Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Oct 2006

Pats Missing Wilson, Hobbs for Cincinnati Game

The Patriots will have neither Eugene Wilson nor Ellis Hobbs available for duty against the Bengals on Sunday; both, along with RT Ryan O'Callaghan, are listed as Out. I think this would make the Cincinnati passing offense a much stronger play in fantasy this week, particularly T.J. Houshmandzadeh and even Chris Henry.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 01 Oct 2006

26 comments, Last at 04 Oct 2006, 8:19pm by terryh


by B (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 12:26pm

Also Randall Gay is on the IR. Can somebody explain why the Patriots DBs are made out of paper-mache?

by michael (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 12:33pm

Countdown strongly suggested that Henry will likely be inactive - seems he's in the coaches doghouse for his little "barfing out the window of a car during a police stop" thing, even if he wasn't arrested at the time.

I guess eventually those 4 arressts in a year catch up with you.

by B (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 12:40pm

So four arrests are okay, but throwing up in a car lands you in Marvin Lewis' doghouse?

by birk (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 12:50pm


I don't think the event itself is the reasoning. The fact that he just doesn't learn is.

by perrin (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 12:52pm

RE 3:
I believe the issue for Chris Henry is that he apparently violated his probation, which forbids him to drink alcohol for a period of time (a year?).

by Bill Barnwell :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 12:53pm


He coulda had some bad chili.

by B (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 1:12pm

4: The first four times, he learned that arrests didn't affect his starting position on the Bengals.
5: But, wouldn't getting arrested the 2-4th times have affect his parole?

by Glenn (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 8:25pm

7:22pm EST:
Yeah, that worked out real well for Cincy, didn't it?

by B (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 10:37pm

The Pats play better without DBs. As long as they keep Harrison, that is.

by Vern (not verified) :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 10:47pm

It's about guys who can tackle vs. guys who can cover. The Pats starters (Wilson, Hobbs, Sanders, etc.) are better in coverage, but their backups (Hawkins, Poteat, etc.) are better at wrapping up. The key to this game were those first bend but don't break drives. Bengals caught the ball, but not for a big play or TD. Force any O to put together long drives and your DL is eventually going to get to the QB.

by Bill Barnwell :: Sun, 10/01/2006 - 11:25pm

#8 - Housh had 4 catches for 95 yards, I call those pretty decent numbers. It wasn't his fault Cincinnati couldn't stop the run.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 12:19am

That and the lack of good DBs forced the Pats to play 4 lineman and blitz more, which helped out their pass rush.

by kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 3:06am

I've said it before, but it bears mentioning again...

This is now the 4th straight year that we hear how injury-decimated the Patriots are. They start an NFL-record number of different starters in one superbowl year, they're playing Troy Brown at DB in another, they lose their entire defense and become the first team to ever play with only 6 defensive players last year (at least, you'd think so to hear their fans talk), and now they're already losing most of their secondary.

At what point does this stop becoming bad luck and start becoming a meaningful trend? When are we going to start looking for CAUSES? Most importantly, how is New England's training staff still employed?

For a coach who is known to try to wring the silliest and craziest advantages possible (for instance- violently refusing medical help from the team with superior facilities when one of his key players was *SEVERELY* injured), you'd think that Belichick would be all over this already.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 9:45am


You have a point, but this is nothing compared to the last few years. They lost 1 backup to IR and lost two starters for one game (so far)

As of last year they were already down 5 players in the secondary for the season.

The year before it took a few more games, but they lost their top 2 for the season by week 7.

This year hasn't been nearly as bad as the last two. but you do have a point. At this point luck can't be taken seriously anymore.

by RCH (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 9:58am

RE: 13, I agree w/you Kibbles, it seems that there is more at work than bad luck. If the unit were consistently older than average that might be a factor but I don't think that is the case. Perhaps the Pats starting DBs play more special teams than their counterparts on other teams?

by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 10:01am

Well, you can label Blue Gay injury-prone. There's nobody else who repeatedly misses time. Last year Wilson and Hobbs were the two who didn't miss any time. This year they are. It's also a bit curious in the nature of the injuries. The DBs tend to miss games with things like broken arms and broken bones in their feet. You don't see the typical hamstring or other repetitive injuries that I would lay at the trainer's feet.

If I were looking for reason's why they seem to get hurt often, I would start with the fact that the starters all play on special teams, giving them greater opportunity for injury. Then I would suggest that maybe the front seven needs to be more consistent in tackling RBs.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 12:19pm

I've wondered about this and I think there are three factors.

