1) What's your take of the San Diego Chargers after the blowout and did that opinion change from just one win over New England?
Shane Leketa: No my opinion has not changed about the Chargers going as LT goes. I think with the loss of Merriman and Gates not being his normal self, I think the Chargers are getting a lot more publicity after this beating. Let's look at the following categories for this game, revenge from the last two years, Chargers were against the wall and they just came more prepared to play. If it weren't for a few missed opportunities by the Patriots, I think this would have been a different outcome.
Kevin Saleeba: Despite the blowout of the Patriots, I'm still not too impressed with the Chargers. Matt Cassel had wide-open receivers all day, but he just could not find the open man for some reason. The game tells us nothing about the Chargers. All it does is show the Patriots they have a bad quarterback. To tell you the truth, I really don 't care about Chargers or what kind of team they are. This question should be stricken from the record.
LoVell Parkman: The Chargers have one of the most talented teams in the NFL. They did exactly what they should have done against New England. My opinion didn't change. A question that should be asked is was it more San Diego last week or was it more the inability and inefficiency of New England?
Jim Poore: I think San Diego is still a good team, but I think that might be about it. I don't think Norv Turner is the best coach either. If they were totally healthy, I think they might have a shot to compete for the AFC Championship. Shawn Merriman was a huge loss, and LaDainian Tomlinson still has a sore toe. Philip Rivers has turned into a very good quarterback, but he might have to do too much. I think the Chargers are one of those teams that are good enough to get to the playoffs, but they won't get very far. I think Norv Turner is a big part of that.
2) What was the biggest problem on defense against the Chargers - the scheme, the secondary or lack of pass rush (and why)?
Shane Leketa: Ummm all of the above. I think that the secondary has been suspect with a small bright spot in Meriweather and O'Neal looking about as old as he is. Here is one thing to think about though, the success or the secondary hinges on how much push the defensive line gets and how much pressure the backers get on the opposing QB. Rivers had ALL DAY to do whatever he wanted in this game. If you have this much time to throw, ANY defense will be picked apart eventually.
Kevin Saleeba: I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think the problem with the Patriots defense is that they are too old and slow. To get burned by the Chargers' no-name receivers without Chris Chambers on the field is simply embarrassing. It's almost as embarrassing as the play of #16. Scott Zolak would be rolling over in his grave if he were dead. Unfortunately for Zo, he's alive and has to witness this mess of a Patriots secondary and signal caller as well. How I long for the days of Zolak's touchdown six-shooters.
LoVell Parkman: It's hard to pick out any one area. The Patriots were out-coached by the Chargers. They were preparing to stop the rush attack and San Diego wanted to do an aerial assault on the Patriots. Not putting pressure on any quarterback and especially not getting one sack is disastrous to any defense. Even more so playing against an off-season with pro bowl talent. Do we have to mention the secondary? Maybe there will be a safety sighting on Monday night.
Jim Poore: I would have to say the defensive backs are the biggest problem, but in their defense their job is tougher with a weak pass rush. I think the defense as a whole is going to be an issue. Tedy Bruschi had zero tackles-none-in the game against the Chargers. That is not good coming from a linebacker. I still think the defensive line is overrated. They have done very little this season to make an impact. As a unit, the defense is really getting old. They are trying to incorporate younger players into the system, but it might take some time for them to have an impact. I like Bruschi, Vrabel, Seymour and Harrison, but truthfully, their isn't much tread left on those tires. And I think Adalius Thomas has been a disappointment.
3) Laurence Maroney sat out another week with a sore shoulder. Is Maroney's rapidly spreading rep for being too soft the main reason, or is it something else? What do you think the Pats need to do to get Maroney on track?
Shane Leketa: In the circle of friends that I have, I have heard terms such as "Glassman who is easily shattered", or "Lots of potential not a lot of substance" (sounds like Bethel Johnson). My personal feel is that Maroney needs to truly just run like he did while at Minnesota. He ran hard and was not trying to dance as much as he does now. Even when Maroney first came to the Patriots, he was stiff-arming and pounding defenses. He needs to get healthy to be productive and hopefully this will happen sooner than later.
Kevin Saleeba: I don't think the Patriots lose much of anything when Maroney is on the sideline. Sammy Morris is a better runner. Morris hits the holes, while Maroney dances around the line of scrimmage. He is starting to get that "soft" reputation, which is never good for a running back.
LoVell Parkman: Bench him. Its time for him to stop dancing and start hitting the hole (when there is one) and run hard between the tackles. One cut and go. Morris and Jordan are running behind the same offensive line and they do a much better yard of running. When Kevin Faulk runs harder than you, there is a problem.
