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Ask PFW: Miami Meltdown

Hi Guys, what do Ben Watson, Corey Dillon, Reche Caldwell & Doug Gabriel have in common? They all take lessons on how to carry a football from Kevin Faulk. I am sorry to be critical but honestly Ben Watson's now makes me as nervous when he has the football in his hands as Faulk does, the only difference being that Faulk usually fumbles the ball inside the Patriots red zone & Watson fumbles it inside the opponents red zone. Thank God for Tom Brady although he has had interceptions, but if anybody could hold on to a football on this offense, they could actually be a very nice offense. Nothing seems to be helping either, we see what this offense can do in Minnesota & Green Bay…come on guys tuck the ball away.Mark Pavkov

The Vikings, Packers and everyone else in the NFC North play a Cover 2 scheme on defense. That defense is outdated and Taylor-made for Tom Brady. They hardly ever blitz and their corners play back off the receivers. The Jets and Dolphins showed in order to have a chance against the Patriots teams need to be aggressive on defense and rattle Brady. That's why the Colts and most teams in the NFC have trouble stopping them. They run that overrated defense that isn't physical. See how well it's working for the Colts?

I don't have an answer for you on the fumbles. The team has been working on the problem like they always do but they keep putting the football on the ground. If they don't correct this problem soon, the Patriots won't be around long once the playoffs start. It's that simple.
-Tom Casale

What kind of coverage is it that the Dolphins run to shut down the Patriots receivers? Are they playing them tight and bumping them at the line of scrimmage? I used to think that the reason they covered so well was because they had Madison and Surtain at the corners. Without them, I'm starting to think it's a schematic thing.Jeff H

Like I said above, the Dolphins are a physical, aggressive defense. Teams like the Vikings that play their corners 10-yards off receivers and never send pressure have no chance to stop Tom Brady. All the Dolphin players said after the game that the only way to beat the Patriots is to hit Brady and take him out of his comfort zone. Defenses that just sit back and wait for him to make a mistake are wasting their time. The Dolphins have a good pass rush, mix in blitzes and are physical with the Patriots receivers. That's the best way to play against a great quarterback like Brady. It won't work every time but at least that style of play gives a team a chance to be successful. Whatever the Vikings and Packers were doing wouldn't work against the Patriots if they played 100 times. I guess that's why the NFC North is such a great division.
-Tom Casale

I know that Ken Walter is the vet here and has more experience, but the Pats need to bring in Baugher to be the punter. I saw him play last year at Arizona and had he not gotten hurt and been out for the last 4 games he would have won the Ray Guy award. He has a huge leg and the Pats have had good luck with Arizona punters lately (for good reason since Arizona punts so much)...What do you think? Have you seen Baugher practice at all?Shaun Kelley

I got news for you Shawn, we may be seeing your boy Baugher sooner than you think. After Ken Walter's miserable performance in Miami, he has to be on thin ice. I'm not going to pretend I know the life story of Danny Baugher but you could probably get a high school kid to net 29 yards per punt. Walter needs to step up his game because his poor punting hurt the Patriots last week in a low scoring game where field position was important.
-Tom Casale

IT'S BAD ENOUGH THAT THE PATRIOT'S DBS ARE A BUNCH OF MIDGETS. SO NOW ANOTHER ONE!!! I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT OF ALL THE AVAILABLE DBS OUT THERE, THEY COULDN'T FIND ONE TALLER THAN 5'7''. AT LEAST 5-6 TIMES ALREADY THIS YEAR, TALLER OPPONENT WO'S HAVE TAKEN A PASS AWAY FROM PATIOT DBS.JOHN CONNERS

PLEASE DON'T SEND IN E-MAILS THAT ARE TYPED IN ALL CAPS. IF YOU ARE TOO LAZY TO HIT THE CAP BUTTON, THEY USUALLY JUST GET DELETED. READING THIS ANSWER, HOPEFULLY YOU CAN SEE HOW ANNOYING THIS IS TO READ. ALSO, WHEN YOU SAY "ALL THE AVAILABLE DB'S OUT THERE," WHO ARE YOU REFERRING TO? ERIC WARFIELD? HE'S TALL. WANT HIM BACK?
-TOM CASALE

YOU PEOPLE STINK! SAY GOOD BYE TO YOUR DIVISION.WHAT A TOTAL WASTE. GET READY TO TAKE A BACK SEAT. JUST ONE OF MANY FANS WHO IS MAD!BOB JERRIER

