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Ask PFW: Losing streak? Part II

Marquise Hill has been "Inactive" for all but a few snaps in his "Career" but with Ty Warren out for Sundays game, he's in there. And what happens, he gets a penalty for encroachment. Now I understand that with his very little experience its easy for him to jump early, but if this is how he's going to play when his number is called then I say end the "experiment" now and cut him. What is it that BB & SP see in him that he is still on the roster? Yes, there are many quality Def. linemen in front of him on the depth chart, but as we saw Sun. he's made it up to the field. Thanks for answering and keep us informed.
Gary Abrams

Dear PFW, I can't take it anymore. I have always had complete trust in Belichick and staff, but I cannot understand why they are paying with a 52-man roster. I'm talking about Marquise Hill. Why is he still here? He's only been active for two games this year, did not play for the first Jets game and if he was on the field at all for this Jets game it didn't matter. He was a second-round pick in 2004 and hasn't even started one game. Not even meaningless, end-of-season, already in the playoffs rest your starters kind of games. Has he recorded twenty tackles in his career yet? I would gladly have seen him cut and his contract money go towards keeping Willie Mac and Vinatieri (oh to see Vanderjagt still kicking for the Colts). At least we could use his money for someone who is going to play. This guy has got to go. What do you think?
Ian Kirkwood

I was somewhat surprised that Hill even made the team out of training camp. I have never seen anything from him in practice or preseason action to warrant continued work in the New England system. And I don't think the fact that he has talented players working in front of him is a valid excuse. Mike Wright finds his way onto the field, even if his role is helped by the fact that he's active on game days thanks to his roles on special teams. If you are good enough, you find your way onto the field. This week Warren was out and it would have been a perfect time for Hill to contribute. He didn't. I thought he was drafted as a young, project-type player. But I haven't seen him develop at all. That's just my opinion and I'm certainly not a coach or scout. For the record, Hill has 9 career tackles in 10 game played over his two-plus seasons in New England. Maybe the team is hoping Hill's bloodlines will kick in, as he's the cousin of former Bills Pro Bowl linebacker Cornelius Bennett.
Andy Hart

Do you feel that the Pats mismanaged the clock on their last drive. I realize that they had no timeouts, but they seemed to burn a lot of time on short routes over the middle of the field. Should Brady have spiked it at some point to re-group and stop the clock?Vince Raws

Brady had just more than a minute to work with and I think he did the best he could. Obviously the Jets were focused on taking away the routes on the sidelines and that left the middle open. Brady was forced to dump the ball off there in an effort to move into field goal range. He did spike the ball after a 19-yard gain to Reche Caldwell. The drive just didn't work out. It's not as easy to do as Brady and Co. have made it appear at times in the past. Maybe the numbers are just now evening out because I've seen this team succeed in that same situation numerous times in the past and now they've failed in consecutive weeks.
Andy Hart

This game aside I think that everybody needs to tone it down on the Laurence Maroney bandwagon. Everyone keeps talking about how great the guy is and I admit that he is good...but people want him to return kicks, punts ,catch passes, throw passes and fill in for Rodney Harrison at safety. Other than the Bengal game and a few runs against the Bills he has not done much at all at running the ball. I am not that impressed. So while some of you guys already are fitting him for his pro bowl jersey I would like to see him do something against a good run defense because so far he hasn't done much. Why does everyone think he is so great?
Craig Bennet

I think my good PFW buddy Tom Casale was one of those leading the Maroney Hall of Fame chants earlier this season. I cautioned him then not to get too far ahead of himself but he just wouldn't listen. Maroney has had a good, productive rookie season to date. He does lead the team with 495 yards rushing on a team-high 119 carries for a 4.2-yard average with three touchdowns. He had a great game against the Bengals. Since then he's been bottled up often in games. I do know one of the knocks coming out of Minnesota was that he looked for the big play a little too often and wasn't always satisfied to just take the yards that were there. You can't deny that he's got an electricity when he touches the ball whether it's on kickoffs or offense. He has the threat of taking the ball the distance at any time. But like the rest of the team, he needs to become more consistent in everything he does. He's a rookie. That should be expected. But as always we tend to jump to conclusions in New England and put the cart before the team's future horse of a running back.
Andy Hart

After wrapping up most of the Pats offensive line to contracts I felt pretty good about the future....for the running game. The pass protection, however, has a lot to live up to. They have struggled all year in protecting Brady and the Jet game was no different. It started with the first play of the season and has not improved. Injuries are not an excuse because they had been full strength most of the season until recently. I realize that Dante S. is a well respected offensive line coach, but he better start improving the Pats investment or they might lose Brady one of these times...do you guys see the same thing?Greg Davis

I think the offensive line needs to start playing better in the running and passing games. They are young, talented and have potential. But they need to start producing more. Scarnecchia has done more with less in the past, so I expect he'll whip this group into shape soon. A lot of the pass protection problems come with communication, including awareness from the quarterback. I think that has been a weakness this season. Brady has certainly taken a beating for much of the last year-plus. He's as tough and durable as any quarterback, but sooner or later that could take its toll. But I do expect this line to improve, if it doesn't that's a big problem.
Andy Hart

Is something wrong with Tom Brady? The last two games have not been like him. Interceptions, rushing passes, overthrowing, not leading receivers but throwing behind them. The offensive line bears some but not all responsibility.
Chuck Doherty