Jim Poore: I have said this before and I will say it again....Moroney is a total bust. He was a bad first round pick, and he hasn't worked out at all. He dances around too much, and as we have all seen by now, he is always hurt. I don't know if there is anything the team can do at this point. I don't know if there is a cure for softness. I don't know how much longer he has on his contract, but I will be stunned if the team resigns him. It isn't a coincidence that the team brought in Sammy Morris ( last year ) and Lamont Jordan this year. Get used to seeing the both of them.
4) What do you expect to happen in Foxboro Monday Night against the Denver Broncos?
Shane Leketa: I think that if the defensive line gets no pressure on Cutler, then he is going to torch this defensive secondary and we may see Chargers/Patriots II. With the offensive line and the talented wide receiver in Marshall, I think this is not going to be pretty. There has to be penetration by Wilfork, Warren or Seymour point blank. That is going to be the success of this team on Monday night. If this does not happen, look for a long night again in Foxboro.
Kevin Saleeba: The Broncos have the second to worst passing defense in the league. Unfortunately Tom Brady just received his second knee surgery in a week. So expect Matt Cassel to run around like a chicken with his head cut off not hitting the open receivers. The Patriots lose on Monday night. So sad! This season never had to be like this. This season has been painful to watch and Monday night will be another bloodbath at Matt Cassel's expense. "YOU HAVE GUYS OPEN MATT! THROW THE BLEEPING BALL!"
LoVell Parkman: I expect Cassel to once again run the offense ineffectively. I expect Josh McDaniels' game plan and in-game play calling to once again lack imagination and creativity and not be effective again. I also expect for the Broncos offensive especially the passing game to give the Patriot defense nightmares.
Jim Poore: The Patriots looked awful against the Chargers, and the last time they looked awful, they bounced back with a pretty good game. The Broncos aren't the 49ers though. The Patriots really need a win, and when teams need a win they usually do well. However, I don't know if the Patriots can pull this one out. Yes, they are at home, but I think their secondary is too shattered and exposed. If there is one thing the Broncos can do this year it is throw. And they will be doing a lot of it. Oh yeah. Matt Cassel is playing quarterback for the Patriots. That is all we need to know.
5) Do you think Matt Cassel Can Get It Done - not only on Monday night but be the quarterback to lead the team the rest of the season? If not Cassel, then who? Who else is there?
Shane Leketa: Look, the popular answers in New England media outlets are to put O'Connell in or go get a veteran to fill in but, Belichick will not defer from the plan in keeping Cassel in there. I was looking at some of the stats when Brady first started also and they are not too far from the numbers Cassel is putting up. I know, I know Cassel is definitely not Tom Terrific but, give him some time, he may surprise some people. The only reason Matt would sit on the pine is, if the season is over and they are out of everything or injury.
Kevin Saleeba: This is a no-brainer! For those who have not paid attention to my rants, absolutely not! I hope I'm wrong, but he's the second coming of Tommy Hodson. He is a terrible quarterback. He was a backup for a reason and now everyone can see it. There has to be a Jeff Garcia-type out there the Pats could trade to get from another team. This team still has the potential to something in the playoffs. Call up Bledsoe or Flutie! I'll even take a 50-year-old Steve Grogan over Cassel! Zolak, throw on the pads and dust off those six-shooters, Patriots Nation needs you!!!
LoVell Parkman: Tom Brady is not walking through that door ladies and gentleman. The Patriots have NO SHOT to win the Super Bowl. Parity? HAH. The Patriots if the moon and sun are aligned right and other teams beat themselves are at the very best a one and done playoff team. The way Cassel is playing the Patriots would be lucky to finish the season 8-8. He cant miss open receivers constantly, he cant run into pressure when his first option is covered and it some point maybe he could read Quarterbacking 101 for dummies and get a clue on how to actually play quarterback since he cant read defenses either. And you wonder why he is a career backup.
Jim Poore: Matt Cassel is awful, and I am getting tired of saying it. He is not the answer now, or ever. I certainly don't dislike him personally, but he can't play quarterback at the professional level. As for what the Patriots can or will do, the answer is pretty obvious: nothing. Everybody's favorite genius Bill Belichick has already given Cassel his endorsement. I can understand Belichick not ripping the guy, but again, I think his arrogance and pride are getting in the way here. He refuses to even look at another option. I think it is too late in the season to get another veteran, and the only reasonable alternative is Kevin O'Connell, and Belichick is not going to go there. I guess I can appreciate the head coach going down with the team because of the decisions that he makes. We are stuck with Cassel for the rest of the year.