Hello everyone. Let's get this started a bit early.
Tedy, I've followed your career since you were drafted and value your opinion immensely. We're pretty spoiled when it comes to the Pats and when the team looks normal -- like it does this year -- we get fidgety and want a quick fix. I don't see one and I don't think we can underscore the importance of Vince Wilfork being on IR. The defense looks solid, but the offense is dismal. Do you honestly see where this offense starts becoming consistent at some point? Six points won't win any games in the NFL and 13 doesn't get you many W's either. Thank you.
Lee, you have to understand, the entire month of September has been about buying time. Buying time for these young WRs to develop. And buying time for Rob Gronkowski to get healthy. With the added injuries of Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen, you've also been trying to buy time for them to come back. Now you should start to see some changes. If Gronkowski plays this week, along with Amendola at the same time, I think you'll start to see improvement. Along with the benefits of having Gronkowski -- red zone, blocking/setting the edge in the running game -- I think you also have the idea of taking pressure off the young WRs. That's a big part of Gronkowski's presence too.
Hi Tedy, The Patriots are abandoning the run in the red zone/ goal-to-go situations and it frustrates me to no end. Running the football is a commitment and with the current state of receivers for Brady, I expected a better commitment to the run by the Pats, Brady and/or McDaniels. I also think they tend to bury a rb after a fumble, like Blount was on Sunday., I felt that was more a great play by the defender rather than a mistake by Blount. Yes, he needed better ball security but why not give him a chance to redeem himself?
I also thought it was a great defensive play on the fumble by Blount. On teams that are increidbly deep and have other options on offense, you can try to send messages to players when they make mistakes. This team can't do that right now; they don't have that luxury because of a lack of depth. As this season goes on, Blount's value has to increase. He's the type of RB who can set the tone for this offense.
Hey Tedy I was wondering if you could give us some insight into the mental preparation (as a defensive player) leading up to going against a truly elite quarterback like Drew Brees?
First of all, defensively, you try to take away his weapons. That's a huge part of why Drew Brees has been so good, players like Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Knowing you have a QB with exceptional ability throwing the ball, you don't want to take too many chances in coverage. One thing you know, even if you're in good position in coverage, the ball can still be placed in a spot where only the WR can catch it. The Miami Dolphins made this mistake. They attempted to jump a couple routes by Sproles, anticipating an underthrown ball. Brees rarely makes those mistakes and Sproles made them pay by having a big night. Against a QB like Brees, there is an old saying: "If you take it, you got to make it."
The second play of the Cincy game-play action which got blown up. Mike Reiss mentioned in his blog, the Bengals were playing pass all the way-so when the line slid right, they didn't bite and it left a free rusher. Two questions: first is it the quarterbacks responsibility to see that the defense is playing pass and check to another play? Second, was there actually anything that Brady could have seen and didn't? Hindsight is 20/20 so just curious if you saw anything...Thx
It's not the QB responsibility to see that, because his back is to the defense. Secondly, there wasn't much that Brady could do, because as soon as he turned around, Geno Atkins was there. The problem was that the offensive line didn't do a good job selling it. The OL have to be good salesmen when you run play-action pass. Going up against our offense, my rookie year with Bill Parcells was the head coach, we'd be in scrimmage situations and I always knew when it would be a play-action pass. Before the play, Bill Parcells would always yell to the entire offense, "Sell it! Sell it! Sell it!" He wanted to make sure the OL sold the play-action fake.
Hey Tedy - love your stuff; thanks for fielding this question. I have been thinking about how often our secondary was flagged last year, then how much they got burned on deep plays, and how this created a snowball effect with teams testing us deep and getting more flags as a reward. This year, by comparison, we have gotten almost no calls against the secondary, and get tested deep less often. My question is this: how much does official bias, probably not even conscious, play a part? In other words, a team gets a reputation for defensive holding, and the flags fly. Whereas a team like Seattle, or New England this year, is getting the reputation for being a strong secondary, and much more physical play is allowed. Did you have a sense of this as a player?
This is a good point, Avi. Officials watch film also. Officials are human. So as they see how their colleagues have officiated a certain team's style of play, they can have pre-conceived notions on a defensive unit. It's just like when a defense is watching a running back and he fumbles. He has established a reputation; now my tackling style will change. Not only will I try to secure the tackle, I might try to put my helmet on the ball or try to strip it because I know this player has a reputation.
They say it's a copycat league. The same thing applies to officials.
We've been patient with the rookie receivers. They need time to develop and learn the system. But now we are heading into week 6 and the same problems exist with route running, dropped balls, etc. Will BB trade for a veteran receiver or is this going to be it?
It's always incredibly difficult to anticipate the moves of Bill Belichick as a general manager. I will say this: There comes a point when Bill Belichick the coach comes to a conclusion -- a conclusion on a player or a positional unit. If these rookie WRs continue to struggle through the holidays (e.g. Halloween, Thanksgiving), he will come to the conclusion they just don't have it. When he will make a move, you just don't know, but he will do something about it.
