A lot was made of the ''Rhule blamed the loss on the defense comments''.
I took some time to align my thoughts aside from the frustration after the game, and this is what I settled on.
1) The INVESTMENT in the defensive side of the ball FAR exceeds that of the offense since Rhule became coach, and this is whether Marty, or Fitterer was the respective GM at the time. (11 defensive rookies added between 2020 - 2021)
2) Burns, Brown, Reddick, Henderson, Shaq*, Horn*, are all 1st round picks // Jackson, Chinn, Gross-Matos, are 2nd round selections
3) Offensively we feature when healthy some of the best skill players at WR & HB - CMC*, DJ, Robbie
4) What has seen little investment is the Offensive Line in recent years - Paradis was a vet signing off a broken leg in 2018, Cam Erving is a 1st round JAG who's been on CLE, KC, and DAL prior to CAR, Elflein has played out of position most of his career after being a Center in college, former 3rd round pick, John Miller another 3rd rounder on his 3rd team, and Moton a 2nd rounder that was worthy of a FT / extension this offseason. (Since Rhule, we've only added 2 offensive lineman in 2 years via the draft, Brady Christensen in the 3rd, and Deonte Brown in the 6th; compare that to 5 DL draft additions since 2020 - Brown 1st / Gross-Matos 2nd / Roy 6th / Nixon 4th / Hoskins 7th)
5) Darnold is a WIP, young enough to get better, but far from a finished product, former 3rd overall pick.
With those 5 items in mind, I don't think Rhule was so much as saying the defense is to blame, so much as he is saying ''Look at the defense we have assembled, with the investment we've made there we should be able to get the stops when we need them'even if the offense is faltering''.
I think the staff knew coming into this season the OL was a weakness, as was QB in ways and perhaps in the draft they didn't want to reach when they had higher grades on the likes of a TMJ, or Tremble who were 2nd and 3rd round picks.
It's important to remember we are 2 years into a rebuild, at this point all of our best offensive skill players are locked in, and the majority of the defense is under contract through 2022 (Jackson, and Gilmore pending). We also have considerable cap space, and flexibility.
With those things in mind I think we see the OL attacked more aggressively this off-season via free agency as we just came off a Covid-19 strapped salary cap this off-season while also having to sign several players at key positions.
TL;DR - It's not that he's blaming the defense, they simply have a HIGHER expectation than the offense given the investment there, and talent level. QB and OL are the most IMPORTANT aspects of an offense, we saw that with Cam who actually had a pretty good OL in 2015 with a bunch of average receivers (Ginn, Old Cotchery, Funch, Philly). Right now QB, and OL are the hands down WEAKEST part of our team, expecting them to close out games isn't on the table, not as currently constructed. However; based on current construction the defense has that expectation, it's why they built it the way they did.