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Thursday, November 1, 2012
Patriots at the bye: Three things

By James Walker

The New England Patriots are 5-3 at the midpoint of the season. They now have two weeks to correct their mistakes.

Here are three things the Patriots should accomplish during the bye:

1. Fix the pass defense

This has been an issue for years in New England. The Patriots are 28th in pass defense, and that number was improved after a 45-7 thrashing of the St. Louis Rams. New England is allowing too many big plays in the passing game. Two weeks ago, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez lit up New England for a career-high nine passing plays of 15 yards or more. The Patriots’ defense is doing well stopping the run, but opponents won’t have to worry if they can just throw it over the top. The secondary must be more consistent in the second half of the season.

2. Get Aaron Hernandez healthy, productive

It’s hard to find fault in New England’s top-rated offense. But Hernandez has not been very involved. He only has 17 receptions for 143 yards this season. The bye week is the perfect time to get Hernandez’s bad ankle healthy again so he can be a dangerous part of the offense. Perhaps Hernandez came back too soon in Week 7 against the Jets. He had to sit the following week against the Rams. With two weeks off, Hernandez should be healthier. The Patriots need him the rest of the way.

3. Nurse other injuries

The Patriots left London with several injuries. Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker hurt his ankle and didn’t return. Starting cornerback Kyle Arrington suffered a head injury against the Rams. Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins (calf) also didn’t play. The Patriots are proving they have enough depth to withstand injuries, but they need some of these players back for their Week 10 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.