October 8, 2008
Grogan's Grade: Week 4
BY: With Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall
MB: Good Morning Steve, how are you? Did you get nervous when the 49ers went up 14-7, because I know I that I did with the whole Dolphins thing, but [the Patriots] seemed to not sweat it too much.
SG: Yeah I think a litle bit. When Matt Cassel got hit and that ball went up in the air and got intercepted, I thought, 'Oh boy what's that going to do to his confidence this early in the game'. But they battled back and did what they had to do.
MB: Did they show you anything at all that may have surprised you or maybe shown you strength given the situation the Patriots have been in this season so far?
SG: I don't know that they showed me anything I didn't expect them to do. I thought the coaches had a couple of great calls on the goal line. They ran the ball before the half when everybody expected them to throw, Faulk scored the touchdown. That was a great call, totally unexpected and then the other run down in the red area to get in the goal line. Usually in past years they tend to throw it more than run it, Sunday they ran a couple in which was nice to see.
MB: Yeah I agree. Steve, since Matt Cassel has come in they basically have been saying they just don't want him to lose games and have been giving him a basic playbook. At what point of the season do they start expanding on that and maybe giving him more plays and so forth?
SG: I think every week as he becomes more comfortable, they'll start giving him a little more and a little more. You saw him throw the ball down the field a couple times which he hasn't done since he started playing. One was for a big touchdown to Randy Moss and one was for an interception intended for Randy Moss. Everybody wants the ball to go down the field and he did that a couple times. I'm sure he will get more comfortble doing that and they'll be adding more and more every week.
MB: Randy Moss is one of those guys who gets pissed if he doesn't get the ball. Where do you think his head is at now, do you think he's feeling any better?
SG: He's got to be feeling better. They basically featured him Sunday, although [Wes] Welker had more catches. Randy Moss was in the game plan Sunday and was getting the ball much more than he had in the last few games, so I think he's going to be happy again and that's a good thing.
MB: I know there was so much pressure on our defense to go out and perform. [Brandon] Meriweather had an interception as well as [Rodney] Harrison, do think our defense is back in this game?
SG: I think the defense is playing better. The coverage is still scaring me a little bit. They have young guys back in that secondary and a couple of throws that were pretty easy throws with guys wide open down there, but that happens occasionally. I thought Meriweather's interception right after Cassel's interception was a big play in the game to get the ball right back.
MB: Am I the only one that thought when Rodney Harrison made that pick, the announcers made it sound like he was 90 years old?
SG: We may be a little bit paranoid around here because we see the team every week, but there are a lot of people who think theres a conspiracy around the country that hates the Patriots and want to see them not succeed. Everytime you hear announcers saying that kind of thing it adds fuel to the fire.
MB: I agree, when you watch Cassel and how he operates I would imagine the only way to survive in that situation is to just not read anything in the papers, to not watch T.V. or anything like that because there is so much crap out there. Here's a guy just trying to do his job and theres so much stuff being said in the media, not all of it bad but its best to just avoid all that trap isn't it?
SG: It probably is, but at the same time your curiosity wants to know what people are saying about you, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's reading the paper. I thought he played well Sunday, outside of the one long throw that was picked off. The other interception really wasn't his fault, he got hit. My only critizism of him is right now he's got some ability to run out of the pocket, but when he starts to run for some reason it looks like he stops and tries to go back in the pocket and he's getting sacked when he does that. If he'd just take off and run he'd be a lot better off.
MB: A lot of offenses around the NFL have been noticing that these new formations, like the ones the Dolphins ran against the Patriots are doing well and they're winning games by doing this. People have said you can't win games in the NFL by running these plays even though teams are showing they can. Are we going to see a shift?
SG: Well, the NFL has always been a copy cat league and if somebody has success doing something, other people are going to try it. I don't think you'll ever see the spread offense, which is what a lot of colleges call that offense you're talking about. They put four wideouts and they put quarterback in the shot gun the whole game and snap the ball to different people. To me that will never work full time in the NFL, but I think you'll start to see it as more players come out of the college systems that run that. You'll see more and more teams do some of it.
MB: When you look at the runningback situation, you've got Lawrence Maroney, [Sammy] Morris as well. What do you see as the diference between those guys because some of the writing in the papers today say that Maroney just isn't hitting the holes like he should be or like he used to. Agree or Disagree?
SG: I would agree with that, I think early in his career he was dancing around, not hitting the holes, then for a while they had him convinced that he could hit the holes and get through them and up the field and he did a nice job. Now he's back to that dancing and he's looking for the big play instead of taking what they give him and letting the big play happen. They need to get that corrected in a hurry.
MB: And the guy to count on it seems like, and he's done this quietly by the way, is [Stephen] Gostkowski. The dude gets up there and knocks it through and I think unfortunatly he's still living in the shadow of Adam Vinatieri.
SG: He's quietly becoming one of the better kickers in the NFL.
MB: So Sunday we got the 30- 21 win over the San Francisco 49ers. As far as what Steve's going to give them for a grade, I'm going to say I'm stuck between a B and a B+. I'm going to say a B because the team they played was not quite a stellar team. Grogan's Grade what have you got Steve?
SG: I think a B+ is a fair grade for Sunday. They were not at their best, but they were getting closer to it, and that's a good thing to see.
I gave the offense a B+. They got in the endzone with the run twice wihich is nice to see, but they still had to settle for 3 field goals.
I gave the defense a B+. They did a great job keeping the 49ers off the field. The time of possesion was almost 40 minutes compared to 20 minutes . They made a couple of key turnovers, but I thought they let them score a little too easily in the red zone.
I gave the special teams an A . They did a nice job with coverage and returns. Along with the fact New England was 3-for-3 on field goals.
So overall I gave them a B+. They'll have a better test this week in San Diego.
MB: We'll talk to you next Monday after the game with San Diego, the guys are staying out there all week do you think that makes any diference, them not being able to come home?
SG: No, I think its probably a good thing not having to travel back and forth across the country twice. They'll be able to bond a little bit and do nothing but work on football all week.
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