Join my weekly chat every Monday to have your question considered for the weekly Bruschi on Tap Q&A.
Q. Tedy, what happens when teams realize that once you take away Julian Edelman, the Pats stall out on offense? Do they try to bring someone in to give Tom Brady another weapon, or somehow try to solidify the line and give Tom more time? -- Matt (Norwood)
A. That's easy to say, Matt, but I think it's going to be very hard to take away Julian from a defensive standpoint. He's like the Patriots' Percy Harvin, and there are so many ways you can use him -- out of the backfield, jet sweeps, reverses, lined up as a slot receiver and outside receiver. He's shown he can do everything. I'm just waiting for him to throw the football -- that's one thing they haven't shown. Maybe we see that in the future. That's how versatile he is. It's sort of like when we played against Wes Welker when Welker was in Miami. You game-plan against him, but first you have to find him -- there are ways with motion and formations to where he is still going to get his production.
Q. Hi Tedy, I don't think you could find anyone at an optimists convention who would have good things to say about the Pats' offense. The public doesn't have access to coaches' film, so you tell me: Is Danny Amendola on Brady's "pay no mind" list, or is he continually not open? And three offensive PIs on pick routes in two games by Brandon LaFell? From the play calling to the play execution, this unit is a mess. Fixable anytime soon? -- John F. (Boston)
A. To address the pick routes, the officials in this league do their homework, too. When these pick routes first started entering the NFL, they weren't being called. Now the officials see them more and more on a regular basis, and they can tell the difference between a pick and a rub, or just traffic -- route-combination traffic. So the receivers are going to have to get better at being actors. I see LaFell trying, by putting up his hands. But you have to give the officials credit, too, and being a former defensive player, the old defender in me appreciates them calling it. On Amendola, I don't think it's that Tom doesn't like him. I just think he needs one catch to get him going. That could have been the one in the end zone that he dropped. Yes, I'll say he dropped it. I think that's all he needs. They're trying. But sometimes, the game doesn't want to let you get going. You have to keep grinding at it.
Q. Tedy, I would like to ask your expert opinion about the offensive struggles, and particularly the offensive line. They look soft, and the lack of production there sets off a huge chain effect to the rest of the offense, QB play, WR timing, etc. The worse it is, the more traffic in the box as opponents realize the weakness and that specifically stunts the running game also. Do you agree? This team has some pieces, but until the line plays better, it is going to struggle. -- Mike (Providence)
A. The one thing I've been discouraged about all season, Mike, is pressure up the middle of the pocket. It happened again at times against the Raiders. I'd like to see Tom in the shotgun a little more, and possibly even for the running game, see him in the pistol. Peyton Manning does it, and it's just another way to hand off the ball. He's away from the center. Maybe that's an adjustment they can make. If Peyton can do it, it might be a nice changeup for Brady where on the play-action he doesn't have his back to the defense and when he turns around someone is right in his face. Defensively, when you see the pistol, there are a whole bunch of thoughts that come into your mind based on what you have to defend. Just thinking out loud here, people.
Q. Hi Tedy. Can you give us some insider insight into the impact of positional coaches? Losing Dante Scarnecchia is the only thing that makes sense to me to explain the O-line sputtering. We have a lot of weapons at receiver, but Tom looks like he doesn't trust the line to give him time to spread the ball around. -- Avi (Brooklyn)
A. Avi, it's only been three weeks in the regular season, and obviously the big issue on the team is the O-line. There are new players. You just lost your anchor (Mankins), and now these players have to settle in. If it continues to be a problem, you have to look to coaching.
Q. Why do I constantly feel like every other team's offense "clicks" at the start of the season better than the Patriots? I am tired of hearing that the offense needs to take time to get in sync with the quarterback. What is it about the Patriots that makes this so commonly heard week after week? Every other team has young/new players, also. -- Mark (Massachusetts)
A. There are other teams such as Green Bay that aren't exactly clicking. I wouldn't say the Saints are clicking, either, after a 20-9 win over the Vikings. I think it's just hard for fans to lower expectations when you've seen such highly productive units in the past. This is a different team this season.
Q. Hi Tedy. Who do you think is the best player on the Patriots' offensive line and why? -- Mark (Boston)
A. I guess I'd go with Sebastian Vollmer. He's put together some good football. He's a solid right tackle. Athletic. I know the injury was tough last year, but I'd go with him as the best player on the line.
Q. I was at the game yesterday, and boos began in the first quarter! If fans are that frustrated, I can only assume the players are even more so. What adjustments do you think need to happen along the O-line and play calling? -- Mike (Newton)
A. I think you can see the coaches are doing whatever they can. They put center Bryan Stork in the game in the fourth quarter to see what he can do. From what I saw, he still has a way to go. He isn't the most physical center. He is a rookie and he looked like one -- a step behind at times, being driven back in the backfield at the snap in the run game. This new offensive line coach, Dave DeGuglielmo, has his work cut out for him.
