Part 1 with Jon Scott, Pats Insider

Here is Part 1 of Dan Leberfeld's interview with Patriots Insider Jon Scott, who gives us some great insights into what is going on with New England's football team.

1) Was the hit on Tom Brady by Bernard Pollard a cheap shot?

Jon Scott: The hit on Brady was a football play that you can't really blame Pollard for doing the damage. Moss and Wilfork think it was a shot he should get punished for, and I'm in that camp. I'm not buying the official version, at least not based what I can see on tape. Pollard went low against the running back Sammy Morris, which is how he got past him in the first place. After cutting Morris down, Pollard launched at Brady from his knees… The only place he could have hit him was in the legs… I don't think he intended to cripple Brady, but he sure meant to go after the legs, which is a violation.


2) What kind of season do you think the Patriots can have with Matt Cassel at quarterback?

Jon Scott:The season is a great unknown for the first time in a long time. The year after the Patriots won Super Bowl XVI, they failed to make the playoffs. They went 9-7 after some roster changes, and the games were close. After winning the first couple game handily, they went on a 4-game losing streak that was enough to knock them out of a tiebreaker at the end. I think something similar is about to happen to them again. Cassel hasn't looked good despite the public position of support the team has thrown behind him. I have thought sine he's been in Foxboro, Cassel was going to grow into a Brady clone, and he very well might, but not based on what we saw during camp or the preseason.


3)We all know how great Randy Moss and Wes Welker are, but with the departure of Dante Stallworth, how good are the Patriots receivers after them?

Jon Scott: Stallworth had a bunch of talent that didn't always get utilized. He also had a tendency to drop a pass here or there. The good part that will be missed is the speed he brought. The Patriots had that with Chad Jackson, but they opted to give up on the former Florida Gator.

I'm not sure it's fair to say the rest of the receivers are good, but I think fans will be pleased with Jabar Gaffney as the team's No. 3 and Kelley Washington as the No. 4. Remember Gaffney was the top receiver in the Patriots 2006 postseason run, having a big game against the Jets that year. It was the same year the Patriots had Reche Caldwell lead the team in receiving. I think the other receivers - converted safety Ray Ventrone and special teamer C.J. Jones -- will add to the mix with Jones bringing some playmaking ability in the return game as well.


4) The offensive line was awful in the Super Bowl. Was that an aberration, or are their issues up front?

Jon Scott:We've been debating whether it was a performance issue or a scheme issue that made the Patriots line look horrible against the Giants. The line had troubles in other games as well, not just the Super Bowl. The best conclusion seems to be a combination of both. I don't think you'll see the same scheme very long if Matt Cassel starts to get hit a lot. And if you do, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels better start preparing his resume.

The current line has a lot of health issues with starting guard Stephen Neal out (As he was in the Super Bowl), top backup Russ Hochstein sidelined by a groin issue and starting left tackle Matt Light fighting an unknown condition that kept him out of most of the preseason. Starting right tackle Nick Kaczur had a drug dependency issue that he may still be fighting. So the only healthy normal linemen are center Dan Koppen and left guard Logan Mankins. That spells trouble.


5) How far away from contributing is Kevin O'Connell, and do you think he's the quarterback of the future?

Jon Scott: I like O'Connell, but I think the Patriots would be crazy or desperate to throw him into the mix. He doesn't run the offense the same way the other quarterbacks - he uses his feet a lot more. O'Connell has a lot of mobility which allows him to escape pressure. The problem is he has limited downfield vision right now, and will need a while before he can fully guide the team in this offense. Chucking the ball up to Randy Moss a half dozen times a game is not the answer. There are some good things O'Connell brings, and he actually looked pretty solid in the preseason. I think he's still behind Matt Gutierrez as a QB, and we've still got a ways to go to see how he performs against the opponent's top players. O'Connell only played against the second and third string units in preseason.

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Jon Scott has covered the NFL since 1995, and is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider and Comcast SportsNet New England. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA), Jon has been a guest analyst on the NFL Network, Sporting News Radio, ESPN Radio and other outlets around the web.


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