Nothing Says 'Move on From the Miami Game' the Patriots Dodging a Major Injury Bullet

If you're looking for the worst moment from the Dolphins game, you'd have a wide selection of makes and models to choose from. Why you'd ever walk on the lot is beyond me, but just to keep the dealership metaphor going, let's kick the tires on this little number, because it's my choice. Just after the 2:00 warning. They had the Dolphins on a 3rd & 8 on their own half of the field. A stop there and the Pats have decent field position with plenty of time left to at least drive for a game-tying field goal. Matthew Judon defeats a block to flush Tua Tagovailoa from the pocket. Christian Barmore comes from an interior rush in pursuit. Only to be joined in the chase by Joejuan Williams. Not only does Tua pick up 11, but Williams lands on Barmore's leg and he doesn't get up. Injury literally added to insult. (And I Tweeted at the time, maybe the hardest hit of Williams' career. Because it put me in a really bad place.

When they came back from the injury timeout, we were told it was Barmore's knee. And he was helped off the field without putting any pressure on the leg. And while it didn't feel exactly like the end of the season, it definitely felt like the Health rating in the great FPS game that is the 2021 season had just plummeted to below 50%. 

I might be getting a little dramatic, but not without very good cause. It's hard to overstate just how big an addition the rookie has been to this Patriots defense. Though I will attempt to do just that in a minute. (Wait. What?) But first, the good news:

The X-rays are negative. The MRI is clean. One presumes that the injury report will have his name on it. But assuming there's not some other test you can do on a player's knee like scan it with a black light like the bedspread on a "CSI" or splash it with Holy Water to see if it's possessed, then it sounds likely he'll play in Buffalo this week. And the reason this news rises to the high standards of Barstool Blogworthiness is that he'll be needed.

Simply put, Barmore has been a godsend. Giving this unit, which has lacked a consistent interior pass rush for years now, exactly what it's needed. 

For starters, he's been the best defensive tackle in his draft class, ahead of even Dallas' Osa Odighizuwa. He's got the highest overall grade from Pro Football Focus, the highest pass rush grade at 75.4 (no one else is even above 65) and he's 6th in run defense. 

But among all interior linemen, he's statistically among the best in the league against the passing game, with the 9th most hurries (38) and the 10th most total pressures (10th). Despite being only 34th in total pass rush snaps (397) in the Patriots tackle rotation-heavy scheme. 

And how he fits into the Patriots system speaks for itself. Only Matthew Judon has had more snaps (420) rushing the passer. And believe it not, has a higher PFF grade. Despite Judon's 12 QB hits and 14 sacks, his PRSH grade is the team's 6th best at 73.2.

Yet on a gameplan-specific defense like Belichick & Sons, Barmore's specific set of skills will be more vital than ever. His snaps have fluctuated wildly over the course of the year, from 26 in Week 1 against Miami to a season high 51 in the overtime game against Dallas. The last time the Pats faced Buffalo three weeks ago, he saw his most snaps since the Cleveland game in Week 10. And he set season highs in hurries with 5 and pressures with 6. 

The key to a win that keeps this case of Patriots Priapism as rock hard as it's been since March is going to be forcing Josh Allen into mistakes he refused to in that game. Despite Barmore's effort. And while the Pats have depth and talent at the position, no one else on the roster does what Barmore does. Only a few in the whole league do. And he'll be joining their elite company soon. Hopefully starting Saturday night, by making game-changing, impact plays on a healthy couple of knees. If nothing else, we got our first positive news of Wild Card week. So it's OK to start feeling better.