Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, in his weekly interview on The Big Show, said that the absence of released cornerback Leigh Bodden was not to blame for New England's poor defensive performance in a 25-17 loss to the Steelers on Sunday.
"Absolutely not. Absolutely not," Wilfork said of whether Bodden's release on Friday affected the defensive effort. "Coach is always making decisions that is best for the team and the organization. ... Everybody is focused on going out and doing our job. We didn't do it well, of course, but at the same time, I think we prepared well. We just didn't execute the way we wanted to."
Wilfork suggested that he believes the Patriots have the potential to be an elite defense, even as he cautioned that the unit must improve. However, he suggested that the team failed too often in third-and-long situations, at times when "we had them right where we wanted to."
The lineman suggested that communication lapses had been at the heart of those shortcomings. With the problem identified and unrelated to effort level (Wilfork said that the defense played hard), the veteran said that improvements could be enacted.
"The stuff that we're doing is very simple to fix," said Wilfork. "We’re not going to beat ourselves up. We’re not going to hit the panic button. ... Things that we’ve done, we can fix them."
That said, Wilfork said that there have been communication issues all season on defense, and that the Patriots have little time to waste in starting to correct them.
"Our best football has to be coming soon. Each week is going to be a challenge for us," said Wilfork. "We have to go out and fix it. It starts tomorrow."