Well we are 5 and 1 despite all the injuries and with the defense reeling from injuries we will need a more efficient offense. The D has done its job as the offense has searched for its identity. Now its time for the offense to pick up the slack. Even without Gronk the offense has started to find a bit more of a groove. Many people do not realize the Pats have faced some of the better Ds in the league with big, aggressive defensive fronts which have made it difficult to run, set up play action and give Brady the necessary time to get in sync with the rookie wide outs. This in part made the offense getting in sync a difficult task. There were some bright spots even without Gronk. The slot receiver by committee seems to be working, and now we have Collie who is a crafty veteran and seemed to be in sync with Brady after one week of practice. Both Thompkins and Dobson seem to be moving along and now will likely face lesser quality DB with Gronk return. The running game sorely missed the double TE offense something we will likely see more of in the coming weeks.
In any case Gronk coming back is huge. It helps the running game, helps in the red zone and creates mismatches which either exposes a LB or takes a good cover corner away from other receivers. The Jets while not considered an elite team have a good front on both sides of the ball and their game plan would surely have been to grind out the clock and test the Pats interior. With Kelly. Wilfork and Mayo out you would have to assume they will have some success. For this reason it is imperative the offense moves the chains more consistently and become more efficient in the red zone. My guess is the Gronkowski will be used more in red zone situations, perhaps on key 3rd downs and not as much as an every down TE. He will need to get beck to game speed and I expect that the Pats will want to ease him in. That being said 3rd down and Red zone offense is more than half the battle. If we can convert red zone opportunities efficiently with Gronk back the Pats will put the game away early. Third down and short with Gronk, Houman, Collie (or edleman) , Thompkins and Ridley should be more productive. Third and long with Dobson replacing Houman will also be more efficient. Brady having a big target in the middle will also be much more comfortable when under pressure. I do not expect miracles this week. It will still likely be hard hitting grind out game, but Gronk return will move the offense in the right direction has it gets to the second hard part of the schedule starting with week 12 against the Broncos.
As for the D Talib is not a huge issue when facing the Jets. however the interior line and Mayo is a big problem. i would hope we get more play makers on the field by switching to more 3 4 looks. Without Mayo, Spikes will be every down LB and will need help in the pass. Play Fletcher (maybe some Collins) next to him in the middle. Put Nink and Hightower on the outside and the 3 man defensive front will have to feature Jones at one DT, and the other two spots up for grabs maybe Neblett at nose until Kelly returns and Vellano the other DT. Since there is no size or run stuffing capabilities with our current healthy DT, this alignment will at least have more speed, be better in coverage. Also allows LB to blitz more effectively without giving up the middle of the field to an easy check down. In any case I prefer the best athletes on the field especially with expected lack of production at DT. Spikes will have to play every down and with Fletcher out their he can focus on the run (expect more downhill play). I do not think we can be effective on short yardage situations, but the 3 4 should help keep the opponents running game contained and could be more effective against the TE RB position on passing downs.
In any case with Gronk back there is a chance we could be 9 and 1 when we face the Broncos. Miami or Carolina could have been a let down game, but with increasing productivity on the offense there is a good possibility we can win out going into the Broncos game. I expect the offense will be more efficient and the team will be more healthy after the bye week 10 which will make the Broncos game the AFC game of the year and possibly will decide the number one seed in the AFC.