Tedy - In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing the team is third down. Tommy has almost always had that guy (Faulk, Woody) that served as a draw/screen threat and forced the front 7 to stay honest. No longer the case. As a result, the rush can come full throttle and we're seeing the effect it's having. Am I right that (given Vereen's injury) the loss of Woody looms larger than Welker? Are there any solutions either on the roster (Edelman??) or on the beach?
Dave, this is a great point. The Gronkowski and Amendola injuries have overshadowed the loss of Vereen. A capable multi-purpose back is very valuable to this offensive scheme. Danny Woodhead was a huge loss. He was a member of my first-annual All-Bruschi team last year. The reason why is that he was invaluable to this offense. As you can tell, he is doing very well in San Diego. You're right: The loss of Woodhead is right up there with the loss of Welker.
Hello, How would you go about increasing the level of play from the Offensive Line? I think they are above average, but are they capable of going beyond that to a consistent pass and run blocking team unit?
Michael, I also was disappointed in the offensive line last week. It seems to me as if they are missing an edge. One of the few times when I've seen fire from this unit was when Jets center Nick Mangold hit Aqib Talib at the end of the Sept. 12 game between the teams. A fight broke out and Logan Mankins was in the middle of it. In years past, Matt Light was also in the middle of those skirmishes. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd like to see Logan Mankins get in a fight and the rest of those offensive linemen following suit.
Hi Tedy,I see of late Tom is not able to stand and deliver when there is a rusher in his face. Is this something that defenses are taking advantage of? If so how does this problem get rectified? Thanks for all those superbowl runs
The number one defensive goal will be to get Tom Brady off the spot. The spot is where a drop-back passer likes to set up to deliver the ball, about 5-7 yards behind where the ball is snapped. Whenever a drop-back passer has to move off that spot, he becomes less effective, and Tom Brady is no different.
Without Vince in the middle how much is the pressure ratcheted up on Mayo, Spikes and Hightower and how does it impact their defensive flexibility as a whole?
The linebackers still have to step up and be productive, but most of the pressure is on Tommy Kelly, Joe Vellano and Chris Jones.
Hey Tedy, do you think the Patriots would ever make a play for Tony Gonzalez? He has never been to a Super Bowl and at this point in the season he has a better chance with the Pats then with the Falcons. What would have to give up to make a trade like that?
If I were Tony Gonzalez, I wouldn't want to be traded from Atlanta. You came back to be part of that team. I don't see Tony as a guy who jumps ship as much as a guy who likes to right the ship. Judging by his comments this week, that's what he is going to do.
Huge Fan Tedy, I wear your jersey every week! I have a hindsight question, If Gronk played against the Bengals do the patriots win that game?
Alex, I appreciate you wearing my jersey. I always thought that was the biggest compliment any fan could have given me. To be honest, hindsight never works in football. Even with Gronk, that team would have struggled.
Thought the Pats went away from the run to quickly. Agree?
I don't think the problem was going away from the run. I think the problem was how the offensive line was being dominated by the defensive front.
Hey Tedy, I'm sure this weeks game will tell us a lot more, but in your opinion how far has this defense come? How good are they? And how good can they be? Thanks!
Just when I think this defense has made huge strides, they lose Vince Wilfork. That injury will have more and more of an effect as the season goes on.
Hi Tedy, In your experience how does a team game plan for a TE like Jimmy Graham? Did you ever have a similar match-up issue from your playing days?
From my playing days, and they're still playing now, it's Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. As you probably saw in the Sunday night game vs. the Falcons when they double-viced Gonazlez, I expect to see more of that this week. And also, how they come up with schemes to stop Darren Sproles as a receiver out of the backfield. See our "Bruschi's Breakdown" later in the week for more.
This is not a Pats question but a relevant one as it relates to their arch rival. What do you think of Geno Smith?
As a young quarterback, Geno Smith has done the most important thing he could do, and that's get better from week to week. Turning the ball over vs. the Titans four times two weeks ago, to not committing a turnover against the Falcons on the road -- and having a two-minute drive to win the game with a field goal -- the Jets may be on to something.
Do you think that the New England Patriots will beat the New Orleans Saints this Weekend?
Chris, check out my prediction, and Mike Reiss' prediction, in "Bruschi's Breakdown" later this week.
Is this only the beginning for the Patriots, in terms of them being tested by other teams? Because they've had an easygoing in those first four games.
I agree. Not only New Orleans this week, but you're going to play a Jets team next week that is much better than it was on Sept. 12.
Over the course of the first part of this season, the Patriots are 4-1. With their limited options offensively, I think if you were to say -- without Gronkowski, without Amendola after the first, without Vereen for multiple weeks -- and you're still 4-1 ... these players are coming back. So the main concern I have is the loss of Wilfork. But this week is their toughest test by far.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. We'll do it again next week.