Behind Enemy Lines: Part II

TheRanchReport.com's Roy Philpott sits down with Jon Scott of PatriotsInsider.com to talk about Sunday's game between undefeated New England and undefeated Dallas. Here is part II of that report.

The Cowboys and Patriots have running backs that played their college ball at Minnesota. Barber is a hard-nosed powerful back that has a nose for the endzone. What about Laurence Maroney? Does he have a similar style and is he the future at running back in Foxboro?
Scott: Maroney has more of what you would call a galloping running style. It takes him a while to get to the hole and he has a tendency to dance around looking for a bigger seam. Once he hits the hole, he gets up to speed in a hurry and is hard to catch. He learned the power stiff-arm technique from Corey Dillon and genuinely improved his running style when he was paired with Dillon. I'm not sure you could say Maroney has the same style as Barber, I think they had complimentary styles at Minnesota, and that has continued.

As for Maroney being "the guy" in New England, I'm not sure that's going to happen for a while. It was the Patriots' plan to replace Dillon when the team drafted Maroney, but there's no way Maroney is the guy near the goal line. His lack of decisiveness hitting the hole results in negative plays that the team is adamant about eliminating. It's one reason you saw New England sign Sammy Morris in the off-season, and re-sign Heath Evans. The Patriots know that Dillon had a way to get the tough 2 or 3 yards even when the line didn't open the hole, but the same can't be said for Maroney. Maroney can hit the hole for a big gain and not get caught from behind. That's why he'll be the main guy for years to come.

What is Bill Belichick really like? He seems so stoic during press conferences, almost like it hurts him to answer a question. Is he like that with his players?
Scott: When you ask his players, to a man they have respect for Belichick. They compliment his ability to get them into position to win games. They talk about his little known sense of humor, and that they say he's not the same guy we the media see. From his time and availability to the media, everything is we see in person is Belichick's stoic personality. During his Celveland days, the media nicknamed him mumbles for his press conferences.

You have to credit Belichick in having enough personality to hang out with celebrities when guys like Jon Bon Jovi hangs around training camp every year and then invite him to concerts.

Outside of doing what they've done the past five weeks, which is dominate nearly every phase of the game, what matchups do the Patriots have to win Sunday to win this game?
Scott: The Patriots have to win the battle of the trenches. Everything hinges on the offensive line and the defensive line battles for New England.

On the offensive side; when the Patriots line gives Tom Brady time to stand flat footed, no defensive secondary can stand up to Brady's ability to find the open receiver. Brady had so much time against the Jets and the Chargers that he just stood there waiting for his receivers to shake the defenders. It's one reason why the New England offense has been so dominant.

On the defensive side, the Patriots have to find a way to get pressure on Tony Romo. The Pats secondary has issues covering talented players like Terrell Owens and Jason Whitten. When the guys up front can win the battle of the trenches, opponents just don't have time to fine their receiver down field. When they don't get pressure, you can see what teams are able to do. The Browns hit Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards for big plays against New England. The Browns had a one score game going and was the biggest challenge for New England this season – more so than even San Diego.

Do you feel as though this could be a Super Bowl preview?
Scott: It's a bit early to be predicting Super Bowl appearances because so much can happen by the end of the season. What we've seen from New England is enough to know there's no one in their division who can slow them down. When comparing them to the AFC powerhouse teams, you have to include Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in the discussion. The only team that seems to have a good matchup in the AFC is Indianapolis.

As for the NFC, I think Dallas has some things to prove as to why they're 5-0. The Buffalo game was an eye opener. Romo hasn't really been a starter for a full year yet (15 games), so anointing him among the league's elite may be a bit premature. And the team has to play some of the better NFC teams before we can judge them fairly.

With that being said, I don't think many other NFC teams have a decent shot to unseat Dallas, other than maybe the Green Bay Packers. So by default it may be a preview.

If the Patriots played an NFC East schedule, would they have already lost a game this year?
Scott: It's fair to say the Patriots look to have an easier schedule in their division this year than in years past, but I'm not sure the NFC East is the real challenge. Nine of the 16 games the Patriots play this year are against playoff teams from last year. They had one of the toughest schedules in the league based upon last year's standings. Ironically three of those games are against NFC East playoff teams, so you'd think that New England would have tough slogging against the division. I just don't see where any team in the NFC East can matchup with the Patriots offense other than maybe Dallas. And it's Dallas' offense that gives them the best opportunity to win. So I doubt the Patriots would have lost against any of those opponents thus far.

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