BOB, I KNOW YOU ARE SO MADE YOU HAD TO USE ALL CAPS TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS BUT WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU DON'T NEED TO ADD EXCLAMATION POINTS AS WELL. I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE UPSET OVER THE LOSS IN MIAMI. HOWEVER, DO YOU THINK THE BEST WAY TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IS WRITING AN E-MAIL TO THE TEAM YOU LIKE IN ALL CAPS TELLING THEM THEY SUCK AND THEY'RE A TOTAL WASTE? ANYWAY, NOW YOU ARE ON THE TEAM'S OFFICIAL WEB SITE SO INSTEAD OF JUST TELLING ME HOW YOU FEEL, NOW YOU CAN TELL THE WORLD. MAYBE NEXT TIME YOU'LL ACTUALLY PUT SOME THOUGHT INTO AN E-MAIL BEFORE YOU SEND IT OUT!
-TOM CASALE

Kevin Faulk seems to get a lot of negative comments from Patriots fans. Did anyone notice the role he played in the victory over the Lions? Brady counts on him when nothing else is open, maybe the fans should back off a bit.Brian Smith

I've been a big supporter of Faulk ever since I came here. I think he not only does a lot of things to help the Patriots win, he does them very well. However, his one weakness is putting the ball on the ground and that's frustrating. I think Patriots fans give him a lot of heat because they have to hold their breath every time he touches the ball. While I certainly understand their concerns, I still think Faulk is a heck of an all-around football player.
-Tom Casale

Hey guys, I'm a long time reader. I am always entertained! Hey why isn't Troy getting more national attention for being the "unbelievable", I mean how many successful 2-way players are out there? I know he isn't having a "pro-bowl" season at either position but he has been more than adequate! I think unselfish and very good football players like Troy should be given his due, nationally. You are the Man Troy! Thanks Guys, Happy Holidays.Matt Rea

You're right Matt, Brown isn't heading to the Pro Bowl and he shouldn't at this point in his career. However, he is a very important part of this Patriots team and has been for years. You want to know why he doesn't get more media attention? Okay, I'll give it a shot. Here are my reasons:

  1. He has too much class.
  2. He doesn't hold court with the media every week throwing his teammates under the bus.
  3. He doesn't question his quarterback's manhood.
  4. He didn't write a meaningless book with his own name in the title.
  5. He didn't give himself a cool nickname like T.B.
  6. He doesn't do funky end zone dances when he scores.
  7. He cares more about his team's success than his own personal numbers.
  8. He doesn't complain publicly when he isn't getting the football thrown his way.
  9. He isn't sitting down with Michael Irvin every other week crying about how his teammates and coaches don't respect him.
  10. He doesn't yell and scream at his teammates and coaches on the sidelines so cameras can pick it up and lead off Sportscenter with the footage of him having another "blowup."

That's all I can come up with right now. If Troy can change and follow those 10 steps above, I'm sure ESPN will be all over him.
-Tom Casale

I just wanted to thank the pats offense for rolling over and playing dead against the dolphins. I was so close to sending in my $530 for potential playoff games, whew that was close. Now I can go x-mas shopping instead. Not since the Toney Eason days have I seen such a complete offensive breakdown. The end of an era. Thanks for the ride, it was fun.Steven Bean

That's what I love most about some New England fans. They never overreact after one loss. Hey, the Patriots played like garbage in Miami, no doubt about it. But the end of an era? Thanks for the ride it was fun? I love it. You guys are classic.
-Tom Casale

What a lousy game! The O-line was one of few bright spots in previous games but not today. I believe the worst offender was Matt the turnstile Light. Jason Taylor ate his lunch. The only bright spot I see out of this was it was only one game but all phases of the game were bad.Charlie Myers

Did I miss something? The offensive line has been a bright spot this year? When? I would say the offensive line has been the most disappointing part of this team. They've been very inconsistent, despite being healthy for most of the season. Yeah, they had a bad game in Miami but that wasn't the first time this year that unit has played poorly.

