While New England Patriots fans here are uncertain about Ridley and fuming about the comments made by Antonio Smith of the Houston Texans, Tom Brady has moved on to the next opponent the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns week is starting even worse than the Patriots as their third quarterback on the season, Brandon Weeden, suffered a concussion in their 32-28 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Weeden started the year, but lost his job to the former Patriot Brian Hoyer. Hoyer then went down with a torn ACL and was succeeded by Jason Campbell.
It’s a recent wave of concussions that has led head coach Rob Chudzinski to be wondering who his starting quarterback will be come game-time. Chudzinski also acknowledged that the Browns could be starting a practice squad player Alex Tanney.
Tanney is a second year player, who has virtually no experience in the big leagues if any. With no experience, Tanney who was signed just a week ago, will have to go up against the number two seed in the AFC.
So in saying all this, my feeling on the matchup has drifted slightly. With Campbell or Weeden, the match should be an easy win for the Patriots. Without them, the Patriots should rest Talib, Dennard and Amendola for the entire game and a slew of other players in the second half should the Patriots be winning by a wide margin (Gronkowski, Vereen, Brady and Edelman).
Edelman and Vereen are going to be vital to the success of this offense come playoff time because, quite frankly, Amendola has shown me squat since wearing a Patriots uniform. I think he’s still nursing an injury, which is why I’d sit him the entire game. Get Amendola right, while doing your job, and all of those guys should be able to sit in the second half.
Defensively, the Patriots got gashed in both the running game and the passing game and by this point it’s clear to me that Talib isn’t right with that hip. He wasn’t matched up against Andre Johnson exclusively, but he still got beat multiple times by Johnson and Johnson is his type of matchup. Bigger, stronger and not as quick are just the kind of players Talib does well with, but he didn’t do well. It may seem like I’m not giving Johnson enough credit, but he has been in the league for 11 years.
Dennard’s knee is a big risk to take if the Patriots want to rush him back early and I wouldn’t. I’d sit Dennard, even if he’s good to go, just to be on the cautious side. A lot of teams have second wide receiver options and you’re going to need him in the playoffs.
If the Patriots do their job, they should be able to win out the rest of the way and get their key players a little bit of rest. Injuries have made it so they can’t be an effective run-stopping team so don’t risk any more. Beat the piss out of the Browns and sit down the second half.