled the Dolphins on Monday Night, but that was no thanks to a young secondary which was torched for over 400 yards. If New England is going to succeed, the young studs in the defensive backfield need to fix their communication issues.

   Logic indicates if the Patriots had trouble containing the Miami Dolphins, who hardly rank among the league's most potent offenses, then they'll have a real problem Sunday against the Chargers, who actually have the weapons to win a shootout with anyone in the NFL.

   From quarterback Philip Rivers to wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd, in addition to veteran tight end Antonio Gates, San Diego has enough firepower to put New England's young secondary to the test.

   "Even when we played him last year, they were the No. 1 offense, and this year they have the same type of weapons," Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty said. "One thing I think (Rivers) is happy about is they have a lot of guys healthy right now, different than last year when they had a lot of injuries. He has a full staff with him at the skill positions and he's still a great quarterback."

   Gates might be the most dangerous weapon. The Patriots have always had trouble containing physical tight ends, and Gates is one of the best in the league.

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%%MATCH_10%% Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall (19) runs past New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty (32) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Sept 12, 2011. (Photo: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE)

   "Big, fast, can catch or wall you off -- basically, one of the best guys to do it," safety Patrick Chung said. "We have to bring our A-game. They're great. They have the same quarterback, same players -- they have a great team. They have additions there that made them a little better, too. Their running back (Mike Tolbert) runs hard, breaks tackles and he can catch the ball. There are a lot of threats on that team."

   The key is to improve communication, which wasn't a serious problem in Miami, but, on the same token, was far from perfect. They got away with some errors against the Dolphins, but might not be as fortunate against San Diego.

   "You can always get better at that. We communicated well at times (against Miami)," McCourty said. "Last year, I came in as a rookie, and I was asked the same question: 'Do you think they'll challenge you deep?' I said, 'Yeah,' and they did. This year, I'm just in my second year, and we've got Kyle (Arrington), and Leigh (Bodden). Teams are going to take their chances."

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