Dan Leberfeld of Jets Confidential, asked Patriots Insider Jon Scott ten questions about New England for this week's matchup. Here is the first five questions covering the Patriots Offense. Don't miss the other three parts including Dan's take on the state of the Jets.
1) Is Tom Brady back to being Tom Brady?
Jon Scott: Brady is nearly back to his old self. To put it into statistics, he just finished throwing for four consecutive 300-yard games for the first time in his career. He has five on the season. To put it in perspective, Brady had either 300-yard games in 2007, the best year of his career. That season Brady managed 300.4 yards per game. In 2009 Brady is averaging 304.3 yards per game. I'd say he's back. We'll see if he can avoid the blitz against the Jets this week, and that will tell us if he's been able to shake the rust he showed earlier in the year, off completely.
JS: The pair continue to give Tom Brady the best options downfield, similar to the record-setting 2007 season all three had. Welker is averaging over 9 receptions per game, well ahead of the 7 rec. per game he had with Brady in 2007 when he set a career-best 112 catch performance. Despite missing two games to injury, and limited by a knee injury earlier in the season, Welker's per game average has risen to nearly 95 yards per game up from just over 73 yards per game that year. Moss has been just as dangerous catching the ball, despite falling off his touchdown record-setting pace form '07. Through 9 games, Moss has averaged 99 yards per game, second only to his career best 2003 season with the Minnesota Vikings. Though Moss managed 25 TDs that year, he was Brady's primary target in the red zone. This year, Moss has 7 TDs, tied for third in the league with 7 TDs, just one behind Larry Fitzgerald and Reggie Wayne's 8 TDs.
To say they're all back, may be early, but at the midway point, they all appear to be in 2007 form.
JS: Bill Belichick mentioned Vollmer by name when praising the job the young guys have done stepping in for injured veterans. Vollmer was selected to be the tackle of the future with Light approaching the twilight of his career. Few imagined it might be this soon though. The Patriots best combination of blockers may be to have Light and Vollmer both in the lineup at the same time, pushing RT Nick Kaczur back to the bench. Kaczur, a third round pick out of Toledo in 2005. Kaczur had his worst performance of the season, giving up two sacks to Robert Mathis against the Colts last week. Light should get his job back if he's healthy, the Patriots are paying him too much to sit, and Light hasn't lost that much from his peak blocking
4) What are your thoughts on the Patriots 2009 running game?
JS: The big weakness of the Patriots offense is their running game. Despite working on building a better line, the backs haven't been able to turn in big numbers, mainly because they're getting hit close to the line of scrimmage as defenses zeroed in on Laurence Maroney. Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris have missed over half the games the Patriots have played, affecting New England's ability to pound the football. Maroney isn't a "bad" running back, but he has yet to show he was worthy of the first round draft status he received in 2006 He is averaging over 4 yards per carry, but less than 50 yards per game.
If New England would focus on the run, they might be able to improve the statistic. The key for the Patriots is being able to gain a yard when they need it on the ground. Morris and Taylor were the workhorses in that aspect, Maroney "dances" too much to be considered a tough inside runner. Yet despite all the struggles Maroney has had, the team remains in the middle of the pack (15th overall) rushing for 114 yards per game.
5) What kind of impact has former Jets tight end Chris Baker had in New England?
JS: When we first saw Baker, he was having tremendous success against opposing defenses as a pass receiver. Since then, Bake has moved back to more of a run blocking tight end, allowing the Patriots to send Ben Watson out in the pattern. Watson is far more athletic, (read dangerous) as a receiver than Baker, though Baker has shown he can score. The Ad-lib play Baker made against the Falcons, allowed Brady to hit him down the deep sideline for a 36-yard score.
Is Baker a good replacement for Daniel Graham -- one of the best all round tight ends the team has had in the past decade? Probably not. But he can catch and he can block well, which is much more than what the Patriots had with David Thomas or some of the tight ends they traded for (Alex Smith - Buccaneers; Michael Matthews - Giants).
Hot Topic: Patriots-Jets: Official Game Thread Week 11