In The Red Zone – November 20

In the Red Zone

Gronkowski Out a Month or More

New England Patriots all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm during Sunday’s game blocking on the teams final extra point attempt in a 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts.  He reached to try to block former Patriot Sergio Brown and was hit just the right way breaking his left forearm.

Gronkowski, who had two more TD catches against the Colts, now has 37 TD catches in career.  He became the first tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive seasons of 10 or more TD catches when he grabbed a 24-yard pass from Tom Brady as the team capitalized on an Andrew Luck fumble.

He had surgery on his forearm on Monday morning in the Boston area and is expected to miss anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks.

That time timetable would have him returning at the earliest on December 23rd in a game at Jacksonville or as late as the divisional playoff round.

The loss of Gronkowski could be a big blow as he has played 93% of the teams offensive snaps this year.  On the bright side it appears fellow TE Aaron Hernandez who has missed 6 of the last 8 games with an ankle injury appears to be ready to return on Thursday night against the New York Jets. 

Also what’s good is that veteran TE Visanthe Shiancoe has now played a couple of games and is better in the system, TE Daniel Fells has some game action and TE Mike Hoomanawanui is fully invested and can play the system.

Other options for New England are to see who is available on the waiver wire or through free agency.  One of those options could be the return of TE Alex Silvestro who has been with the team a number of times last two seasons bouncing between the regular roster and the practice squad.

Yet another option could have be TE Jake Ballard who they picked up in the off season from the New York Giants.  Ballard you may recall is the player who tore his ACL in the Super Bowl. He is 10 months post-injury, most medical experts consider an ACL a year injury, yet some players have come back sooner. Currently he is on the Patriots PUP list and according to the PUP list rules the time to activate him has passed so he should be ineligible to play for the remainder of this season.

And probably a final option is to use the tight ends currently on the roster to the best of their abilities and feature players like RB Danny Woodhead out of the backfield more, and slot receivers Julian Edelman and Wes Welker more as well.

This offense is designed around multiple weapons and it’s up to Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to find ways to use them.

Whatever happens, life without Gronkowski won’t be fun or easy but above all it is survivable. 

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News and Notes

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had his weekly day after conference call with the media on Monday.  (

QB Tom Brady had his weekly Patriots Monday call in. (WEEI)

Offensive snaps by skill players vs. Indianapolis  (ESPN Boston)

Defensive snaps played vs. Colts (ESPN Boston)

Five takeaways from Colts – Patriots (Boston Globe)

Gronk shouldn’t be blocking on extra points (Boston Herald)

Talib shows his stuff (Boston Herald)

Win comes at a cost (Boston Herald)

Patriots show signs of life on defense (Comcast Sports Net New England)

In case anyone hasn’t notice I am having an awful year predicting wins vs. the spread having only gotten two correct so far I sit at 2-8 this year.  Maybe a network TV job is in my future?  I am much better on the under/over calls through 10 games I have gotten 7 out of 10 correct.

Yesterday was the Patriots 200th consecutive sell out dating back to Week 1 in 1994.  It includes preseason and post season games.  The Kraft family saved this franchise and this is a testament to them.

Since 1999 the Patriots have the best record in the NFL at 154-64.

In the last ten seasons the Patriots are 37-8 in games played November 1 or later.

New England has a 4-game winning streak and is 6-1 in the last 7 games after starting the season 1-2.

The Patriots lead the overall series 47-29, which includes a 2-1 post season advantage.

New England is 27-12 vs. the Colts at home, 6-2 at Gillette Stadium.

Since the Colts won 5 of the 6 meetings the Patriots have won the last three games.

The Patriots are now a combined 18-0 in the second half of the season since 2010.  Their last loss in the second half was in 2009 in the season finale at Houston.

Belichick’s 199 wins are good for 8th all-time.  Former Broncos, Giants and Falcons head coach Dan Reeves is 7th with 201 wins.

Bill Belichick is 13-8 vs. the Colts in his career.

Tom Brady is 10-4 against Indianapolis in his career including the playoffs.  Overall including playoffs he is 147-44.

Brady has 321 TD passes in his career he is now 5th all-time.  Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is 4th with 342.

Brady has thrown at least 1 TD pass in 42 consecutive games.

The Patriots are 87-16 when Brady throws at least 2 TD passes in a game.

WR Wes Welker now has catches in 111 consecutive games including playoffs, 94 as a Patriot.  The last time Welker did not have a catch in a game was 12/24/05 as a Dolphin.

LB Jerod Mayo continues to lead the team in tackles.  Unofficially he has 125 tackles (69 solo).  The team usually adjusts the counts based on coaches film study so in the Friday game preview we will have Mayo’s official total.  He is on pace for another 200 tackle season.

DE Rob Ninkovich had a strip sack and a fumble recovery on Sunday it was his 5th forced fumble of the season tying a team record held by former LB Mike Vrabel.

There were 6 QB hits by the Patriots; 2 each by Ninkovich and DE Jermaine Cunningham and 1 a piece by LB Brandon Spikes and LB Dont’a Hightower.

CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard and S Tavon Wilson all had an INT on Sunday.  Talib and Dennard returned their INTs for a TD.  Wilson’s was a team leading 4th on the year.

Talib’s INT return for a TD was the fourth of his career and his first as a Patriot in his first game.  Nice way to make an impression.

Dennard’s INT return for a TD was the first of his career.

WR/PR Julian Edelman had two TD’s Sunday one on a punt return the other catching a pass from Brady.  He nearly had a 3rd and on end around.  He just missed the hat trick of a receiving, rushing and special teams TD in the same game.

The team had three non-offensive TD’s in the game for the third time in franchise history.  They did it in 2001 and again in 2011.

The Patriots tied a franchise record with 59 points in game set in 2009 vs. Tennessee.

The Patriots had four takeaways on Sunday and three of them led to touchdowns.

New England scored 8 TD’s and had a field goal and they only had 9 possessions and that included 2 punts and a missed field goal.  They had 5 TD’s on offense, 2 on defense and 1 on special teams.

Indianapolis had 13 possessions.  3 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 3 punts, 1 field goal, 1 missed field goal, 1 fumble and end of game clock expired.

The Patriots sacked Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck 1 time, while Brady was not sacked.

New England is PLUS 20 in turnover differential. The offense has given up 3 INT and 4 fumbles, while the defense has 13 INTs and 14 fumble recoveries. 

The Patriots were 4 for 6 (66.7%) in the red zone.  They had 4 TDs, 1 FG and 1 missed FG.

New England was 8 for 12 (66.7%) on third down conversions and 0 for 0 on 4th down attempts.

Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is the interim head coach in head coach Chuck Pagano’s absence.  Since taking over Arians is 5-2 is his NFL career.

Luck is 6-4 in his NFL career.

Indianapolis is 2-11 as the road team in the series since 1998.

The Colts are 7-18 in the last 24 games vs. the Patriots dating back to 1996.

Indianapolis was 8 for 14 (57%) on 3rd down conversions and 0 for 0 on 4th down attempts.

The Colts were 2 for 2 (100%) in the red zone.  They had 2 TD’s.

Indianapolis is MINUS 13 in turnover differential. The offense has given up 12 INT and 7 fumbles, while the defense has 4 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries.

Next Week

The Patriots visit the New York Jets on Thanksgiving night at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford NJ.  Kick off is at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII