NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 14, 2013

Ludicrous injury run has division in jeopardy now

On Pro Football
Hector Longo

---- — I tried to browbeat Bill Belichick and lost the quickie battle a week ago, per usual, after the Pats win over Cleveland.

Maybe yesterday’s loss in Miami might have been the opportune time to try.

This wild run of injuries and losses on both sides of the ball continues to take its toll, and it’s reached the most ridiculous of levels, even if Belichick chooses not to admit it and is just going to, “Take it one play at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time,” and

“Deal with whatever we have to deal with.”

Deep down, the guy has to be thinking how crazy this seems, even if he won’t admit it. Next time, Bill, use the out-loud voice, kind of like your cursing QB did after the game yesterday. Venting feels better, and nobody has more of a reason to vent about injuries and player losses than these Patriots.

Three quick reactions to yesterday’s 24-20 crusher at the hands of the Dolphins.

1. The fact that defensive back Marquice Cole actually still puts on an NFL uniform scares the life out of me. Why? Because he plays for the Patriots. Think about the fact that the Dolphins were pulling worse guys off the street this week to play corner and lived to win the game.

2. I can only imagine the look on Tom Brady’s face when they inserted rookie offensive lineman Josh Kline into the lineup at left guard. Of course, that disbelief shot could only be topped by the look on TB12’s face when Kline allows Cameron Wake a free shot at him. I mean, why would you think about blocking Wake, right?

3. Finally, all of a sudden this division is in doubt. At 8-6, Miami goes to Buffalo and hosts the Jets. Sweep them and hope that the Pats lose at Baltimore and in the finale to Buffalo. That’s Joe Philbin’s game plan. Knotted at 10-6, the tie-breaker goes to Miami (they would be 4-2 in the division, Pats would be 3-3).

Vulnerable understates the condition of your Pats with two games left in the regular season. Miami was a beaten-up bunch and totally fell on its face over the opening 30 minutes.

The Patriots had a 10-7 lead to show for it. Ryan Tannehill’s siesta ended at approximately 2:15 EDT yesterday, when the second-year guy realized that with all the attention the Pats were taking to eliminate Charles Clay from the game-plan, bumblers like Cole and Kyle Arrington were running, sort of, with Mike Wallace.

Over the last 31:23, Tannehill riddled the Pats secondary like Jason Campbell did last week and so many others have lately. He hit on 17 of his final 24 passes for 223 yards and three scores. For those of you doing the math, that is 9.3 yards/per attempt and a 139.5 on the NFL passer efficiency rating computer.

This defense is back to its 2011 old self, and I’m not blaming coordinator Matt Patricia. This guy was handed some future car salesman named Sealver Siliga and has him in Tannehill’s face for a sack.

It’s the injuries, and Aaron Hernandez and all the other loony scenarios foisted on this football team. It’s taking a tortuous toll.

Don’t fool yourself, folks. Flirting with the No. 1 seed was nice. But these Pats, right now as constituted, are just as close to the No. 5 (meaning Wild Card on the road in Week 1) as they are to the top seed and home field throughout.