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5 Questions with the Patriots

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This week I traded questions with Tommasse of the great Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, about the upcoming prime time rematch of superbowl XV. That's almost funny to say isn't it? Eagles vs Pats.

You can find my answers to his questions here.

BGN - The Patriots well documented "running up the score" has never bothered me because basically I think it's a non issue in the pros. In pee-wee, high school, or college it's bad sportsmanship, but in the NFL these guys are all big and fast and they're all getting paid millions. They can deal with it. But, as a Pats fan do you get worried when you see your starters still in at the the end of a blowout? Would you be more disappointed if one were to get hurt late in a blowout as opposed to early in a game?

No, I don't get worried about it, because if all the starters are doing their jobs, no one should get hurt, except by freak accident or by someone intending to injure. You don't worry about a starter getting injured when you're down by 3, why should you worry when you're up by 20? They're pro football players, not china dolls.

I guess the latter question would depend on the circumstances. You can't sit all 22-plus starters, so some of them are going to be in there regardless. Besides, if your starters never play 60 minutes for the entire season, how will they be prepared to play 60 minutes in the playoffs against the best teams in the league?

There's no doubt that the Pats are on a pretty amazing run, but how sustainable is it? Will they go undefeated for the remainder of this year? Can you see them being this dominant next year? Beyond even next year?

It's sustainable as long as the key players (and there are a lot of them) remain healthy and under contract. Those are two big "ifs." The Patriots have also shown the propensity to replace key players, but there is an obvious synergy with this group that any change could disrupt. Otherwise, I don't see what else could stop them from winning consistently.

I think the Patriots clearly can go undefeated, and I think the odds are that they will. I've never seen a team so focused and single-minded. There is no complacency. A lot of people make light of the psychological games -- respect cards, humble pie t-shirts -- the Patriots play. But the stuff works.

Yes, I can see New England remaining dominant for maybe 2 or 3 years more; but, again, it depends on maintaining the roster and keeping them healthy.

You're an opposing defensive co-ordinator. Gameplan on how you'd beat the Pats... Because the rest of us are out of ideas.

I get this question almost every week, and I'm at as much of a loss as everyone else. The beauty of having an offense like this is not having to defend against it. Of course, part of building said offense is planning to defend it. Anyway, defending an offense depends completely on your defense's personnel. I don't know Philadelphia's personnel that well, so I'll make some assumptions based on the stats.

The Eagles are among the league leaders in sacks, but they're also among the worst in turnovers. That indicates a team that blitzes a lot, probably too much. The blitzes don't appear to be leading to turnovers, and that's not going to beat New England. A opponent needs to be able to apply pressure on Tom Brady with its front four or five and drop the rest into coverage -- and they need to be able to cover everyone, because Brady will find the open man. It's no small task, and few teams have shown any ability to do it so far.

Is there a Patriot that isn't a household name but who has still been a big part of what has made them so good this year?

That's a tough one. When you get to know a team so well, it's hard to know who doesn't have a household name. So, I'll give you five: Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal and Nick Kaczur. That's New England's offensive line, and they're as responsible for keeping Brady's uniform clean as anyone.

If the Eagles insist on blitzing, that will be the matchup of the game. If New England's front five give Brady time and Philly doesn't drop enough defenders into coverage, the Eagles simply won't be able to keep up on the scoreboard.

What are some of your thoughts on former Eagle Donte Stallworth? Has he lived up to expectations and do you expect him to still be in NE next year?

I think when New England signed all those free agents and made all those trades in the spring, most people expected Stallworth to be the No. 2 receiver. It became clear early that he would be No. 3. With expectations readjusted, I think he has lived up to them. He's not Randy Moss and he's not a possession receiver like Welker. But in the open field, he's a serious threat -- he's made some great runs after the catch -- and he fills a very important role.

I think he'll be around if he want to be, and that means that he settles for the paycheck the Patriots give him and plays to earn it. The only way to put together a team like New England is to pay players less than they might be worth on the open market. And if players want to come to Foxboro to play hard and be part of a team with a chance to win championships, they'll find a place here. If they want to get paid, they'll go elsewhere.

Much thanks to Tommasse of Pats Pulpit.