(1) Unlike some teams, the Patriots play their starters on special teams. And usually it's the starters at DB because they tend to be the quickest and most agile. That's where Gay was hurt this year--making a special teams play last week against the Broncos. This is a cornerstone of Belichick's philosophy, but it's one that I don't agree with. It puts the starters at unnecessary risk, and if it made the Patriots better at special teams then maybe it would be worth it, but according to DVOA they're consistently average or below average. I guess it saves you a roster spot or two and allows you to build depth, but that is counteracted by the fact you suffer more injuries.

(2). The Patriots field at Gilette is truly lousy. Only Pittsburgh comes to mind as being worse (where, incidentally, the Patriots have had serious injuries every time they play there in the regular season for about the past 3 years). The Patriots like the bad field because it slows down the pass rush, which Brady likes, and slows down speed recievers, which I would imagine because their defense the last few years has been of the slower, smarter (in theory) kind. But a bad field leads to DB injuries, because the DB's especially have to plant and cut at unexpected times.

(3) The Patriots defensive philosophy recently has been to play physical corners who bump recievers off thier routes, with safety help on top, to give the pass rush time. But this means that the corners get a lot more contact, and presumably makes them more injury prone, than teams that play less coverage.

I don't know if this fully explains things, but it's a start.

And anyway, we're still in the realm of small sample size right now. In '03 they really didn't have severe DB injuries that I can remember. In '04 they lost their starters, Law and Poole, but Law was a freak injury caused by Heinz field, and Poole has been injury prone for years. Last year was horrible, but one year can be chocked up to bad luck. This year it remains to be seen. We don't know how bad Hobbs and Wilson are. If they come back soon, this year won't seem that bad--losing your nickleback to IR in Week 4 is annoying, but not terribly uncommon.

Incidentally, Troy Brown played DB yesterday as well.

by sippican (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 12:34pm

Yeah, and they played without Vinatieri, McGinest, Branch and Givens too.

It's the end of the world as we know it. I feel fine.

by empty13 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 1:56pm

I had NE all the way to win that game. One other factor it seems is that NE usually gets and keeps good character guys, and they usually keep their traps wired shut. They dont give out a lot of 'bulletin board material'.

Cincy has a lot of talent, but dont tell me "good guy" Chad Johnson is really everyone's friend. And they have a walking turd collection. Sooner or later the punchbowl will be completely poisoned. Imho Coach Lewis has recruited the seeds of his eventual demise. He cant keep all those miscreants under control because he hasnt ever had control.

by RCH (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 2:51pm

I'm a huge Pats fan and very pumped about the game but I think that they got the Bengals at just the right time. Had Cincy just lost a close one to Pittsburgh I think that their focus would have been much better. Getting a team in between a huge win and thier bye week is great timing. (Makes up for last year when several times the Pats had to take on a team coming off of thier bye.)

by GlennW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 4:47pm

Yes, I don't think the Patriots are as bad as they looked against Denver nor as good as they looked against Cincy (and frankly, with that porous defense, Cincy may be the most overrated team in the NFL). The jury is still out on the Patriots' secondary imo. Cincy hasn't pass-protected well at all this season, so against better pass blockers (such as Indy's) New England may still have some defensive problems. But this was certainly a step in the right direction.

by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 8:18pm

From #20: Getting a team in between a huge win and thier bye week is great timing.

Hope this doesn't presage a Miami win next week.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/03/2006 - 9:45pm

According to the Globe's Mike Reiss, Ellis Hobbs has a broken wrist. No news yet on whether he has to have surgery or not.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/04/2006 - 2:45pm

Turns out Hobbs broke his scaphoid bone -- same one that Bruschi broke. He had surgery, but still no word how long he'll be out. If Bruschi is any indication, Hobbs would be out for 5+ weeks.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/04/2006 - 7:21pm

PatsFan (#24 )--

Depends on the severity of the break. Also Hobbs is younger, and should heal more quickly.

Still, five weeks is a nice, safe bet.

by terryh (not verified) :: Wed, 10/04/2006 - 8:19pm

Re: Hobbs' wrist. I'm no doctor, but 5 weeks seems optimistic (depending, of course, on the severity of the break and other variables). Scaphoid rehab tends to be more extensive than that of the other wrist bones (poor blood supply, thumb immobilization during healing).

But like I said, I'm no Dr., I'm just a guy who's gone through this with each wrist. He may be on the field in five weeks, but it'll be with a brace that will make it exceedingly difficult for him to catch the ball--and downright excruciating for him to jam receivers.