When Vince Wilfork went out for the season, I didn’t see it as that big a deal. He was a holdover from when they played a 3-4 scheme and was slightly expendable now that they line up in a 4-3 almost exclusively. When they lost Jerod Mayo and Aqib Talib, that was a different story altogether. Mayo and Talib were missed this week by a defense that was never able to stop rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the New York offense from moving the ball.
They were weak against the run and made Smith look like a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in the passing game. If it wasn’t for one ill-advised throw that turned into a pick-six, Smith would have put up his best game as a professional against a Patriots defense that had been one of the better units in the league up until this week.
That unit just couldn’t hold up with so many difference-making players sitting on the sidelines. Mayo was the heart and soul of the defense, and Talib was the most important strategic piece. It was his ability to lock-down the opponents’ best receiver that allowed the rest of the defense to fly around the field and make plays.
Things should get a little better once they get Talib back, but at this point we don’t know when that will be. Mayo and Wilfork aren’t going to be coming back at all this season. With the continuing struggles of the New England offense, the Patriots are going to find wins hard to come by with what is now just an average defense.