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Defending

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7-Things For Thursday: II. 

By TOM

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I'll Bet On...

By TOM

4. Getting Offensive On Offense- The good news is that the offense is on as historical a great level, as the defense is on a historically crap level. "I don't really see it like that. He must be feeling like that or something but we're a team," Gronk said about McCourty saying the defense is letting the offense down. "We go in as one and we come out as a team and we stick together. As offense we can always do better. We've just all got to stick as one and just keep on playing football, helping each other out. [If the] defense puts us in good position on a turnover, we've just got to finish the drive [or] something like that. So just play together." Brady has been awe inspiring at the end of games.

This is a big advantage for the Pats. "You're not going to on a short week. You just don't have the time. You're cramming those extra days of preparation into half the amount of time," Brady said. "You're just doing as much as you can. Maybe you can overload it too much, but I like to watch as much as I can. So I've been pretty boring at home this week and that's the way it goes. There will be a lot of study on the plane tomorrow, [there will] be a lot of study before the game on Thursday and then try to just gear it up for a great game on Thursday." The short week should be an advantage for the veteran QB.

The Pats are also the more desperate team. "There's always urgency here. There's urgency in the spring at workouts, in summer practices and so forth," Brady said. "No one likes where we're at but we're the only people who can do something about it. I mean 2-2 is not where we want to be but if you want to get to 3-2 we've got to play better than the way we played the first four weeks.

"So it just requires a great level of commitment and attention to detail and obviously listening to coaches, taking the coaching, bringing it to the field, performing well and then stringing those weeks together. But we just haven't done it well on a consistent basis. That really reflects in our record. It's not great but it's also early. There's a lot of football left and hopefully we can take all the things that have happened, learn from them and try to build on them. That's what we're going to try to do this week." This is the week were all the work has to start paying off.

5. Pats D Vs Bucc's O- Winston is a great talent, but he is still young and learning the League. "He's a great, young player. I've watched him since he's came in and he's got them going," Brady said. "So they're headed in the right direction. I know Coach [Bill] talked this morning about their organization and what they're trying to do and Jameis is right at the head of that. He's a great leader, has been since he came into the league and he's been really productive. So it's a big challenge for our team: short week, travel, playing a good team. So hopefully we can go meet the challenge." The defense has to step up to this challenge.

Winston is still struggling with turnovers, which is the first thing a young QB has to cure to start winning. "Protect the football, that’s the main thing. I talk about it all the time," Winston said. "If you look at [the 3 INTs that led to the loss last week] that’s what it came down to. It came down to turnovers. Obviously, I’ve got to get better quickly, or there’s going to be some consequences I might hate. Consequences would be us running the ball 30 times a game. I like throwing the football." So he will give the Defense chances to take their dignity back.

He is still a young QB who struggles with the consistency that you need to win. The Pats secondary has to take advantage of that. "I’ve learned that winning is more important than anything," Winston said. "In times like that, most of those early turnovers were me trying to do too much, or me trying to be the hero. This is a team game and definitely with the weapons we have now we’re going to be able to take advantage of every opportunity that we get." The defense will give him opportunities this week.

The difference in this game is likely to be whichever unit, the Pats-D or the Buccs-O, that takes the best advantage of the others mistakes. The teams two most obvious flaws are matched up this week. If the Pats D can grab a few turnovers the Pats win. If Winston can play it clean, with no TOs, the Buccs will win.    

6. O-line- The Buccs have a very good defense led by Lavonte David. "He's second in production to Kuechly in everything except tackles-for-loss and he's second to Watt in that," BB said. "He's a very explosive player, good blitzer. That's probably the one difference between him and Kuechly is he blitzes more than Luke did, although, Kuechly blitzed, too. Fast, athletic, good instincts, good nose for the ball, finds the ball, good tackler, strong, strong tackler, runs well." He can be unblockable sometimes.

So running up the middle is going to get tough down in Tampa, especially with Gerald McCoy on the D-line. "There's no question about that. Thirty-three sacks in the last four years," BB said. "An explosive guy: quick, good athlete, good balance, smart, plays blocking schemes well, recognizes protections well, instinctive player, strong tackler, good against the running game. He's got a lot of negative plays, good pass rusher, good leverage, rushes with power, has quickness, a tough guy to block." He was a very successful top five pick for them.

With the struggles on defense, the Pats offense is going to have to be great again this week. "You just do the best you can do. I mean there's no short weeks or long weeks. It's going to come down to how well we play and how well you play is often times a reflection of how well you practice and prepare," Brady said. "We're on a short week and there's still a lot of time that we're putting in and watching a lot of film and trying to do as much as you can and then getting the mental reps in then going through a bunch of stuff today. It's going to be the same tomorrow and then you just put everything you can into it. There's a little bit of a break after but you've got to win to make it a good break." Having a more veteran offense should be an advantage for the Pats on the criminally short week.

The question is will it be enough. The defense has to make a big stop or two in this game. They can't keep letting the opponent's offense fly all over them. The offense is going to have to set the pace to reach the victory. I think the defense will be better this week, and the Pats offense has the firepower to pull it out either way, as long as the O-line is blocking well.

7. Pats Win By A Hair- Okay, there are two reasons I'm picking the Pats. One, the incredible record Brady has after a loss. It drives him nuts so much to lose a game that he will not lose this game.

Two, on the shortest of weeks, coaching is even more important than ever. I'll go with BB's record on Thursday night here. Maybe I'm prejudice, but when Brady and BB have something to prove, it is impossible for me to bet against them.

Also, I just can't believe that the secondary can make the same mistakes they made three times last week. If they just don’t have three broken coverages (and the refs didn't have three atrocious calls at imperative times for Carolina) than they win that game.  

 

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