The Gang talked to former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan as they do every Monday morning at 7:30am on “The Morning Buzz”, but here’s an expanded interview with Ron Marshall who sat down with him later on and touched on a few more topics that you may want to check out:
R.R. Marshall: Steve, for the first 15 minutes it appeared the Patriots would have their way with the Jets and then it seemed everything went horribly wrong. To put it simply, what the heck happened?
Steve Grogan: I still don’t know, to be able to move the ball as easily as the Patriots did in the first half while they controlled the clock and yet didn’t get as many points as they should have gotten was just unbelievable. They just looked like they completely dominated them in that first half.
The Jets apparently made some halftime adjustments that bothered the Patriots. There just didn’t seem to be anyone getting open in the second half when Tom Brady was throwing the ball. They didn’t try to run it hardly at all, and when you’re ahead of a team like that (I guess I’m old school) you try to pound them a little bit on the ground and see if you can get them to respect your run so you can throw the ball down the field. It was very disappointing, and as I watched the Jets take the lead and then go ahead by 14 points I was thinking this is not that good a football team. The Patriots should have taken control of the game and beaten this team, but they let a real opportunity slip away.
RRM: Once Jets corner Darrelle Revis went out after he hurt his hamstring on the Moss touchdown catch at the end of the first half you figured things would have opened up for the Patriots in the second half. Instead that was the last catch Moss made, although Brady repeatedly went to Moss in single coverage. In retrospect maybe they should have stuck with what worked for them in the first half?
SG: I don’t know whether the Patriots planned against a man-to-man type of defense and suddenly the Jets were playing zone in the second half, it was hard to tell watching the game on TV. Zone is easy to throw against, but the odd thing was Brady didn’t seem to be on the same page several times with his receivers. You would think they would have tried going to the tight end or Wes Welker, but the Jets were dropping so many defenders into coverage it seemed to catch the Patriots flat-footed.
On the opposite side Mark Sanchez was getting some pretty good time to sit back there and get rid of the ball. I know we’ve talked about this being a young Patriots defense, and they’re going to have their ups and downs and bad halves. We’ve seen them have two great weeks in the first half and the second half they just don’t come out and finish. That’s part of a young player’s maturity process and figuring out you have to play 60 minutes and not 30.
RRM: Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looked awful the week before against the Ravens but he looked like a polished All-Pro against the Patriots, throwing for a career-high 21 completions and three touchdowns. Was it the lack of a pass rush, poor defensive scheme, or just poor coverage?
SG: When you’ve got time to sit back and throw which Sanchez did and you have a young secondary that he was throwing against, and conversely they were running the ball fairly effectively so the linebackers have to respect the run first, you’re going to find holes and he was finding holes. His receivers were getting open and he was putting the ball where it needed to be. Does that make him a great quarterback? I don’t think so, not yet. He certainly played one of his better games. Unfortunately that will build his confidence as he goes forward. He’s going to get better and better where if they had been able to shut him down and make him look bad, he would have lost that confidence and then the Jets would have had trouble winning the following week.
RRM: The Jets cause was certainly aided by some costly penalties by the Patriots, something we don’t generally see from them. Tully Banta-Cain hitting someone out of bounds for a 15 yard personal foul and two pass interference penalties on corner Darius Butler. Is this correctable?
SG: It should be. Banta-Cain is a veteran and shouldn’t make a mistake like that. Braylon Edwards is a pretty good player and he’s is big. The Patriots corners are not that big and with that kind of size going against a corner with good hands he’s going to cause you problems.
RRM: Butler looked lost trying to play single coverage in this game. He wound up being benched, but what does Bill Belichick do with him now?
SG: I think you are going to have to help him a little bit. You will have to go to some kind of combination coverage and help him regain his confidence. He looks lost right now and the Patriots simply can’t afford to have that happen.
RRM: As bad as this loss was, losing Kevin Faulk to an ACL injury has to be even worse news for the Patriots. How do they possibly replace all of the contributions he brings to the team?
