Another Sunday, another major injury that is a major blow to an NFL desperately in need of young stars. The Eagles losing MVP candidate Carson Wentz alters the landscape of the NFC and once again proves there is no greater opponent during an NFL season than attrition.
The pundits spend all offseason making projections and rankings, and then it all goes out the window as star player after star player go down to season-ending injuries. The Patriots have had it just as bad as anyone, but because they haven’t missed a beat in the win column no one really ever gives them credit. It’s not a new thing, plugging undrafted rookies like Randall Gay in when starters like Ty Law are lost has been happing for over a decade.
But for whatever reason it just seems even worse this year, across the league. Maybe it’s the turf. Maybe it’s the size and speed of the players finally reaching a literal breaking point. For a league that really needs to find their next generation of stars, there does’t really seem to be any way to curb the tide, especially for ACLs.
Yesterday was a stiff reminder how even an MVP-worthy season can be ended in an instant. No one is safe and as the Pats take the field in Miami tonight, I’ll have Suh-Kiko-induced heart palpitations.
Couple notes on where the Pats are now standing…
— The Steelers stole another one last night, making for their third-straight win of three points or less. What scares me about this is that it’s very similar to the 2015 Broncos who just seemed to pull game after game out of their asses despite an inept offense. Pittsburgh’s offense is far from inept, but their defense, one which Tom Brady usually tears apart even when they’re good, has struggled.
As much as I can’t look past tonight’s game in Miami, I can’t help but wonder if the Pats-Broncos narrative of 2015 could play out again. I truly felt the Patriots were better than the 2015 Broncos, but for whatever reason, things just seemed to unfold perfectly in their favor in the two meetings that season. That was a theme for the Broncos that entire season, and maybe this is the year the Steelers have a steel horse shoe up their asses.
Every time NE-PIT play, I expect the Steeler defense to finally have Brady’s number like the Broncos did in 2015. And every time he has his way with them. We’ll worry about the Steelers the moment tonight’s game is over.
— As for tonight, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t as worried about losing another key guy more than anything else. I’d rather stay healthy and lose to the Dolphins than win and see another awkward knee buckling. Without Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy, this isn’t the same defense as two weeks ago. The Pats got by leaning on rookies Dietrich Wise, Adam Butler and Eric Lee last week, but the Dolphins will have studied the film and be ready to attack them. If Miami starts getting the edge consistently there could be problems.
The strength of the defense is the secondary and they’ve covered up for a front seven that has been turned over then decimated. It’s weird to think what this defense was supposed to look like — with Hightower, McClellan, Derek Rivers and maybe Harvey Langi. The second level and athleticism have been hit hard and I keep waiting for a team to perfectly exploit it. No one has been able to and I don’t think the Dolphins have the consistency to do it. The Steelers though…
In sum, just survive somehow is the feeling for tonight. Lean on Lewis and Burkhead once again, Bend Don’t Break and pray no one gets hurt.