Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are done for the year. Tommy Kelly hasn’t been seen in weeks. And Aqib Talib didn’t appear ready for as much as a square dance on Friday, making him at least doubtful for today’s dogfight at the Jets.
In my best Kevin Bacon on the streets of Faber, I will scream at the top of my lungs, “Remain calm! All is well!”
This is no time to panic.
The defense has arrived in recent weeks. Unfortunately, impact players have dropped like flies in the process, leaving the Pats relying on the Chris Joneses and Dane Fletchers of the world.
The Pats’ prime source of rhetoric -- yes, even bigger than “it is what it is” -- New England’s vaunted “Next man up” moniker faces a brutal test today at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey when the Jets host this band of brothers at 1 p.m.
“That’s why we have a team, it’s why we have a full team,” said Bill Belichick this week. “If we ever happen to lose somebody, somebody else has to step up and play.”
All those draft picks from trading down leave the Pats in a position to keep pushing forward.
Are their many teams in the game today that can replace a Mayo with a Dont’a Hightower? Probably not. You’re talking a young, first-round draft pick to step in and make your calls, not some free-agent scrub out of Angelo State.
Same thing in the secondary.
Guys like Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard have matured. They’re playing better than they did when Talib arrived last year.
This defense dominated the Saints a week ago. That’s a fact that can’t be lost in the amazing Tom Brady comeback.