By Jay Skurski
Poor Greg Bedard. The Boston Globe NFL writer had to spend a couple extra days in London recently following the Patriots' game there against St. Louis because his flight home was delayed by Hurricane Sandy.
Unfortunately, he was stuck working. Greg's home now, though, and joined me this week to talk about Sunday's game between the Bills and Patriots.
Topics included the Patriots' propensity to give up big plays in the passing game, Amherst's Rob Gronkowski, and the aforementioned trip to London. A few highlights are below, with the entire audio of the 10-minute conversation available at the bottom of this post.
Question: The Patriots’ biggest weakness seems to be big plays allowed in the passing game? What’s been the biggest cause?
Greg Bedard: "Absolutely. I think it’s a combination of things. Most fans and some of the media members will tell you ‘it’s the secondary, it’s the secondary.’ I think part of it is that. Certainly against the Bills, especially up at Ralph Wilson Stadium the past couple years, the Patriots’ safety play has been atrocious. That certainly contributed up there. The Bills had seven plays of 20 yards or more through the air. But in my mind, I think the lack of a consistent pass rush has been just as much to blame as the secondary. They still have issues in the secondary. We’ll see whether Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory are going to be back this week at safety, but outside of first-round pick Chandler Jones, their pass rush has not been very good. The quarterbacks have been able to sit back there and pick them apart. I don’t care who you have at cornerback, those guys can’t cover forever."
Q: The stats say Rob Gronkowski continues to play like one of the best tight ends in the NFL. True?
GB: "I would say no matter what the statistics say, and I think they say he’s just as strong this season as he last season, I don’t think that’s the case. I think that Rob physically is not near 100 percent. We’ll see where he is after the bye week, but he’s been dealing with a back and hip type of thing. It hasn’t really showed up in the pass game too much. At times it does, but it does show up in the blocking game.
He’s one of, if not the best, tight end blocker in the league, and his blocking has not been as good as it’s been in the past. But 85 percent of Rob Gronkowski is better than 100 percent of a lot of people, and I think that’s where we’re at."
The Boston Globe's Gred Bedard on Bills-Patriots