BOSTON (CBS) – Heading into Week 16 of the NFL season the Patriots stand at 10-4 – miraculous giving the injuries they’ve had to overcome this year.
Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Tommy Kelly, Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Gronkowski – I’m not missing any am I?
Five injuries to key contributors have left this Patriots team scrambling to find replacements, having to resort to rookies, practice squad players and street free agents.
Left tackle Nate Solder is believed to have suffered his second concussion in as many weeks and cornerback Aqib Talib has been playing through a bum hip the majority of the season.
It’s certainly not an ideal situation.
“You just think about if they were right and they were healthy – and I know other teams have injuries too – but man if this group found a way to lose only two of those guys, maybe three at the most, you have to wonder how good they could’ve been this year given how weak the AFC is,” said Gresh.
Andy Gresh & Scott Zolak began their show analyzing the impact of these injuries – particularly the season-enders – and which ones have hurt (pun intended) the most.
The obvious choice would be tight end Rob Gronkowski, especially when considering the red zone woes of the offense in his absence.
However, Zo believes that the most-missed teammate lines up on the other side of the ball.
“You could make a case for each guy that’s out, but I sit here and there’s one guy I think of: Jerod Mayo,” said Zolak.
“Mayo is not a flashy player. When [Brandon] Spikes knocks somebody out you see it. When Chandler Jones does something fancy you see it. When [Rob] Ninkovich gets a strip sack you see it. [Aqib] Talib plays with a lot of flare. Rob Gronkowski runs over people.”
“What does Mayo do? Mayo does everything. He controls the defense, he calls the plays, he wears the green dot. He leads in the offseason, he leads in the weight room. He leads in the practice facility, he leads on the field. He impacts how Spikes plays, and how Dont’a Hightower plays. He impacts whether or not Dane Fletcher plays.”
“Guys are playing out of position because of him.”
Gresh made a case for Sebastian Vollmer. When he went down against Miami in Week 8 the entire offensive line was affected and players were shuffled into roles that they are not accustomed to being in.
But ultimately, Gresh came around to Zo’s way of thinking and agreed that Jerod Mayo’s absence is hurting the Patriots the most.
Listen to the entire discussion below: