Throwing it out there – didn’t exactly expect the New England Patriots to be 4-0 heading into week five.
In fact, if they had gone 2-2, it would have been moderately impressive given the current state of their offense. No disrespect to Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, but once it was clear Danny Amendola was injured in the season opener at Buffalo (and with no Rob Gronkowski return in sight), one can’t exactly blame a fan for questioning a team that, for the past five seasons, has been dependent on huge performances from their offense to make up for shaky defensive efforts.
But, just as they have in years past, the Patriots can surprise you. Sometimes they surprise you by playing terribly when they should be rolling easy (hello, 2010 season) and at other junctures, they find ways to win even the most obsessed NFL fans wouldn’t predict.
The latter is happening right now. And it’s interesting to say the least. But the Pats continue to face an uphill battle back to the Super Bowl.
In case you haven’t heard, Amendola and Gronk are still day-to-day (at best) and there is no set timetable for when either will be returning to the line-up. Thompkins and Dobson are both nursing injuries and were limited in practice this week. Vince Wilfork, the mainstay of the Pats defensive front, tore his Achilles in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons and he’s out for the season.
So what do the Pats do? They sign Austin Collie, of course.
Here they are battling injuries on all fronts, so they sign arguably the most injury-prone wide receiver after Amendola? While Collie has an impressive resume from his days with the Indianapolis Colts, he has missed 21 of 48 games the last two seasons and suffered a few pretty horrific concussions, one of which promoted the Indianapolis Star to publish an open letter to Collie essentially begging him to pack it in and move on from the NFL.
But no. Collie wants to play, and play he certainly shall since the Pats have about as much depth at wide receiver as a wading pool and all help is needed (and necessary).
Can he really make an impact though? Hard to say. Collie was often billed as the second coming of He Who Shall Not Be Named (plays in Denver now…little dude…drops the ball at inopportune moments during Super Bowls… infer what you will). But Julian Edelman, who has been the most productive offensive weapon for the Pats so far this season, is also a player who can be compared to HWSNBN. Thompkins has the ability to stretch the field, but once Amendola returns, the Patriots will have three receiving options that basically all do the same things well.
Until that time, though, let’s see what Collie has to offer. If he can recreate some of the magic he had with Peyton Manning with Tom Brady, that’s a huge win for the Pats. And if we’re being honest, we all know you can’t have too many good receivers, even if their strengths are all rather comparable.
As long as those strengths continue to involve making catches and scoring touchdowns, bring it on baby. And bring on the Bengals.