<
>

Let's not panic just yet

Join my weekly chat every Monday to have your question considered for the weekly Bruschi on Tap Q&A.

Q. Tedy, I'm usually not one to overreact. It's just one week. But watching that O-line performance has me shaking in my boots. It wasn't just one person getting beat -- everyone was getting bullied consistently after the half. There were four or five times when all four members of Miami's front got to Brady at the same time. Is this fixable? -- Aaron (Scared, Maine)

A. Aaron, looking down at my notes, two words that I have written down are "quick pressure." What I mean by that is pressure in Tom Brady's face in less than two seconds. When that happens to a quarterback like Brady, it's going to be a long day. Quick pressure usually happens when your center or one of your guard positions is beat off the ball. If you look at the initial third down for the Patriots (13:51), pause it when the ball is snapped. And you will see how good they are getting off the ball.

Q. Talk me off the cliff. Is this the end of an era? -- Jimmy G. (Upstate)

A. Jimmy, I've been there before, down in South Florida, and it's a tough place to play. Let's not forget that the Patriots lost to them last season down there in December. This Dolphins team has gotten better; let's also give them a little bit of credit.

Q. Tedy, has a Belichick Pats team ever looked so weak? Is it possible for a good team to be so feeble? -- Peter (Texas)

A. See 2003, Week 1, loss to Buffalo.

Q. Tedy, did any of the teams you were on ever produce an effort as weak as the one Sunday? -- Peter (Texas)

A. Absolutely, Peter. I remember going into Denver and losing big there. I remember going into Miami and losing there. Into Buffalo and losing. If anyone thought this team was going to go 16-0, raise your hand. You can't see me right now, but I'm not raising my hand. I am disappointed in the defensive effort. They had three turnovers in the first half, which is good. But looking at it closer, they weren't stopping them traditionally. The Dolphins didn't punt in the first half. When a defense has to play like that, it's risky. If you don't get the turnovers, teams then go driving up and down the field on you. I don't think this is the way it's going to be for this unit. They are too good and there are plenty of hard-working players with loads of talent. I am worried about the defensive line, and I will be curious to see what fronts they play against the Vikings.

Q. What was the most alarming thing that needs to be fixed from what you saw in the game? For me, we need to run better and the line needs to improve the protection drastically if we want to make it far. Your opinion? Good job, like always. -- Manuel (Dominican Republic)

A. A couple things I hope they fix going into next week -- more consistency along the offensive line. I didn't like the way Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly shuffled in and out of the center and right guard spots. Continuity is so important for good offensive line play. The other thing I'm looking forward to seeing is the progression of Dominique Easley. Hopefully he can get more comfortable so that the run defense can improve.

Q. Everyone seems in a panic about the offensive line. Is it because of the recent reshuffling? A lack of talent? Or do you think the new offensive line coach can fix the problems we saw? -- Tim S.

A. Part of the problem I have is with the shuffling along the interior. An offensive line coach can fix the rotation, or change it, but in terms of Vollmer being beaten 1-on-1 that's something he is going to have to learn from and look to improve the next time they play. I will say this -- the offensive line will be the most watched unit in the game next Sunday. Let's see what the new offensive line coach can do.

Q. Tedy, last week I mentioned should we be worried about the Dolphins. You said no. Opinion change on that? I do think people are going to overreact to this game and the Patriots will clean things up quickly. -- Tyler (Maine)

A. You were right, Tyler. The Dolphins have improved as a football team. One thing I won't do is overreact to this game, as I do think adjustments will be made and play will improve. It's a tough place to play down there.

Q. Tedy, do you think having Logan Mankins would have made much of a difference for the Patriots yesterday? To me, Tom Brady needs to make better decisions. He was off his game in the second half. -- Will (Peabody)

A. I do think Logan Mankins would have made a difference. He's not going to help Sebastian Vollmer block Cameron Wake 1-on-1. But Mankins would have kept it consistent -- he would have been the left guard and, whatever lineup they had, you wouldn't have had the musical chairs at center and right guard. That can be confusing for an offensive line.

Q. I still believe this team has talent and I'm not ready to stick a fork in the Brady/Belichick era. What do you say to those who predict the end is near? -- Sam (Florida)

A. I am not willing to do that just yet, Sam. I know everyone is worried about the way the Patriots got beat up on the offensive and defensive lines, and those are issues to watch going forward. I just think it's still early since the Mankins trade and this offensive line will need to adjust and get used to not having Logan around. At times yesterday, it looked as if they were still looking for him.

Q. Hi Tedy, I'm completely blown away by the horrible defensive performance, couldn't stop the run to save their lives! What's up? Will they right the ship before we face AD next weekend? -- Lonster (SoCal)

A. Maybe we should have seen this coming, guys. Knowshon Moreno had a big day against the Patriots last year too. He hit the holes fast and hard. In the third preseason game against the Cowboys, Moreno looked like his old self, just in a different uniform. Let's give some credit to Moreno and a much-improved Miami offensive line.

