The bye week has come at the perfect time for the New England Patriots, not only because of the timing scheduling wise, but it also gives the team the chance to get healthy and prepare for the second half of the season.
Timing could not have been better as it comes at the exact midpoint of the season. This was due to the Patriots playing the Rams in London this past Sunday as both teams have their bye weeks this week due to the long-distance travel.
Making the travel even worse for the Patriots was Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the East Coast. Originally the team was scheduled to depart London at noon (London time) Monday, but they moved their flight up to 5 a.m. (London time) Monday morning, and arrived safely at Logan Airport just before noon (Boston time). It was one of the final flights able to land before the brunt of the storm hit. New England could not return home after the game yesterday due to the fact that London’s Heathrow airport closes at 11 p.m.
Now that the team has safely returned to the area, they can now rest and then get fully prepared for the remainder of the season, with the goal of playing their best football at end of the year going into the playoffs.
The other part of the timing of the bye week is with the number of players nursing injuries, this gives them the chance to have a week off and hopefully get back to full strength.
Injuries are not specific to just one side of the ball as both sides have players dealing with ailments.
On defense the secondary is the most banged up as last week cornerback Ras-I Dowling was put on season-ending injured reserve with a thigh injury and safeties Patrick Chung (shoulder) and Steve Gregory (hip) did not make the trip.
During the game cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (head) and Marquice Cole (hamstring), as well as defensive lineman Ron Brace (back) left the game and did not return.
On the other side of the ball tight end Aaron Hernandez did not make the trip to London as his ankle has not fully healed from an injury suffered in Week 2, although he did play two weeks ago against the Jets. Fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski, despite not missing any games, has battled a hip injury all season and it has had some impact on his play.
Guard Logan Mankins missed Sunday’s game, his second straight, with a calf/hip injury. As the team's best offensive lineman he certainly has been missed, although the line has performed quite well in his absence.
Wide receiver Wes Welker appeared to injury his ankle at the end of Sunday’s game, and also with the number of hits he takes on a game-to-game basis Welker is almost never at 100 percent. The bye week will certainly do his body well.
These are the most injuries the Patriots have had to deal with in recent memory, but luckily for them they don’t seem to be serious, so with the bye week and then the extended time off following their Thanksgiving game with the Jets it should allow the team to be at their best for the final stretch of the season.
With as much emphasis as head coach Bill Belichick puts into playing their best football at the end of the year the Patriots should thank the schedule-maker for their bye in the middle of the year as well as an extra few days off after Thanksgiving as it puts them in a prime position to be ready for anything come December and beyond.