Some leftovers from Thursday's weekly Patriots chat on ESPNBoston.com:
xpatcan (Savigno, Italy): Mike, are there noticeable differences in coaching styles between Bill O'Brien and Josh McDaniels that really stand out from your observations? Do you consider McDaniels a tad more creative or instructive?
I see more similarities than differences, which makes sense since O'Brien first learned the team's system/offense while working under McDaniels. When watching a practice, it wasn't a challenge to hear O'Brien as he coached his offensive personnel hard. The same is true with McDaniels. Both are real detail-oriented. I don't know if I'd call McDaniels more creative, but there are probably staples that McDaniels leans on a little more (e.g. screen pass) than O'Brien. Overall, I see the differences as more subtle.
Gary (No VA): Mike, no way Gaffney/Branch/Edelman/Slater all make the team. Thoughts?
Gary, I could envision a scenario where they do. Of the group, I'd put Slater as the No. 1 lock because of special teams value, followed by Gaffney. I still think Edelman has value to the club as a top punt returner/potential slot receiver of the future, so I put him on the roster. Then it comes to Branch. I sense from several followers that there has been a general "cooling" on Branch, but I still think he has something positive to offer the club.
Matt (Somerville): Mike, how spoiled have we Pats fans gotten over the past few years watching BenJarvus Green-Ellis never fumble? You have to think that element is going to come back a bit more this year.
Matt, that was part of what made Green-Ellis so valuable to the offense. It's also one of the big issues that second-year rusher Stevan Ridley should be working on this offseason after two fumbles late last season. In the end, you're obviously trying to strike a balance between ball-security and playmaking. I think the Patriots have more upside in the "playmaking" area at running back with Ridley, Shane Vereen and Co., but there are more questions in the "ball-security" area.
Damien (Maryland): Mike, with the addition of Joseph Addai, what do you think is a realistic touch per game amount for the RBs on this roster? I'm a fan of the RB by committee, but I also figured with BenJarvus Green-Ellis gone, Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead would take a more prominent role in the offense.
Damien, if everyone's healthy, I think we'll see Ridley and Shane Vereen get the bulk of the work. I see Addai as a nice "insurance" type of addition if Ridley and Vereen don't emerge, as well as a backup option for Danny Woodhead in the "passing back" type of role. While I'd lean toward Ridley/Vereen getting more work, it's also safe to say we can expect the Patriots to mix it up from week to week, depending on the game-plan.
Sam (Nashua, NH): Mike, Randy Moss is doing all the right things in SF. There is no doubt he would have done the same in NE. Knowing that now, tell me why Brandon Lloyd is a better fit for us than Moss. I don't buy age because Moss will be faster at 45 years old than Lloyd ever was in his prime. What do you think?
Sam, the one point I'd quibble on is this one -- "There is no doubt he would have done the same in NE." I think there is some doubt. I also think it's easy to forget how, in my view, quarterback Tom Brady was mentally exhausted with Moss by the end of his tenure (from a sense of the need to feed him the ball to keep him engaged). By the end of Moss' time in New England, I felt he was the type of player who could turn at the flip of a switch, and because he was such a magnetic personality, it had ripple effects in the locker room. I view Lloyd as a safer play in that regard.