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Pats DB Steve Gregory on M&M: Defense ‘starting to jell now’ 11.26.12 at 12:42 pm ET
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Steve Gregory

Patriots defensive back Steve Gregory joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about his role in Thursday’s Pats-Jets game, the defense’s progress, and other Patriots news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Gregory intercepted Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez during the Patriots’ 49-19 win Thursday. He said the defensive setup allowed him to read Sanchez and pick off the ball.

“As in every play, you always want to disguise your coverages, disguise what you’re going to be doing so you can’t just kind of let the quarterback read and know exactly what we’re in,” Gregory said. “So we did a good job at disguising the look and Kyle [Arrington] was covering in the slot. … I got a good read on Sanchez where he was looking and was able to jump the route.”

Gregory recovered the fumble after Sanchez ran into linebacker Brandon Moore’s butt. Gregory said he was in the right spot to recover the ball.

“It was just a broken play,” Gregory said. “Obviously he went to hand it off and he read it wrong. And then I guess just trying to salvage what little loss he had left, he tried to run up into the line and get some positive yardage. I just happened to be standing there at the time and the ball popped out and I picked it up and ran. It was just kind of an interesting play, I don’t know that I’ve seen it before happen like that. But, hey, I’ll take it.”

Added Gregory: “Sometimes some funny stuff happens out there. This just happens to be one of them. Like I said, I’m glad I was on the positive side of the play and not the laughable side.”

Gregory said the defense is beginning to do better working together in games and that the Pats have been focusing on that over the course of the season.

“We’re starting to put it together now,” Gregory said. “We’ve been getting to know each other over the year. Obviously a lot of new faces, new guys playing with each other. Sometimes, when that happens, it takes a little time to build that chemistry. We’ve been working on that really hard in practice. Understanding certain guys’ tendencies, techniques, the characters of some of the players we are playing with. And I think it’s all starting to jell now.”

Gregory said Bill Belichick’s hands-on, detail-oriented coaching makes the team better.

“He has high expectations for us,” Gregory said. “The attention to detail, understanding the team you’re playing, the game plan that you’re going in with each and every week is really important. I think that’s a credit to the success that they’ve had here. The paying attention to the little things, the being in your playbook studying film. … I think the type of guys that they bring into this locker room is high-character guys. Guys that take pride in their profession. Guys that want to be in the film room studying, that really care about winning, and winning for the guy next to you. And I think that’s what this locker room is about.”

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Patriots WR Julian Edelman on M&M: ‘Got to do something’ with the opportunity 11.19.12 at 2:13 pm ET
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Julian Edelman

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman joined Mut & Merloni on WEEI’s Patriots Monday following Sunday’s dominating 59-24 win over the Colts to talk about his electric performance. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Edelman, who amassed 222 all-purpose yards and scored on a punt return and pass reception, said he was lucky to be as involved in Sunday’s game as he was, and he wanted to take advantage of it.

“The game plan was just go out there and execute what we’ve been practicing all week,” Edelman said. “This week I was fortunate enough to get some opportunity on the outside with some guys banged up and some of the transactions that we’ve made. So if you’re going to get that opportunity, you’ve got to do something with it..”

Edelman returned a punt 68 yards for a score in the second quarter. Edelman explained the way he normally returns a punt.

“You usually can tell by the trajectory of the punt if you’re going to be able to return it,” Edelman said. “You’ll look, you’ll kind of take a pre-snap before-you-catch-it read and then right when you catch it, you kind of try to process what you’ve got. You set it up. You know where your blockers are going to be, and they were there. And that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Added Edelman: “Best punt is right down the middle, kind of shanked off his foot where it doesn’t turn over so it’s low and you’re going to get it quick. With your blockers there, you’ve got a vice out there holding the gunners. Those are usually the punts that you want.”

Edelman was targeted five times by Tom Brady. Edelman credits their chemistry to offseason work.

“It was a big offseason,” Edelman said. “That’s where you get your fundamentals and you build a cohesive unit is in the offseason. … It’s where you gain your confidence, and your timing, and your rhythm, is all in the offseason and training camp.

Added Edelman: “I want to try to be in [Brady’s] back pocket, whenever he needs me. … He’s the general. Whatever he wants, I’m there to give it to him.”

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Tim Hasselbeck on M&M: ‘Way too early to be pushing the panic button’ on Pats defense 10.29.12 at 1:41 pm ET
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Tim Hasselbeck

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck joined the Mut & Merloni show with Rob Bradford and Troy Brown on a Patriots Monday to discuss the Pats’ victory over the Rams and how the team is doing this season. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Hasselbeck talked about the Patriots’ offensive strategy and their need for a dependable outside receiver.

