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Ask PFW: Passing thoughts

SoBrady* nd Henne just combined for 933 passing yards (and that's not counting 62 rushing yards, which would bring the total to 995.) Is that the most ever by a pair of quarterbacks in one game?*
Peter Cole

The combined total of 933 yards was indeed an NFL record for passing. Not sure about adding the rushing yards to the quarterbacks' totals, nor do I really understand why you'd want to. But we certainly did see history on Monday night. It just proves yet again why sports are so great, as you really never know what you're going to see in any given game.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, great job covering the Pats each week. I'm listening to postgame radio and hearing both callers and the host complain about the secondary after the Fins game. I have an issue with the secondary taking a ton of blame for passing yardage given up considering much of the yardage came to [Brandon] Marshall, who could still be considered an elite receiver and the. Another chunk of yardage coming against LBs in coverage on Miami TEs. Now obviously the secondary isn't perfect, but I don't think there should be a red alert called after one game considering the points above and the fact that almost half the league gave up more than 300 yards passing in week one. Am I crazy in my thinking or should I be concerned like what seems to be many people?
Quinn Corrigall *
*Calgary, AB

With all due respect, what the heck are you talking about? Why would we eliminate yards to the opponent's best receiver or to the tight ends? Sure passing was the story of Week 1, but that shouldn't make you any less concerned about allowing Chad Henne to throw for 416 yards. I thought the secondary looked pretty shaky at times. Strangely I'm most concerned about Devin McCourty. I think he had tough preseason and struggled a bit against the Dolphins. It all needs to be tightened up as they will meet better offenses with better quarterbacks in the coming weeks, including on Sunday against the Chargers. It's not time to panic about the defense by any means. But it shouldn't be ignored, either. It's great that Tom Brady can win a shootout, but it would be nice if he didn't have to. The new-look defense clearly left something to be desired in Miami.
Andy Hart

The 2-14 Panthers just cut Everette Brown after two years. I forget which one of you touted him back in 2009, but please step forward and admit we should leave the scouting to the pros. You should be embarrassed. How could you be so wrong? Who could ever think the Patriots should take Everette Brown? ...That said, should we sign Brown and see what's there?
Haris H.

I hope this is sarcasm. I was interested in Brown's pass-rush ability coming out of college. The Patriots did in fact reportedly work Brown out recently. Besides, the so-called pros just cut their own first-round pick in Brandon Meriweather. And second-round pick in Darius Butler. So I'm pretty sure we can all agree – the pros and us amateurs alike – that scouting is an inexact science. Brown never lived up to his college hype. It happens to the best of us.
Andy Hart

What are your thought on[Chad] Ochocinco's progress thus far?
Adam Hoy

I'm not as worried as some others are, but obviously I'd have liked No. 85's indoctrination into the New England offense to have gone a bit more smoothly. I think he's had his eyes opened a bit by what's required of a receiver in the Patriots offense as compared to what he was accustomed to in Cincinnati. There are just so many reads and adjustments that I don't think he ever went through with the Bengals. But I still believe he's dedicated to getting it down, and Brady is dedicated on helping him do just that. It may take longer than we'd all hoped and may limit Ochocinco's overall contributions, but I still think he can be a complementary playmaker and productive force for Brady this season.
Andy Hart

I was wondering what you thought of the Sammy Morris release. He did so many things for us, I thought for sure he would make the 53 man roster. Do you see them bringing him back during the season?
Joe Ford

I do think there is a very good chance we could see Morris back at whatever point depth becomes an issue either in the backfield or on special teams. I think he maintains a strong professional relationship with the team and liked playing New England. I wasn't that surprised he got cut, though. I thought he was on the roster bubble and when Shane Vereen got healthy enough to get on the field late in the preseason I thought that might be enough to push Morris off the bubble. It was.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW Guys, I have a couple questions about the secondary situation (just like everyone else I guess). First, what do you thinkChung's strengths and weaknesses are? I always thought that he was the weaker of the starting pair - is there something I am missing? Second, do you think it's possible that the Pats will use 3 CBs and 1 Safety instead of a 2CB 2S scheme? Also, how would you expect a nickel package to shake out personnel wise? (PS: I thought Dowling loked great in the last preseason game, very exciting). Thanks!*
Kat Cairo

I think Chung had a very solid season a year ago and expect him to continue to improve. I think he's OK in coverage, a solid tackler and plays with an aggressive, physical edge. I like his style. I like his speed. I like his attitude. Regardless of who was lined up next to him, I expected him to be the best safety on the team this season. New England used a variety of bodies in the back end in the opener in Miami. Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown saw time next to Chung. Ras-I Dowling got the start at cornerback, and both Leigh Bodden and Kyle Arrington saw plenty of reps at corner. I thought all had their ups and downs, but that Dowling held his own to some degree in his NFL debut. I think we will see a large number of different personnel groupings throughout the season as Bill Belichick tries to get a feel for the talent he has back there and how best to unleash it on a weekly basis against opposing offenses. But I don't see the other safeties being abandoned all together and actually remain somewhat intrigued by Josh Barrett's potential.
Andy Hart

With many teams wishing they could go back to kicking at the 30-yard line instead of the 35, wouldn't it benefit them to simply wait for the whistle, then stand around for 40 seconds and take a 5-yard "delay of game" penalty?
George Newell

The delay of game penalty could simply be declined by the receiving team.
Andy Hart

Hey guys! Great work during the offseason and pre-season, and a great win on the road! My question is, what was your impression of[Albert] Haynesworth* nd *Ochocinco? *aynesworth appared to play a factor in penetrating, but how would you grade him and the D-line in general. As for Ocho, we didn't really see him much, but was he taking coverage away from the other players, or did we not look for him, and they not care about him. Do you think we will see him make an impact on offense? Thanks for your great work!*
*Chuck A.

I thought Haynesworth was pretty solid in his debut, although I would have liked to seen him be a tad more dominant against a suspect offensive line anchored by a rookie center. He pushed the pocket, made some plays at or behind the line and seemed to work pretty well in the defensive line rotation the Patriots used up front in Miami. If they can stay healthy, that rotation should benefit all the players as the season wears on. As for Ochocinco, I think a couple factors played into his limited action against the Dolphins. Clearly the Patriots wanted to go with a lot of two tight-end sets, many with one back. That left Ochocinco, the clear third receiver at this point, on the sideline during a lot of the no-huddle action that limited changing personnel for both teams. With the use of the hurried offense, with all the calls at the line of scrimmage on the fly, clearly it was better to have the more experienced Wes Welker and Deion Branch on the field. Ochocinco has struggled a bit even when the team huddles, never mind having to work at a more aggressive pace. As I said in the earlier answer, I still expect Ochocinco to have an increased role as the season rolls on and be a complementary playmaker on this offense. I still think he can and will make plays for this team in 2011.
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