In this week's "Five questions with" segment, former Patriots star and current radio color commentator Gino Cappelletti talked to PFW's Kevin Fishbain about the team's hot start and looking ahead to Week Three against the Bills.
PFW: What have been your early impressions of this offense and how do you compare it to last season?
Cappelletti: Tom Brady has been extremely accurate with his throws. He's having a real great couple games. It might be hard to sustain something like that — the way the Patriots have started offensively has been a real strong showing and a real strong start. Averaging over 35 points a game offensively, they are keeping pace with what they were doing last year. Last year, the defense was a little bit of a problem in that they couldn't get off the field, especially on third down. Perhaps, right now, that might still be a problem, but certainly not in that area, the third-down defense has been pretty good. The defense has been giving up yardage.
PFW: Chad Ochocinco hasn't gotten a whole lot of snaps. What goes into having to learn the Patriots' system as a wide receiver?
Cappelletti: The system that I think is being held by the Patriots through (Bill) Belichick and Brady is that they expect the offensive players to know everybody's assignment, what the play is designed for and what they hope to accomplish on the play. A lot of times there are teams and players that know what they have to do and they hope it blends in with the other guys. By knowing everyone's assignments, you know what adjustment has to be made in a mini-second decision.
PFW: SS Patrick Chung reportedly had surgery on his thumb. What would it mean for the secondary if he can't play on Sunday?
Cappelletti: That could be a pretty big loss. He seems to be the one that's sticking out among the defensive backs at this point. We have some youngsters that don't have the experience that Patrick Chung has. (Devin) McCourty is having a little trouble, but then again, he has the tools. Sergio Brown has been sticking with the team for a good reason. Josh Barrett is a little new in this situation. Leigh Bodden is a veteran who certainly should be playing up to par. Just like the offensive line needs the continuity of each player, the tackles, guards and center working together, the secondary has to use that same rule. The more you play together the better understanding you have of each other, and that's what's missing from the secondary.
PFW: How big of a loss is C Dan Koppen, who was placed on injured reserve?
Cappelletti: One of the most important positions in football is the center. He is the guy that calls out changes, the blocking, if there's a change in the blocking, he calls that out. He is in control of the interior line and that is so important. If you looked around the National Football League in the past, you'll see that centers, somehow, play for 10 years, it seems to have the most longevity of any position. Coaches don't like to make a change at center at all. Controlling that interior line with communication, he has to snap the ball and make a block. It's a very key position. (Dan) Connolly has stepped in nicely, I particularly watched his shotgun snaps, and every one was right into Brady's paws.
PFW: What are some of the things you'll be looking for in the Patriots-Bills game on Sunday?
Cappelletti: I want to find out if the Bills can move the ball well. Miami moved the ball, the Chargers moved the ball, we have to find out if it's because those two teams have potent offenses or else there's a defensive problem. That's going to be the key. I believe the Patriots will still move the ball, although, the Bills' defense has tightened up considerably. I believe that they have to see if the Bills can move the football against their defense. If they can, it could be a close game and a problematic situation. Buffalo has always played good special teams. Those are the areas that I would be concerned with and I look forward to commenting on that during the game because that's what I'll be observing.