Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that Patriots cornerback Duane Starks underwent surgery recently on his right shoulder in Miami. The procedure was performed by Dr. John Uribe, a noted orthopedic surgeon who performed major knee ligament surgery on Bills running back Willis McGahee. According to Starks, Uribe told him that he had "one of the most messed up shoulders he'd ever seen." Starks said he had multiple tears and damage, but that he should be ready to go by the time minicamps start next June. "Now that it's over, I'm glad I had it done when I did," said Starks. "Just listening to the doctor tell me how bad it was just confirms the type of injury I had and that I couldn't play with it any longer. I knew it was bad because it felt bad. I couldn't be physical out there or get my hands on anyone. The doctor was surprised the shoulder didn't pop out."
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that the Patriots offense seems to have lost a certain measure of creativity which vanished along with their former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, whose collection of spread formations, back-screens and direct snaps have been on full display in South Bend, Ind. Just watch the Irish play offense for five minutes and Weis' stamp is unmistakable. Back in Foxboro, the Patriots rank fourth in the NFL in passing and Tom Brady is on pace to have his best season as a professional. At his current clip, he'll challenge Drew Bledsoe's franchise record for passing yards in a season (4,555 in 1994). The Pats are tied for 12th in the league in points scored. But the offense just isn't the same, and everyone knows it. The pacing, tempo and play selection are different. Bill Belichick, quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels (the primary play-caller) and Brady have taken over for Weis, and they have yet to hit their stride.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that on Sunday, you'll see No. 24 in New York Jets green, and you'll wonder what the Patriots' secondary would be like had those offseason conversations between Bill Belichick and Ty Law turned into something more substantive. Law spoke about the frustration of a 2-9 season with the Jets, a few days before his return to Gillette Stadium. "I hate losing, so this has been frustrating for me," he said. ''It's one of the toughest seasons I've ever had. We had very high expectations when we started here, but we caught some really bad breaks," said Law.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald reports that the Patriots released reserve tailback Mike Cloud yesterday, signaling that either Corey Dillon or Kevin Faulk may be ready to return to action after several weeks on the shelf. Dillon, who said last Friday he was pushing for a return Sunday against the Jets, has been battling a high ankle sprain for weeks and hurt his calf on the first play from scrimmage three weeks ago in Miami. His return would be a huge boost to the Pats offense.
Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger offers some startling statistics about the Patriots defense. McHugh reports that the Patriots are 32nd in first-down yardage allowed, 31st (out of 32 teams) in yards allowed, passing yards, sacks per pass play and third-down conversions. The patriots also rank 30th in first downs per game, yards per pass and opposing passer rating.
Glen Farley of The Enterprise writes that while the Patriots suffered their fourth double-digit loss of the season, 26-16, in essence they moved one step closer to clinching their third straight division title because both second-place Buffalo and last-place New York fell as well. Miami won, 33-21, at Oakland, but that merely moved the Dolphins into a tie with the Bills, with the Patriots' lead remaining at two games in a division where the collective won-loss record is 16-28. "What we've done so far this season is put us at 6-5 and in first place in the division, but that doesn't mean anything because we've still got to play the rest of the season," linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said. "The season's not going to end tomorrow."
Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger writes that wide receiver Tim Dwight got an unintentional assist Sunday on Tom Brady's fourth and final interception, juggling a fourth-quarter pass into the waiting arms of Chiefs safety Sammy Knight, sealing a 26-16 loss. The turnover came on a first down from the KC 34 with 2:03 left. Dwight was open at the 17, but disaster soon followed. "I was just trying to catch it, and I probably tried to take off before I had it,'' said Dwight, who set season highs with five catches for 76 yards, all of them in the second half. ''You have to make plays like that. Tom puts you in position to make plays. If we get that, we've got a chance to score and maybe pull within two." Instead, the Chiefs were able to run out the clock, putting the finishing touches on an agonizing day for the Patriots' injury-depleted offense. With running back Corey Dillon (calf) inactive for the second straight game and receiver David Givens (knee) missing his third straight week, the Patriots sputtered.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.