I know Light is everyone's whipping boy this week and he did struggle against Jason Taylor. However, he wasn't the only one blocking him. Nick Kaczur didn't do any better when Taylor lined up against him. I think the entire line played awful but Light's performance gets magnified because he is matched up with Taylor the most. Matt Roth, Kevin Carter, Vonnie Holliday and numerous blitzers were in Brady's face all day long as well. Light wasn't blocking all of those guys. I'm not defending Light's play, I'm just saying let's not single him out. The entire offense played terrible.
-Tom Casale

Somebody please ask Coach WHY his Offensive Coordinator is not playing to the team's strengths. The Patriots have been running all over the Dolphins ALL DAY long, but just when they get the momentum going in their favor "the KID" offensive coordinator calls a pass play that is doomed from the start. Why can't they run it 8 times in a row and then go for a big pass down the middle? Two runs, one pass is a recipe for punting on forth down... JOSH "the Kid" needs to go... run him out of town, demote him, I don't care... Just get an offensive coordinator in the game who has been paying attention. This season has been the last straw for this guy.Fred Moakley

So you don't want the Patriots to throw the football anymore? New England ran the ball 25 times against Miami and threw it 25 times. I'm not good at math but isn't that pretty good balance? So you want them to run it 49 times and pass it once? Plus, how can they run it eight times in a row like you suggest? Corey Dillon can't stay on the field that long. I counted on Sunday and the longest he was on the field for any one time was four plays before he took himself out. I would argue that the running game has been going downhill for the past month. You want them to run the ball but they aren't getting a lot of long gains from their running backs. Teams can't move down the field at three yards per at a time. If they kept running the ball and got shutout, fans would say the Patriots are being too conservative. Bottom line is they ran just as many times as they threw it and what did it get them? A big goose egg on the scoreboard, that's what.
-Tom Casale

Okay I am more righting to you (during the game by the way) to see if you agree with me. Any Pats fan knows that fumbles and INTs are the offenses fault, but what the heck is going on with the REFS during these games. Like Jason Taylor hitting Brady late on several times and not getting the call, or when Dillon was hit out of bounds and we didn't get a call. So when we are on defense and the QB trips over our player on the ground we get a flag for that. Know I know the turnovers are our guys fault but when are the Refs gonna call a game fair this year and you can't tell that the Phins game was the only one that was bad because there was the colts, Denver and the few other games that I also question. In point of fact I would just like to add that maybe somewhere down deep that the refs are truly being paid to cost the Patriots. I am an upset fan please try to help me cool off by telling me I am wrong but I don't think I am on the Refs being bad.Donald Chisholm

First let me say that referees make bad calls in every game and that roughing the passer penalty on Vince Wilfork was one of them. However, if there was ever a game you can't blame on officiating, this was it. The Patriots got whooped. They got whooped in every phase of the game. They got whooped physically, on both offense and defense. I understand there was a questionable call or two but if you think it would of made any difference on Sunday, you were watching a different game than I was.
-Tom Casale

We should have scouts across the country looking for some defensive help-what with all the injuries and all. You never know from game to game who will be around for the next game, that's what the game has come to now. Each team needs to have depth in all areas of the game. Just thought I would get my two cents in-Kick Butt Patriots!!! Lets make sure Peyton Manning doesn't get to the Big game this year-and WE DO!!! Take care.Wayne Taralson

Wayne, I'm pretty sure that's what the Patriots scouts are doing on a daily basis. They are always looking for players to bring in and make the team better, you don't have to worry about that. You also don't have to worry about the Colts winning the Super Bowl with the way they're playing right now. Unfortunately, the flips side of that is the same thing can be said about the Patriots.
-Tom Casale

In yesterday's game, Miami's Chambers went down with an injury with under 2 minutes left in the 1st half. The referees charged Miami with a timeout because it was in the last 2 minutes of the half. Chambers was then the intended recipient of a pass on the very next play. My question is I thought if a player was injured they had to leave for at least 1 play? Is it because Miami was charged with a timeout that Chambers could play the next play?Trevor Mouland

You're correct Trevor. Because the Dolphins were charged a timeout, Chambers didn't have to sit out a play. If that happened with 10:00 to go and Miami didn't use a timeout, he would have had to sit out one play. That's why when a starting quarterback gets his bell rung in a crucial time of the game, the team may call a timeout so he doesn't have to miss a play.
-Tom Casale

I was reading some post-game quotes from the Pats, I think it was Heath Evans, who said that they did not do a good job on executing the offense in the red zone, however, I don't think the Pats ever crossed the opponents 30 yard line, never mind getting in the red zone. Am I correct, and if so are there any stats to show whether that has ever happened before? Second, how would your rate Bruschi's play this year? To me, he seems incapable of covering the pass, and he just has not made many big plays. Has he lost a step?Ken Nota

The Patriots deepest penetration of the afternoon was the Miami 38-yard line. Red zone? (Jim Mora voice) Red zone? He's talking about red zone? I'm just hoping we can get in field goal range.

