Friday, November 20, 2009
5 for Friday
By Mike Reiss
Five quick-hit Patriots thoughts on Friday:
1) Without Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour, many questions have been asked about filling a leadership void on defense. This was the adversity-filled week to find out, and second-year linebacker Jerod Mayo officially declared that a big part of the torch has been passed his way with his strong remarks Thursday.
2) After playing all but two plays in a sub package against the Colts, this week's game should feature more of a return to the base 3-4 alignment against the Jets' No. 1 ranked rushing offense. The outside linebacker spot opposite Adalius Thomas will be important to watch. If Tully Canta-Cain isn't healthy enough to play, it could thrust Pierre Woods back into the lineup. Woods hasn't played on defense in the last three games.
3) The Patriots need to be more efficient in the red zone, but their 25th ranking in that area is a bit misleading when considering the Buccaneers are the NFL's top red-zone offense. Would you rather be the Buccaneers (12 TDs in 17 trips) or the Patriots (18 TDs in 40 trips)?
4) With Jarvis Green (knee) unlikely to play and Ty Warren with a nagging ankle injury, and with the physical Jets running game to stop, this could be the week the Patriots call on rookie Ron Brace more along the defensive line. Brace saw his first action since Week 2 when he was on the field for the final two goal-line plays Sunday in Indianapolis.
5) Nine games into the season, the Patriots have already had five different players as a primary kickoff returner because of injuries: Laurence Maroney, Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk, Brandon Tate and Matthew Slater. That hasn't helped them in the field-position game. The team's average drive start is the 24.9 yard line -- 13th in the AFC and 22nd in the NFL.