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More thoughts on Patriots from NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger

08.31.11 at 10:26 am ET

On Tuesday night, I had the chance to speak with NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, who spent 13 seasons in the league as an offensive lineman and has forgotten more about playing in the trenches than most of us will ever know. (Check out that story here.) He had plenty to say about the state of the New England offensive line in the wake of Saturday’€™s loss to the Lions, a game in which Detroit’€™s front four overwhelmed the Patriots early and set the tone for the game.

‘€œMatt Light was in and out, and obviously [Nate Solder] saw some time out there and Detroit was able to get a good pass rush on him,’€ Baldinger said. ‘€œ[Right guard Dan] Connolly went out and that hurt the team a little bit, and [right tackle Sebastian] Vollmer is a good offensive lineman, but he also had some problems.

‘€œI mean, even [left guard] Logan Mankins had problems, and that’€™s saying something. I don’€™t care who is going to be single-blocking Ndamukong Suh, that guy is going to win those one-on-one battles.’€

In our discussion, Baldinger also touched on several other Patriots-related points, including the work in progress that is the relationship between quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.

‘€œThere’€™s really no timing between Brady and Ochocinco right now,’€ he said. ‘€œYou just watch them, and there’€™s just no connection between the two. I know they had that one touchdown pass, but they’€™ve really forced the ball to him. It just looks like what Ochocinco is doing and what Brady is reading are two different things.’€

But with the bad comes some good: Baldinger has been impressed with New England’€™s defensive front, saying that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has ‘€œcompletely changed his approach to playing defense’€ this season.

‘€œHe doesn’€™t have Casey Matthews or DeMarcus Ware, and the idea of lining up in a 3-4 defense and being successful, you can’€™t do that without the Mike Vrabels and the Willie McGinests,’€ Baldinger said. ‘€œSo he thinks, ‘€˜If I can’€™t get to the quarterback from the outside anymore, maybe it’€™s better to just crush the pocket from the inside. Let’€™s not allow these elite quarterbacks like [Peyton] Manning, [Drew] Brees and [Philip] Rivers to step up and throw the football.’€™ That’€™s why Haynesworth is here, so try to crush that pocket and crush people up front.’€

Baldinger said that if Albert Haynesworth is right, he could be a game-changer for New England.

‘€œLook, I don’€™t know what they can get from Albert Haynesworth. I’€™m not even sure what Belichick knows he’€™s going to get from him,’€ he said. ‘€œBut if they get 25-30 snaps a game from him, you put Haynesworth and [Vince] Wilfork inside … good luck being that guard that has to single-block one of those guys.’€

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, brian baldinger, Casey Matthews, Chad Ochocinco



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