Q. Tedy! Let everyone know it's a week-to-week league, stop complaining, be happy with the win and move on to KC! -- Gil (Maine)
A. That's always how you feel as players. If you have the mentality of "We won the game, but we should have blown those guys out" ... you can't think that way. I always understood that you always had the possibility of being beat. Minus a holding call on Gabe Jackson in the red zone late yesterday, that game could have gone a different way. You take that win and get out of there and continue your quest on the No. 1 goal -- to win your division.
Q. Tedy, the offensive weapons are the same as they were last season, yet the results are much worse. Are the constant inconsistencies of who starts at WR hurting things (Aaron Dobson two healthy scratches, Kenbrel Thompkins one healthy scratch)? Or is this more a function of the inconsistent O-line play? I would rather see Thompkins, Dobson, Rob Gronkowski, Tim Wright, and Edelman. Thoughts? -- Mike
A. I don't know any inside scoop on Aaron Dobson right now. If you're a healthy scratch, it's either one of two things: 1) The coaches feel you can't help them; 2) You have an attitude problem. I haven't seen anything to indicate it's an attitude problem. Have I seen him make mistakes when he plays? Yes. I can only think when the coaches feel he's earned the right to play, he will.
Q. Hey Tedy, big fan. Do you think the struggle of the OL is the result of a new coach and the loss of Logan Mankins (from a leadership point of view)? How did a new coach affect you when you were on the team? -- Hu (Boston)
A. I do think the loss of Mankins affected the offensive line. But then again, I do see Marcus Cannon play well at the left guard position at times. I think he's holding his own. The problem is more at center and right guard, although Cannon has been beaten too, don't get me wrong. I've also seen Mankins get beat. What worries me is the inconsistency at the center position. In today's NFL, the center is almost taking priority over the left tackle. This can be true especially if you have a QB like Tom Brady, where the pocket and "quarterback spot" is so valuable. That's where a quarterback sets up, usually 5-7 yards behind the center. If you have an inadequate center that can't be stout and stabilize the middle of the pocket, the middle of the offensive line, you're going to have major problems. A speed rusher off the edge is something Brady can handle at times. But if he can't step up, you're going to get a 37-year-old QB in the training room.
Q. Howdy Tedy. As a rugby player myself, I've been intrigued with Nate Ebner's transition to football. Belichick clearly thinks very highly of him and his expanded role on the defense reflects this. It seems he was used mostly on third downs -- he appeared to have good coverage on his plays and I recall him blitzing Carr at one point. I am interested in your thoughts on his new role as a hybrid LB/S. -- Matt (Australia)
A. This is a good sign for Nate Ebner. When he was drafted, he was strictly a special-teamer. As he's progressed into his third year, he's starting to see reps on defense. This means the coaches have enough faith in him to put him out there. If he affirms the coaches' faith in him by making plays, his role will be expanded. It's the same way I broke into the lineup initially.
Q. Hey Tedy. Thanks for joining. When will the offense get it together? Also, was Logan Ryan just being picked on, or was his play truly as weak as it looked? -- Jack (Connecticut)
A. I want to give Derek Carr some credit. You could tell the Patriots wanted to have him make throws to the sideline -- comebacks, back-shoulder throws, etc. To this kid's credit, I watched the game and thought 'This guy isn't intimidated at all.' You have to give him credit for challenging DBs -- not only Ryan, but also Darrelle Revis. With the new rules, I think all the great work that Revis does at the line of scrimmage, down the field -- when the ball is in the air -- these top-flight CBs have to watch their aggressiveness because there is a new emphasis now.
Q. Why are people overreacting about Brady's production? With absolutely no time to throw, he has not thrown any interceptions this season. -- Christopher (Michigan)
A. I agree, Chris. Also, Gronkowski could have made a catch in the end zone that was in his hands. Could have been his second TD of the day. Amendola was close in the end zone too. I see Tom battling out there and I also recognize his frustration.
Q. With Gronk going in and out of the offense like a yo-yo, it leads to confusion because he is a go-to guy. Moreover, he looks good blocking and running routes. Thus, when will Gronk play 100 percent? -- MIke (Beverly, Massachusetts)
A. Gronkowski, one of their best offensive weapons, is playing on a part-time basis and they are 2-1. That's the way I look at it. If Julian Edelman continues his Pro Bowl play, and Gronkowski keeps gradually working into the mix, it will force defenses to focus more on those two and potentially open things up for others.
Q. Yesterday's game feels almost like a loss because I expected the team to roll. I know a win is a win, but how do the most players react to a game like that? -- Andy (Pittsfield)
A. When I was in that locker room, it didn't matter if it was a big win or a big loss. You move on from it as quickly as you can. By the time Tuesday or Wednesday comes around, you're on to the next opponent. You take the win and you run, people.