1) Will the Patriots win it all?
Jon Scott: Whether or not they win it all, I firmly believe they have enough positives going for them that they'll put up one hell of a fight for whomever does get there. I think the Patriots just have too many players now for other teams to beat them on a consistent basis. I no longer feel Indy or San Diego have enough to stop them.
2) Why or why not?
JS: I'm not sure how all the new pieces will fit in here in New England, but from the looks of things, they're going to a lot better this year on both offense AND defense. Although the Patriots are not the youngest team, they have talent in so many places; opponents won't be able to stop everything. Beat them on defense; Tom Brady and the offense will just try to outscore you. The difference is they have the weapons this year. Stifle the Patriots' playmakers on offense, and then you need a pretty impressive offense of your own to get past the Patriots talented front seven.
I just don't see how teams, even San Diego and Indianapolis, can beat them with all things being equal. It's the lucky bounce, bad call or injury misfortune, which will derail the Patriots more than another team beating them.
3) Is Tom Brady the best quarterback in football?
JS: You sound like you know this answer before I even say it. And I'm certainly not a homer, but I do think Brady is the best. Peyton Manning is arguably the best statistical signal caller in the NFL, but I don‘t think that makes him the best overall.
Peyton Manning can make some spectacular throws. He makes great reads, and has an incredible sense of where to put the ball in his offense. But, when the top couple of things break down for Manning, he gets the happy feet syndrome and can be rattled. Do the same thing against Brady, and the guy just keeps finding places to go with the football. It's amazing to watch. Yes Brady gets frustrated, but it's as if he has an overabundant sense of calm out there. So many things can be going wrong for the guy, yet he still manages to find ways to drive his team down the field.
Case in point, look who Brady had to throw to last year, and then look at what Manning had. Yet Brady was still able to put his team in scoring position time and time again.
Other honorable mentions must include Carson Palmer (who I think can be one of the best ever), Drew Brees and Brett Favre. I still think Brett Favre is / was one of the best ever, but he's fallen a notch behind Brady/ Manning at this point.
4) Biggest surprise to come out of training camp?
JS: As far as players go, I would have said Jabar Gaffney, but it's not really a surprise for us. Watching Gaffney come on late last season and throughout training camp, he's obviously elevated his play above others like Kelley Washington and Reche Caldwell. While it may not be a surprise to us, it appears to be for many of the national media guys who had no idea Gaffney could play.
If you mean overall, I would say the amazing depth this team built in one year. I originally thought this might be a starters or bust type of team, but each position group has some pretty solid backups, guys who could start for other teams.
5) How has Randy Moss fit in so far?
JS: At Patriots Insider, we answer Randy Moss questions almost every day, and the answers remain the same from when he first arrived till now – with the exception of the timetable for his return from injury. Moss is impressive to watch. He's the type of player who defies explanation of why he is so good.
When Moss runs a route, he looks fluid, as if he's constantly in motion and not moving as fast as he could be. When the ball is thrown, Moss has an uncanny sense of timing, and practically baits defenders into mistiming their jumps. One example. When Brady launches a deep ball down the middle of the field, you'll see Moss run almost parallel to the landing spot, maybe two or three yards away. At the last moment he'll make that one or two step slant in to the landing spot and pick the ball out of the air. Defenders who are running straight-line to keep up with Moss, get lost at the end when he slices across their path to snare the ball with his big mitts. At that point it becomes a foot race that Moss usually wins.
So far, the bad rap that has plagued Moss throughout his career – especially with the Raiders -- has not followed him to Foxboro. Once he gets on the field, I think you'll see a revitalized Randy Moss out there.
6) How's our old buddy Pepper Johnson doing up there?
JS: You have got to love Pepper. He's a guy's guy. Pepper runs the Patriots' defensive line, and he makes no bones about giving the players crap when they're not doing their jobs. Although he seems to be more of a teacher than a yeller, Pepper's competitive spirit continues to be felt throughout practices. You can see how a guy with that much passion for the game lasted as long as he did in the NFL.
Jon Scott has covered the NFL since 1995. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long time contributor to the Scout.com network. A New England native, Scott has followed the Patriots for over two decades and covered the team since 2001. You can find archives of his columns by searching for "Jon Scott"
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