Behind Enemy Lines: Part 2

Patriots Insider analyst Jon Scott takes another look at the NFL's most talked about team, New England.

Will Richard Seymour play this week? Any other injury concerns -- and what is the impact?

Seymour began practicing for the first time on Wednesday. He's been nursing a knee injury that kept him out of training camp and all through the first part of the season. He's running around in half pads half sweats, so it doesn't appear he's totally ready to return. I'd be more confident in the assumption he'll be back for the Indianapolis game than this one, but anything's possible.

Sammy Morris is still out with a chest injury. Speculation around here is that he may miss about a month before he can return. That's really a shame because Morris is a much more impressive runner than Laurence Maroney in between the tackles. Maroney has been limited capacity a groin injury. He only participated in the first half last week.

Why is the Patriots' defense playing so well?

Why are they good? Because the offense makes the opposition one-dimensional. Really that's the story. Teams have been able to move the ball on the Patriots. And aside from some young opposing signal caller's mistakes, these games could have been a lot closer than they were. The Cleveland game was a 7-point game before a critical interception that allowed the Patriots to blow the game wide open. Same thing with the Dallas game. When teams fall behind they are forced to pass. When that happens, the Patriots' defense has the ability cause havoc in the backfield. The game then starts to spiral out of control because the team may not turn the ball over, but they punt and it gives the ball back to Brady and crew who have proven they can just take it and march down the field for another score. So teams are taking more chances to try to keep up. It's interesting to see the pressure get dialed up as the Patriots realize more passing plays are being called.

Where are the holes defensively?

Rush defense has been one area I've been writing about for a long time. The Patriots struggled with it against some of the better teams last year, and there's a hangover this year with it. The hole is covered up because, as I mentioned earlier, teams fall too far behind to try to run the ball, or they think they can matchup well with their passing attacks. Miami and Dallas both ran for 6 or more yards per carry. Against a good team that's keeping it close, the Patriots could be in for a real dogfight.

What kind of impact has Adalius Thomas made?

Thomas is more of an all around fix for the team. After years of struggling with finding an inside linebacker who could replace Ted Johnson, yet not be a liability in the passing game, the Patriots found their man in Thomas. Too many times the Patriots defense was exploited with big holes in the middle due to aging veterans, raw newcomers, or incompatible free agents. Having Thomas available makes it easier for the Patriots to swap out Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau in obvious passing situations. Ironically, it's the older Seau who is better in pass defense. Having Thomas next to him, keeps that stout body in the middle to protect against draw plays.

The press on Thomas was that he was big and unbelievably fast for a man his size. That has proven true. Imagine a270-pound linebacker running like a string safety and you have the perfect image of Thomas. For a team that is notoriously frugal with their wallet, Thomas proven to be worth the money they paid to get him.

Do the Redskins have any chance?

Certainly they have a chance because I firmly believe anything can happen on any given Sunday. Take one look at the Miami game in 2006 when the Dolphins shut out the Patriots 21-0, and you can tell it's possible to take advantage of a really bad outing by Tom Brady. I'm not expecting that to happen this week, but it's possible.


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