Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Sep 2013

Wilfork Done for Year; Jake Locker Out 1-2 Months

Updates on the two biggest injuries from Sunday's games. First, the Patriots have definitely lost defensive anchor Vince Wilfork for the rest of the year with a torn Achilles. It's a huge loss, as he's the player who basically allows Bill Belichick to fit the rest of his front seven in whatever formation is best designed to attack the opposition. He's strong, he's versatile, and he plays nearly every snap. To make things worse, the Patriots have very little depth at the position. They could bring back someone they've cut in recent years, like Kyle Love or Ron Brace, or perhaps a more standard nose tackle who's still on the market, like Casey Hampton. Richard Seymour is not interested in returning.

The other big injury yesterday was Jake Locker's right hip. Reports now say Locker will miss 4-8 weeks, depending on how long rehab takes. In his first four games, Locker seemed to take a massive step forward from his first two years, so this is a big blow. (Locker has 10.6% passing DVOA through Week 4, eighth in the NFL.) Ryan Fitzpatrick now becomes the Titans' starting quarterback. You certainly can do worse for a backup in the NFL, but the Titans improved defense will have to drag this team through the next two months if they want to make a surprise playoff run.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 30 Sep 2013

20 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2013, 5:58pm by Raiderjoe


by MJK :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:31pm

Ouch ouch ouch. Poor guy. And poor Patriots. The big hope for Pats fans this year was that the defense was improved enough to make up for the offense's regression. Now the offense will improve, but keeping the defense together with this loss will be tough. I would posit that Wilfork was the second or third single most important player on the team (after Brady and *perhaps* Talib).

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:45am

I more or less agree with your hierarchy of player values, and think this is a HUGE blow, but just can't quite shake my painful memories BB's ability to plug street free agents, WRs, and scarecrows with helmets into his defensive backfield and win freakin' superbowls. I suspect they will weather the storm pretty well. Can elite teams/QBs take advantage of this? I am not so sure that a guy like Manning or Brees can pounce on an inferior NT. A slow coverage LB, or rookie DB? Absolutely, those guys will carve them up. So is it teams that excel at running up the gut who will be able to pounce on a missing Wilfork? That does not sound terribly intimidating. I maybe wrong.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 5:58pm

1. Tom Bardy
2. Vince Wilfork
3. Some other giy maybe Jerod Mayo or maybe Geonkowski

Would not put Aqub Talib 3

by PatsFan :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:34pm

I wonder if this'll be it for Wilfork's career, or at least his career with the Patriots.

Next year he'll be 34, has a big cap number, and will be coming off a blown achilles. Will the Pats be willing to pay him his current contract number? Will he be willing to take a cut?

I also wonder when he'll be looking to retire -- he has a horrible family history of diabetes and one would think that retiring and thus being able to drop lots of weight might be good for him.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:43pm

I think he dropped quite a bit of weight over the last two seasons.

Honestly, I'm not as optimistic as you. For a lot of the NFL big men, the activity from football is what keeps them 'slim'. They burn a lot of calories on Sunday.

by Sisyphus :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:07pm

Wilfolk and slim in the same sentence.... Diabetis is about diet and what he is eating to maintain weight in the NFL is a problem in terms of glucose levels. Of course if he keeps eating like that after he retires he is a dead man sooner rather than later but a lot of players, particularly linemen, drop weight after leaving the NFL. They are used to exercising and they know what the weight is doing to their joints and overall health.

by RickD :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:31pm

Wilfork has, indeed, lost weight over the past two seasons.

by Gorilla Graham (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:22pm

That's a shame about Locker, as it seemed like he was starting to come around. I watched the Titans comeback against SD, he looked pretty good.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 2:08am

As a Jets fan, I have to agree with you that it was a shame, and also admit it was a dirty play. I don't know how much I would blame Wilkerson (I doubt he could have stopped in time), but Coples seemed to intentionally torque himself into Locker well after the ball was gone.
Locker is also the only quarterback to complete more than 50% of his passes against the Jets this year; even Fitzpatrick was only 3 of 8 in that game.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:29pm

Well, Denver is now even farther out in front of the rest of the AFC. Aside from them… things look very wide open. The Chiefs could really be the second best team in the conference, which would be incredible.

by RickD :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:30pm

Print those playoff tickets!

The Broncos must be unbeatable. They have exactly one playoff win since 2005! (And that was with Mr. Tebow at QB.) They've lost their last three games vs. the Pats, and two of them were blowouts.

Seriously, the Broncos have looked good, but they've also been playing pretty weak defenses (aside from the revenge game vs. Baltimore in Week 1.) While the offense is great, the defense really isn't. It's decent, but it's definitely off with Dumervil having left and Miller out. And Champ Bailey isn't the CB he used to be.

I probably should just publish all the same premature crowning statements from last season. But there are too many.

It's a long season.

"The Chiefs could be the second best team in the conference..."

Well, so far they're the best team in the NFC East, with a 3-0 record vs. that division. I like Andy Reid and I think they'll probably be a playoff team. But you cannot snap your fingers and go from 2-14 to "second best team in the conference" just like that.

by kamiyu206 :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 1:09am

I don't think he said Denver is unbeatable or they will win the SB with ease, etc.

He just said the gap between Denver and other AFC teams are widened. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Weak opponents or not, Broncos beat those teams by big margin. It's not far-fetched to say they are the best in the AFC now.

by TimK :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 3:48am

Champ Bailey is getting older, yes, he also hasn't played yet this year, so any decline he is showing has not been a factor, and his return will ay least add depth and experience. I seem to be remember an article here last year indicating that his skills were still good, but he was starting to be suspect against the top class speedsters, that is still a useful player to add in all likelihood.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 1:53am

Champ Bailey especially isn't the cb he used to be when he isn't playing.

I agree the chiefs probably are not the second best team in the conference. The Patriots, Chargers, Texans, and maybe even the Colts all will want something to say about that. But Damn is the AFC weak this year after the Broncos. The entire NFC North, Sans Vikings, would be in the top 6 or 8 teams in the AFC. And none of them are talked about at a top 3 NFC team.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:55am

While what you are saying sounds right on the surface, but if the AFC is so weak this year how does that synch with the AFC's dominant interleague record so far? Four AFC also-rans from last year really improved (KC, SD, TN, and MIA), when two playoff teams from 2012 met the Colts pimp-slapped the until-recently top-ranked Niners. Texans seem to have taken a step back, and Pittsburgh... well, the Pirates are doing well.

I think the NFCN has three teams who can do a lot of damage, but they all have flaws (even if Detroit's biggest is self-destructive tendencies). Pitting the top five AFC teams against the NFCN, I don't see anybody but Denver kicking sand in anybody else's face right now.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 2:03am

I think Denver's only issue will be keeping Manning healthy, and whether a 37 year old All World quarterback can play like his normal self in January in the cold. Last year, that didn't happen for either Brady or Manning. It also sucks for him that the Super Bowl is being held in New Jersey, in a outdoor stadium.

Right now, it looks like only the Seahawks could give Denver a game, and I'm not sure how close it really would be. The Chiefs might even match up better with Denver, but we'll see. The road to the Super Bowl may turn out very different from the way everything looks today.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 10:44am

On the other hand, the super bowl he won was in a driving rainstorm.

by greybeard :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 2:07pm

Pray that he plays against Grossman again.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:57am

People tend to overlook that fact when discussing stats from that game.

by bucko (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 4:22pm

REally sorry to hear about Wilfork. He's been a force for a while and by all accounts a good guy.

And good luck to both players in their recoveries.