Monday, October 27, 2008

Patriots secondary in serious trouble

The problems first exploited by the San Diego Chargers two weeks ago emerged again on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Marc Bulger came out looking to throw deep and did just that -- he hit rookie Donnie Avery six times for 163 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown on which he beat veteran Ellis Hobbs clean down the middle of the field.

It got worse for the Patriots, already playing with Rodney Harrison, when Hobbs left with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. Brandon Meriweather ended up moving from safety to corner and practice-squad promotee Antwain Spann played safety against St. Louis' four-receiver sets on the Rams' final drive.

"We were scrambling in the secondary," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There is no doubt about it."

If Hobbs' injury is worse than just hitting the ground "kind of funny," as he described it to reporters on Sunday, here's what the Patriots' secondary will look like next weekend:
  • Meriweather (playing very well in his second season)
  • Deltha O'Neal (Philip Rivers' new best friend)
  • Mike Richardson (former practice-squad player)
  • James Sanders (had a possible fourth-quarter interception bounce off his helmet)
  • Lewis Sanders (couldn't stick with the Texans or last season's Falcons)
  • Spann (former practice-squad player)
  • Ray Ventrone (kick coverage specialist)
  • Terrence Wheatley (rookie)
  • Jonathan Wilhite (rookie)
And guess where the Patriots will be next week?

That's right: Indianapolis.

It'll be very interesting to see how Peyton Manning performs tonight against Tennessee. After some early struggles against the Bears and Jaguars, he came out of the Colts' bye week looking like the Peyton Manning of old.

Manning completed 25 of 34 passes (73.5 percent) for 247 yards and two touchdowns (with one interception) against the Texas in Week 5. He then completed 19 of 28 passes (67 percent) for 271 yards and three touchdowns (without an interception) against the Ravens in Week 6.

He then threw up a stinker -- 21 for 42 (50 percent) for 229 yards and two interceptions against Green Bay in a 34-14 loss a week ago. Is that an indication of a downturn, or was that just a speed bump in his return from one, I mean, two, I mean, three, I mean, how many knee surgeries did he have again?

Marvin Harrison isn't Marvin Harrison anymore, but Reggie Wayne still is one of the best receivers in the NFL, and Anthony Gonzalez is averaging 12.7 yards per catch. Dallas Clark, who was limited by injury for much of last season, is back healthy -- and he had eight catches for 81 yards last week against the Packers.

It's going to be a tall task for New England to cover every single one of those players. The Patriots are 5-2 and appear to have some momentum on their side, but unless they find a way to defend the pass, the best quarterback playing in the NFL this season is going to pick them apart.


floydiansea said...

This doesn't relate to the Patriots or to Indianapolis ... but rather, the Colts' opponents tonight.

Could anyone have predicted the Titans to have been this good?

And are they really this good, or have they been lucky?

Or are the rest of the teams just bad?

I am, in fact, this interested in your opinions.

I'm also bored.

floydiansea said...

If Eli Manning gets a 2nd Super Bowl ring and Peyton only ever earns one, will Archie start to love Eli?

This is a valid New England question. Because I say it is. And I'm always right.

my word verification for this post: oraps