That I actually managed to make it to Week 7 before I had to write my first Silencing Hank article of 2013 is nothing short of remarkable. With the offseason and early campaign these Patriots have had, you'd figure I'd be posting one of these four times a day.
For those of you who don't know, aren't sure, or are too hydrated to remember, Hank is the name I have given for my inner pessimist. He is the Patriots fan inside of me who sees nothing but the worst at all times, always assumes things are going to go wrong, doesn't put any faith in this team, and is always ready for disappointment, failure, and another Manning Lombardi Trophy. I don't like him, I'm not happy that he's around, but he's never going to go away, and that's just the way it is. I feel like everyone has their own Hank, in some fashion or other, but mine is a little more obnoxious than most, and so every once in a while, when Hank starts screaming, I have to shut him up. It may have taken until Week 7 for him to finally come out of hiding, but he's out, he's loud, and he's annoying, and I've had enough of it.
It would appear that the injury bug has swept through the New England locker room faster than useless spreads at the Kardashian house. It's almost as if Danny Amendola forgot to get de-injuried before he came over to the Patriots and funked up the entire locker room with frailty. Whatever the reason, New England currently has over $20 million and some very, very important names on the injured reserve list this year, and there's nothing we can do about it. Furthermore, other key members of the team, on both sides of the ball, haven't been able to stay healthy and either have missed or will be missing some time over the next few weeks. They say that Gronk is healthy, but at this point who knows when he'll see the field again. All of this noise has Hank thinking that the Patriots have finally reached their breaking point, and even the great Bill Belichick and the greater Tom Brady won't be able to overcome this latest rash of injuries.
Well I think differently.
But Alec, the Patriots lost their main signal caller on defense!!! How will the defense know what to do now that Jerod Mayo is out???
Shut up, Hank. I agree that Mayo is a big loss, and New England won't be able to replace him with just one man, but the Pats are very deep at linebacker and will be able to fill the void with the available talent that they have. Brandon Spikes will likely have a bigger role, and look for Dont'a Hightower to step it up and show us all that he was more than worth a second first round pick. Rob Ninkovich can play linebacker if needed, and don't sleep on rookies Jamie Collins and Steve Beauharnais (not as every down contributors, but those are two high upside guys with a lot of ability). I don't like losing Mayo any more than you do, but the linebacking corps will find a way to move on without him.
Shut up, Hank. First of all, there's no reason to immediately assume that the Pats are going to lose. This past Sunday proved that this team can hang with absolutely anyone in the NFL, divisional or otherwise. I agree that the Jets are a deceptively tough team, and Miami is always a battle, but I'll be damned if I let you sit here and tell me you're worried about losing games to the Jets and Dolphins. Furthermore, even if the Patriots do drop a game to a division rival, they are still very well positioned in the standings at 5-1 and have developed themselves a nice cushion in case a loss does end up happening. Besides, I don't want to think about anything besides completing a season sweep of New York on Sunday.
But Alec, Aqib Talib is out! He's irreplacable! The entire defense is built around him taking out the opponent's best receiver! How can we face the Jets without him???
Shut up, Hank. First of all, Talib was at practice earlier today, so the injury can't be that serious. Secondly, the Jets are pretty banged up at receiver as well - Holmes is out, Gates is on IR, Winslow is serving a suspension, and Stephen Hill likes to drop passes as much as he likes to catch them. If there was a game for Talib to miss, it's this one; I think the New England corners will be able to limit Geno Smith without Talib on the field. Devin McCourty can move back to DB, Alfonzo Dennard is having a good year, Kyle Arrington is one of the better slot corners in the league right now, and Logan Ryan can step in when needed. Let's not worry about Talib being out vs. the Jets; let's just get him back healthy in time for Mike Wallace.
But Alec, the whole team is injured! How can the Patriots keep winning with all of these injuries???
Shut up, Hank. I'd like you to tell me one time in recent memory during the regular season when the Patriots haven't been able to overcome injuries at pretty much every position on the team. Over the years, the Patriots have lost offensive linemen, tight ends, running backs, receivers, defensive linemen, cornerbacks, linebackers, safeties, and even a certain dreamy quarterback that may or may not have sent the entire Northeast into a spiral of depression not even an epic Manning Face could have cured.. Every single time, they have figured out a way to move on and gone on to post the best record in the AFC East. Whenever Belichick and the coaching staff has time to work around injuries, he figures out a way to win. The only time the Patriots have struggled with injury has been in the playoffs, when the one-and-done format hasn't allowed them to effectively gameplan around the injury and make the necessary adjustments. We aren't at that level yet, and the bottom line is that the Patriots will ALWAYS find a way to win and remain competitive. No one man is bigger than the team. When one man goes down, someone else steps up. That's the way it has been, that's the way it will be, and that's the way it will always be. Let the haters talk about how the Pats are too injured to be competitive. Let them watch in awe as Peyton Manning puts together another amazing regular season with another team built entirely on top of him. Let everyone who wants to count the Patriots out count them out. We'll all just sit here and keep on winning games with the players that are able to suit up.