We smiled and even shed a tear for Rob Ninkovich when the entire team including coaches unprecedentedly sat in on their underrated and reliable pass rusher when he announced his retirement. We held our breath when one of our own players lay flat on his back in the first preseason game with a concussion in one of the Patriots training camp standouts DE Deatrich Wise Jr. And we as fans find ourselves at unease and feel for the Patriots 1st draft pick this year go down with a torn ACL in joint practices this week against the Texans. The stacked and heavy favorited New England Patriots all of a sudden find themselves dangerously slim at a crucial aspect of the game; getting to the Quarterback.
If it wasn’t for Trey Flowers having a Pro Bowl like 2nd half of the season last year we might be panicking similar to the first humans to see a solar eclipse probably did. Getting to the quarterback can be argued as being the most important thing to have success on defense and New England might find themselves relying on undrafted rookies to take over that duty. Guys like Caleb Kidder and Keionta Davis might need to make the team by default. (I know “who” right? Me too). If there was ever a time to pay for a flyer like the 37 year old Dwight Freeney, who to his credit gave Nate Solder fits in the Super Bowl last year, now would be the time. And speaking of the Super Bowl, quite possibly the only great game Kony Ealy played in was the 50th anniversary of the big game, but has looked less than stellar let’s say thus far this training camp and preseason. “Next man up” is what makes Bill Belichick the genius he is by giving opportunity to some unknown player and seeing them shine gloriously, (Malcolm Butler and Trey Flowers being the most recent examples). I’m looking at Geneo Grissom to rise to the occasion and grab that brass ring with opportunities being given.
This is a real concern for the 2017 New England Patriots, you can have 2 shutdown corners but if you can’t get to the quarterback even mediocre teams will reap the benefits. Of course though, there is perhaps the most high powered offense Tom Brady will lead in his storied career this year, so massive amounts of points will be scored, but at the same time it’s imperative that the defense shows urgency as they attempt to defend their crown as the #1 scoring defense from a season ago.
We appreciated Rob Ninkovich for his time, but Patriots fans might realize they never knew what they truly had until its gone… aka retired.