The New England Patriots caught a tough break in overtime that cost them the game. Though the Patriots missed some opportunities and should not have been in that situation, they did not play a great game and the number of injuries they have on defense was evident. Last week against the New Orleans Saints, the Patriots lost Jerod Mayo for the season, and Aqib Talib for a period of time.
The thought was that the Patriots could get by the New York Jets without Talib on the field due to the Jets’ struggling offense, but the absence of Talib was very noticeable. Having Talib on the field gives Bill Belichick the confidence to use the blitz against opposing offenses. Without Talib, the Patriots do not blitz, and this is evident in past years.
The Patriots rushed four on Geno Smith for most of the game, and they were not very successful getting to the QB. The lack of pressure allowed Smith to sit in the pocket and find open receivers downfield, which would end up allowing the Jets to dominate the possession game.
Dant’a Hightower did struggle a bit as he is now assuming the Mayo role on this defense. Hightower, however, will get more reps at the position and should turn out to be a solid replacement. Talib will hopefully be able to return to the defense soon. Having a shutdown cornerback is arguably the most important part of a defense, as it allows the Patriots to put him on an island with a top WR and allow the rest of the defense do more, like blitz in this instance.
Though the competition is not elite over the next few games for the Patriots, they will struggle to keep the opposition from putting up points if they cannot get Talib back and get some big contributions from players stepping in for key injuries. Not only can they not allow QBs to have time in the pocket, they cannot allow the opposition to dominate the possession game. If they do not find a way to fix this, they could struggle moving forward.