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Ron Borges Patriots chat transcript

Thursday Jan. 11, 2007
ChrisRon -- With regards to game planning for Tomlinson: a lot of references have been made to employing a defense similar to that employed against Marshall Faulk in SBXXXVI. Belichick also had a similar task as Defensive Coordinator for the Giants containing Thurman Thomas in SBXXV. I think Tomlinson is closer in style to Thomas than Faulk (power back than can catch). Were both of these game plans similar or different? Do you see the Pats employing a variation of one or the other against San Diego?
Ron_BorgesGood question Chris. Faulk was primarily taken out of the passing game by Willie McGinest, who possessed unique size-speed ratios. They could perhaps do that with Rosevelt Colvin but it would take one of their best pass rushers out of the mix. Mike Vrabel would have been useful in that role but with him inside and Tully Banta-Cain at outside linebacker in limits what New England can do. I think they'll set their defensive ends wider than normal to protect the edge of their defense, where Banta-Cain is a liability in run defense and hope to funnel tomlinson inside the tackles. he can do damage there as well but not as much as when he gets to the edge of the defense.
Marty5and12We all know LT will be tough to stop but what about Antonio Gates finding those pockets in the Zone D? Is this a pick your poison type of scenario?
Ron_BorgesYou are exactly right. I spoke with a half dozen defensive coaches, head coaches and/or advance scouts this week who faced the Chargers this year and all spoke of the problems caused by Gates. None felt you could play eight men in the box to stop the run because it would leave you too vulnerable to being hit in the middle of the field by Gates. The good news is that even though he is San Diego's leading receiver many coaches felt he was underused by their young quarterback, Philip Rivers. The Patriots would like to see that continue on Sunday but your point is well taken. It's a slow death or a quick one and neither is all that enjoyable to face.
Batesie52What do you think of the Pats switching to the 4-3 in an attempt to briefly confuse SD? With the injuries to the linebackers, I think the greatest area of strength is the D-line. A defense of Wilfork, Wright, Seymour, and Warren with Green rotating in and Bruschi with Vrabel and Colvin playing their better respective sides with Banta Cain rotating in seems more imposing than their current 3-4 look. I think a switch may be in order like Stallone's hat in Over the Top.
Ron_BorgesWell, the 3-4 was created to stop a running team like the Chargers so you'd be going away from the strength of your defensive alignment in switching to the 4-3. You're right about having better linemen these days than linebackers but the 3-4 was created to contend with strong running games because it allows you to protect your flanks while at the same time being stronger in the middle if the nose tackle can hold his ground. That's why Vince Wilfork is a key player in this game. I think they'll stick with the 3-4 but flex their ends to the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles, thus forcing Tomlinson to run inside.
NicknameWho are going to cover Gates? That guys is a beast, Baker had a field day against the Pats in the second half last week and Gates is much better.
Ron_BorgesYou're right. Baker's production was alarming and one can only imagine what Gates would do facing the same scenario. But in defense of the Patriots they probably neither feared Baker nor put a defensive emphasis on him. That will not be the case with Gates, who will very likely be hit by a linebacker on every play before safeties James Sanders and Artrell Hawkins take him on. The other possibility is to start Chad Scott if he's healthy at safety. He's got great size and is a natural corner so it would put a guy with more cover skills on him downfield.
NicknameThe Oline did a tremendous job holding Brady vertical for the most part last week, are they up to it with the Bolts super 7 Def up front?
Ron_BorgesYou're talking about an entirely different type of defensive problem this week. The line did do a good job and has continued to perform well since the debacle against Miami. It is a prideful group and will battle anyone but this appears to be a bad style matchup and styles make fights. They can use Daniel Graham to help Matt Light on Shawne Merriman on one side but who helps Nick Kaczur on the other with Shaun Phillips, who is even quicker than Merriman although not as strong. I'm not as concerned in the middle although Dan Koppen and the guards have to hold up against the league's best nose tackle in Jamal Williams. Together I think they will but the edge rushers scare me.
beacon-hill-patsCan you analyze Richard Seymour's matchup? It seems crucial.
Ron_BorgesSeymour is feeling the healthiest he has since last April. His knee is not bothering him and his quad has healed. The elbow is still not 100 per cent but he has a lot more strength now than even a month ago so that's a plus. he destroyed rookie LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson last Sunday. Now he's facing a better rookie in LT Marcus McNeill. If they try to let McNeill play Seymour one-on-one it will be interesting. McNeill has allowed only two sacks all year. Seymour left 1-on-1 could get that many in this game, which is why McNeill will get help. He'll need it.
sam_shahIs the loss of Rodney Harrison further magnified this weekend in view of his superior skills in run defense (given LT's gigantic stats)? If so, what is the best way to compensate?
