1) Tom Brady is on pace to finish with career-worst stats in completion percentage and passer rating; is the primarily due to his inexperienced receiving corps or is Brady largely to blame?
Jon Scott: Absolutely. This is
all about Brady trying to force the ball into situations that aren't
appropriate for the ball. The Patriots have neglected the
game-changing offensive weapons for a long time at WR. To be
honest, it's a blight on the scouting department that they can't find a
WR who can catch the ball and understand the Patriots
offense. Losing Wes Welker in the offseason has completely
changed the offense. The personnel dept shoulder the blame on the
ineffectiveness of the offense by trying to build a complete receiving
corps in one year with rookies who have trouble running the proper
routes or catching the ball.
2) Rob Gronkowski made his season debut last Sunday; was he
the same Gronk he's always been or could you sense some rust?
JS: Gronk is a bit rusty. As you saw, he
had one play right over the middle that would have been huge for the
Patriots scoring opportunity, but he tried to one hand it and dropped
it. Normally he has no trouble latching onto those types of
3) Is there any rhyme or reason to the way the Patriots use their
JS: The team tries to put players
into formations that will give them flexibility against certain
defenses. Blount is more of a short yardage back, while
Brandon Bolden is a bit of a third down option with Shane Vereen
sidelined. Steven Ridley is the main back, but fumbling
issues have been his ticket to the bench, and even the doghouse this
4) Is the defense headed for a tumble after the losses of
Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo?
JS: The defense has big holes up the front
without their two captains. Tommy Kelly is another player the
team is having trouble trying to replace. Nothing like
ripping out the middle of your defense and trying to plug in players
who have little to no experience.. The team is ranked 31st
against the run, a large part of the problem is the absence of that
5) How has former Dolphins linebacker Rob Ninkovich become
such an important piece on the New England defense?
JS: Ninkovich has been to New England's
defense in recent years what former Steelers LB Mike Vrabel has been in
the past. He's playing the outside edge contain, with a bit
of pass rusher mixed in. The Patriots have relied on his ability to
diagnose opponents and get into the right position, something he's been
more consistent at than others who have tried to play same
position. Ninkovich has moved between OLB in a 3-4 defense to
a DE when the team lines up as a 4-3 unit. His flexibility is
what makes him so special.
6) Just how valuable has cornerback Aqib Talib been to the
Pats defense this season?
JS: With Talib in the lineup, the Patriots
have been able to shut down Jimmy Graham and A.J. Green, without him,
the team has struggled to contain average quarterbacks like Geno Smith
of the Jets (last week). He's rapidly become the team's top
cover corner. He has the size and range to do what's needed when
covering some of the game's bigger, more physical receivers.
Don't miss Part 1 Dolphins
Behind Enemy Lines: Pats - Dolphins Part 2
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