Here's a transcript of the Patriots related items, courtesy WEEI. I've always been a fan of Lombardi's takes on the NFL - especially the Patriots. It's interesting to me how things seemed to have worked out almost exactly like Lombardi predicted for the Patriots.
Lombardi stressed during the off-season that Josh McDaniels would place a bigger emphasis on running the ball. That's obviously turned out to be true. He also said that the team would have its struggles early since they were trying to implement a new offense. That happened too.
A couple things he was mistaken about in the preseason were that he said the Patriots wouldn't be able to survive injuries to Logan Mankins or Sebastian Vollmer. He also thought the Patriots defense would be much improved. I'd say it's slightly improved.
Tom Brady and the Pats are coming off a Thanksgiving night victory over the Jets. Lombardi said that Brady is a patient quarterback and that it will benefit the Patriots in Sunday’s game.
“I think what Brady is able to do is make the right decisions almost all the time,” Lombardi said. “Since the Seattle game when he threw the ball to Deion Branch and he should’ve probably thrown it to [Rob] Gronkowski or [Aaron] Hernandez on a crossing route, you rarely see Tom take a chance that’s not there. Sometimes you get upset that he doesn’t try to at least throw it up the field, but Tom always is doing what’s best for the offense. … I think Tom plays a patient game and that really helps when you play a team like San Francisco or when you’re going to play Miami. Patience is a virtue. You’ve got to be able to continue on up the field and not always kind of try to be desperate, and I think he does a great job of that.”
Added Lombardi: “I think he’s having a great season. It’s swept under the carpet because of the running game of the Patriots. … But I think now he’s throwing the deep ball better than he has pretty much in the last three or four years.”
On the other side of the field, Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill looks like a promising quarterback, but Lombardi said he’d be hard-pressed to carry the team.
“I think he’s a talented player,” Lombardi said. “I think what the Patriots’ challenge is, it’s a little like the St. Louis Rams game, they have to get ahead. … When teams extend the game on [Miami], and make Tannehill have to throw it more than 30 times, they’re not built that way. They’re not conducive to be successful in a full-out spread game. … I think you have to force Tannehill to throw the football more than he wants to and get some tipped balls. Tipped balls on Sunday are going to be the key component.”
As we get closer to the playoffs, Lombardi said the Broncos and Patriots, not the Texans, are the teams to beat in the AFC.
“I think it’s going to be New England and Denver,” Lombardi said. “I think Houston’s problems defensively will creep up on them. I think Denver and New England are the two better teams because of the quarterback. And the team that I would be worried about, and I know this is going to sound completely ridiculous … the team is Pittsburgh. When [Ben] Roethlisberger comes back and if he’s healthy, and if he can come back, and they can get in … their defense is playing well enough that they’re going to cause some trouble for some people.”