Ron_BorgesActually I've been impressed by the play of Hawkins and Sanders since Harrison first went down with injuries this year. But you're right, if ever there was a game where you needed his tackling ability and aggressiveness near the line of scrimmage, this is it. How do you compensate? You hope Sanders comes up big, which he might because he has the size and the mindset to make tackles, because there's nothing else you can do.
redsox4shoHow much do you think Martyball will factor in this game? Will he let Rivers air it out early?
Ron_BorgesI've attended many of Schottenheimer's playoff missteps and feel he's been unfairly blamed to some degree. Having said that, he does have a tendency to become more conservative than Barry Goldwater in the playoffs. That would be a huge mistake against New England because to beat them you have to be bold. What would mitigate against Martyball this time is that the Chargers are a coordinator driven team. Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips call the plays and Schottenheimer no longer interferes. As long as that is the case Sunday he won't shoot himself in the clipboard.
Tom_From_Hooksett_NHHello Ron. A San Diego newspaper stated this AM that Rodney's knee will keep him out of the playoffs. Are you able to confirm this?
Ron_BorgesYes. I told the Globe last night he had an MRI which showed a slight tear in the ACL not the MCL. Why that was not in the paper is beyond me but I'm only a foot soldier.
RobRussWhat measure do you think Belichick will employ to mitigate the pressure applied by Merriman?
Ron_BorgesI would think the usual. he'll chip him with tight end Daniel Graham to help Matt Light. i also expect to see more of a running game and also Brady in the shotgun, but not the spread, more often so he can get rid of the ball on underneath routes quickly.
Chris_2Seems bizarre to say, but I think the linebackers might be the weakness of the team right now--the Jets tight end got 70 yards! Your take on that?
Ron_BorgesIt seems to me like Tedy Bruschi has lost some quickness, which is understandable with all he's been through, and Banta-Cain is pretty much exclusively a guy who makes plays pass rushing not in coverage or against the run. It's still a good group but with Vrabel playing out of position not one that makes quite as many plays as it used to.
LeroyDo you find Lights Out Merriman, entertaining our annoying?
Ron_BorgesA little of both. He is a great player but a little humility wouldn't hurt.
Chris_2Let's hear the prediction!
Ron_BorgesI see many ways New England could win the game but they all involve Tom Brady. he has to play spectacularly to negate the physical advantages San Diego seems to have across the board. In the end I think the Chargers will prevail. they're six points off of a 16-0 record for a reason and that reason is an abundance of talent. Having said that, it's not hopeless for the Pats and even if they lose I think they'll play solidly.
sdjrI think Rivers is more vulnerable to the rush and getting rattled than most people believe....your thoughts?
Ron_BorgesI wondered about that myself. Certainly he seems to have had some struggles late in the year when teams began to come after him more than they had earlier. At times he seemed frustrated and confused. But one opposing coach reminded me on Tuesday that this kid has been the MVP of every All-Star game and Bowl game he ever played in, including the Senior Bowl. He could become confused by Belichick's schemes but I don't think a pass rush alone will do it. Getting hit a half dozen times would though.
GrogansheroesRon , I know we have a team in the playoffs, but you always said, If Andre Tippet gets to the final 15 he has a great chance to make the HOF, well he is there, does have a chance today..
Ron_BorgesI think he does have a good chance but it's a difficult group with 17 guys (2 from the veterans committee) and only six openings at best. He has to overcome the apparent bias against players who did not play on championship winning teams, which has hurt the candidacy of a lot of players unfairly. hopefully it won't mitigate against him. I know this. If he had played in new York instead of Foxborough all those years he'd already be in the Hall of Fame.
yoyomaPitt and Balt both slowed the SD Offense by focusing on LT...but only Balt Offense came through. I think we can do the same thing by not letting them hit the big play early and getting the QB frustrated...your thoughts? and I think Maroney will have a BIG game.
Ron_BorgesI agree about Maroney. I think he and the running game are a key element in how this game is decided. The Chargers are allowing 4.2 yards per rush. That tells me plays can be made against them. If they are, the ability to run LT all the time is reduced and that's the best way to stop him. Only problem there is even when teams have slowed him down the Chargers won most of the time. SF held him to 71 yards and he still scored 4 TD's on them. But you're right about Maroney, I think.
kkI have heard enough about Tomlinson and Gates. What about our Running game? No one talks about it. We got dynamic trio in Dillion, Maroney and Faulk on our side. In the excitement of LT, every one forgets about them. How can we effectively use them to negate their pass rush?
