By: Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall - Presented By Frank 106.3 Frank FM
October 17, 2012

No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not at the start of the team's OTA's today
NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill
Patriots center David Andrews excited with his new Georgia Bulldog teammates

R.R. Marshall: While it was expected for Seattle to give the Patriots a tough game, I don't think anyone could imagine what eventually transpired in the fourth quarter and I guess to sum it up - old friend Pete Carroll finally got his revenge against the Patriots?

Steve Grogan: Yeah, Pete did get his revenge. It was a disappointing loss in the fact that the Patriots did a lot of things Sunday that you just don't normally see them do. They gave up a lot of long pass plays, basically because defensive backs were out of position. They mismanaged the clock at the end of the half. They didn't try to establish a running game of any kind. They threw the ball 58 times. Normally when a team throws the ball 58 times they're behind early and trying to catch up and for some reason they apparently felt that they could run the ball on Sunday. In the long I think that hurt them.

RRM: The noise factor in Seattle was a big topic of discussion last week. Do you feel it played a role in the game at all?

SG: I don't think it had a big role in the game. There were a couple of illegal motion penalties that occurred more than likely because the outside tackles couldn't hear what was going on, but I didn't think it played a big role. Tom Brady and most of the guys on the offense are experienced people, they've been a lot of stadiums. I don't think it was a big factor, no.

RRM: I was going to say the one penalty that really was so on "Patriot--like" was the 12 men on the field of the defense just before the two minute warning. You just don't see Patriot coached teams do that?

SG: No, that's what I'm saying. They just did things that you don't normally see them do. Having to take that timeout, Tom Brady throwing the ball through the end zone with six seconds left on the clock, and then getting the penalty and having the clock run out when they should have been kicking a field goal, they just seemed out of sync Sunday. Offensively he was throwing some balls in the ground, weren't even close to the receivers -- which is unusual. They just didn't look like themselves Sunday for whatever reason, but I don't think it was the noise. Actually they made the comment on the broadcast that the crowd was pretty quiet because they were down 14 points and the crowd was pretty much taken out of the game until right at the end.

RRM: Well, this may be the second time this year the Patriots were unable to close out a game on the road where they led by two scores late in the game. Does this young defense get much of the blame for this one?

SG: I think it gets a majority of the blame, yeah. Not only was the secondary missing up, they were letting guys run deep and wide open, but they got very little pass rush. The quarterback for the Seahawks is a good young quarterback with mobility. They weren't keeping him in the pocket and they weren't getting any pressure on him at the same time. So if you let a guy like that run around, defensive backs aren't sure whether they should come up and make a tackle or stay back in coverage, and Sunday they didn't stay back in coverage and it burned them a couple times big.

"They just didn't look like themselves Sunday for whatever reason, but I don't think it was the noise." - Steve Grogan (FILE:USPresswire)
RRM: Certainly the offense had its share the blame, once again the Patriots rolled up nearly 500 yards of total offense but seemed to get bogged down in the red zone. I thought Tom Brady was pretty honest in his postgame press conference that they have to start making plays when it counts. As an offense, how you start to turn stuff like that around?

SG: That's the standard answer when you do something like that, you have to make the plays when it counts. He had an interception in the red zone, but he threw two picks and that's out of character for him. They had couple strange calls down in the red zone and again they just didn't try to pound the ball and when they did, it just wasn't working very well. You've got to stay with a run for a while and let those offensive linemen feel like they're pushing the defensive lineman around and that didn't happen Sunday.

RRM: There's an old saying that says once his fluke, twice is bad luck, and three times as a trend. This team has now lost three games by less than three points and you have to start to wonder if this team, as Bill Parcells would say, "they are what they are"?

SG: will they are what they are, but they've got people that can make big plays, they just didn't make them in those games when they needed to. Somebody's got to step up and say "I'm going to be the guy to make that play to put us over the top". You can't totally rely on Tom Brady to throwing the ball 58 times a game. Somebody on defense has got to make a pick when they need to, force a fumble when they need to, and they've got to buckle down and quit giving up big plays. The Bill Belichick defensive way is to keep everything in front of you, make the team run a lot of plays to score and eventually they'll make a mistake. Sunday they didn't play that kind of defense. They gave up the big plays and didn't force Seattle to have to make long sustained drives were somebody along the way would've made a mistake and stopped the drive. So they've got some work to do before next week, that's for sure.

RRM: I know the injury to Patrick Chung led to the go-ahead touchdown because they had a rookie on the field, but you have to start to wonder at some level if coaching is involved because these kids have all played in college, they all know the rule about not letting the ball get behind you late in the game. We've seen this pattern happen over and over again and you just kind of wonder, especially the pass interference calls in the end zone with not turning back for the ball, you wonder how these guys are being coached?

