For this week's "Five questions with," Patriots radio color commentator Gino Cappelletti spoke with PFW associate editor Kevin Fishbain about the Patriots' recent success.
PFW: For a few games, teams had kept the Patriots' wide receivers from beating them. What was different against Philadelphia?
Cappelletti: Every week is something new. I don't really think that it can be planned, but it evolves during the course of the game. That's where (Tom) Brady really shines. When he sees the development of a play, he has an idea of who is going to be the open man because of the matchups that he's getting on his read. It's just something that they do during the course of the game. In past experiences for myself, when we played, you never knew if you were going to be a target for most of the game or not. I have to believe they went in prepared to do a lot of different things, then saw the adjustments made by the opposition, how they were going to counter what the Patriots tried to do. That's why the receivers have to always be ready.
PFW: What have been your impressions of Julian Edelman playing defense?
Cappelletti: The Patriots have been looking for someone like that, a la Rodney Harrison, a defensive safety who can also play linebacker, that hybrid player that could play both areas. Edelman lined up as a linebacker, but he could drop back and be a defensive back if he had to or if the play was designed to require such a thing. He's the kind of guy that has had some experience as a defensive player and he just fits the mold of what I think Bill (Belichick) would like to do with different players. (Edelman) has done a pretty good job with it.
PFW: What are some of the skills that Rob Gronkowski possesses that have made him one of the league's elite tight ends?
Cappelletti: The yards after the catch that you get from him, he just does not go down. With the first hit, the second tackler, he shakes more tackles, carries more guys with him for extra yards. I think that's where his real bonus is. He has soft hands and he catches the ball in an unorthodox manner, especially waist high. He puts his right hand on top and his left hand underneath, instead of the left hand up, and the right hand down in the basket style of catching the ball. He turns his hand around in a manner, I've seen him do it a number of times, and catches the ball. A lot of receivers would go the other way, especially if I was running from left-to-right, and the ball is thrown in front of me. He'll have the opposite. They don't mean a heck of a lot, because the job is just catch the ball. He's got great hands. He fills that role as a blocker as well. He does an outstanding job there. He has been a real strong addition to the team. With (Aaron) Hernandez, the Patriots start going with these two tights a little more than other teams. They've made it work for them. Now Gronkowski is getting doubled up, even at the line of scrimmage, which occupies some defensive players, which opens up things.
PFW: Bill Belichick was very adamant this week on ignoring a team's record and that you don't view your team's performance any different. As a player, is it easy to have that same sentiment, or do you notice an opponent's record?
Cappelletti: (Belichick) really does convince them that's no way to approach a game. He says their record means nothing to them right now. They have to go out there and win a football game, which is difficult to do in the NFL. He has a remarkable way of getting them not to look at the record. You're looking at the players you have to face out there. With the star quarterback out, you figure you're getting a benefit in that area, but (Belichick) makes sure that they don't hear the noise and makes sure that they have to do their job in order to play winning football.
PFW: What are your thoughts on what has happened in Indianapolis this season, especially considering how the Patriots were able to be successful when Brady went down in '08?
Cappelletti: I have to comment that this is where you appreciate the coach and what he's doing. Bill always makes sure he has a good, adequate backup quarterback. You've got to put someone in there who can blend with the offense and with the schemes they had planned for the week. They had Matt Cassel and he did the job when Brady went out, and now they have (Brian) Hoyer, he can go in there and win games. He can do the same things that the quarterbacks are asked to do. They are right there studying with the starting quarterback. It's something that is very important to the organization and to the coach to have a quarterback ready to go in there and replace the starter if they have to. If you start bringing in quarterbacks of the past that have to work with a new system in short notice and go out there and make the offense click, that's a big order. It's not the way you want to do it. Bill has (Ryan) Mallett too. Two very good backup quarterbacks. Bill has an answer to every situation.