Despite the fact that 95% of Western New York football fans are depressed this fine Wednesday morning, we're going to keep on keepin' on with our "Patriots Week" series. The Buffalo Bills take on the New England Patriots in a little over five days' time, and no matter how upset anyone is over the massive changes the Bills have made over the past two days, the fact of the matter is that NFL football is just around the corner. I remain excited. You should, too.
Once again, MaPatsFan joins us this morning to discuss his Patriots, which he does on a daily basis over at Pats Pulpit. On the first two days of Patriots week, we discussed New England's transition to a 4-3 defense and QB Tom Brady. Today, we narrow our defensive focus to take a look at the Patriots' revamped secondary. More after the jump.
Rumblings: I'd love to hear your thoughts on a Patriots secondary that has undergone some pretty serious changes over the past couple of years. How are vets such as Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs looking? Are the young players progressing as planned?
Pulpit: Basing my opinion off of just the pre-season, I'd be nervous. Second year CB Terrence Wheatley was consistently burned by receivers (surprised he made the roster) and rookie S Patrick Chung had his share of embarrassments as well. Although, we drafted Chung knowing full well he struggles in coverage and is much better in the box. Another second year CB, Jonathan Wilhite, showed promise. Rookie Darius Butler has the physical talent to become a shutdown corner. All he needs is NFL reps. What little we got to see of Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden was almost indeterminate. However, Bodden had some nice breakups and showed smarts on the field. I'm still waiting for that elusive shutdown corner to emerge.
Looking at the "potential" talent, I have reason to be cautiously optimistic. Lots of NFL teams are notorious for showing a very vanilla game plan in pre-season, and Hoodie's no exception. That and he played second and third stringers for most every game. I barely remember seeing Shawn Springs on the field, so I'll reserve my opinion until next Monday night when he lines up against T.O. I think that will be a good defensive battle to watch, considering they've faced each other their entire careers.
Moving to safety, Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders were, again, barely on the field. I've always liked this duo. Meriweather will assume the now vacated SS spot left by Rodney Harrison and Sanders will take FS. Meriweather isn't the "lurker" Harrison was, but he's getting smarter about recognizing offenses. Sanders is a solid, above average safety - nothing flashy, and he doesn't get burned too much.
Again, MNF will be the key. Given the Bills' RB situation, I suspect Trent Edwards will air the ball more than usual. This will be a good test for our reformed secondary.
I don't have a lot to add - as usual, this is about as fair an assessment as you can ask for. I feel quite certain that Bill Belichick will find two corners to start the majority of his team's games. But he hasn't found them yet - and that could be to Buffalo's advantage on MNF. If Trent Edwards doesn't get killed, that is.