SG: I guess you could say that. But I'm sure they've been told how to do it and when to do it and know what they should be doing, there just not getting it done. Even [Tavon] Wilson who got beat deep late in the game, even though he's a rookie, he knows he's not supposed to get beat deep. He bit on the fake when he didn't need to bite in the fake. The guy ran a little corner post and he jumped the corner at that point in the game, he had a cornerback underneath to help, he should been defending the middle of a field -- he knows that. But he just didn't make the play.

RRM: You touched a little bit on Tom Brady. We've see him throw interceptions before but the two intentional grounding calls bring back memories of the Super Bowl of course so these plays are going to be rehashed over and over again this week. I guess simply stated, these aren't the kind of mistakes we're used to seeing him make. I thought perhaps on the first one there was supposed to be someone in the middle of the field in the end zone but there wasn't, but what's going on with Tom right now?

SG: I'm not sure what's going on with him. I know he's got to be frustrated. If you had a bunch of new guys running around out there, I could see where they might be making these kind of mistakes. These are receivers and tight ends that he's been playing with for a couple of years now and they should all still be on the same page. It looked like Sunday the pressure was bothering him a lot. Seattle was forcing him to move up in the pocket and a lot of times he was throwing off his front foot instead of being able to sit there and throw. That may be the fault of the offensive line for not pass protecting as well as they should, but he when he got pressure, he seemed to be looking for a place to get down instead of trying to look down the field and throw the ball toward somebody. When he threw it out of bounds out, he threw it where nobody was at, and you just can't do that in today's NFL.

RRM: Do you feel that since he lost that year to injury that he is more susceptible to pressure now and he doesn't want to get injured again and miss long periods of time so is more apt to want to throw the ball away?

SG: No, a lot of people are probably going to talk about that, but if you look at him last year, he didn't have the kind of problem. He wasn't worried about taking the hits or people rolling around his feet, so I can't really see it being something he's thinking about this year. I just think he had a day Sunday where it was raining, it's always hard to throw the ball in the rain -- everybody struggles a little bit with a wet ball. It's been a long time since he's played in those conditions and maybe that had something to do with it.

RRM: With all four teams now tied for the lead in the AFC East, the Patriots can't afford any more missteps. The big question is can this team mature over the next 10 games and start making some plays, especially the defensive backs in crunch time?

SG: Well I think offensively they're going to be all right. They've got pretty much a veteran group over there, and they should be fine. Defensively, the secondary's going to have to get better. When the season started I thought the secondary was going to be much better this year, they haven't shown that. The front seven was supposed to be their strong point, they did shut down Lynch Sunday running the football, he didn't have a lot of yards. But they still aren't getting any pressure on the passer and that's a big key, and part of the reason they're not doing that is because they're afraid to blitz and put the defensive backs on an island out there. So they've got a lot of work to do this week before they see the Jets.

RRM: While speaking about Ryan's up-and-down New York Jets, it's funny because everyone was ready to leave the Jets for dead and now this game will have first place as the prize. Do you still consider the Jets as a serious threat for the AFC East title?

SG: I'm not sure I'm ready to put them as a threat to win the division but they are improving, it seems like. Whenever the Patriots play the Jets, it's a rivalry that has been going on for long time and they're a team that's good enough to beat you if you're not playing at the top of your game. So as I said before, it's going to be a week where they have to make a lot of corrections in practice and they're going to have to go out and play much better than they did against Seattle.

RRM: The Jets of been devastated on both sides of the ball with injuries this season. They don't have their best cornerback Darrell Revis, and they don't have their best wide receiver either. How would you like to see the Patriots come out and attack them this week?

SG: I still think they've got to establish that running game that they had for a couple of weeks there. That takes so much pressure off of Tom Brady allows him to throw the play action pass and the quick hitters to [Wes] Welker, that's their offense. The tight ends, get them a little more involved - I think Gronkowski and Hernandez each had six catches on Sunday -- but they need to get the ball to them more. And then defensively I don't think Mark Sanchez handles pressure very well, and if they can force him into some mistakes it can help them win the game.

RRM: I think it's essential to establish a good this game lead early?

SG: yes, they need to get ahead early.

RRM: Of course that formula didn't work out too well last Sunday, but you figure the law of averages for In your favor eventually?

SG: They need to get father had this week [laughs] make them have to come back from farther than Seattle had to.

RRM: The question I don't envy you trying to answer, Grogan's Grades for the week six loss to the Seahawks in rainy Seattle?

SG: I gave them a C. I think you have to give a little bit of credit to Seattle, they're a good football team. They're playing in a stadium with a hostile environment to their advantage. I think the offense was maybe a C+ and the defense a C-. Special teams was just average -- they give up big punt return toward the game that didn't help. So it was a very average game for a New England Patriots football team.

RRM: So the message is come off the ledge and give this team a chance to straighten out their problems?

SG: yeah there is still a lot of season left. I'm not ready to jump ship but they've got some corrections that need to be made and if this kind of thing, losing leads late in the game continues, then we've got serious problems.