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January 2, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Tedy Bruschi

Tedy
  (10:55 AM)

Good morning and Happy New Year. Now we're talking playoffs. It gets real.

Tedy
  (10:55 AM)

We're on Belichick time, starting five minutes early. Here we go.

Franky (Vermont)

I love Welker, but I'd argue that Gronkowski is the second most important offensive player on the Patriots right now. Dude is just a beast. Thoughts?PS, you called that one right prior to the 2010 draft.

Tedy
  (10:56 AM)

Gronk has been great. But over the course of the last couple of years, Welker has been Brady's No. 1 guy. What's great, though, is that on certain days when it's not Welker it can be Gronkowski or Hernandez. Those are clearly the top three on this team.

Barry J. (Hartford)

For all the adjustments they made yesterday, this secondary still scares the heck out of me. It just seems like if the Pats aren't pressuring the QB, there's no way the secondary can contain decent receivers. Thoughts?

Tedy
  (10:57 AM)

I agree. I'm still wrapping my head around McCourty playing safety. Right now, I'm not sure on the logic of that move. I know they are beat up, and I know he's their most reliable DB this year (with Chung hurt), but when you have so much inconsistency in the lineup you're going to give up those yards every week.

Tedy
  (10:59 AM)

In terms of adjustments, I thought the defensive staff did a great job of adjusting from man-coverage schemes and rushing 4 or 5 against the empty sets, then switching it up to 3-man rushes and dropping 8, and playing zone. Fitzpatrick was carving them up vs. man coverage with the safety over the top. Once they switched to that 3-man rush, Buffalo had no answer. Clearly, Buffalo's plan was to attack with the empty formations, probably due to the lack of depth in that secondary. Taking away a rusher and adding another zone defender was vintage Belichick.

Tedy
  (11:00 AM)

What I thought Buffalo would do, seeing the 3-man rush and soft zone coverages, maybe start to run the ball a little more against it. I expected a little more from Chan Gailey and his staff.

Harvey (Natick)

What did you see from Patrick Chung yesterday and how much of a boost does his return give this defense?

Tedy
  (11:02 AM)

The most positive aspect of Patrick Chung returning was that he wasn't tentative. He looked aggressive from the start. After an injury, and having not played for a while, you wonder how a player will react. Chung should only get better going into the playoffs -- perfect timing for this secondary.

Seth (Medford MA)

Tedy do you think the Jets draft a QB this year if only to let Sanchez know his time is running short? Physical limitations aside, I don't think you can teach good instincts. Frankly as a Pats fan I hope he stays :)

Tedy
  (11:04 AM)

I think he stays. I think Mark Brunell's time there as the No. 2 may be over. I think you're right, they need someone in the No. 2 role who is a threat if something goes wrong. Sanchez is there to stay. The Jets are truly a complementary football team. If the defense isn't playing well, special teams aren't making plays, and they can't run the ball, there is going to be a problem. If Sanchez is counted on to throw it 40 times a game (or 59), they'll be out of the playoffs every year. That's not who they are. I will say this -- I think Sanchez is good enough to take them to the Super Bowl.

Tedy
  (11:04 AM)

He almost did it twice already.

Jason (Seattle)

How do the Pats fix there defense or is their no fix?

Tedy
  (11:06 AM)

There is no quick-fix right now. What you see is what you get. What this defense needs on a regular basis is to cause turnovers. They continue to do this. If they do, this team can go far. They finished third in the NFL in turnover differential this year (plus-17), and that's so much more valuable than yards. I know the Packers have bigger names on defense, but what's the difference between the Packers and the Patriots right now?

Jesse (Boston, MA)

These slow starts aren't going to cut the mustard in the playoffs. I'm sure everyone in that locker room understands that. Considering you were one of the leaders in that same locker room, what are some thing you'd say to this team when preparing for game 1?