SG: You don’t. Kevin Faulk is such a big part of this offense. It will certainly put a burden on the two older running backs, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris. I think BenJarvus Green-Ellis is going to be the one to take his place, unless this new guy they signed from the Jets, Danny Woodhead, can help them some. I haven’t seen him play, but they say he’s not very big but has quickness and can catch the ball. He may be able to fill that role, but he’s not going to fill it like Faulk would, that’s for sure.
RRM: The Logan Mankins story beats most of the prime time soap operas. What’s your take on these nutty he-said, she said negotiations?
SG: It’s hard to comment on that because you really don’t know what exactly is going on. It’s really all speculation. If he truly did apologize to Mr. Kraft and accepted a deal and then the Patriots came back after the fact and told him to publicly apologize then the rules of the game changed, and I don’t blame him for being a little upset about that.
RRM: A long term contract with a Pro Bowl guard being held up by a public apology? It makes more sense to me that there is a disagreement about how much money should be paid up front as a bonus?
SG: I would think that would be the sticking point as well, but from all indications they had agreed on a contract and then it came down to an apology. Someone is being stubborn or bullheaded about that and I don’t know which side it is, but they need to get him in here and he needs to be playing football.
RRM: The latest news is that he’s going to report in Week #10 so he can be eligible for free agency next year. If that’s the case, why not get him in here now?
SG: I agree, what’s the difference? Get him in here.
RRM: You went through a similar situation when your two All-Pro offensive linemen John Hannah and Leon Gray held out for the first three games in 1977. How did that affect the dynamic of the team that season?
SG: Absolutely it affects you, and when they come back it affects their attitude about everything they are doing. They didn’t have a good attitude when they came back; it wasn’t like this is over with so let’s get back to work. There were still some hard feelings that needed to be worked through and I think that’s the same thing with Logan Mankins. He will go out and play, but is he going to play as if he were happy? Probably not.
RRM: I’m not going to try and get into Brady’s head, but you lost two out of the three games where they were holding out. Does it ever go through your head that if we had these guys here, maybe the outcome is different?
SG: I would think that would probably go through his head, sure. It would have definitely made in a difference in this game, and it certainly would have helped more than it would have hurt, or did hurt by not having him there.
RRM: Does something like that affect the entire team while it’s going on?
SG: I don’t think most guys worry too much about it. The offensive lineman maybe because he’s their buddy and Tom Brady because Mankins is the guy who’s protecting him. The rest of the guys? I don’t think they are too worried about it.
RRM: The Patriots have the Bills coming in and the Buffalo beat writers were joking saying they didn’t look like a professional football team against the Packers last Sunday. It almost looks to good to be true to have this kind of an opponent coming into Foxboro this weekend?
SG: You always worry about trap games. Everybody in the NFL has some kind of talent and if you don’t take them seriously, they will jump up and bite you. I don’t think that’s going to happen to this Patriots team playing them at home. They are a far better team than Buffalo, but coming off a tough loss to the Jets with that disappointing performance and now having a team that you can just go through the motions and beat sometimes is a scary proposition.
RRM: I would assume the game plan for Sunday would be for the Patriots to get on top early and then put the pedal to the metal and finish off a perceived lesser opponent?
SG: That would be the thing to do. You really want to see this team play well for a full 60 minutes this Sunday. There’s a tendency to letdown in the second half that has almost become a trend, and Bill Belichick has to find a way to break them of that. That has to be one of the top priorities this week.
RRM: We’ve talked about the good and the bad, now it’s time for the ugly. What are Grogan’s grades for the humiliating 28-14 loss to the hated Jets?
SG: I’m giving a C- across the board. It was just a below average performance by the Patriots. There wasn’t any one area of the team that was worse than the other, they just all played below average. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski is starting to worry me. Missing three field goals in two games, that has to be a concern. Defensively the Patriots didn’t have to play much in the first half and they certainly didn’t play well in the second half. Overall they played really well in the first half, but in the second half the team looked like they were not sure what to do or how to do it. There is definitely room for more improvement, so let’s hope we’ll see some starting this week against the Bills.
Grogan’s Grades for Game #2