We exchanged some questions this week with Ricky over at Foxboro Blog. Our answers to their questions are posted over there. Jump it to hear Ricky’s thoughts on the Pats gameplan for Sunday night, James Harrison and much more.
BB: What do you think the Pats offensive gameplan will be against Pittsburgh? Should we expect Brady to throw 40+ times?
– The Patriots offensive gameplan will be to throw the football probably 40+ times. New England will try to be balanced with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, but Pittsburgh’s run defense will limit their effectiveness most likely. The Steelers are 12th in the AFC against the pass, so look for Tom to try to attack the Steelers’ secondary late in the 4th quarter where Palmer was able to get to them on Monday.
BB: New England has a lot of young talent playing substantial roles on this year’s team. Which player are you most excited about now and going forward?
– The player I am most excited to see going forward is on offense. That is Tight End Aaron Hernandez from the University of Florida. Hernandez was a 4th round pick in this year’s draft and he has already made an impact in the passing game, being one of New England’s leading receivers. He can do many different things such as play tight end, catch like a wide receiver, and even be a solid blocker for the running game. On defense, I like another Florida grad in Brandon Spikes. He has plugged up holes in the run defense as a middle linebacker. Also, as a 2nd round pick, he has made his impact right out of the gate.
BB: What are your those on the recent controversy surrounding helmet-to-helmet hits and tackling in general? Obviously this has been a big issue for Steeler fans this season.
– My thoughts are that the NFL is becoming a lot stricter on these hits and it is not necessary. Yes, I understand that the game has become more violently, but isn’t that what a player signed up for when he put his signature on the contract. When watching Meriweather’s hit to the Ravens, I thought he did deserve a fine because that was totally uncalled for. James Harrison does have a point in terms of having to change his whole mindset on defense because he is a guy who said he is out there to hurt and you need those instincts as an outside linebacker. The fines should be stricter, but no big hit deserves a suspension in my opinion.
BB: Has Tom Brady fully recovered from his knee injury — both physically and mentally? I’ve always said he is the best quarterback of my lifetime so far, but he doesn’t seem to have the same aura of invincibility around him that he used to. What has changed, if anything?
– Yes, Tom Brady has fully recovered from his knee injury in both aspects. The reason he hasn’t seemed as sharp is because of the lack of reliable targets around him. Trading Randy Moss was the right decision for the Patriots as a locker room dynamic, but that limits the ability of Brady’s security blanket Wes Welker. When your leading receivers are two rookie tight ends, that ultimately takes its toll as a quarterback even one of the best, if not the best of this generation. Brady still has the clutch gene as we saw against the Ravens earlier this year and New England comes to play against big opponents. He hasn’t turned the ball over, which is critical for the Pats’ young defense. All I know is no matter what Brady is still the guy I trust in the 4th quarter, but the receivers have to catch the football, which will come in due time.
BB: If you could take one guy from the Steelers and add him to the Pats roster, who would it be and why?
– If I could take one guy from the Steelers, I would have to go with the obvious choice and say Troy Polamalu. The reason is that Polamalu is always there to make the big play and he makes a great impact both on the field and then off the field as a leader in the locker room. Without Polamalu, the Steelers were not the same defense as in past years a year ago which shows that direct impact he has. New England is a defense in all honesty that lacks a true veteran leader in the secondary. They have Wilfork on the defensive line, and Jerod Mayo as the lead linebacker, but where is the secondary leader of a Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, or Rodney Harrison? The man with the long hair would bring that back to the table for Belichick, Brady, and the Pats.