Ron Marshall: Steve if not for a blown coverage by the Jets on Aaron Dobson, we might well be discussing the Patriots' first loss of the season. Instead last Thursday the Patriots escaped with a 13-10 decision in what has to be one of the ugliest wins of the Belichick era.
Steve Grogan: It was not a pretty win. The only consolation as everybody says is, 'a win is a win, doesn't matter how you do it'. But it certainly was one of the uglier Patriots' victories that I've recalled in the not too distant past.
RRM: The lack of offense by the Patriots in this game was simply staggering. They amassed only some 230 total yards, 9 first downs and 4 for 18 on third down conversions. How is this even possible with a Tom Brady lead offense?
SG: You look at what they did in Buffalo. Vereen and Amendola were two thirds of the offense, they were out for the game Thursday night. [Zach] Sudfeld didn't play, they wound up playing Nate Solder, he wound up playing tight end during the game. They're just so banged up on offense right now and playing with two young wide receivers that are still learning this offense. I mean, Tom Brady has been in the same offense for 13 years, he knows it like the back of his hand and he's playing with two receivers that have been in the offense for about six or eight weeks and are still learning and making a lot of adjustments, and I think that's how they wind up only scoring 13 points against the Jets.
RRM: Well "patience" is certainly the watch word for this young New England receiving core, but the number of drops in this game simply can't be excused. Are we talking a bad night that's somewhat weather related to explain this, or are some of the deficiencies in the talent of this receiving core starting to show already?
SG: I think some of the deficiencies are probably starting to show. I think these young guys are just thinking too much and not just letting their abilities take over. They're fighting the ball when it gets on them and that usually results in drops. I think they've got the ability to play at this level, I think they're going to be good wide receivers but they've got to become more mentally comfortable with the offense and just let their instincts take over while they're out there.
RRM: As bad as the Patriots were on Thursday, it's frightening to think about how they would have been without Julian Edelman's baker's dozen catches on Thursday night. With the news about Danny Amendola's injury now stretching to as many as six weeks, does Edelman now become the "go-to" guy in this Tom Brady offense?
SG: I think there's no doubt that Edelman has to become the guy Brady's going to be looking at. He showed that the other night with Vereen and Amendola out that he's the only one he really trusts, he's the only one he's been around for a while. So I would expect him to be looking in Edelman's direction quite often.
RRM: Is he up to that task?
SG: I think he is. I think he's been in the system, he knows what he's supposed to do. He's got some nice run after the catch ability because of returning the punts and things all these years. But other people are going to have to step up. I don't know who it's going to be coming out of the backfield in the passing game but they've got to find a back that can get in there on 3rd down and make some plays for them. And these wide receivers have to stop thinking and just do their job and catch the ball.
RRM: The fans and media are already referring to Amendola as the Jacoby Ellsbury of the Patriots. Do you feel that criticism directed at him for being injury prone is fair only one game in with the Pats?
SG: I don't think that's fair. I think anybody can pull a groin and he showed me a lot of courage by coming back in and playing in the second half of that Buffalo game after he'd already hurt himself in the first half and didn't look like he'd be coming back. It might have been a mistake for him to come back in the second half of the Buffalo game because he probably made it worse than it would have been if he'd have just sat out the rest of the game. I never, never fault a guy that will come back in a game and play hurt and help you win a game. You've got to win them one at a time, and that's what he did in Buffalo and it may cost him a few games here now.
"It's got to be really frustrating to him to be putting up the kind of numbers he put up the other night and having guys going to the wrong place, not seeing the same thing he's seeing." - Steve Grogan on Tom Brady
(USA TODAY Images)
RRM: Tom Brady was certainly as animated as we've ever seen him during a game on Thursday night. He apologized during his press conference and said he had to do a better job with keeping his emotions in check. As a former quarterback, just where is that red line with showing emotion on the football field?
SG: Well, for those people who can remember as far back as when I was playing, I wasn't real good about keeping my emotions in check either so I'm probably not one to speak to this [Laughs]. i know he's getting frustrated. Like I said earlier, he's been in the same system for so long, he knows it inside and out, upside and down, and it's got to be really frustrating to him to be putting up the kind of numbers he put up the other night and having guys going to the wrong place, not seeing the same thing he's seeing. And when you get frustrated like that in football, you lose your emotions occasionally. I'm not going to fault him for that. I think it's going to be a good sign for these other players around him that he still really cares a heck of a lot about what's going on out there and there's nothing wrong with that.