I also agree with your assessment of Bruschi, unfortunately. He is having a lot of trouble in coverage. You can throw the football over the middle on the Patriots and teams know it. Even a quarterback like Chad Pennington was killing the Patriots with short throws in the middle of the field. Bruschi is getting older and while he's still a good player, I would agree that he looks a step slower, especially in pass coverage.
-Tom Casale

Don Davis going down is particularly disconcerting. MLB was already the thinnest position on this team at the start of the year, and Davis is at least the third of them to go on IR (including preseason). What happens if Bruschi or Vrabel get hurt? Do you think the front office is considering bringing Beisel back?Will Bortolin

The Patriots would be in big trouble if either Bruschi or Vrabel went down because like you said, they are extremely thin at inside linebacker. Monty Beisel is currently on the Cardinals and even if he weren't, the only reason to bring him back would be if the Patriots were trying to get a better draft pick.
-Tom Casale

Hey guys good stuff as always. After 14 weeks how do you guys feel about James Sanders, going into the playoffs as well as next season?Michael Destefano

I like Sanders and think he's been doing a good job filling in at safety. People will point to the Broncos game where he gave up a touchdown. However, if we are going to judge safeties on one bad game, Roy Williams would have been out of the league a long time ago. Coverage isn't Sanders strength but I think he's been solid in that area and he's done a good job of coming up and making tackles in the running game. Maybe it's just because I like physical, hard-hitting safeties but I think Sanders is one of the best young players on this team.
-Tom Casale

The Pats defensive line gets lots of kudos for their play, and deservedly so...They start three first round picks. They are really good. But these guys don't seem to get much pressure on the QB. Please don't tell me that they are not supposed to in the Pats system. What coach doesn't want to get pressure on the QB from the DL? The Pats linebackers sure the heck aren't getting any pressure and they rarely try a safety or corner blitz. Should the Pats be running a 4-3? Why can the Bills and Dolphins blitz the heck out them, but the Pats can't do the same back? Are they too slow? Not athletic enough? There was no running threat really against the Dolphins so why not take more chances against the pass? Joey Harrington makes mistakes when he is blitzed. Maybe that's why they had no turnovers.Larry Vincent

I can't argue with you Larry, you're 100 percent right. The Patriots have been very inconsistent when it comes to getting pressure on the quarterback this year, especially against weaker offensive lines they should dominate. I think the defensive line has done a good job but Patriots aren't getting much from their outside edge rushers. A lot of people want a MLB, CB or WR in the first round of the draft. Not me. I want a pass rushing outside linebacker who can do some of the things Willie McGinest used to do for this team. Also, Adalius Thomas from the Ravens is scheduled to be a free agent. Granted, he could sign an extension and never hit the open market but if he does, I would be all over him like a cheap suit if I were the Patriots. The defensive line is fine, although the linebacker position needs to be upgraded this offseason in my opinion.
-Tom Casale

This message is for Tom Brady...Hey Tom, after watching your pathetic performance yesterday, ever consider retirement??? Because getting shut out isn't gonna get you far dude. GO FINS!Chris Barker

Well Chris, neither will having Joey Harrington as your starting quarterback. Hey, how's Drew Brees been doing for you guys this year? Oh, that's right. Yet another great decision by the Dolphins front office. I guess that's why Miami hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1973. That was 33 years ago for those of you who are counting. And if you are counting, Brady has three Super Bowl rings and Dan Manning…I mean Marino, had none. Leave it to a Dolphins fan to think their joke of a season (remember they were going to the Super bowl in August?) can be erased with one win. We'll try and get that Brady character straightened out and you keep living off that undefeated season. I remember the 70s. Weren't the Raiders good then? Wait, why am I picking on them for? Even they've won a couple of Super Bowls since 1973. Someone once told me that Dolphins fans are the most obnoxious people on the face of the earth. Your e-mail only reinforces that theory my friend.
-Tom Casale

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