September 20, 2017

Cinco Preguntas

logoby Scott Benson
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Just in case the former Chad Johnson is on to something.  Buenos días, amigos!

The undeterred Patriots are already 2-0, and here in our little Mailbag of the Mind, the questions are piling up. I’ll take five – any more would require a re-branding.

Have we learned what “kind” of coach Bill Belichick is yet?

Oh, jeez, I don’t know….I mean, there’s so little data on which to arrive at a conclusion to this still-unresolved question, which has stymied New Englanders for almost nine years. I want to say Belichick is a good coach, what with the Hall of Fame game plan and the five rings, but I just don’t know yet. After all, how many championships has he won without Tom Brady, besides the two he won before? Answer: None, besides the two he won before!

You can’t tell anything from that. I remember thinking Bill Walsh was a pretty good coach until Joe Montana went down in 86, and Walsh had to roll Jeff Kemp and Mike Moroski out there under center. One and done in the playoffs. Pffft. Didn’t look like much of a genius then. But you know this already, since the media has long been saying Walsh owed his career to Joe Montana and Joe Montana alone. Anyway, the jury is still very much out on Belichick’s 34-year coaching career.

So….what’s Matt Cassel really like?

I like the way they shortened things up for him, and he responded with some authorative throws. It can’t be denied that they moved the ball (two drives of 70 yards apiece consumed nearly 11 of the games’s 60 minutes). He produced five scoring drives, and didn’t turn the ball over once. He handled screens of all varieties like a pro, and we know from experience that’s not a given. The intermediate stuff was not a factor, though I think we can expect he’ll grow into at least some of that as time goes along. To me, there’s two key indicators here – 1) that they’re able to get up the field a little more by the end of this month, involving Moss, Gaffney, Welker and darkhorse seam-threat Dave Thomas more in the intermediate areas of the passing game, and 2) that Cassel begins to finish off some of these drives. On Sunday, the Pats made four trips inside the Jets 10 and came away with only one touchdown. My biggest fear is that finishing is an innate skill, and not a learned one.

Have things changed in Miami?

We better hope so. In the six years since the NFL went to four, four-team divisions, the Patriots are 29-8 in games (regular season and playoffs) played against their AFC East rivals. Four of those eight losses came courtesy of Miami. Whatever the public perception of them has been of late, Miami has always seemed to be able to take at least one game from the Pats. They’ve only failed to do so in only two of the last six campaigns.

So we hope that much has changed, anyway.

Can the Patriots muster the same sense of urgency this week, as 11 point favorites at home, as they did last week as road underdogs coming off the loss of their best player?

As the final seconds ticked off the clock last Sunday, it was clear from the smiles on the faces of the Patriots players and coaches that they had made a particularly emotional investment in their previous week’s preparations. I wonder now if they can do the same for their next game, one that has less than half the motivations that their last one did.

True, it was their professionalism, their commitment to Do Your Job, that enabled them to respond to last week’s challenge, so perhaps they’ll be so focused on all the things they have to do to improve as a potential playoff team that they won’t notice their opponent has gone 1-20 since beating them in December of 2006.

Do we have to start this Laurence Maroney stuff all over again?

I thought the guy proved himself down the stretch last year, despite getting nowhere with the Giants in two tries (he was in good company). Yeah, Maroney was horrific on Sunday, running like a man encased in hardening plaster, but he’s had eighteen carries in two games. Half the time he gets the ball, it’s on that godawful first down play that develops like a Polaroid Land Camera and always seems to come with at least one defensive linemen four yards deep in the backfield. Isn’t there another play they can call for this guy?

Bonus question: Is a Brady-less Randy Moss a ticking time bomb?

Apparently, you got 4 hours of radio time to fill (actually, about 38 minutes after commercials), you fill it anyway you can.


  1. Muy bueno Senor Benson.

  2. Chris Warner says:

    Nice work, Scott. I can’t believe how nervous I am about the Dolphins. Maybe it’s the new defensive line. Maybe it’s Pennington. Something about those guys.

    Oh, well. If the Pats win, maybe Belichick can shake the “Brady Made Him” label. Then, of course, Brady will be proven a product of the system. *sigh*

  3. I’m hoping a year from now, we’ll be hearing, “Yeah, but what’s Belichick’s record without Brady or Cassel, huh?”

  4. Actually boss, BB has two game plans in the HOF (from SB XXV and XXXVI), making your point even stronger!

    Thomas always had the hands, but from the offensive plays I’ve broken down he’s seemingly made strides as a blocker as well. Hope the kid stays healthy.

    Don’t worry about a letdown this week; the last Parcells-helmed squad that came to town (the ’03 Boys) was in far better shape than these Dolphins, and look how that turned out. Not that that has anything to do with this game, but BB will have the Pats prepared and focused regardless.

  5. about the first question…i’ll agree that the question of what kind of coach belichick is a valid one, while he has been a defensive minded coach he is not conservative on offense nor are his defenses set in stone(flipping fronts, blitzing, etc). He is a coach who can effectivily(if not superbly scheme and develop almost any gameplan. Corey Dillon and Antwain Smith one year, Troy Brown and Randy Moss on others.
    but the idea that the jury is out on his career is ridiculous. the man has 5 rings and the two longest winning streaks in NFL history. the inability to pigeon hole him as X type of coach(outside of his obvious defensive specialty) is a huge factor for this. and before you talk about him needing brady, lets not forget that coaches coach and players play. and lets also not forget that brady was a sixth round draft pick developed by belichick.

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