1)What is your assessment of the Patriots offensive line - Brady took a lot of hits in the opener and preseason.
Jon Scott: Great question. One of the hot topics no one here is that no one wants to critique is the play of the offensive line in New England. Though they're supposedly a bunch of former pro bowlers, in my opinion they have major issues. As one NFL scout told me it's a bunch of guys bubble-gummed together by (Patriots offensive line coach) Dante Scarnecchia, one of the best coaches in the NFL. He can take a bunch of scrubs and turn them into an offensive line. The implication was that New England's group of starters is hardly a starting offensive line, but a bunch of guys coupled together to protect Tom Brady. I'm giving them a little more credit than that, but I sill know they have issues protecting Brady. The anchors are not anchors, and Brady's phenomenal quick release makes these guys look better than they really are. It's one reason the team drafted Sebastian Vollmer in the second round this year..
2) How far is Brady from the injury based on the first game?
Scott: Brady's knee seems to be holding up well. He showed some mobility in the first game as well as in the preseason. It would be fair to say he has also shown signs of rust after not playing all last season. Some of his throws aren't on target, and his footwork is part of the reason. He's not playing poorly, he just looks like he is isn't truly comfortable yet.
3) Do you think Bill Belichick got rid of too many core players on defense this off-season and summer - the defense didn't look very good in the opener?
Scott: That's probably a fair assessment. Though I think the loss of Tedy Bruschi wasn't expected. The team lacks depth at the linebacker position and that is something they could have - and probably should have - addressed via free agency. Losing Tyrone McKenzie to a knee injury in minicamp only compounded the issue. Also, the trade of Richard Seymour to Oakland makes sense from a financial standpoint, but realistically the team took a big time player off the roster and didn't replace him. They're already missing him.
4) How big a loss is Jerrod Mayo?
Scott: I'm not buying the company line that other guys will step up. The team was already thin at the position after cutting Vinny Ciurciu and Paris Lenon during roster cuts. Add in Bruschi's retirement and you have a big hole in the middle. The defense now has only a backup - Gary Guyton - left in the interior and they're asking him to take over the defense. Guyton went undrafted last year. He's fast and he can hit, but he has a long way to go to be in Mayo's category.
5) What is your assessment of Larry Izzo - I'm not seeing it?
Scott: I've always thought Izzo can be a very good special teams contributor and an average linebacker. He isn't big enough to play man in the middle of the defense, but he's fearless. Izzo's contributions come more from a team chemistry and leadership position than a big playmaker on defense. If the Jets special teams lacked consistency or leadership, Izzo can be that guy. He's football smart, even playing the role of quarterback when the defense lines up in front seven drills.
Don't miss Part One where Dan addressed Jets issues:.Behind Enemy Lines: Patriots vs. Jets I