RRM: It sounds like you can empathise with what Brady is going through right now. If you were the veteran back up quarterback on this team what kind of advice and support would you give him right now?
SG: I think I'd tell him, "Patience is a virtue" [Laughs]. There were times in my career where I was playing with some young guys that didn't understand the whole deal right at the time, and you just have to be patient. Keep talking to them. Keep building up their confidence and letting them know that you think that they can catch the ball, and you think that they can play the game, and you think that they can make a difference and eventually, it hopefully sinks in.
RRM: Well lost amidst all of this offensive futility was the play of the New England defense, which has allowed only 24 points in two games thus far. Has this Patriots defense finally turned the corner into becoming a steadfast defense in the NFL?
SG: I think they're a good defense. I think they're better than they were last year. I'm not ready to say that they're one of the stalwarts in the AFC. They've played two rookie quarterbacks and two teams that weren't supposed to be very good, but they're doing what they're supposed to do against those teams. They're holding them down on points, they're playing good defense, not making a lot of mistakes and I think what I see on defense is encouraging.
RRM: What I've gotten out of the two games too Steve is we don't see the stupid penalties, the 40 yard pass interference penalties...
SG: Yes, makes a big difference when you don't have the penalties on defense.
RRM: Did you get a chance to check out defending Heisman trophy winner Johnny 'Football' Manziel against Alabama on Saturday and if so, will he become the next young hot quarterback to turn the league on its head? Or is he too small for the NFL as some of his critics have already pointed out?
SG: I did see some of the game, I didn't see the second half when he apparently lit it up late in the game. But the kid's got some ability. I think with more and more teams going to this spread offense, pistol offense, whatever they want to call it, and moving the quarterbacks around a little bit, I think size becomes less of a factor. The kid's got a great arm, can run the ball really well, I think he has a chance to play in this league. He's really accurate, I was impressed. That was really the first time I looked at him closely. He's got a chance if he can keep his head screwed on straight, that's his biggest problem right now.
RRM: Always a factor when you're 19 or 20 years old isn't it?
SG: Absolutely [Laughs].
RRM: I've heard this being said and I kind of agree with the comparison, but he kind of seems to be a slightly bigger and faster version of Doug Flutie?
SG: There are some similarities, there's no question about that.
RRM: Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town this week suffering from offensive woes themselves. Their quarterback Josh Freeman has already said he wants to be traded, and their only offense right now only appears to be their elusive running back Doug Martin who pounded the Saints for 144 yards. On the surface it doesn't appear that the scoreboard operator at Gillette Stadium will be that busy once again, but you know what they say, when you're expecting a game to go one way, sometimes it can go another?
SG: They've got a lot of issues down in Tampa right now and I don't know how that's going to affect them. When your quarterback's asking for a trade this early in the season that's not a good thing. Quarterback and the head coach apparently aren't getting along very well. Both teams are fairly familiar with each other from working with and playing a preseason game during training camp. But right now Tampa looks like they're on their heels a little bit, although the Patriots are on their heels offensively so it could be like how I described last week's game, like one of those old NFC Central games, 13-10, 10-7. Not a lot of offense, plenty of defense, and see who can win it at the end.
RRM: How big a factor is it that they met in the preseason and does it give a veteran team like the Patriots more of an advantage than it would Tampa Bay?
SG: I think it helps some. I mean, they're not going to run the same things exactly that they ran in preseason but the familiarity that you get from working against some of their guys, throwing balls against their corners, you kind of have a better idea of what their abilities are and that always helps some.
RRM: Well one man who will be on the field for Tampa Bay is cornerback Darrelle Revis, who I imagine will be poised to take Edelman away from this Patriots offense. Which, since we've already established him as the go to guy for Tom Brady, should leave for some interesting offensive strategy on Tom Brady's part I would think?
SG: I think it will. I think it's also going to be interesting to see if [Rob] Gronkowski, I don't think he'll play the whole game but they may want to get him a few snaps just to get him back into the rhythm of things, or maybe they're going to hold him out until the Atlanta game the following week. So I think that's a big question mark, whether he's going to play at all, or some, or not at all.
RRM: What are Grogan's Grades for the 13-10 over the Jets in Week 2?
SG: I would say offensively you'd have to give them a C-...
RRM: That was generous...
SG: It's generous, but they didn't have a lot of talent to work with this week. I think defensively they probably had an A game so whatever that brings the total to, B-. It's hard to grade on a whole when one part of your team is playing really well and the other part of your team is not playing so well.
Grogan's Grades For Week 2: