Q1. It seems as if the New England Patriots have lost a bit of their magic. After a blowout loss in the post season a year ago and some struggles this season, can this team ever be the one that can return to Super Bowl glory?
Jon Scott: Super Bowls have eluded New England because of a number of reasons. Some of those are familiarity of an opponent in how to beat the Patriots. Since 2005 New England lost to the Jets 2010), Ravens ('09), Giants (Superbowl-‘07), Colts (‘06) and Broncos('05). Each time they met those opponents in the playoffs it was for at least the second time that season. The Giants Super Bowl was the third meeting between those clubs that season, same with the Jets. Only 2008 – the year Matt Cassel led the team – did the Patriots miss the playoffs.
I wouldn't say they lost their magic. They've been to the playoffs every year Tom Brady finished the season standing up. That's pretty impressive. I can't quite tell you what the exact problem is, because each loss was different.
Q2. So much has been said about QB Tom Brady. He has done about everything you can do in the NFL that will insure a Hall of Fame induction some day. In your opinion, is he the best of the modern day quarterbacks to play the game. And how much longer can he play at a high level?
JS: Brady has a few years left in my opinion, perhaps 4 or 5 good ones. Is he one of the best? I'd say so. Here's how I know I'm watching a great player. Scenario: the team is down by 4, the game is on the line, they haven't been a rhythm all day, their top player is out and the QB has just about a minute to score a TD with just 1 timeout or the team will lose. In New England, very few times do Patriots fans panic. When in most cities (except maybe Green Bay), you'd think the world was ending. You expect Brady to do the impossible. It's uncanny how many times he does just that. It's like watching someone flip a switch. All of a sudden receivers are getting open, making people miss the first tackle. All of a sudden the line is blocking better, or Brady sidesteps would be disaster. All ofa sudden they're at the 20 with enough time for 3 more plays. Next thing they score. As you watch the extra point sail through the uprights you're sitting there wondering if you just witnessed one of the best comebacks ever. You think back on it for a minute and recall how many times you've already seen the exact same thing from the same guy against a different team and you realize something; this wasn't' just a fluke, this guy is good, really good. No, he's great.
So yes, I think he's one of the best ever doing what he does with no superstars around him to help him do it. It's pretty amazing to watch when he's on his game.
Q3. On Monday Night the Chiefs are going to be facing an old friend, Guard Brian Waters. How has he done in a Patriots uniform?
JS: Waters has done pretty well in all the action that I've tried to watch the line play. With the exception of last week against the Jets, and perhaps one or two other times, I rarely see Waters miss a block > Last week the defender split the Guard-Tackle gap to run over Danny Woodhead and force a Patriots safety. Waters was not ready for the snap and never saw the guy coming. Throughout the rest of the game, that never happened again. He's big, savvy and capable of pancaking an unsuspecting linebacker on a sweep. I know he's nearing the end of his career, but he's been a real lifesaver for the Patriots who lost Stephen Neal to retirement this year.
Q4. Before the season the Patriots added some questionable characters. One of them Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth, was kicked off the team a few weeks ago. Has Bill Belichick gone soft by taking risks on players such as Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco?
JS: I think the Patriots were forced to take gambles on more veterans this year than in years past because of the effect of the NFL lockout. Belichick freely admitted that the team wasn't able to run the 3-4 base with this group of defenders because of the limited practice time this summer. Haynesworth was the obvious failure in free agency. He didn't necessarily play badly, it was his inconcistent effort and susceptibility to injury. The Pats have other guys with more commitment ready to take his place.
Ochocinco just isn't the WR he once was. He is not running precise routes, he's not on the same page with Brady and he didn't know the system. All three factors have contributed to his relative invisible status on the field. Until he gets his head wrapped around the playbook and commits to being on the same wavelength as Brady, I do not expect that to change. Don't' forget Mark Anderson and Andre Carter are two other guys the Patriots added. They lead the team in sacks, with Carter turning in a stellar performance last week.
Q5. With the beat down of the New York Jets a week ago, have the Patriots really turned the corner or are did they just get up for their most hated of division rivals?
JS: I think it's a little of both. The Patriots cannot stand the Jets. Actually, there's a lot of animosity toward the Jets now that Ryan has turned them into a trash-talking bunch of eogmaniacs. But they're a good team and the Patriots did exactly what they needed to knock them off in New York. The pass rush was infinitely better, the secondary was able to cover when they had to and the Pats were able to run their offense. If we see the same consistent pass rush this week, I think the pats will be in good shape.
Q6. Defeating the Chiefs on Monday night should be a layup for the New England Patriots. Do you see any way that New England could lose to Kansas City?
JS: Sure the Patriots could lose this week. I don't' think it will happen, but here's a couple things the Chiefs could do to help their cause.
- Pressure Brady up the middle – the Jets tried this and the
blitz was picked up. The Giants, Cowboys and others who were
successful didn't blitz that much, they stunted
their linemen using 4 to beat 5 (or 6).
- Take away Gronkowski's seam route – If you stop Rob Gronkowski in
one of those patented seam routes they like to run with
him, you'll force shorter throws, or Brady to take chances.
- Throw and throw often – The Patriots inability to stop teams from racking up huge numbers on offense is due to their inability to stop receivers from making plays. Even when they have coverage they do boneheaded things like run into the receiver at the goal line on an overthrown pass (Giants game).
What's your prediction for the final score?
JS: Patriots 30 – Chiefs 23
I think the patriots front four have finally figured it out. And without the need to blitz everybody just to get pressure, that should free up bodies in the secondary to force turnovers or kill drives. The Chiefs do a lot of things right, and I would have been more concerned with Matt Cassel at the helm. I just don't think Palko will be up to speed enough to get the job done.
Jon Scott covers the Patriots for PatriotsInsider.com part of the Scout.com NFL network and Fox Sports. You can follow him on twitter: @JscottNFL
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