Here is the full transcript of yesterday’s “Grogan’s Grade”, along with an expanded part on the grades given during this segment.
MB: Good morning Steve. You know, right from the get-go, everything was firing on all cylinders. Were you caught by surprise?
SG: Yeah, I think it was surprisingly easy for them yesterday against what was supposed to be a pretty good football team with two great wide receivers. And to make it look so easy, especially in the first half was a little bit shocking to me.
MB: And then you have to say was it the Bengals lack of performance, or are they just better than we thought? Which one would you have to credit?
SG: Well I think there’s a little bit of both. Offensively they put some big numbers, but they kept shooting themselves in the foot and couldn’t get the ball in the endzone until the second half. At the same time I think that the young secondary played very aggressively, they had a great game plan to stop those two wide receivers even though they had a lot of receptions. I mean, Ochocinco had 12 catches while Owens had 7, that’s a lot of receptions. But they were keeping everything in front of them and not letting them get into the endzone and I thought the defensive coaches put together a great game plan.
MB: There are a couple of names that stick out to me, I mean [Aaron] Hernandez, look at him. I’m impressed with him.
SG: Yeah, for a big guy, a tight end sized guy, he’s got some really good hands, speed, and is going to be a big factor for them. The other rookie tight end [Rob] Gronkowski, when they get down in that Red Zone, he looks like he’s got a great feel for getting open and catching the ball up high, and those are two guys that are going to help them out offensively.
MB: A lot of people questioning the Patriots defense going into the season, especially after last year, but I heard Phil Simms say it a couple of times, that the defense looked “quick” and a lot faster. Was that your assessment as well Steve?
SG: Yeah, they did – they looked like they had a lot of speed, and when you have a lot of youth, that seems like the case. Those young guys can run fast, because they haven’t gotten beaten up for years yet. But again, the young secondary played really aggressive, they broke on the ball well, and broke up a couple of long passes that could have been trouble. The linebackers that were a big question mark I thought played extremely well. Mayo had, I think, a combined 12 tackles yesterday. He was all over the place telling everyone where to be. And they did get pressure on Palmer, and we all thought they wouldn’t have any kind of pass rush, but they were getting to him a little bit yesterday and that was good to see.
MB: We’ve heard about Belichick taking all the pictures down, trying to make things about this new group. It did seem like a different Patriots team taking the field this week, do you agree?
SG: Yesterday was a fun team to watch, and hopefully that will continue. I mean you can’t base everything on one game, they’re going to have some tests and the Jets will give them a big test next week, but right now it looks like that defense is going to be far better than anyone expected them to be.
MB: I was very happy that the first score of the game came from Wes Welker, I mean the road he’s been on, he’s kind of amazed everybody. In the press conference after the game, I think even he was surprised that he got the first touchdown of the game, you know?
SG: Yeah, I mean when you get hurt as badly as he did, you sit around the whole offseason even though you’re working your tail off to get back, you really don’t know how you’re going to feel until you hit the field for the first game. I think he showed yesterday he healed up just fine and mentally it’s not going to bother him. He’s just a great guy to have out there.
MB: Coming back from that knee injury, do you think back in your day it would have killed his career?
SG: Oh more than likely it would have, yes.
MB: I’ve got to bring up Randy Moss, who I think surprised everybody when he came out for his press conference. Did you see it?
SG: I did see part of it, yes.
MB: I mean I think I’m in the minority here, but I don’t get why everyone is getting so upset. Everybody wants to know what he thinks, and then they get on him for what he says. The guy’s in a no-win situation, what do you think based on what you saw about his comments yesterday Steve?
SG: What he said I don’t think was bad, I’m not sure it needs to be said after the first game of the season. He doesn’t feel appreciated here because they haven’t given him a new contract. But he had five catches yesterday, they threw a couple more to him deep, he had one that he dropped. He’s still going to be a factor on this football team, you know, maybe he does move on after the season’s over with. That’s the case with a lot of the older players…your usefulness to the team kind of comes to an end. But he still can play football for somebody and that’s what he basically was saying. He thinks he can still play football, he’d like to play it here, but they haven’t given him a new contract yet. That may still happen, they may still give him that contract – but I didn’t think what he said was all that bad.
Randy Moss will have a game where he’ll catch 10 balls and he’ll be happy again. I’m not too worry about him. He’ll make it through the year, he’ll produce, and then they’ll see what they can do with his contract.
MB: Was there anything that you were less than impressed with Steve (TO & Ochocinco?)
SG: They both caught a lot of balls, I was surprised about that. But I was a little disappointed in the kicker, Gostkowski, missing two field goals. You don’t see that from him very often, so that was a little bit disappointing.
I think on the other hand Patrick Chung had 12 tackles and four assists, and as a defensive back that’s putting up a lot of numbers. He was flying around the field doing things that nobody expected him to do.
MB: I have to ask a “non-Patriots question”. Did you see the call at the end of the Detroit/Chicago game about the call in the endzone? What is your take on that?
SG: I did see it, but the rule is the rule. It’s probably a stupid rule, but it’s also pretty stupid of that kid not to go ahead and pull the ball into his body so that there was no chance to fumble it or have it come out of his hands. So it’s a lesson learned.
MB: So what are Grogan’s Grades for this week?
SG: I gave the offense an ”A’. I thought they had good balance between the run and pass. It was great to see Welker back to his old self so fast, and the two young TE’s look like they will add something to the offense that has been missing for a few years. Ofensive line did a wonderful job giving Brady time and opening up holes in the running game, and I think they will only get better as the weeks go on.
I gave the defense an ”A-”. I thought it was a surprisingly good performance in the first half. They had great coverage by the young secondary on two really good receivers. Not to mention the fact that an interception return for a touchdown always helps. I thoguht it got a little sloppy in the second half, but on the whole it was a very good first week’s performance. Patrick Chung should get the defensive game ball, as he played really well finishing with 16 total tackles.
Finally, I gave the Special Teams an “A-”. I thought they were good for the most part, but Gostkowski missing 2 field goals drops the grade. That’s definitely unusual for him.
I thought the coverage was good and the kickoff return for a touchdown by Tate to start the second half more or less put a fork in the Bengals.
Overall I think an A- is a fair grade. They had a couple of missed kicks, and they did give up a lot of yardage on defense, although they didn’t let them into the endzone until the second, so I thought it was an all around great effort, but not quite great enough to get an A.