Twenty-four thoughts, forty-eight lines:1. Your semi-regular Chad Ochocinco report. In 148 games as a Cincinnati Bengal, Ocho had two or fewer catches 10 times and was never shut out; he's made 0 catches in the last two games and has yet to catch three passes in a single game as a Patriot. 2. So far, Ocho has earned 611,111 for each one of his nine catches. And 11 cents - take care of the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves, right? 3. That thing that Chris Berman does where he uses every cubic centimeter of air in his body so that he doesn't have to take another breath and winds up sounding like he's about to expire by the end of the sentence? I don't love that thing. 4. Lotta arm-flapping and cluck-clucking over the fact that Charger guard Kris Dielman had a seizure on the team plane after suffering a concussion in the Jets game. Dielman reeled around the field and wobbled back to the huddle after pulling around to deliver a block on Calvin Pace. 5. Who's the one that deserves the most blame? Dielman. 6. The officials are watching the play so when a player canters by and they ask if he's okay, they don't know what happened. The coaches have no angle whether they're on the sideline or upstairs in the press box. 7. Everybody's got other stuff to do. If you want to get home to your wife and kids with your brain in working order, you might want to pipe up when you are walking around after a block like you're on the deck of the S.S. Minnow. 8. So you can blame the helmet makers, the NFL, the coaches or the whole system if you want. Doing so lets the player off the personal-responsibility hook, though. 9. Look, the Patriots can certainly win with the wide receivers and offensive weaponry they have. They play the most evolved style of NFL football ever morphing week-to-week, play-to-play, even huddle-to-line-of-scrimmage. 10. Anyone worried about the offense not being good enough needs a hot bath, a cold shower and something else to do with their Sundays. That person has no idea what heshe is looking at. 11. HOWEVER! Unless their opponents are complicit in beating themselves offensively -- as the Cowboys, Jets and Chargers all were in not attacking the Patriots' secondary -- the offense needs to continuescoring in the 30s. 12. And the offense will have a harder time doing that with the success other teams have had playing press man-to-man, which reduces the efficiency of Wes Welker (12 catches, 84 yards the past two games) and Rob Gronkowski.A field-stretcher that terrifies corners and safeties (like the Steelers' Mike Wallace) would alter the pressure defense. 13. To me, the barrier between getting to Indy in February comes down to this: either get better at stopping offenses or make your offense even harder to stop. Improving the offense seems a quicker fix than improving the defense. 14. So I'll say it: Moss. 15. What's the Patriots' greatest drafting blind spot? Is it wide receiver, linebacker, safety or corner? 16. The notion that the Patriots should hire a GM to take the personnel duties off of Bill Belichick's full plate may seem intriguing at first thought. But then give it a second one. 17. Will that GM have say over Belichick? Will that GM come from outside the organization? 18. Think Belichick is going to sign off on answering to someone at this juncture no matter how many high-draft picks have gone bellyup and free-agent signings have gone bust? Me, neither. 19. But if someone else in some other town had fanned on almost the entire 2006 draft, the entire 2007 draft, top-50 picks in '08 and '09, Adalius Thomas, Shawn Springs, Derrick Burgess, Tully Banta-Cain, Leigh Bodden, Chad Ochonono, Shaun Ellis and Albert Haynesworth? Right, that guy would be sitting next to Eric Mangini and Herm Edwards in Bristol. 20. And current personnel overseer Nick Caserio does absolutely nothing to inspire an iota of confidence that he's going to change Belichick's mind about anything, ever. He may be smart, he may be well-spoken but I want to see if there's a string on his back that you pull and programmed Belichick-speak just pours out of his head. 21. Antwaun Molden was the scaredest guy in America this Halloween. On that blitz where Patrick Chung came from the safety spot, Molden sprinted 20 yards downfield because he had no over-the-top help on Mike Wallace, who caught a WR screen and gained 12. 22. I believe it's time to take the Buffalo Bills quite seriously. But check out the stretch they now face -- the Jets on Sunday then three in a row and four out of five on the road. 23. It's always about the Ryans, isn't it? Yeah, they're funny and good at coaching defensive football, but is there any way they could get over themselves and not act as if they are the sun around which the NFL turns? 24. Mike Tomlin, making sense discussing the decision by Belichick to attempt an onsides kick on Sunday. "Based on the evidence that he was looking at, we hadnt punted in the football game. I know that if I was in his position I wouldve done the same thing. I would have tried to get the ball just based on what had transpired in the stadium to that point. We had yet to punt offensively. He needed the ball. So he took an opportunity with something that he felt good about, of course, from an execution standpoint, which was the onside kick.
The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place.
According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013.
Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round back in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million.
With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games.
Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.
There’s no way to spin rookie Jacoby Brissett starting a game rather than three-year NFL veteran Jimmy Garoppolo or future Hall of Famer Tom Brady as preferable.
But can the disadvantages be mitigated? Can the fact there is no “book” on a player be helpful?
“I think there’s always an element of the unknown when you’re dealing with a player or something you haven’t seen or scouted as much,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I don’t know if there’s an advantage there, it’s just that you don’t have as much information on a player or on some scheme that they may use, which then forces you to figure some things out as the game goes along and do some quick self-scouting as you move through the first cquarter, the first half, whatever it is, just to make sure that if it is something new you haven’t seen before, if it is a player that you haven’t played against and don’t have a lot of volume of tape on, that you have an opportunity to evaluate quickly what is going on.
"What’s happening in the game? How much of an impact is that player having? Are they trying to do something that’s disrupting what you’re trying to do with their scheme? I think that happens a lot of weeks during the course of the year based on health and availability, new players, guys being called up, someone that just got signed and you don’t really have a lot of experience watching them play in their system. I would say that’s a common occurrence for us.”
With a fullback or UDFA guard pressed into duty, there’s not a helluva lot that will be altered in terms of scheme. With players like Garoppolo and Brissett, though, the Patriots' long-established offense can take on an entirely different look if different areas are emphasized.
For instance, jet sweep is a play the team won’t use much with Tom Brady except as a “keep ‘em honest” on the edges kind of play. With Garoppolo, quickness when he gets outside the pocket has to be respected so if he fakes that jet sweep and rolls to the outside, he’s a run-pass threat with speed and downfield accuracy. With Brissett, he’s a threat with elusiveness, size and power as a runner. Additionally, if the Patriots wanted to try the old Elway Throwback to the opposite sideline, Brissett may have more arm power than either Brady or Garoppolo.
McDaniels said the Patriots aren’t looking necessarily for ways to “surprise” opponents as much as they are looking for ways to accentuate players’ strengths.
“We’ve got to take the guys that we get to play with, based on health and other factors, and then we consider the defense that we’re getting ready to play against, and the great players and the scheme that they use, and then we try to formulate the right plan to allow our players to go out there and play fast, play well, and do the things that suit their talents the best,” McDaniels explained. “I don’t think that our mindset has changed.
"Some of the variables have changed from one week to the next, which is always the case, and of course, when you get a group of guys a plan and then you work so hard to get ready for Sunday or Thursday night and go out there and watch them play and execute and take care of the ball and do the things you need to do to try to win, and then they enjoy it so much, that’s really the thing that you take the most satisfaction from as a coach.”