If you are someone that believes in luck, then it must be one of the most unlucky seasons for the New England Patriots and their defense. The Patriots enter a needed bye week with a 7-2 record, but that does not tell the whole story. The Patriots came into the season with high hopes for a defense that had shown signs of greatness in the past. After the first few weeks it looked like the defense could potentially carry the struggling Patriots offense all year, but starting in Week 4 the injuries began and it seemed every week the Patriots could not escape a game without losing a key player on defense.
The defense has drastically changed in the last few weeks, but this is understandable when you lose guys like Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly to season-ending injuries. All those injuries are huge hits to the defense but maybe not as big of a hit as losing Aqib Talib would be. Talib hurt his hip in the Patriots’ Week 6 victory against the New Orleans Saints. The injury is something he has dealt with in the past and caused him to miss most of the playoffs last year. Talib has been practicing and is set to come back after the bye, but if he were to re-injure that hip and miss time late in the season or in the playoffs that could be the biggest hit to the defense. The Patriots have held it together the last few weeks without Talib, but it is clear that the defense suffers without having one of the best corners in the league on the field.
This past week against the Pittsburgh Steelers the Patriots would be hit with two more injuries to their defense when both Steve Gregory and Rob Ninkovich left the game early. Both injuries do not look serious and both players will hopefully not miss much time, but all Patriots fans held their breath because the Pats’ defense cannot take another injury. Moving forward the Patriots will do everything they can to be a successful defense, but a team can only do so much when so many key players on one side of the ball go down.
Talib may be the biggest part of this defense and they may be able to get by as long as he is healthy, but there has to be some young players to step up or the Patriots could struggle to slow down some of the offenses they will face in the coming weeks. Luckily for the Patriots they play in a weaker division and will most likely make the playoffs, but like in past years, they will struggle in the playoffs if they cannot contain opposing offenses. The next seven games will tell us a lot about this defense, but there is only so much you can expect when a team has lost as many key players as this Patriots defense has.