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Pats' identity coming into focus

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

Q. Tedy, can you compare/contrast the Patriots' victory over the Bills with the win over the Bengals? What was different or better/worse? -- Mark (Massachusetts)

A. This win was less emotional and more about good execution and improvement. Character came into play too because of the injuries that happened out there. This offensive line is starting to show what it's going to be, in terms of them working together better, utilizing certain techniques like cleaning the pocket and cut blocks on quicker passes (Tom Brady is great about getting it quick). This was a true challenge for this O-line and I thought they did a good job. Seeing Brandon LaFell and Tim Wright, I think we're getting a picture of who they are going to be.

Q. Tedy, what would you base the performance of the last two games on? When you hear Bill mention after the KC game "it's like preseason is over." -- Morrius (Houston)

A. I think I know what you are saying. Jon Gruden said on the broadcast it was like extended preseason into September. To me, never underestimate the emotional state of a team. When Logan Mankins was traded, it affected this team emotionally. They may not tell you that, but you can tell by the way they played, it was uninspired. When they came out vs. Cincinnati that first drive, it's almost as if they said, "That's enough, it's time to move on." The O-line has started clicking. Ryan Wendell is a big part of that. The offensive tackles played well yesterday, asked to block Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes at times. They got beat, yes. But they also gave Tom Brady plenty of time on other plays.

Q. Hey Tedy. I thought the O-line did a decent job yesterday considering how good of a front the Bills have. Josh Kline looked good like he did last year. What do you think took so long for him to be inserted into the lineup? -- Paul (Maryland)

A. To me, I think the magic formula for that offensive line is Ryan Wendell. Whether at center or guard, he has to be in there. I like him best at center, but he can get away with being at guard. He does a good job of cleaning the pocket, which is when a lineman has already performed his blocking assignment and then helps his fellow linemen. He knows the tricks of the trade. For example, I saw him press and snatch a defensive lineman down to the ground on Sunday.

Q. How do you see the linebackers depth chart without Jerod Mayo? And do you see Dont'a Hightower doing a better job handling the play calling duties than last year? -- Khalid (Germany)

A. Right now the LB depth chart is dangerously thin. Can Hightower handle having the green dot and making on-field adjustments? Yes he can. Is it going to make it more difficult? Absolutely. There is a natural transition when this occurs, when you go from only having to worry about yourself to having to worry about 10 other guys. It's always comforting to look at Jerod Mayo and see that little reminder before the snap to help you do your job. Mayo could do that and also do his own job. Hightower will have to adjust to that if he's the choice -- teammates looking to him for the call and then him doing that before doing his own job.

The one thing this team didn't need just happened. One more injury at linebacker and you're just hanging on.

Q. Tedy, thanks for doing this. Being a former linebacker, what does the loss of a key player like Jerod Mayo mean for this team? Obviously he was lost last year and the group never looked the same, but do you think the "next man up" mentality can work this year with players like Deontae Skinner getting more playing time? -- Will (Connecticut)

A. This isn't just "next man up." This is "next mind up." You're not just being asked to step in to "a job." You're asking to play quarterback of the defense. So you have to imagine if Tom Brady went down on offense. Your Tom Brady on defense just went down. So the next player doesn't have to just perform like Mayo did, he has to be as smart as Mayo was. That's not going to happen, so defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has to be creative in how he delegates the authority to make adjustments. Vince Wilfork can make defensive line adjustments. This is "next mind up" also to Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich, Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones as well as outside linebackers are involved in the adjustment level of the defense.

Q. Hi Tedy, thanks for chatting with us today. Given your experience in 2005-6, can you comment a little about what is going through Jerod Mayo's mind right now dealing with his second serious injury in as many seasons? Of course your experience was different than his is now, but maybe you could comment on what goes through a defensive leader's mind when he is plagued by injury. -- Will (Washington, D.C.)

