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NFL New England Patriots

5 Takeaways From The New England Patriots’ First Half

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5 Takeaways From The New England Patriots' First Half

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are now eight games through the 2013 NFL season. With plenty of questions surrounding the team and more criticism than previous years, the Patriots still sit on top of the AFC East with a 6-2 record and are on pace for yet again another 12-win season. The Patriots have faced plenty of adversity this season from the Rob Gronkowski waiting game for the first six weeks of the season to the number of injuries to key players. Yet like the motto of Boston Red Sox, the Patriots keep finding a way. This past week the Patriots went into half down 17-3, but after some adjustments they found a way to score 24 unanswered and ended up winning the game.

The Patriots did not only have a tough offseason, but the issues continued into the regular season. The offense has taken a major step back and is slowly coming around as players get healthy. After years of dominating on offense the Patriots were winning games on the defensive side of the ball early in the season while the offense struggled, but now with a slew of injuries to what was looking like a great defense, it is time for the Patriots' offense to catch up and win some games for their defense. There has been plenty to criticize over the first eight games, but at the end of the day the Patriots will enter the second half 6-2. Here are some things to take from the first half of the season.

Jared Smith is a Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @shmity91, "Like" him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Injuries Have Hit Hard

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries have killed the Patriots this year. Every year there are teams that suffer major injuries, but it seems this year the Patriots cannot catch a break. Sebastian Vollmer is the latest on the list of starters to be lost for the season. He joins players like Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork as players that will end up missing the rest of the year. The Patriots also lost Shane Vereen Week 1 and will not see him until after the bye. They have missed Aqib Talib the last two weeks after he has been arguably the best corner in the game this season. Danny Amendola has missed some games and is just an injury waiting to happen, which is the last thing a struggling offense needs. The injury bug has hit this team hard, but they find a way to win which is all that matters.

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4. Tom Brady's Struggles

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady has not been the player that we have known in the past. The offense is new and there are times where they are clearly not on the same page, but there have been plenty of opportunities this season that Brady has just flat out missed. He is now has Rob Gronkowski back and seems to be getting comfortable with his offense, but for a player who has a career completion percentage of 63.4 and never completed less than 60 percent of his passes, his 55.7 completion percentage at the halfway point is frightening. Brady is the most important player to that team, and with the defense struggling with injuries he needs to step up and lead this offense like he has in years past.

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3. Josh McDaniels' Play-Calling

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McDaniels cannot take too much heat considering the record of the team, but there have been plenty of questionable calls this season. Most of them are surrounding the running game and questionable third down calls. There have been games where the Patriots completely abandon the run when they were averaging well over four yards per carry. They did this against the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season and it ended up costing them the game. There are times where there are great offensive drives and McDaniels looks like a genius, but there have been too many times where the calls are questionable at best and make the Patriots look lost on offense. The players on the field do have to take some blame for this, but the play calls in many big situations this season have been questionable at best.

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2. Where Is Stevan Ridley?

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

There is something going on with Stevan Ridley and this team. He has taken a lot of heat for his fumbling issues in the past and lost a big one in the first game of the season against the Bills. Since then he has battled a bit of an injury and has seen plenty of time on the bench in favor of players like LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden. Though both players have performed well, Ridley is coming off of a season where he rushed for over 1200 yards and had 12 touchdowns. Ridley is still having a solid season with 4.3 YPC and four touchdowns, but he is on pace to have over 100 less carries than last season. There are a lot of questions surrounding this move. Ridley has helped the Patriots be more balanced on offense and has opened up the passing game when he is in there, but the Patriots seem to be sending him a message that he will not be a true feature back moving forward.

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1. Aqib Talib Has Emerged

Dale Zanine - USA TODAY Sports

Aqib Talib has missed the last two games nursing a hip injury that has caused him to miss time in seasons past. The Patriots desperately need him back due to the fact that he is arguably the most important player to this defense and is playing like an elite CB this season. Talib allows the Patriots to put him on an island with the best receiver on the opposition and do more with the rest of the defense like blitz. With him out of the lineup, the defense is more vanilla and a lot easier to expose. Talib has missed two games so far and still is tied for the league lead in interceptions. It will be crucial for him to stay healthy if this defense wants to succeed late in the season.