By: Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall - Presented By Frank 106.3 Frank FM
September 14, 2010

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Guregian: Offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia is key to finding Patriots’ next left tackle is proud to welcome former New England Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan back for another season. Grogan played in 149 games with the Patriots from 1975-1990, and was named to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1995. Steve will join us each week to provide his insights on the progress of the Patriots during the 2010 football season.

R.R. Marshall: Steve, the consensus going into this season was that the Patriots' offense would have to take the burden off of a young defense and score a lot of points. With a 38-24 win over the beleaguered Bengals in Week #1 that formula worked to perfection, but will it continue to work for another 15 weeks?

Steve Grogan: No, you can't always depend on that to happen but for a season opener it was a really good effort. I thought the Patriots' offense played well through the whole game and the defense had a great first half. Take away the two returns for touchdowns they had and it's a little closer ball game, and you can't rely on that happening every week. I thought overall both sides of the ball did a good job across the board.

RRM: Tom Brady not only put up big numbers passing-wise with over 250 yards and three touchdowns, but he looked a lot more animated and emotional on the sidelines in this game. What did you read into that?

SG: I don't know. I didn't really notice that with what I got to see. I think with his new contract knowing he'll be here for another four years, and also knowing he's coming to the end of his illustrious career, he wants to make things happen now. He's probably going to get a little more involved in the motivation of the young players on the team.

RRM: That's very important because there are so many young players on this 2010 Patriots roster. He can't just be one of the guys any longer, he has to be the vocal leader now?

SG: Exactly. I think he realizes he's the old veteran now and they're looking to him for leadership and however he goes, they go; so he's got a lot more responsibility now.

Welker made quite a return on Sunday, including catching two touchdowns. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)
RRM: Wes Welker seemed to complete his comeback with 8 catches and two touchdowns, and he appeared to be his old elusive self. Did he look like he was pretty close to 100% to you?

SG: Yeah, he really did. It's amazing how fast he has come back from that injury he had and hopefully he'll be able to stay healthy for the rest of this year. But today he certainly was healthy and very productive, and that will be a big positive for this team going forward.

RRM: All three of the Pats new tight ends contributed big plays in the victory. As a former NFL quarterback can you explain the added dimensions tight ends of their ability bring to this offense?

SG: Well, for one it allows you to run the ball. It's a lot easier to play action pass when you have a tight end in the game. It also allows (if you have tight ends who can catch the ball like they apparently now do) you to put a lot of pressure on the linebackers and doesn't allow them to get as deep a drop to take away throws to the wide receivers as they normally would, so having three guys who can do all three of those things is going to be a big boost to this offense.

RRM: Can we read anything into the fact that it was Fred Taylor and Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis running the football in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line and Laurence Maroney was not even active for this game?

SG: No, I don't think so. I think it may just be Bill Belichick wanting people (laughs) to take something from it. I think he felt like, and this is just strictly a guess, he feels on certain weeks certain backs match up well against the defense he's playing and he'll play those backs, and if they don't match up well, he'll sit them. That's what I think is going on. But right now I would think that there's not much to take from it.

RRM: The CBS announcers kept pointing out in the first half how active the Patriots were on defense before the snap of the ball. Is that the benefit of having so many young players on defense, or is this a reflection of Bill taking over the operations on defense?

SG: It kind of surprised me that he would do that with so many young players out there. Usually you like to get your young players set in their position and have them know what their responsibility is and where they need to be. The fact that they were able to move around until the ball was snapped was confusing to Cincinnati offensively. It probably shows you more than anything that even though he's got a young defense, Belichick has a lot confidence in the fact that they know what to do and how to get it done.

RRM: This defense seemed a lot more aggressive, particularly in the first half in direct contrast to the sit back and react philosophy that this defense seemed to have had the past few years. Did you get that impression as well?

SG: Yes, and I think that might be a strategy thing on Belichick's part. Everyone was talking about how young they are in the secondary and how many problems they were going to have covering Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and maybe he, like a good general using a surprise attack, just decided that this is the last thing they're going to expect and I'm going to come after them and see how they react, and Cincinnati didn't handle it very well. Will you see the same kind of thing next week against the Jets? I think it all depends on what that offense looks like and whether they feel like they need to surprise them.

RRM: Speaking of those "Hard Knocks" Jets, this Sunday the Patriots will take on their archrivals in the New Meadowland Stadium in a game that is sure to draw national attention. Isn't it a little too early in the season to have a game of this magnitude?

SG: Yeah, it's not a must game but it's still the Jets and neither team likes each other and it's always been a good rivalry. It will be a big game for the Jets since they lost their first game in their new stadium to the Ravens on Monday night, so everyone will be watching them and how they conduct their business. It's safe to say there will be a lot more interest in this game than there would normally be at this time of the season.

RRM: Is it too oversimplified to say this game will come down to what the Patriots offense does against the Jets' aggressive, blitzing defense?

SG: I think that's probably true. As much as everyone is liking the Jets this year, I'm not sold on their offense. I think defensively they have a pretty good football team so once again the Patriots offense is going to have to put a lot of points up on the board. This is a young Patriots' defense and you just don't know how they're going to react in Game #2, so it's going to be imperative that the New England offense controls the ball and puts up a lot of points to take the pressure off of them.

I would think the Jets are probably going to bring a lot of pressure at Tom Brady and see if the Patriots can hold up along the front. I thought their offensive line did a great job of holding up against the Bengals. Brady had a couple of times where he could have read a small magazine back in the pocket and still had time to throw the ball. They did a really great job for him and hopefully they can keep that going this week.

RRM: Before I forget for those of us who saw you on TV last weekend what's with the goatee? I haven't seen you sporting one of those since your second year in the league back in 1976?

SG: The goatee is something old men do when they are bored. My kids told me it made me look younger so I kept it. I guess you use anything that makes you look younger these days.

RRM: What are Grogan's grades for the season-opening 38-24 blasting of the Bengals?

SG: I think I'll have to give them an A-. There were a couple minor things that they did wrong that worried me just a little bit. The offense played well but was a little stagnant in the second half. The defense gave up some points in the second half and they have to learn when you have someone down, you have to keep them down. But I have to say it was a much better effort than I thought I was going to see from that defense.

Special teams were a mixed bag. The coverage units played well but Stephen Gostkowski missed a couple of field goals and they can't afford to have that happen very often. You also had the big kickoff return by Brandon Tate at the start of the second half that really put the game on ice. It looks like this kid is going to have the opportunity to do that a few more times before the year's over with and that's always a great weapon to have. All in all, I thought it was a great effort on both sides of the ball and it gives them a lot to build on heading into their first road game of the season this Sunday.

Grogan's Grades for Game #1

Offense: A-
Defense: A-
Overall: A-

For those who want to read more of Steve's thoughts for this week, be sure to check out his interview with The Morning Buzz of WHEB 100.3 and WGIR Rock 101.1, which can be found in my Seacoast Patriots Blog By CLICKING HERE.