Ron_BorgesI think you're hearing so much about LT because he's one of the greatest runners to come into the NFL in years. Having said that, you're right about NE's running game. I think they may throw short early to try and loosen up the defense and then hit them with Maroney, whose ability and willingness to make one cut and go could result in some big plays because SD defense is aggressive and at times over runs the play. If you're lucky, San Diego won't be thinking about the Patriots running game until it's too late.
cogzAny possibility that we catch San Diego a little over confident?
Ron_BorgesSchottenheimer is 5-12 in the playoffs so I would think not.
adpWho do see maybe having a big impact on this game that we may not all be talking about, besides the obvious, Brady, Seymour, Wilfork?
Ron_BorgesDan Koppen and Vince Wilfork. If Koppen can control the best NT in football, Jamal Williams, it will give Brady room to step into his throws and the backs room to run inside. Wilfork must hold his ground and not allow SD's guards to get off to second level blocks because if they do and LT hits a seam it's a touchdown.
GreggDo you anticipate they will come out with the spread offense ala Indy in 04 in an attempt to get a quick 7? For all the talk of stopping Tomlinson...if they don't score early I don't see them having much of a chance to win.
Ron_BorgesThey might but I would doubt it only because the spread can really leave your QB vulnerable. If you remember, in that Indy game Robert Mathis was hurt so they did not have their usual two-sided pass rush. Merriman and Shaun Phillips (28.5 sacks between) them a re both healthy. To keep Brady that way, I'd stay away from the spread.
BBTLAs good a season as Rivers has had, he's still a potential vulnerability in this game (young, lack of playoff experience, etc.). I'm curious how you think we'd viewing this game were Brees still the Chargers QB. A.J. Smith's done a phenomenal job with the San Diego personnel, especially the draft, but I wonder if letting an MVP candidate go for nothing is going to come back to haunt the Chargers in this game.
Ron_BorgesTime will tell on that. Certainly Brees' experience would be a plus in a game like this but thus far Rivers has played well. could he crack on Sunday? Sure if the Patriots get to him with the rush or confusing coverage schemes but if they could do that to Manning they could do it to Brees too.
CraigI feel like a good way to beat the outside rush from Merriman and Phillips is running draw plays and delayed handoffs up the middle along with screen plays. Do you think those types of plays could be emphasized this week?
Ron_BorgesI think you're exactly right. Draws and screens with Maroney in particular would be a good way to go and I would expect to see that at some point during the game.
canadaMany people seem to focus on how the players perform or under perform. My question is how has the new coaching staff performed this year in comparison to past and more important are they up to the task for this years playoffs?
Ron_BorgesI think they've done a good job. Dean Pees has had to deal with a ton of injuries on defense to key performers like Seymour and Harrison and Josh McDaniel seems to be growing into his job as well. Would they benefit by having Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel on Sunday? Sure but they'll be watching on TV.
ub-patsfanIs this the game we regret not having Adam? I just feel it will be that close.
Ron_BorgesIt may be and I've said for some time that I still don't trust a rookie kicker. Vinatieri had his own struggles as a rookie and Gostkowski has missed enough kicks (not to mention that out of bounds kickoff vs. Jacksonville late in the game) to make me sweat him if it comes down to his foot. Schottenheimer had the same situation two years ago vs. Jets and his rookie missed a 40-yard kick at home in overtime and they lost so I understand your concerns.
jjWhere is the soft spot in the Chargers' defense?
Ron_BorgesThe secondary. Problem is you have to figure out a way to have enough time to attack it.
John_S_Has Banta Cain been up to the challenge of replacing McGinest and how important is it for him to have a good game?
Ron_BorgesIt's important he play better against the run than he has. I would expect San Diego will challenge his side early, although it helps him greatly that Seymour is in front of him. as of yet, he's no Willie McGinest but he's shown playmaking ability in the passing game. Question is can he hold his ground vs. the San Diego run?
GreggWho do you expect to get the bulk of the carries this week? I have seen one too many Dillon fumbles in big situations this year.
Ron_BorgesMaroney because of his explosiveness and cutback ability (one cut and go). SD is not a defense that fits Dillon's straight-ahead power. It plays to their strengths.
PauloDo you believe that San Diego is being a bit overrated?
kerbyHey Ron, If the pats keep LT to around 100 yards rushing well below his average - do you think that will be key to a patriots victory?
Ron_BorgesCertainly it's important but he's had 6 games under 100 and San Diego won 4 of them. He's also dangerous catching and throwing but limiting him on the ground is a major factor.
Ty_and_LawyerDo you think they will go with the no huddle like they did vs. the Jets?
