The Patriots have dealt with numerous key injuries this year and that will continue to be the case to an almost ridiculous extent Sunday, as the team announced (via Twitter) that wideout Danny Amendola and Jamie Collins won’t play against the 8-2 Broncos in Denver.
While doubting this year’s 10-0 Pats (or any team led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick) seems unwise, Bob McManaman of AZCentral opines that their injury issues have them primed for a nose dive. McManaman writes that the losses of Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, Nate Solder, Amendola and Aaron Dobson have depleted New England’s AFC-best offense, one that had difficulty in a 20-13 win over Buffalo on Monday. The Bills harassed Brady consistently and held him to season lows in completion percentage (51.3), yards (277), yards per attempt (7.10) and quarterback rating (72.3). Further, they kept Brady’s favorite target, all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, out of the end zone and held him to season worsts in catches (two) and yards (37). McManaman argues that the Bills provided the blueprint for stopping Gronkowski by stacking the box and putting two defenders on him while pressuring Brady. That could be easier said than done for many teams, but maybe not for a Broncos defense that leads the NFL in both passing yards per game allowed and sacks.
As we wait to see how the injury-ravaged Patriots fare in Denver, here’s more from the AFC East:
- Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has underwhelmed at times this year, but he still has the full confidence of the team’s front office, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. There’s a disconnect between the coaching staff and front office regarding Tannehill, per Salguero, as the former views the fourth-year man as a game manager and the latter sees him as someone with franchise QB potential. Executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum and company think so highly of the 27-year-old Tannehill that, hypothetically, they’d take him as a long-term option over the similarly aged Cam Newton, Salguero reports. If interim head coach Dan Campbell doesn’t get on board with that type of thinking, it seems his time atop Miami’s staff will definitely end in another six games.
- With journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick having come back to earth after a hot start, Bob Glauber of Newsday took a look at possible No. 1 quarterback options for the Jets in 2016. If it’s not Fitzpatrick, it certainly won’t be backup Geno Smith – whom the Jets have no faith in, per Glauber. Among a slew of flawed options, Colin Kaepernick could be the most interesting outside possibility. The mobile Kaepernick – who is on the outs in San Francisco – is still young (28), not far removed from success, and could fare well under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
- One reason the Jets have gone from 4-1 to 5-5 is the decreased production of wideout Brandon Marshall. Glauber writes that the Jets have to find a way to make him a dominant part of their offense again. Marshall caught 37 passes for 511 yards and four touchdowns in the Jets’ first five games and has hauled in 12 fewer receptions (25) for 222 fewer yards (289) over the last five, though he has accrued nearly as many TDs (three). The reason for the drop in productivity, according to Marshall, “I’m being double-teamed a lot more.” Added Gailey, “We need him to be involved to be a successful offense. They’re taking him away right now, and we don’t have enough other people involved in the passing game to take that away from them.”