Patriots

Bedard’s Breakdown: Could Patriots’ focus on special teams players be catching up with them?

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(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Everyone knows about all the blatant miscues in the Patriots' 33-30 loss to the Panthers on Sunday, especially in a secondary that needs to buy a clue. So let's talk about how the Patriots begin to get things fixed.

Actually, let's talk about why it will be difficult to make amends quickly. And to do that, we need to talk about one number: six.

That would be the number of special teams plays that occurred — between both teams — outside of field goals and extra points on Sunday. Combined, there were six returned punts or kicks between both teams. That's it. There were 127 total offensive plays in the game, so 133 total with special teams. That means those six snaps represented 4.5 percent of the game.

Here's another number: eight.

That would be the number of dedicated special teams players, not including the kicker, punter and long snapper, on the Patriots' roster: Matthew Slater, Nate Ebener, Brandon Bolden, Jordan Richards, Marquis Flowers, Brandon King, Geneo Grissom and Johnson Bademosi. That's not even counting a player like Cassius Marsh (team-leading 77.3 percent of special teams snaps), who should see his defensive responsibilities increase moving forward.