As the New England Patriots prepare to take on the Buffalo Bills on Monday, October 29 in Orchard Park, NY, the Staff of FPC Patriots sat down to discuss the importance of getting healthy going forward.
Question: With the season nearly at the halfway point, the Patriots are battling health issues, like most every team in the league. How much of a concern is the health of players like Sony Michel and Rob Gronkowski towards the Patriots’ chances of contending for a Super Bowl berth?
Hal Bent: Staff Writer, FPC Patriots
Right now, the only legitimate Super Bowl contenders in the AFC are the Patriots and the Kansas City Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Miami…do those teams scare anyone? I’ll add Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Baltimore as contenders because a lot can happen in the next few months.
The Patriots already lost Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead at running back. The position is important but not imperative to the success of the Patriots. If Michel is out an extended period of time it is a loss, but James White is the real piece they need come the playoffs to make a run.
As far as Gronkowski goes, he is so very important to the offense, but not irreplaceable. They won the Super Bowl in 2016 without him and came back to beat Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game with him sidelined with a concussion last year.
The Patriots can withstand the loss of Michel or Gronkowski, but not both. Julian Edelman and probably Josh Gordon are in that same equation as Michel, Gronkowski and White: the offense is still a Super Bowl contender losing one of those offensive weapons, but more than one is too much to overcome.
David Albiani, Staff Writer, FPC Patriots
I think the health of Gronk and Michel are very important to monitor as are some of the minor injuries they have. Jacob Hollister seemingly can’t stay healthy and they really need another tight end they can use to at least give the defense an impression they can catch a pass. However as the question states, every team is banged up and this team is no exception, but they luckily have had all their star performers stay relatively healthy. I think they will need Gronk this year more than in the past, and Michel gives them a different dynamic and opposing coaches something to think about. I think they can win it without Michel more than can without Gronk, but they ideally need both for January and hopefully February.
Ethan Roy, Staff Writer, FPC Patriots
Injuries are simply a part of the game at this point, and the Patriots are by no means the only team dealing with these issues. Moreover, the Patriots have proven to be capable of succeeding with a depleted roster in the past. However, this season has demonstrated an offensive renaissance across the league, and I think the health of the Gronkowski and Michel especially will be important down the stretch, given their talent and the matchup problems they cause. When the Patriots trot out their full arsenal of weapons for Brady – Edelman, Gordon, Hogan, Gronkowski, Michel, White – they are virtually unguardable, and can compete with any offense in the NFL.
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Luke O’Brien: Staff Writer, FPC Patriots
Alll players are important , but some are more important than others. As good as Sony Michel has been so far this season, I think they could have had similar albeit slightly inferior production from any of the Running backs they have had over the last few seasons. It will be interesting to see if Rex Burkhead comes back this season, how much will he eat into Michael’s playing time, that is, if they are both healthy at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong, Michel has been excellent so far, but it’s more a knock on the position than the player. Running Back is just one of those positions where there is so many players that can play to an NFL standard that to really stand out, you have to be special.
Gronk on the other hand could be key to the Patriots success. Whilst he hasn’t had his typical barnstorming performances, he is a threat who draws attention from defences and by extension, draws attention away from other pass catchers. If the nagging injuries continue, his role could be that of a decoy. Teams might not know how healthy he his, but will still respect his presence and double him up.
The hope with Gronk of course is that he pushes through the injury bug, and returns to his dominant self. In Gronkowski, Edelman and White, you have the 3 key components that make the Offence tick. Without any of those 3 the Offence is weakened significantly not only from a personnel standpoint but a scheme one too as their roles aren’t directly replicated by anybody currently with the Patriots. The fact is with Michel; Barner and Burkhead or even a free agent, could fill in schematically and still provide some level of production.
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