By: Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall - Presented By Frank 106.3 Frank FM
November 21, 2012

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R.R. Marshall: Steve on a weekend that featured upsets and near upsets in both the college and pro ranks, the Patriots held serve and dismantled Andrew Luck and the Colts 59-24. The revamped Colts offense lead by Luck came as advertised, but it appeared that the Colts reconstructed defense may have been a tad overrated, or can Tom Brady make a defense look that bad?

Steve Grogan: Well, I think Tom Brady can make a defense look that bad but their defense didn't play well Sunday. The pass rushers that they've had in the past that they're now playing at outside linebacker just weren't able to get to Brady Sunday. I thought their secondary was a little weak, didn't cover well, and the Patriots defense got some pressure on Andrew Luck and made him force some bad throws and it resulted in a couple of touchdowns for the defense.

RRM: This had to be one of Brady's best games of the season with a 24-for-35 effort for 331 yards and 3 touchdowns. Is he winding into second half form a little bit early?

SG: Well, we're hoping he's winding into second half form but he sure looked comfortable with everything they were doing Sunday. They didn't run the ball extremely well, but they ran it effectively enough to make the Colts think about it. But he was really putting the ball on target in some tight spots a few times. He just looked like he was really comfortable with a game plan they had.

RRM: Do you think all the talk this week of the Brady-Luck matchup helped to rev his engine up just a little bit for this game?

SG: I'm sure probably did. It's the old guard versus the new guard and he wanted to prove to people that he's not done yet. Andrew Luck has a lot to learn before he reaches Tom Brady's status.

RRM: What about you personally? When you were playing in your later years and the hotshot rookie would come to town - I think specifically of guys like Marino and guys like that - in their first year. Did that get your blood pumping?

SG: Yeah, you always want to play well against somebody that was supposed to be the next generation and was going to take jobs away from older guys. You just always felt like you needed to go out and play better than them.

RRM: The rookie Luck gave the Patriots a scare in the first quarter with some extremely accurate pinpoint passing. You had your reservations about him last year when you saw him play at Stanford. But what's your assessment now after seeing him play in an NFL game?

SG: I think he's going to be a very, very good quarterback. He's got all the throws, he's just got to learn when to not force the ball and when to take the sack once in a while. He's trying to carry the team on his shoulders and I don't think he's quite ready to do that yet. He certainly showed me a lot more than I thought he had on Sunday. He's a very confident and talented young man.

RRM: It's funny how there's this indefinable quality with the quarterback called 'presence'. He definitely has it, and some of these other guys who have come into the league have not. Is that your assessment as well?

SG: Yes, I would say that. He was raised in a football family. He just knows how to handle situations whether it's on the field, off the field, he says the right things off the field. When he made mistakes he showed that he was upset. He didn't just walk off like it didn't matter to him and I think his teammates see that, and know how much he cares for him and it'll make them play little harder.

RRM: Well the Patriots offense wasn't the only unit putting points on the board in this game. They got two interception returns for touchdowns from both newcomer Aqib Talib and the other corner Alphonzo Dennard. And they also got a punt return touchdown from our old friend back from MIA in Julian Edelman. I can't remember the last time I saw a game where they had 21 points worth of returns in the game?

SG: No, it's been a long time, if ever. And really there for a while it looked like it was going to be the difference in the game. I think the middle of the third quarter, somewhere in there, they were up by 21 points. Those 21 points had come from two defensive touchdowns and a kick return touchdown. So they're lucky they got them, but at the same time the Patriots offense in the last quarter and a half really came alive and took over the game.

RRM: It appears that the defensive secondary is now stabilized a little bit with the addition of Talib at one corner, and Dennard establishing himself at the other and moving Devin McCourty back to safety. Do you see things settling down here a little bit over the second-half stretch run?

SG: It seems to be stabilized, but I've been fooled before so I don't think I'm going to take one performance and jump on the bandwagon yet. I want to see them play consistently like that for another couple of weeks and then I'll say they're much improved. I think having Steve Gregory back at safety helped them a little bit too. They're on the right track, let's see what they can do against the Jets and then the Dolphins after that. So we'll wait and pass judgment in a couple of weeks.

RRM: Edelman had a monster game and made fans forget about the fact that veteran wide receiver Deion Branch was cut shortly before the game. Does Edelman now have a chance to be the same kind of producer as Branch was for this team for many years?

SG: Well, I think there's no question. He's probably been producing more than Branch has last couple of years. Deion's a great kid, had a great career here and he may turn up back here before the season's over with. But Edelman's young, he's fast, he can do a lot of things for you, he's just a very talented athlete. I think you're going to see more and more of him in this offense.

RRM: Steve this is the kind of victory that fans were waiting for after the Patriots came back from the London trip. Now that they produced that kind of effort, is this the kind of game that could help springboard them to have a successful last six games of the season?

