Its time to take the Magnum from our heads and stop worrying about the defense as if BB isn't going to be sending anyone out there after the offense scores. The moaning on this board and from the local and national mediots has reached epic whining proportions.....and its really starting to get aggravating. There have been more than few cooler heads here who have vainly tried to point out that Armageddon is not around the corner. That the end of the Patriots is NOT on the horizon,but they seem to get drowned out too often by manic screeching of our more "nervous friends". Just a few thoughts that might keep you off the ledge a few more hours. *the defense IS NOT worse that the one last season. 28th is still better than 32nd (which is what they were at this time last season) * That most defenses who are forced to play without their 2 primary safeties for a long period of time are NOT going to do well in pass coverage. *That most defenses that are forced to play without 2 of the 3 primary CBs for games at a time (McCourty and Dowling) are not going to be at their best. *That most defenses who need to essentially play 4 rookies on a regular basis, aren't likely to be considered to be among your top defenses. *That the bad tackling by the team vs Buffalo was an anomaly rather than constant problem this season. Far from it. Prior to the Buffalo game, this has been an EXCELLENT tackling team. Yet the media pukes have been talking about the tackling like its been bad all year. *We want to concentrate on certain stats that emphasize the negative, while ignoring or dismissing other stats that are more positive, like Turnovers (the top 3) run defense (top 10) or scoring (middle of the pack) Its is blatantly unfair to bring up one without bringing up the other. * And we will almost eagerly rely on flawed stats like PFF to tell us that Cunningham, Ninkovich, and Wilfolk are not doing a decent job rushing the passer, yet Quentin Coples is among the top 10 pass rushers in the league I would love the dolts who use that PFF stat to deride the Pat's pass rush, explain that they would rather have Coples on the field instead to Wilfolk? Because if you do....you just exposed yourself. Again, no one is saying that the defense is OK or even acceptable as it stands today. But what I am saying is that there his a lot of hope that we will see improvements as the season goes one. * Some of the players are coming back healthy. Dowling has been replaced with not only someone who can give us the same size match up, but someone with 4 years of experience and skill to go along with it. * Chung will be back this week (I hope) which will improve the tackling and continuity of safety position. *It will move McCourty back to the CB position for the most part, which will improve that area even further. I'm sure he'll get some FS snaps in certain groupings, but I think this defensive secondary will be better with a primary safety rotation of Gregory, Chung, and Wilson, and a Primary CB rotation of McCourty Talib, Denard, and Arrington/Cole. BTW - the McCourty haters would like us all to forget that QB's had a 67 QB rating on him before he moved to S the last 2 games. *I thought long and hard about the benefits of moving McCourty to safety permanently. There are some excellent arguments in favor of it. However the Bills game gave me pause, because rather than strengthening one position by making the move, we ended up make 2 positions worse. I don't think think we are doing either Dennard or MCourty any service throwing them into starting roles at CB and S respectively. McCourty because being throwing into a new positon mid season is hard for anyone, but especially for someone who has been an edge player for most of his career, and is being forced to see the game from the middle of the field. Believe me its hard at first. Its also unfair to throw Dennard into a starting role as a rookie CB, especially since he missed so much of the pre-season due to injury. He's not only inexperienced because he's a rookie. He's inexperienced FOR a rookie. He's missed the majority of the snaps he would have gotten in practice and games for most of August and September. This is a kid who should be getting 10 or 20 snaps a game on the regular defense, not being on the field for 60 plus multiple special teams. Maybe NEXT year with a full off season program, the re-signing of Talib, the maturation of Dennard, and the addition of more CB talent, moving McCourty to Safety full time would be the smart thing to do. I think its less about the move itself, but the timing of the move I have a problem with. Other Thoughts: 1. It is likely that we will be without 4 starters on the offense this week (Welker, Hernandez. Mankins and Connolly. Very few teams can lose 4 starters in just over a week and have so little mentioned about it. I like that the Pats as an organization don't play the injury card, but I still ticks me off to see the media constantly give so many other teams the injury excuse while they pretend te Pats never get injuries. BTW- I'm thrilled that neither Mankins or Connolly wound up on the IR this week, because I fully expected at least one do wind up there. 2. With neither Welker or Hernandez playing, it will be very interesting to see how McDaniels decides to target the receivers he does have. Will Edelman just take over Welker's role? Which of the back up TE's will get be the featured 2nd TE role, Fells, or Schiancoe? Will Branch get a bigger role? Will Lloyd have a big game and it will end up being the Lloyd and Gronk show? OR wil the RB's finally get a featured role in the passing game after years of being an after thought. 3. It almost makes it worthwhile to sit Welker so we can see how it all plays out. as well as it make sense to give him at least 4 more days to completely heal. We've already found out once that haste makes waste in rushing an ankle injury. Better find out now what we have when we don't have Welker and Hernandez than wait until the playoffs. 4. I'm really comfortable playing some combination of Thomas, Cannon, and McDonald on the interior OL for Mankins and Connolly, but I have a lot of concerns about the depth for this game. It would NOT be a good time for anyone else to go down. 5. Mathis and Freeney will get their sack or 2, but I suspect we will see protection much like we saw against another really good pass rush combo in Dummerville and Miller. For most of the 30+ times Brady drops back on Sunday he will have plenty of time to throw the ball.....except those 3 or 4 times when he won't. Those are the times he'll get sacked or hit. You can't win every battle against good guys, BUT with our 2 OT's we can expect to win MOST of them 6. Given the injury situation, don't be surprised to see the Pats rush the ball over 30 times in this game, with Ridley getting 20 and Vareen/Woodhead splitting the rest 7. With BB doing a good job of shutting down Wayne and Luck having to play on the road, I see this as game the Pats start pulling way on early in the 3rd quarter and win by 15-20. I also see this as a game where the Pats D holds the Colts to under 20. My biggest fear about Luck is what he can do after the pocket breaks down, with both his legs and arm. He can be a lot like Rothlessberger in that way...or at least will be like that down the road. 8. I thought it was disturbing to some degree that Justin Francis has leaped beyond Jake Bequette on the depth chart. Not for Francis of course, but when an UDFA moves ahead of your 3rd round pick (albeit a very late 3rd round pick) it has to make you go hmmmm. In the end it won't matter which one becomes the player, I think you'd rather it be the draftee. Still the Cunningham example should be a cautionary tale about writing off a draftee too soon. 9., BTW- the rest of the draft class has been spot on, with 4 rookies starting or having key roles on the defense, and Ebner a regular on multiple special teams. Only Bequette remains basically unassigned, along with Ebert, the last pick who, not surprising, didn't make the team. I think that would make it 3 excellent drafts in a row....so far. 10.Minor Pet Peeve: Its just too early to start worrying about Playoff seeding and the bye. Right now we've pretty much locked up a division win in what amounts to a weak AFCE, but as to a bye or what it will take for a bye to happen, we are just too far into the future for that. That's talk for the last 2 weeks of the season. Believe me, if we win all the rest of our game, we will be getting a bye. That's all I need to know for now. 11. BTW- in a way, I'm starting to like that the Pats are flying under the radar when national mediots are talking the superbowl. Reminds me of the "old days" when we use to be able to play Rodney's "respect card" all the time (even when it was unwarranted ) Let them all look at the Ravens, Broncos, Steeler, and Texans for now. Bad enough as it is we had to lose that 1pm game. Damned the the notariety of Andrew Luck.