ESPN analyst and former NFL standout Cris Carter joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday morning to talk about the Patriots and further explain his critical comments about wide receiver Deion Branch.
In an interview on The Big Show recently, Carter said Branch "disappears" against regular cornerbacks. Asked if he still felt that way considering how well Branch has performed since rejoining the Patriots, Carter clarified his analysis as being of Branch's career, and it includes the fact that Branch has struggled with injuries.
"Deion is a very good route-runner. Exceptional quickness," Branch said. "He hasn't been able to stay healthy. He'll be able to come back to New England, I believe, and salvage his career. This is not the same player who was in Seattle in Week 1 and 2. And this is not the same player who was in Seattle the last couple of years. Now, was that player inside of him? Absolutely. But you think Seattle, if they thought he could have provided that type of explosion to an offense, you think they would have let him go?"
Added Carter: "Me analyzing Deion is just not based on what he's doing in New England. Yes, it's easy to say Deion is 31, is having the year of his career. He is. It's easy to see now."
Looking at Randy Moss' departure from New England, Carter explained his take on the situation. "He made a mistake," Carter said. "After he had talked with coach Belichick and the Kraft family and as far as what they were going to do in the future. And they had said they were not going to give him a contract. So, Randy had taken that as, 'I'm not going to be here.' He made a vital mistake when he had that impromptu press conference [after the opening game] and he said those things. After that, it was over with. So, it wasn't a whole bunch of stuff that happened, it was that right there."
Carter said Moss wants to play in 2011, and he wouldn't be shocked to see him return to Foxboro. "I put nothing past New England as far as really trying to get their team better," Carter said. "If they feel like Randy Moss makes them abetter in 2011 at a certain price, I would't be surprised at all. The one thing with New England: New England is likely to get the best out of him like they do with all the other players compared to going somewhere else. The thing with Randy is, he's got a lot of bad video out there. I mean, there's a lot of bad video. If you watch every game since he left New England, not impressive at all."
Added Carter: "I think Randy still wants to play football. I know that for certain. And I know for certain that he realizes he made a mistake."
Carter said the Patriots have a clear path to the Super Bowl, especially with New England in line to host all conference playoff games. He offered his comparison of the Patriots and the suddenly struggling Jets.
"I think that the Patriots offensively, defensively and on special teams, they all have an identity," he said. "I think know what they are. I think they understand what they have to do to win games. Right now, [Mark] Sanchez sometimes in the passing game, they have no identity. And then also, defensively, they're not able to create a rush like we saw last year. So, defensively, I don't think they have the identity. And they can't play bump-and-run press coverage all over the field like they thought they were going to be able to do when they got [Antonio] Cromartie."
The key to stopping the Patriots is to put Tom Brady on his back, Carter explained, and not with token pressure. "Tom is just like everybody else," he said. "That long hair don't like to be hit. No quarterback likes to be hit. The great ones, they can look to be average. That's what you have to try to do to negate that passing game and that rhythm. You've got to put people in Brady's face and you have to make him uncomfortable."
Carter was asked who is more important to the Patriots' success: Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. "No slight on Brady, but you're not going to do better without Belichick," Carter said, adding: "I just believe in the National Football League, the most underrated skill is the ability for a guy to coach 53 different personalities and lead them and make them better. I think that's the most underrated thing in the league, and that's where Belichick and the Patriots have such an edge."
For more highlights from the converation, including Carter's comparison of Brady to his favorite quarterback ever and his analysis of the Jets sideline controversy, check the It Is What It Is blog. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.