Tedy
  (11:07 AM)

"Let's start fast." (Laughing). Right now, there are no magic words. If anything, this team can have confidence that if they do start slow they can come back.

David (Portland Maine)

Did you notice a change in the schemes or effectiveness of the D with the return of Spikes?

Tedy
  (11:08 AM)

I think we'll see the effectiveness more against running teams.

Tedy
  (11:08 AM)

The Buffalo game wasn't one tailored to Spikes' strengths.

Danny S (Penn State (from Worcester, Ma))

What do you think about Tom Brady not really having a chance at MVP after the season he's had? The yards, TDs and leading a team with one of the worst (yds wise) defenses ever to the #1 seed.

Tedy
  (11:10 AM)

Brady has had a great season, but it's all about timing to get that MVP. There have been MVPs in the past who probably didn't have as good a season as Tom this year. But unfortunately for Tom, there were two other quarterbacks this year who has as good of a season, if not better.

Genie (Wilmington, NC)

Tedy with the slow starts that NE has, why don't they start with a no huddle? They play sooo much better.

Tedy
  (11:11 AM)

If you get stopped in that no-huddle, then your defense has less time to rest after giving up a long drive. The Patriots like to pick their spots when using the no-huddle. Those spots are when they have a favorably matchup against a defensive personnel grouping, or when they feel they can put a team on the ropes with a quick score. Sometimes they'll game-plan during the week that they will start the first drive of the second quarter in the hurry-up. I remember a playoff game against the Jets that I played in, and the game-plan was to start in hurry-up. It all depends.

Scott (Providence)

Hey Tedy, what do you think of the Patriots using McCourty some at safety and the Pats switching things up a bit and manning up in coverage. Seemed to do the trick against the Bills in the second half. Are the Pats better off in man or zone coverage going forward, and what's the best role for McCourty?

Tedy
  (11:14 AM)

It's puzzling to me seeing McCourty at safety. He looked uncomfortable at times. To me, he doesn't look the part of a safety. He is a cornerback, a Pro Bowl cornerback. But McCourty is the type of player who is unselfish. He is going to do what's best for the team and you have to respect that. The Patriots started the game in man and that's how they were getting carved up -- Fletcher was on Spiller, Arrington was on Johnson. With McCourty at safety, he was out of position on a couple of those routes. Going forward, you do what works. Man coverage wasn't working in the beginning, so they switched to more zone concepts with just a three-man rush. If they were to have started the game with that concept and it was struggling, then you switch to man. It's all about in-game adjustments and they did it better than Buffalo did.

Randy Moss (West Virginia)

Hi Tedy,I've been staying in shape. Do you think Bill should call me to make explosive plays and help win a Super Bowl? I like how everyone has already forgot im the most explosive reciever of all time.

Tedy
  (11:15 AM)

Yes, Randy, you were explosive. If you were lined up at the No. 1 receiver, you'd probably have a CB on you and a safety over the top. You probably wouldn't have to run a full 9 route, and that would help. But I think the Patriots are set with what they have.

John F (Walpole)

Hi Tedy:I can see the Pats making it to the Super Bowl based upon the strength of the AFC. BUT there is no way. none, zero chance this team can beat either the Saints or the Packers. While neither of those teams has a great defense, both are superior to the Pats product. This is the worst Pats defense in 30 years. Thoughts?

Tedy
  (11:17 AM)

Bro, wait a second. I think Green Bay finished with the worst defense, in terms of yards allowed, this year. I do agree with you -- the table is set for the Patriots to make it to the Super Bowl. It's up to them, and how they play, in the divisional around and AFC championship. Going back to the draft, I felt like this season would be defined by the playoffs, no matter what records were broken. This season will be judged by what they do Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. ET. This team is one opening playoff loss from some serious questions -- involving coaches and players.

Mitch the Pats Fan (Wilkesville, Ohio)

Which possible divisional round matchup favors the Patriots the most?

