Behind Enemy Lines, Part 2

To find out about this week's Dolphins opponent, the New England Patriots, we checked in with Patriots Insider's Jon Scott to ask him some questions about the team and this week's matchup. Part 2 focuses on Tom Brady's problems against Miami and the New England running game.

Q. Bill Belichick told South Florida media on Wednesday the Patriots have nothing to be overconfident about this week because they haven't done anything against the Dolphins; do you sense the players buy into that mentality at all?

Scott: Absolutely. A lot of the guys who are new probably think the team is becoming an unstoppable machine that cannot be derailed by a winless opponent, but Bill Belichick has a way to show guys why there are still a lot of things to work on and if those things are not addressed, even a team like the Dolphins can exploit them to win. You can bet, Belichick showed the team the film of the ugly 21-0 drubbing Miami put on them last year. It's the same offensive line, same RB (Faulk/Evans/Maroney) same quarterback, most of the same defense.

Tedy Bruschi is having none of the hype the national media is blowing in the Patriots direction. "We haven't won anything yet," came out of Bruschi's mouth this week. It's been part of everyone's comments to the media. I'm certain Bruschi, Harrison, Brady and others have the team well grounded.

Q. Did the Patriots ever envision Sammy Morris and Wes Welker being such big contributors this season?

Scott: I think when the season started, the additions of Morris and Welker were overshadowed by the media hype surrounding Randy Moss and the inevitable rise to glory of Laurence Maroney now that Corey Dillon moved on. But after Welker's first big game, Belichick explained why the former Dolphins receiver was an important addition. He extolled Welkers versatility – the gold standard in New England. When Morris took over for Maroney against the Bengals and turned in a 100-yard game and then followed that up a week later with another, Belichick again explained that's what the team saw in Sammy last year. Morris had a 123-yard game against the Patriots in 2006, the first 100-yard game of his career.

Did the Patriots actually expect Morris to lead the team in rushing and Welker to push Randy Moss for most receptions? They probably had a pretty good idea when they went after those two. They were tow of the first players the team went after in free agency.

Q. Is there any fear whatsoever in the Patriots locker room or front office that Randy Moss has been on his best behavior because everything's gone so well so far, but that he could become a problem once either he or the team start facing some adversity?

Scott: I think there's a lot of speculation out there. I can't speak for the front office as they obviously make few – if any – comments about their feelings about players. I have heard rumblings from other sources that say there was some concern Moss could turn into another T.O. I haven't seen or heard any of that personally.

Moss' locker is positioned next to Tom Brady, and has been there since he arrived. Vinny Testaverde was on the other side when Moss arrived. I think between Tom, and the other veterans on this team, there's no room for an individual personality to "go off" like Randy did in Oakland.

Some media reports have questioned Moss' dedication at times, but everything the players have said about him has been positive. We'll just have to see if it stays that way.

Moss is essentially on a one-year deal in New England. He's probably figuring he can cash in if the team has a great season. I really think, it has become more about winning than the money for Randy. He really appears to have bought in to the new way of thinking, and the team is embracing that role for him.

A friend asked Randy this week about leadership and becoming a leader on the team. Moss obviously wanted none of it. He prefers to stay out of the spotlight at the moment, and he has been more of a team player, even coaching up WR Chad Jackson to get the Patriots former second round draft pick up to speed.

Q. Why is it that the Patriots running game keeps working regardless of who is carrying the ball; is the offensive line that good?

Scott: I'm not sure it's the offensive line being dominant as much as it's the construction of the plays. the team has a way to exploit blocking matchups to build holes. When those matchups don't appear and they run the play anyway, you can see why guys get stuffed at the line. Corey Dillon was excellent at turning the tiny holes the line was able to provide into enough space to turn nothing into something. Morris was the same. It's why you see Maroney dancing behind the line trying to find space to run. He hasn't figured out that the Patriots linemen typically don't open Mack truck size holes for the backs and it's his job to squeeze through the opening that are there.

One thing that may be overlooked is the play of the Patriots tight ends. Last year Danel Graham was on the team and could be relied upon to create a solid running lane with his "wham" blocks. This year, Graham is gone, but Kyle Brady has picked up right where Graham left off. Those two in particular should be credited for a lot of the Patriots' run success.

Q. Why do you think it is that Brady often seems to struggle against the Dolphins?

Scott: I think Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas have figured out the Patriots' scheme. They know how to beat the guys in front of them and give Brady fits. They're smart guys who know what the Patriots are trying to do on offense. They have the abilty to work with their teammates to coordinate ways to disrupt New England's timing and rhythm.

Of course that was when the Patriots ran the Charlie Weis offense. New England has changed things up this year, which is what is making it more difficult to defend them. People know what's coming with the spread offenses, but they just don't have the players to match up against Moss, Donte' Stallworth, Welker, Ben Watson and crew.

What is your prediction for this game?

Scott: I believe New England will win, but the 16 points is an insult to the Dolphins and I'm sure they're going to fight like hell to make Vegas pay.

What is your prediction for the rest of the Patriots season?

Scott: 14-2 or 15-1 depending on how much Brady and crew want to stay on pace to break records.

What are the three worst teams in the NFL?

Scott: In no particular order: San Francisco, St. Louis, Atlanta with Miami deserving mention because of their record and injury concerns.

Jon Scott has covered the NFL for over 10 seasons and the New England Patriots since 2001. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Scott covers the Patriots for the Scout.com network at Patriots Insider (www.PatriotsInsider.com).


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