This week The Viking Age turned to Fansided sister blog Musket Fire to get the lowdown on everything New England Patriots related. TVA unpaid lackey Jon Merkle aka thevikingpig did the honors by firing off five questions for Jamie Pacheco.
TVA: Randy Moss or Deion Branch… Who would you rather have today on the Patriots and why?
Musket Fire: If it was just based on pure talent, it would be Moss hands-down. However, part of the problem with Moss was that Tom Brady was relying too much on being able to toss the ball up and have Moss come down with it, so Moss almost became like a crutch. That often led to poor decisions previously uncharacteristic of Brady, and the majority of Brady’s INTs were thrown in Moss’ direction. Therefore, I would rather have Deion Branch, because now Brady can focus on making a good decision with the ball and just finding the open man. Also, Branch is a better fit for this offense because he is a better route runner for short and intermediate passes.
TVA: Another question of favorites… Which of your two rookie TEs are Patriot fans more in love with?
MF: That’s a tough one. Aaron Hernandez has been explosive in between the 20’s while Rob Gronkowski has been money in the red zone. Pats fans also love their nicknames, and Gronk, Gronkosaurus, etc have been popular. I’d have to say Hernandez by a hair just because he has seen the ball thrown his way more, but it’s close.
TVA: What role will Danny Woodhead have for Sunday and remainder of season?
MF: Woodhead has been more than anyone thought of him when he arrived. We thought that at most he would be a third down back a la Kevin Faulk. However, Woodhead has seen a good chunk of time on early downs as well. When the Patriots want a quick look or a passing option, Woodhead is more likely to get the call than BenJarvus Green-Ellis. “The Law Firm” is more of a bruiser who picks up the tough yards and who rarely loses yardage, while Woodhead is more explosive and can line up at wide receiver. It’s tough to really pin down his role because it varies from game to game and even from series to series. If I had to slap a tag on him, I’d say “utility back” because he’ll do a little of everything.
TVA: Do Patriot fans get bored with Bill Belichick’s canned answers to the media or do they find it amusing?
MF: We’re pretty used to Belichick’s monotone and predictable answers at press conferences. Some of his more repeated phrases have become kind of a joke, and predicting them can make a good drinking game. Once in a while he throw you a curve ball and inject a little dry humor, which we eat up around here. Early on, his press conferences were annoying but they’re just amusing now.
TVA: Much was made of key absences and losses earlier in the year (Bodden, Kaczur, Mankins, Warren), who has stepped up in a big way?
MF: Despite the struggles in the secondary, rookie corner Devin McCourty and second year safety Patrick Chung have stepped up, especially Chung. McCourty looks like he’ll develop in to a great corner while Chung is becoming a bigger playmaker than Brandon Meriweather, who was supposed to have that title. Dan Connolly has done a great job at guard and didn’t really struggle until last week against San Diego. We haven’t heard his name, which is the way it should be with offensive linemen. He’s quietly made most fans forget about not having Logan Mankins or Nick Kaczur. Gerard Warren has done a great job on the defensive line and has really surprised me. He has lined up at defensive end and has shown the ability to line up at nose tackle, allowing Vince Wilfork to line up at end. He has been solid and helped hold down Ray Rice and Ryan Matthews in consecutive weeks.