As if New England Patriots fans don't already have enough reasons to despise the New York Jets, it was learned before last Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills that Kevin Faulk would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. And who injured him? A Jet, of course, and defensive back Drew Coleman in particular, during the fourth quarter of the Jets' 28-14 win over the Patriots two weekends ago. It wasn't intentional, but it still stings. That's football.
The 12-year all-purpose Patriot was named one of four co-captains this year (two offense, two defense), and his loss is a big one for the Pats. Faulk was a reliable special teams player and pass-catching running back for all of Tom Brady's career–he's the only Patriot who's tenure with the team predates the Bill Belichick era. He took on several assignments to help the Patriots win three Super Bowls and countless other games, including punt returns on special teams, being a check down receiver on third down, and a sneaky running back when needed.
It sort of annoys me that people are asking only how the Pats will replace Faulk's third down heroics. Sure, he's had some memorable catches on that crucial down over the years, whether it was during the Patriots' first Super Bowl run in 2001-2002 or as recent as week one this season against Cincinnati.
But Faulk was much more valuable to the team than on just third down. You don't get to be the Patriots all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,140), first in kickoff return yards (4,098), fourth in receptions (418), fifth in rushing (3,505) and sixth in punt return yards (932) by being primarily called upon on third down. That said, how will the Pats fill this void?