When Aaron Hernandez was helped off the field by two trainers, he was taken directly to the Patriots’ locker room. Before the injury, it was the Cardinals’ defense that was the story line of this 1st quarter. The theme for the rest of the game will be how do the Patriots respond to this devatating injury. Thus far, their response has been a mixed bag, but Stevan Ridley is doing all he can to pump up New England’s spirits…
With that, let’s look at our first quarter notes:
Wildcat? With Peterson? Arizona is obviously going to establish the run to open up their pass protection a little more – sucessful on first drive….after Peterson’s wildcat run, the Patriots’ run D stiffened – the Cardinals can’t abandon the run, though, because their pass protection will disintigrate.
The Cardinals offensive line is protecting Kolb very well…they are letting the pocket collapse inward. his pocket is smaller than most, but he seems to be operating well within it.
Looks like a trend this season with the Patriots’ defense is a “feeling out” drive for the first possession of the game for the opposing offense…2nd week in a row giving up a long drive and giving up a field goal.
One play for the Patriots, one pass, one interception on a deflection…Darnell Dockett showing his quick hands and athleticism to get into the passing lane and getting a finger on Brady’s throw, and Peterson showing some range and ball skills by getting to the ball…excellent Defense by the Cardinals….how do the Patriots defenders respond?
3 and out for the Cardinals…but a lesson on why Hightower is a liability in Pass coverage. He let Todd Heap – not the fastest dude on the planet – get behind him on 3rd down. Kolb showed his tendency to rush through his progression when the heat is on and overthrew a wide open Heap on a post route that should have been an easy TD.
Aaron Hernandez has been hurt and is grasping at his ankle. Edelman rolled up on him as he was tackled – and he looks to be in quite a bit of pain. This is one injury that New England can not afford to have happen. With the offense being tight end-centric, it causes a shift in the dynamic. This could be why the Patriots placed Shiancoe on the new IR where he can come back this year after 6 games – he doesn’t have Hernandez’ verstility, but is athletic nonetheless.
Gillette Stadium sits in stunned silence, as well they should. With Hernandez being helped into the locker room, the dynamic may be changed. The way the Cardinals defend has now become capsulated. They no longer have to worry about the Patriots’ most versatile weapon. I have not seen the Gillette Stadium crowd this paused and somber since Brady went down in 2008 – that is the impact this injury has on New England.
New England must now beware of a letdown following this major development. They look flat since the injury.
Wes Welker may end up saving the day, assuming the role of Hernandez, as much as he can. Could this be Welker’s coming out party for 2012?