A. I think the first thing you think about is your contract situation. You hope the team still values your contribution. Jerod has been a great contributor to this team. The second thing is this: With this being a lower-body injury, you wonder if you'll be the same when you come back. You know the process is long and hard ahead of you, which he already knows from last year. But believe me, this kid is as mentally tough as they come. He'll come back again next year ready to go.

Q. Do you feel the loss of our lead tailback will have a major effect on how teams defend the Patriots? Meaning, do opposing defenses now concede the run and stack up defensive backs to keep the Pats from passing downfield? -- Scott Y. (Portland, Oregon)

A. You're still not going to stack the run vs. Tom Brady. I think Brandon Bolden can still provide you with production. He's still a big body who can stick his foot in the ground and get downfield, get in the holes and run hard. I don't think it will change defensively what these other teams are scheming.

Q. Is Brian Tyms for real? Can he help us out and give Tom Brady more options across the field? -- Brian (Groton, Massachusetts)

A. Brian, he has one career catch. Of course he's not for real yet. Does he have potential? Maybe. I did like what I saw from him in the preseason too. It almost looks like he has too much confidence, but that can be a good thing. But let's pump the brakes, man.

Q. Why is Danny Amendola even playing at all? Seems like the Patriots should do what it takes to trade him or cut him and give the spot/snaps to Aaron Dobson or Tyms. -- Al (New York City)

A. I'm curious what you think you could get for him. He's getting $3 million this season. Also, if Julian Edelman goes down, you might need him. We have to remember these are receivers and they are one hamstring injury away from missing four weeks.

Q. Tedy, tell me it's not exciting to see Brady uncork the long ball?! What does it mean for our offense if we can keep this a threat? -- Avi (Brooklyn, New York)

A. Avi, I see them doing that, at the most, three times a game. This isn't a downfield passing attack. Teams will know that threat is there, but it's off play-action, the running game and max protection. Even though Tyms beat two guys in coverage, and it's one of the plays of the game, it's not like it's something they will do every drive.

Q. Is Revis Island regaining its prestige among opposing quarterbacks? -- Ryan T.

A. I don't think it ever lost it. I think QBs always knew, if they had a choice as to where to throw the football, it would be away from Revis. On Sunday, I don't think Kyle Orton had Watkins on his mind with Revis covering him. He knew not to challenge him on a regular basis.

Q. Let's be real for a minute here. The Jets are awful, particularly the secondary, and the Pats are usually great on a short week. Other than this past week, Thursday night has been lopsided. Could we be looking at a 42-6 whooping coming Rex Ryan's way??? -- Michael (Rumsey)

A. I thought the Jets were up to the challenge against the Broncos last week. Before the pick-six by Aqib Talib at the end, that's a seven-point game. One thing I know about these two teams is that they don't like each other. They hate each other, as a matter of fact. I don't think this a blowout. I still think this is going to be a tight game.

Q. If Stevan Ridley goes on IR, do you think coach Belichick would sign free agent RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis?? -- Russell E. (Stuart, Virginia)

A. I think right now you probably turn to the guys already in your program who you have invested in their development, like James White or practice squad player Jonas Gray.

Q. What signal are QB's (Brady in particular) sending when they stamp with one foot, waiting for a snap? -- John C. (Vermont)

A. It depends on what the center and offensive linemen are told in the huddle. It may be snap the ball on the second leg raise, so the first one might be a "dummy call" in hopes the defense declares what they are in.

Q. I thought it was a great ending to the touching story of 4-year-old Jake from Methuen who was very upset when he learned that you retired and he'll never get to see you play for the Patriots when I read that you met him and his family at a Papa Gino's in Foxborough. First of all, he's lucky to be born recently, because in the Internet era, there is plenty of accessible Tedy Bruschi video from your Pats days. Secondly, what was your conversation like with Jake and his family? -- Matt (Worcester, Massachuetts)

A. That was fun for me. The first thing I told Jake was not to cry. There's no need for tears. The second thing I told him was that I wasn't going to be making any more tackles. I told him he could hold my Super Bowl ring. I mentioned to his parents that I was flattered to meet someone like that who hadn't seen me play.