I buy the nfl package so I can see every snap of the Pats games. Am I the only person that can see that Tom Brady is not the quarterback he was. I don't want to hear about all the new receivers he has. He still has two of the best tight ends in the game and Faulk to pass to. The Pats have not had a running back this good since Martin. He throws the ball either behind or over the head of all his targets. He will end up with more interceptions than touchdowns. What is the problem- head case or bad arm? I don't feel the same about the team coming back in games that I have in the past. That feeling is due to the lack of trust I now feel in Brady.Gregory Cool

Cool down for a minute and lets look at this logically. Brady has 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions, so it's unlikely he's going to throw more picks than scores. He's clearly coming off one of the worst two-game stretches of his career. I won't pretend to know why he's struggled so much of late, but I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt to figure things out based on his track record. Does he shoulder a decent share of the blame right now? Sure. Do we go to an all-out lack of trust for Brady moving forward? No. My money says he bounces back this week with an extremely impressive game against a Green Bay pass defense that ranks near the bottom of the league. If Brady doesn't he'll be in trouble, though, because the Packers can rush the passer and have two solid corners who can make opposing quarterbacks pay for mistakes.
Andy Hart

I'm a long-time reader, but first time writer who hopes that the insiders at PFW can shed a little light on the Pats recent struggles. In all of my years reading post-game interviews of Patriots players during the Bill Belichick era, I've never read comments that would suggest the players doubted or disagreed with their coaches. However, after the Jets game, several players suggested just that. Richard Seymour said that they were "out-played and out-coached," and implied that he disagreed with the decision to rotate him with other defensive linemen. Mike Vrabel said that the team didn't adjust to what the Jets were doing offensively (which would suggest they weren't getting the right defensive plays called either on the field or by the coaches), and Logan Mankin said that they were not prepared for the amount of blitzing the Jets did. All of these comments reflect negatively on the coaches. My question, then, is what do we make of these comments? Is it safe to say the Pats have been out-coached these past two weeks? And if that is the case, how did that happen? Isn't Belichick supposed to be the best game-planning coach in the league? Yet the Pats look like they were out-coached twice and didn't look even competitive in either game. Thoughts?Leigh Jackson

Belichick may very well be the best game planning coach in football, but that doesn't mean he'll win out every week. Everyone has off weeks, gets outperformed and makes mistakes. Lets also remember that Eric Mangini knew more about the Patriots than any opposing coach and had an extra week to prepare for the second meeting of the season against his former team. That's a pretty good advantage to have. Players aren't always going to agree with what coaches do, but I know this team still has the ultimate faith in the staff to put them in position to win games. Heck, even with everything that happened in the last few weeks the Patriots had the ball with a chance to tie or win the game late. If a couple players had stepped up and made plays in those situations, maybe we wouldn't be discussing how much the team has been outcoached. Belichick is the first one to admit that he could have done a better job coaching after every loss the team has ever had. I think the bigger problem right now is a lack of players stepping up and making key plays on both sides of the ball.
Andy Hart

It seems like there are two types of Pats fans: the optimists and the alarmists, (with little in-between). One anchor on local coverage called the loss "catastrophic". Am I wrong to have seen a lot of positives in this game? Gaffney and Caldwell played very well, and Gabriel was on his way to a good game if he could have learned to just forget the fumble. Brady was also very sharp, in my opinion, minus a couple of plays where there were one too many people sprinting at him unblocked, (bad things happen). The O-line was patch-work, and easily confused. The only crippling problem with the Pats was the D-line, which played terrible all game. Given the talent on both lines, I'm optimistic it can be corrected in the near future. And lest we forget, the Jets ARE a good team. I still see us getting hot for the playoffs. I appreciate you're input. You guys seem to be the voice of reason in Patriots nation!
Will Bortolin

Apparently Will you fall in the optimist category. In fact maybe you should run for the group's presidency. While there are good things and bad in every game, I don't necessarily agree with all your positives coming off the loss to New York. I thought Brady had a bad game for the second week in a row, something he's almost never done before. Caldwell did have a solid performance, but even his tipped-touchdown catch had a great deal of luck involved. The offensive line struggled with New York's pressures. And the defense gave up too many third downs, allowed the Jets to put together long drives and just didn't make any plays. Things can be corrected and this team still has a chance to get on a roll late in the year. I don't see any dominant teams out there, so every good team has a chance to get hot and go the distance. But if the Patriots play like they did the last couple weeks – no spark, no consistency and unable to even make up for it in the end with key drives late – they won't do well. New England is now 5-10 against teams with winning records over the last two years. That's not what we are looking for and it needs to change. I think the objective evaluation right now is to say the Patriots are in the mix with some of the good, not great, teams in the league -- in the middle of the pack as Troy Brown so aptly put it. That's good enough for now. But it won't get the job done come January.
Andy Hart

If the Patriots were ever in a situation where both QBs were presently out of the lineup, who would they choose to use as their QB?John Moore

Troy Brown, who took a couple snaps in the preseason, would likely be the team's third quarterback if Brady and Matt Cassel got hurt in the same game. Just add another to his list of duties on this team. But if the injuries were between games or went beyond an emergency situation, the team would clearly go out and sign a veteran to play for the team.
Andy Hart

What's up with Patrick Pass? Where has he been?
Joe Hedglin

Pass started the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) with a foot injury. He began practicing last week, so the Patriots are in the midst of a three-week window in which the team must decide to either activate Pass, cut him or leave him on PUP/IR for the rest of the season. He is not currently on the active roster, but the team will have to make a decision on his status sometime in the next two weeks.
Andy Hart

Read Part I

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