Ron_BorgesThey very well might for a while tire out the SD defense and thus slow their pass rushers. It's about the offensive line and Laurence Maroney, I think, but you've got the right idea.
Ty_and_LawyerIs it me or does San Diego not seem like a tough place to play? I have visited there and most of the fans there aren't originally from San Diego. I feel like the passion isn't really there for them. Also, its 70 and sunny everyday. I think the home field advantage is being a little overplayed. Not to mention, that I expect a lot of Pats fans to be there regardless of the Southern California zip rule. Thoughts?
Ron_BorgesActually, a lot of players tell me it's very noisy and hard to play there. I know when I was covering the Raiders they hated to go to San Diego.
long_time_fanBen Watson has really struggled in my opinion upon return from injury, can't catch a cold. Do you think he'll pick it up this week?
Ron_BorgesNot very likely. He's still not 100 per cent and doesn't seem to respond well when he's not.
MattyPWho has the edge at the Defensive Line position, the Pats or the Chargers?
Ron_BorgesPatriots unless you factor in Merriman and Philips as pass rushers which I do not because they're LB's by trade.
greyhoundDo you think all four home teams will hold serve this weekend?
Ron_BorgesNo, I'm looking for the Colts to upset the Ravens if the Ravens don't upset Manning with their pass rush.
KatzenmoyerRon, outside of the coordinators, how would you rate Belichick's year?
Ron_BorgesI think he's done a good job. They had to come over age, nagging injuries and the problems at WR and still went 12-4.
TruePatriotRon, should I plan on doubling up on my blood pressure meds this Sunday?
Ron_BorgesI would.
Dave_KHi Ron, I was watching Chad Jackson a lot and it seems he is being utilized as a go route guy other than a few dumps in the slot. When I see him on the deep routes, it seems he is having to slow down to come back to the ball. Do you think he is outrunning Brady's arm?
Ron_BorgesMaybe but I don't think it's an arm issue. I think he practices so infrequently it's been difficult for Brady to judge his speed. I know this, when he's hit him deep Jackson has dropped the ball more often than he caught it.
jarjarThinking ahead, assuming the Patriots make it past the Chargers, who would you rather see them face?
TD_RyanRon, with Gates and LT demanding so much attention, will the NE cornerbacks be in single coverage all day? and if so, can they handle it?
Ron_BorgesThey should be able to because San Diego's WR aren't much better than New England's
patsphan This shutting-out of Pats fans in San Diego by the Chargers front office is bad karma for them. Have the Patriots used this as motivational fodder (not that they need it)?
Ron_BorgesProbably not but in California it's all about karma and that ain't good for the Chargers.
BigTim_e_Belichick has succeeded by taking away the other team's strength. Do you think he will try to take LT out of the game or will he attack another area as the No. 1 priority?
Ron_BorgesI think he'll attack Gates and hope the front seven hold up against LT.
Ron_MexicoHow would the Pats of 2-3 years ago fair against this SD team?
Ron_BorgesProbably beat them.
r2angelsWhat role will special teams have in this game?
Ron_BorgesI think this could be close long enough that the kickers come into play. In that area, San Diego has the edge in both positions.
normWhat chance do we have against the chargers--in percentage?
Ron_BorgesI'd say 35 to 40 per cent.
SpudCan Chad Jackson be a factor Sunday?
Ron_BorgesNot for the Patriots.
drowBoth teams feature young kickers. As Pats fans know a field goal can often be the difference between a Super bowl victory and a loss. How big an impact will the kickers play in Sunday's game, and who has the advantage? Also, who do you like in April, Manfredo or Calzaghe?
Ron_BorgesI think we addressed the kicking game but as for the other question I like Calzaghe. Too much experience and too many boxing skills.
budDoes the shotgun help with Merriman?
Ron_BorgesYes, especially if Matt Light comes out of the huddle with one.
DangerousDanIs there any possible Super Bowl matchup that the NFC could win?
Ron_BorgesSure, the Bears defense could shut out anyone and the Saints are explosive enough to win, although i would be less saecure picking them than Chicago.
long_time_fanDo you think Asante will continue his hot streak and get at least one pick this week?
Ron_BorgesIf they have him in a zone and he's free to jump a route, yes. He knows every week his price is going up so he's pretty alert.
jtchowdahIf you had to start a franchise today and select one player, would it be LT or Tom Brady?
Ron_BorgesBrady, although not for much longer as he'll be 30 next year.
gc22Is Samuel a top corner guy or over-rated (at least in his mind)?
Ron_BorgesIf you make 10 picks it's hard to be overrated but he's not quite as good in man coverage as you might think.
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