Boomer Esiason on D&C: Patriots defense can’t continue at this horrid pace
|10.03.11 at 10:10 am ET|
Esiason said that the New England defense, which gave up 504 yards in Sunday’s 31-19 win over the Raiders, may not be able to withstand an onslaught from a top NFL offense.
“I just don’t know how far they can go with the defense giving up this many yards,” Esiason said. “When they start playing the really top-end quarterbacks in the NFL, I will not be surprised if I’m sitting here telling you that they lost 34-31. Because right now, the defense is not doing anything spectacular.”
Offensively, however, Esiason had rave reviews for Welker, who turned in another stellar performance in Sunday’s game with his nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.
“Forty catches already, over 600 yards, he’s an amazing guy,” Esiason said. “I think it was last year, he came back from a knee injury, and how quickly he got himself up to speed and into the offense. The guy, he’s a freak. He’s not a freak like Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald. We get it. He’s a different type of player. But when they need a money play, there’s one money player who’s going to get the ball, and it’s going to be him. He’s nothing short of miraculous.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On the running game: “It certainly takes a lot of pressure off of Tom [Brady]. I’m sure he’d love to go out and throw the ball 50 times every game and come away with 400 yards and four touchdowns, but there’s also the opportunity for mistakes. A quarterback’s best friend is really a great running game, if you can get that. Watching the guys do that yesterday … the fact is, that came out of nowhere. You know that Wes Welker is going to get his catches. But to run the ball as effectively as they did yesterday against that defensive front was a little bit surprising especially since the Patriots aren’t known as a running team.”
On the importance of turnovers: “At the end of the day really for the Patriots, it’s always going to be about turnovers. If they don’t turn the ball over, I don’t know how they’ll lose. I will say this: If they have to play Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees or one of these other offenses that actually knows how to finish games and don’t throw interceptions in the red zone the way that Jason Campbell did yesterday and don’t get fooled on fire zones like he did yesterday with Vince Wilfork doing his best Nnamdi Asamugha line imitation again, I would tell you that I would be worried about this defense. But as long as they play a clean game like they did offensively yesterday, they’re going to be very tough to beat.”
On what makes Welker a good receiver: “It’s his quickness. He’s not the fastest guy down the field, but if you put him in a square box on the field, he can touch all four of the squares in the box probably quicker than anybody in football. It’s such a quickness game, especially where he runs most of his routes 15 yards and under. He does a lot of what we call arrow routes where it looks like he’s running a shell along the line of scrimmage and then comes back out of that. It’s almost impossible for defensive backs to stay with him. He set them up.”
On how to defend Welker: “Well, you’re going to find out next week, and the name is Darrelle Revis. If Wes Welker is superman, then Darrelle Revis is supposed to be his kryptonite. We’ll see if Rex Ryan is going to want to go that route. Or is he going to want to put Antonio Cromartie in there? They’re not going to want to put anyone else. I can’t imagine Donald Strickland playing against him. I can’t imagine any of the other defensive backs playing against him. He’s such an important part of what they do, whether it be on first down or whether it be on third down, that you have to put your best player on him. You have to try to take him out of the game. I’m assuming that we’ll either see Revis or Cromartie playing against Welker.”
On how the Patriots defense will cope with the loss of Jerod Mayo: “I know they went to a 4-3 defense. The reason you go to a 4-3 defense is because you have tremendous confidence in your middle linebacker. Think Ray Lewis. Think of Mike Singletary. Think of that’s where your playmaker is going to be. If you do lose your playmaker for a significant amount of time, now all of a sudden, you have to be thinking differently. I don’t know if Bill [Belichick] will unveil a 3-4 this week against [Mark] Sanchez and the Jets. I think it’s probably unlikely at this point in the season. It’s all about adapting to your losses and creating some sort of illusion and distraction in the mind of the team you’re playing against. If Mayo is not out there, that is a significant loss for the Patriots. Even though they haven’t played great, even though he has not been Ray Lewis by any stretch of the imagination, he still is the heart and soul of that defense if you go to a 4-3.”
On who will win the Jets-Patriots game next week: “I’ll be picking the Patriots. The Jets right now are a mess. With all the injuries that they sustained last night, the fact that they got hammered two weeks in a row, it’s not going to be a pretty week down here by any stretch of the imagination. But the one solace they have going into this game, they know that the Patriot defense is just not as good as what they saw in Baltimore last week.”
On the lack of leadership for the Red Sox during the season: “What I want to know is where is Jason Varitek in all of this stuff? He’s the captain of the Red Sox. I’ve been a Jason Varitek fan and I know they kept him around maybe a little bit longer than they probably should have. But from a player’s standpoint who’s been in locker rooms and watched what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate, and wants to make sure that he can support his coach and carry his coach’s wishes out in that locker room, that’s the most disappointing aspect of all of this stuff that’s come out of Boston. I understand that somebody had to lose their job. I get that. Tito [Terry Francona] was a great manager for the Red Sox. He exited I thought as well as you possibly could have, but I want to know where the captain of the Red Sox was during all of this stuff. Why didn’t he say something? Why didn’t he put his foot down?”