Q. Hi Tedy. Much like last season, the Pats D struggled against the run and couldn't get pressure on the QB. What adjustments can they make that they haven't tried already? Will they continue with the same struggles as last season, or do you see them fixing the problems? -- Sean (Hudson)

A. I definitely see them fixing problems, Sean. I watched this game and I shake my head because it looks all too familiar. You get down there in Miami, you're on the road, it's hot out there, and you can't stop the run, and you know you're in for a long day. Defensively, if you can't stop the run, you're going to have problems. A part of me thinks they tried to adjust too much. Along the defensive front, it seemed like they were using multiple fronts. It may be a case where they don't have the players to be that flexible. Vince Wilfork is absolutely that player. To have inexperienced players in there like Joe Vellano, Dominique Easley and to a lesser degree, Sealver Siliga, sometimes you want to keep it simple with your defensive fronts.

Q. So much for the revamped defense. Where was the biggest hole? The fact that they couldn't stop the run or they couldn't get to the quarterback? -- Elliot (Barrington, Rhode Island)

A. If you can't stop the run, you'll almost never have an opportunity to get to the quarterback.

Q. With the Dolphins gashing the Patriots on the ground, why didn't the Patriots blitz more often to take away the run? Technique-wise, what was the front seven doing wrong that allowed Moreno to have such success? -- Evan (Boston)

A. Technique-wise, I didn't see them getting off blocks on a regular basis. Knowshon Moreno hits the hole very hard, and as a defensive lineman, you must separate from your block as the running back enters the line of scrimmage to make the tackle.

Q. Hi Tedy -- Last year, after injuries took their toll and the run D was getting gashed, you said something like "this is who we've got and there is no magic fix." Did we see who the Pats really are in the second half Sunday? Is there hope of improvement for that O-line and run D? -- Avi (Brooklyn)

A. After Week 1, you don't have a clear picture of who you are. One concern I do have is the defensive tackle spot next to Vince Wilfork. Wilfork can still get the job done, but if you have a weak link inside, it can be exploited. We'll see if Minnesota does the same thing.

Q. Tedy, what's your take on the look of the offense? Looked a bit one-dimensional to me. Also, do you think we came out after the half a bit slow because of the heat? -- Mike (Buena Park, California)

A. Current players won't say it affected them at all, but I can tell you, as a former player: It's hot down there. It does take a toll into the second half, especially if you can't stop the run. But in terms of the offense, I thought they had balance. They'd get in the red area and try to establish a physical presence with consecutive runs to get into the end zone, and they had a rushing TD early in the game. I thought Julian Edelman played somewhat of a Percy Harvin role, and it was somewhat disappointing to see him fade away a bit in the second half. That's a guy you have to look at as your No. 1 option going forward.

Q. What's your diagnosis of the Patriots' defensive issues in this game? They just couldn't stop the inside runs -- I feel like this is the 2013 defense all over again. Please tell me this was just a case of poor execution and not a fatal weakness in the personnel/scheme. -- Alex (Boston)

A. To be honest with you, Alex, at times it was hard to figure out what the Patriots' run defense was doing. Their front was changing on a regular basis. I saw some odd fronts, I saw some even fronts. And certain techniques can't be deciphered if you're getting blown off the ball. So not being able to stop the inside run is a major problem. Inside runs are the easiest way to inflict damage on a defense. Not only that, it's mentally demoralizing.

Q. Hey Tedy, I noticed a lot of bad plays when operating in the 3-4 defense. Chandler Jones and Joe Vellano seemed to play especially poorly in these looks. Do you think one week is enough for Belichick to judge whether this is a good concept for his D? -- Keith (Wakefield, Rhode Island)

A. Chandler Jones is not your traditional 5-technique. I see Jones as more of a defensive end in a 4-3, or possibly playing outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Q. I thought our secondary needed help, but now it's the D-line with a lot of rush potential but can't stop the run. Or is this just Belichick experimenting still? I noticed a lot of changes through the game. -- Brennan (Washington)

A. I thought Darrelle Revis was in good position for most of the day. The majority of balls thrown his way, he got his hands on. The one touchdown, he knocked down, but Wallace was able to make a lap catch. Sometimes the balls don't bounce your way, especially as a cornerback. I don't think any less of Revis after yesterday, that's for sure.

Q. What did you think of the three roughing-the-passer calls against the Pats? Legitimate, borderline or blown? - Chris (A-bus)

A. Chandler Jones did hit Ryan Tannehill in the face once. I thought Dont'a Hightower did drive Tannehill into the ground. That was a penalty, but it was still cool to watch. On Jones' second one, if it's close, they're going to call it -- especially in Week 1.

Q. Tedy, the blocked punt appeared to me to be more of an issue of someone missing their block, not because of the low snap. That guy was on top of Ryan Allen quickly and he would have had trouble getting the kick away even if the snap was good. Too much turnover and inconsistency with the personnel groupings. This was more like the fifth preseason game. -- Rob (Westwood)

A. The blocked punt was a combination of two problems. Being on the punt team, it's all about timing. You know how long you have to hold your block. When it's a clean snap and punt, that shouldn't be blocked. But what happened was that the snap was bobbled and Rob Ninkovich only got a grazing blow on Chris McCain. Could Ninkovich have held that block a little longer? Absolutely. Sometimes you can get away with that, too.

Thanks for all the questions. We'll chat again next week.