CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of the neat parts about being part of the ESPN team is the opportunity to speak with staffers who have unique insight on the New England Patriots.
Today was a good example, as ESPN Senior Director of Communications Bill Hofheimer sent out word that "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden would have some time following a Monday morning production meeting. So we sent out word to you on Twitter, and brought your questions to Gruden.
Did you ever worry about over-preparing for an opponent when you had 15 days like the Patriots do? (via @ChiefSakeef)
“You really don’t have that much. You have 5 or 6 days to give your players off. You have two games you have to prepare for in a short period of time -- you have Carolina and you have Peyton Manning and the Broncos. So you have two vastly different teams to prepare for and you really need to get some of your guys rest, and you need extra treatment for them. You never have enough time. It’s nice to have the bye where it landed for New England. I never liked having those byes early in the season.”
How comfortable would you feel putting Luke Kuechly 1-on-1 against Rob Gronkowski without help? (via @Radas_cz)
“Carolina doesn’t play man-to-man. Rarely. So you’re not going to see Kuechly vs. Gronkowski. You might see statistics say differently where Gronkowski had eight catches or four catches, but it’s a zone defense that they play here in Carolina. Even when they blitz, for the most part, they play zone blitz coverage. But Kuechly and Gronkowski are the marquee players outside the quarterbacks.”
What is your nickname for Tom Brady? (via @TheRealCvNeal)
“Just ‘Tom.’ Mr. Brady, I called him when I was coaching. Just Mr. Brady. He’s something. I looked at the Carolina-New England game from 2009 and he’s handing the ball to Laurence Maroney and he’s throwing the ball to receivers that are no longer here. This is a totally different Patriot team than he had in 2009. And the 2009 team was totally different than the team he had in 2005, and ‘03 and ‘01. It’s just amazing the production he maintains with a different cast of support.”
What are your thoughts on Bill Belichick’s coaching job in 2013? (via @MikeReiss)
“I think the biggest credit you can give him is his adjustment to the rule changes. The [collective bargaining agreement], I think, limits the greatness in a coach. You’re not allowed to spend as much time with these players at the facility, on the practice field, the drills have to be adjusted. Everything has to be changed -- practice schedules. The one thing about Bill Belichick is he’s always been on the cutting edge of not just tactical X’s and O’s football, but practice schedules and developing players. I give him a lot of credit for that.”