SG: When you play a game like that, it instills a lot of confidence in you. It shows you what you can do, and it also can be a trap at times. You've cakewalked over somebody and you figure you've got it all figured out and about that time you play somebody who throws you a few new wrinkles and you don't have it figured out. You've just got to keep working hard to get better every week like they talk about, and if they do that, they're going to be all right. I think the key right now is going to be keeping people healthy. They lost Gronkowski Sunday, that's a big hit. Hopefully Aaron Hernandez can come back in a couple of weeks. They've got to start getting some of these guys healthy as they hit the stretch run.

RRM: You mention the loss of Gronkowski and it came on a play that really didn't amount to anything, blocking on the last extra point of the game. You hate to see an injury like that, but this team has so many because so many players play so many different positions. Yet you know that's going to get a lot of flack talk this week?

SG: Yeah, but how many times do you ever see a guy break an arm on an extra point kick or a field goal kick? It's just one of those freak things that happened. He's been playing that position since he got here, which is one of those things that happens in football occasionally. And that's why the Patriots are good on special teams - they play their best athletes on special teams, and that's what he was.

"How many times do you ever see a guy break an arm on an extra point kick or a field goal kick? It's just one of those freak things that happened." - Steve Grogan on Gronkowski's injury. (FILE:USPresswire)

RRM: Now I hear the possibility that he might be able to come back earlier than the 4 to 6 weeks if he wants to put a cast on, or maybe even a rod for support in there. Can you see him playing effectively? He's so physical, it's not like a wide receiver -- I know that Reggie Rucker did it right before you got to New England and he had trouble catching the ball with a cast on his arm, but it's hard for me to imagine Gronkowski playing that effectively with his left forearm in a cast?

SG: It would be difficult, but if anybody could do it, he can. He's got such big hands, they could use him certainly in the blocking part of it and I think it also depends on where it's broken. If it's broken up higher where they can just put a forearm cast on it and still allow his fingers to move, that he's got a chance. If it's down lower and that cast is on his hand, then he's going to have trouble catching the ball.

RRM: What would be your preference, for him to just ride out the rest of the season and get healthy for the playoffs?

SG: I would think. Usually when you break a bone, you're looking at four weeks minimum. When they put pins in, he might be able to come back in three weeks. But unless they're really falling off a cliff, I'd just as soon see him get healthy and get ready for the end of the season and the playoffs.

RRM: As everybody's been saying it's a quick turnaround for the Patriots this week as they have to play a Thanksgiving night game against Rex Ryan's Jets. For me, on the surface this appears to be the perfect trap game with the Patriots coming off of a big win and the Jets breaking a two-game losing streak with a road victory and all of their fans are dumping on them. Does this look like a trap game to you, or am I wrong?

SG: It's a possibility. It's a short week. You've just hammered somebody on Sunday and you're looking at a team that's not really very good. But you're playing them in New York and when you're playing in New York, anything can happen. They've got be on their best preparation mode this week or they might take a surprise down there.

RRM: Does the fact that they're playing against a division opponent they know pretty well help neutralize the short week of preparation?

SG: That helps, the short week. You've already played them once this season, that's definitely a help.

RRM: The running attack for the Patriots was almost an afterthought against the Colts, but given the injury to Gronkowski do you expect to see them go back to an emphasis on the run against the Jets on Thursday night?

SG: I would think that they probably would run the ball more against the Jets but it all depends on what they see on film. If the Jets are vulnerable in their secondary, they'll throw the ball. If they're not, they'll run it -- that's just the way their offense is constructed. But I would like to see them try to hammer the ball a little more, take some pressure off of Brady. The Jets have a decent pass rushing team and if you can run the ball, that'll slow that down.

RRM: Given all that's happened to the Jets over the last year and a half, if they don't make the playoffs again this season, do you see Rex Ryan getting fired at the end?

SG: Yeah, I don't see him keeping his job if they don't make the playoffs. It would be a big surprise to everybody around the league if he did stay and they hadn't made the playoffs.

RRM: So I take it the Grogan household will be taking in the NFL turkey day triple header on Thursday?

SG: Part of the Grogan household will [laughs]. I'll be watching all of them. I don't think my wife will sit there, but I'll definitely be watching them.

RRM: It's a far cry from being a kid and just being able to watch Detroit and whoever they were playing.

SG: Yes, exactly. It's wall-to-wall now.

RRM: So what are Grogan's Grades for the 59-24 corralling of the Colts?

SG: I've got A's across the board. Defense, offense, special teams, they all played way above average. So they deserve and A grade in this game.

RRM: How about a special note to Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald for filling in for Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly?

SG: Yes, I think that was a big part of the game. They didn't miss a beat. Those guys came off the bench and really did a nice job.

RRM: You've just got to say as an aside, not too many teams can do that. You lose an All-Pro guard, you're in trouble. But this team…

SG: They find a way to get it done, it's amazing.

Grogan's Grades -- Week 10:

Offense: A
Defense: A
Special Teams: A

Overall: A


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