Tedy
  (11:18 AM)

If Houston beats Cincinnati, and Denver beats Pittsburgh, Denver would come to New England. I think that's the most favorable matchup, but I don't think that's happening.

diane (indy)

Tedy, if you were Colts owner Jim Irsay, what is the 1st thing you do?

Tedy
  (11:21 AM)

Diane, very rarely do you have a chance to solidify the short-term and long-term of your franchise. If Peyton Manning is healthy, he is the short-term -- the next 3-4 years. You draft Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick and he secures your long-term future. Would Peyton Manning be happy about that? Probably not. But who runs the organization -- management or Manning?

Q (Arizona)

The Patriots have made a habit of falling behind opponents by multiple scores this season but always come back. Will that work against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and eventually Green Bay or New Orleans?

Tedy
  (11:21 AM)

No. It's that simple.

Bob from VA (Alexandria, VA)

Tedy, how do you explain a player like McCourty struggling so badly in year two, after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie? I guess the real question is why do the Patriots seem NOT to hit on DBs?

Tedy
  (11:23 AM)

They hit with McCourty. He had a great rookie season. I just can't think of another player who had such a dropoff from a Pro Bowl season to the next. The best thing about this is that McCourty is young, very young, and he knows what type of play it takes to succeed, and what type of play that equals failure. I still think he's a top-notch player. I'm going to hold off to next year's performance, or his playoff performance this year, to see where he is.

rich germano (lynn ma)

if Houston's qb was healthy would the Texans be the biggest threat to the pats.

Tedy
  (11:25 AM)

They would be a threat, but I wouldn't see them as the biggest. From the beginning of the season, I thought the Ravens would be there in the end, a team they would have to contend with. It looks like that might be the case. If you look at the AFC right now, the top two threats for me -- for the Patriots -- are Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Cincinnati can cause some problems, but with a rookie at QB and the second-best offensive player being a rookie in WR A.J. Green, I just don't think they're ready.

Conor Murray (Ireland)

Hi Tedy read you here every week in ireland, whats the reason for the terrible starts recently-disrespecting the opponent or going out with the wrong game plan in the first place?

Tedy
  (11:25 AM)

The slow start was all about them getting sliced in man coverage.

bruce (ohio)

why is the afc so down this year

Tedy
  (11:27 AM)

First of all, there is no Peyton Manning with the Colts. That takes out a major contender. You have New England and Baltimore there. Pittsburgh, too. If Schaub didn't get hurt, Houston might be a solid contender. A combination of some injuries at critical positions like quarterback, and you get a couple teams that aren't as strong contenders.

Mike (Marshfield)

Hey Teddy, Happy New Year! Wanted to say great job this season bringing us coverage and opinion. I for one respect and enjoy catching up on your opinions of the team. My question is, what do the Pats concentrate on this week, not knowing who their next opponent is. Pittsburgh is an obvious favorite to visit the friendly confines of the Razor. Does Coach B concentrate on the fundamentals, situational football, or maybe start game planning for the perceived favorite to come to Foxboro?

Tedy
  (11:30 AM)

Thanks Mike. This is a good question. It reminds me of times there were byes before the playoffs and you had the chance of meeting multiple teams. What happened before -- two teams were selected. The two teams that the coaching staff thought that had the best chance we'd meet, and you'd spend half a day on one, and half a day on the other. The other half of those days, you'd spend working on fixing your own problems. So if they feel like Cincinnati is going to beat Houston, you watch a little Bengals film one day. The next day, you might watch the Steelers. It's not an entire week where you're not preparing at all.

Tedy
  (11:31 AM)

One thing I did, even when you have the bye, is to watch the games. Even if it's against a team you won't play, like the teams in the NFC. What you will see during these games is what type of play wins playoff games and what type of play loses playoff games. Learn from other teams' mistakes so you don't make them.

Tedy
  (11:31 AM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting. We'll do it again next week.