“I definitely think there’s, and this has been talked about a lot, it’s important to have an outsider receiver who can create a presence in that offense so you know you’re not relying so much happening with Wes [Welker] and the option routes and with the tight ends trying to work the middle of the field the way they do,” Hasselbeck said. “You’ve seen the Patriots in the past, whether it’s to try to isolate Aaron Hernandez to try to get matchups and space that way. … It’s important to get Brandon Lloyd involved and have him make that impact they thought Chad [Johnson] was going to make a year ago, and they probably assumed that Brandon was going to have playing outside the numbers. That’s really the biggest difference for that offense. If they can get a presence out there then it just makes them so much more difficult to defend.”

Lloyd has two touchdown catches against the Rams. Last week he had just one reception on eight targets.

“Last week I thought he was bad,” Hasselbeck said. “Then I think you look at him this week and he has two touchdowns and he had two catches. That’s a nice ratio. But I think you need more production out of that spot. That’s one of the reasons that Deion Branch is back on the football team. They’re looking for somebody that Tom [Brady] has confidence in, that can play outside the numbers, and that’s been a challenge for them.”

Despite pointing out the need for a dependable receiver, Hasselbeck said he feels pretty comfortable with the Patriots offense. He is, however, concerned by the defense.

“I really don’t have concern about them offensively,” Hasselbeck said. “Are they going to be great each and every week on offense? No, it’s difficult to do that. … To me, it’s been in recent memory been about the defense — obviously, pass defense being an issue. Seeing the safeties, when guys get running on them, look exposed. They need to generate a pass rush. I really believe it’s about finding a way to come up with impact defensive plays … whether it’s sacks, whether it’s sack fumbles, whether it’s tipped balls that lead to interceptions. You need to do that. If you can generate a couple more possessions for your offense each and every week, with that offense, then it’s a totally different story.”

Hasselbeck said that there is no need for panic as the team continues to develop throughout the season.

“You don’t need to be playing your best football Week 4, you need to be playing your best football when you get into the postseason. With some young players on the defensive side of the ball, I think it’s way too early to be pushing the panic button on where New England is and where everything is going to shake out with them in the playoffs.”

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Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘I feel a lot better’ about Patriots after rout of Rams at 10:05 am ET
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Boomer Esiason

CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly Patriots Monday appearance with Dennis & Callahan to talk about the Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Rams in London, the Jets’ troubles and other news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Tom Brady completed 23 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns Sunday.

“I thought he was really on yesterday, when he went through his progressions and he found guys, he made quick decisions,” Esiason said. “The ball was coming out quick. It was extremely accurate yesterday — as opposed to the week before. The week before he missed a few open guys and was probably trying to force the ball a little bit. … But yesterday was one of those games, like Peyton Manning had last night. … Yesterday all cylinders were go. And even without [Aaron] Hernandez, you saw just the unbelievable amount of talent they have on offense, especially when Tom is playing as well as he did yesterday.”

Esiason was surprised at the pressure the Patriots were putting on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

“Early on in the game there was a couple of blitzes that were like, ‘Oh, wow, they actually blitz,’ ” Esiason said. “Someone must’ve been doing some self-evaluations, a little scouting and said, ‘You know what, we’ve got to taken advantage of this.’ And if you want to say one aspect of this game that was clearly apparent, it was like the St. Louis offense wasn’t prepared for whatever the New England defense was doing. Give New England a lot of credit. St. Louis is not a great team, although they are a different team under Jeff Fisher and a much better team under Jeff Fisher. I thought it was one of [the Patriots'] best overall wins of the year.”

Esiason said Brady is an offensive coordinator of sorts because he makes calls at the line and, when the offense performs well, it makes the job easier.

“If he wants to be thought of in the same ilk as Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, I would say yes,” Esiason said. “I think for the most part he is. There’s no question there is a lot of calls at the line of scrimmage. Probably a lot of two-way goes with it. And yesterday when [Stevan] Ridley is running for over a hundred yards and everybody is getting involved, and even Brandon Lloyd has a couple of touchdowns, it’s a hell of a lot easier playing quarterback under those circumstances. … I feel a lot better about where they are today than I did last week at this time.”

The Patriots acquitted themselves well in England, taking care of business while impressing the locals.

“I know that they probably complain a little bit about the trip but, let’s face it, they’re probably the most popular team in the NFL, for crying out loud,” Esiason said. “And that’s what happens when you’re popular and successful, everybody wants a piece of you. … In my estimation, the Patriots are one of the great franchises that you want to have international fans to look at because they do it so well, and you could see that again yesterday on the television screen.”

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