Former NFL executive and current NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi joined the Dennis & Callahan show on WEEI 93.7 FM this morning to discuss the Patriots and all things NFL.
The following is a sampling of the Patriots-related sound bites from the roughly 15 minute interview (audio link here).
On whether there is any way the Patriots don’t win the AFC East, provided Tom Brady stays healthy.
"Well they should. They have the best quarterback, and typically the team that wins the division always has the best quarterback. I think that carries on. I think the Patriots have to get their offensive line kind of fixed without Logan Mankins in there right now. Brian Waters, hopefully he will come back, because he played at a high, high level last year. And then where is Sebastian Vollmer in terms of his health and durability? Can he play 16 games at right tackle? I think the Patriots realize that, but the uniqueness of this team this year will be vastly different from last year, they’ll be bale to control the pace of the game much better. People talk about all the points they scored, which was wonderful, and they were up and down the field, but they never ever could get control of the game. How many times, Patriots fans, did you see the third-and-ones, did you see the short yardage where, I mean just think about the Colt game. Where you just had a chance to basically eliminate the game and have the Colts not move the football, there’s a third-and-one, they don’t get the first down, the Colts come back, they score a touchdown, all of a sudden a blowout becomes a game it shouldn’t have been. Well that’s what I’m talking about, controlling the pace of the game, I think they’ll control the pace of the game much better this year. I think with Josh McDaniels, I think they’re going to have an emphasis on running the football more in terms of later in the game and being a power football team, something I think they really needed."
On if the transition from previous offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to Josh McDaniels will be a seamless one.
"Yeah I do. Obviously Billy O’Brien, remember the legacy here, Billy was at Duke, and Josh was instructed to go find a good young coach that they could develop within the program at the Patriots and he picked Billy O’Brien. So there’s a symmetry between the two guys, one guy taught the other guy. But when Josh comes back, I think now that Josh is back you’ll get to see a little bit more of the 2004-2005 Patriots. I think when you watch the game, it was on NFL Network about a month ago in the summertime, cause I was desperate to watch football, the Patriots playing the Eagles in Jacksonville, you could see the power run that they had then. I think that they controlled the game much better, even though they could still move the ball effectively with their passing game. I think Josh will bring that back to the team, not that Billy O’Brien didn’t do a good job, because I think what happens is we all fall into a trap in all our lives, in terms of taking the path of least resistance, and if it’s easy to get a first down running an option route to Wes Welker, then let’s just call it and do it. Sometimes you just have to be more determined and have to be persistent."
On whether there is any chance that Brandon Lloyd will be at all like Chad Johnson in terms of production on the field and a struggle with grasping the playbook?
"Not a chance. He knows the playbook probably as well as anybody. I think he probably knows it – anyway there’s not a chance. I heard Chad Johnson’s press conference yesterday, he was humbled, he admitted that he clearly had a hard time learning and he clearly admitted that a lot of it was his fault. He talked that way. His talent level certainly should allow him to play, but his mind didn’t allow him to play."