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Behind Enemy Lines: The Patriots

Behind Enemy Lines: The Patriots

I received an invitation from Bruce Allen of PatriotsDaily.com, an outstanding independent blog covering New England, to exchange a few questions about the respective teams that we cover. I was happy to oblige. Here are Bruce's answers to my queries about the Pats. As soon as I get it I will post a link to my answers to his questions.

Rich Tandler: Does Belichick seem like a lifer as coach of the Pats? Or is there maybe a surprise retirement announcement out there in three or four years?

Bruce Allen: His contract is always a subject of discussion by the media here. The last we had heard was that his current deal took him through 2013. Coaching really seems to be his life, and I'd say the job is his as long as he wants to keep doing it. At this point I can't imagine him coaching anywhere else, nor can I really see him doing what Bill Parcells is going with the Dolphins right now, being strictly a front office type. My guess is that he'll be here at least as long as Tom Brady is.

RT: Some key members of the defense, the guys that won the Super Bowls, are getting up there in age. Give me a couple of players who will be the next generations of anchors on the defense.

BA: Two names come immediately to mind - linebacker Jerod Mayo and safety Brandon Meriweather. Mayo is already a leader on the veteran defense, will be handling the play calling and seems to be the type of student of the game that Belichick loves. One school of thought has the Patriots toying with a 4-3 defensive front this season just to free up Mayo to be able to go out and make plays. He's all over the field.

The 2008 Patriots defense didn't have many big plays in the course of the season. On the rare occasions that they needed a play made and someone actually stepped up and made it, it was Meriweather. A last season 4th down sack of Seattle QB Seneca Wallace which sealed a victory for the Patriots comes to mind. His rookie year he couldn't catch a pass thrown directly at him, last year he lead the team in interceptions. He's not the big, hard hitting type of safety, but he's a playmaker.

RT: What's the concern level about Brady's knee? And, should he have to sit out a game or two, is there another Matt Cassel on the bench?

BA: Brady had a couple of awkward throws off his back leg in the previous preseason game, and the timing on his throws has been a little off at times. Generally though he seems to be ready to start the season, and he has yet to miss a practice session in training camp - including a ridiculous stretch in which the team had double sessions seemingly every day for two weeks. The backups seem a little shaky at the moment. Kevin O'Connell was a third round pick last year, has a good arm and is mobile, he would seem to be the QB to call on, though the team did sign former Raider Andrew Walter in camp and seems high on his potential. I don't know if there is a Cassel there, but then again, Cassel looked absolutely dreadful in the preseason last year. There was a lot of surprise around that he even made the opening day roster.

RT: Give me someone on each side of the ball who will be fun to watch after the starters have departed.

BA: On Offense, seventh round pick Julian Edelman has been the talk of camp. A converted QB from Kent State, Edelman has been in at wide receiver and punt returns, and has been electric, running back a punt 75 yards for a TD in the first preseason game. He seems a lock to make the final roster. A longer shot to make the roster is undrafted WR Terrence Nunn, who has made a big impression in practice, catching everything thrown his way, and should end up on an NFL roster somewhere.

On defense, check out second round pick Pat Chung, who seems to have a little Rodney Harrison in him. He's a hard hitting safety who has also made some plays on special teams, blocking a field goal. Sixth round pick Myron Pryor has also been active on the defensive line, getting into the backfield on a regular basis.

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Redskins interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

Redskins interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

The Redskins continue to cast a wide net in their search for a new defensive coordinator. On Thursday, they interviewed John Pagano, who was recently let go as the defensive coordinator of the Chargers.

Pagano, the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, has been coaching with the Chargers since 2002. That year he started as a quality control coach and then he was the linebackers coach from 2005-2011. The Chargers fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, a current Redskins coach and another candidate to run the defense in Washington, after the 2011 season and Pagano was promoted into that job.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

In Pagano’s five seasons with the Chargers, the performance of the defense was respectable. In terms of total yards, San Diego was in the top 10 twice and only once were they ranked worse than 20th.

The Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry on January 5. The list of candidates they have interviewed includes Mike Pettine, Gus Bradley, Rob Ryan, Manusky, and Jason Tarver. They are expected to interview former Jets and Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman on Friday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

None of the candidates they have interviewed have accepted positions with other teams so they are all still in play. There is no timetable for the team to make a decision, although the sense is that the process is coming to a close and will be concluded in the near future.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 20, 97 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 40
NFL free agency starts 48
First Sunday of 2017 season 233

Will Pleasant push the defensive coordinator search to a conclusion?

Is the Redskins’ search for a defensive coordinator taking too long? Joe Barry was fired two weeks ago yesterday. The Redskins have made it clear that they want to be very thorough in their search. But taking time creates problems and one just popped up. Assistant defensive back coach Aubrey Pleasant apparently has the option to follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. But the Redskins want to hold on to him.

The problem is that they don’t want to sign Pleasant to be, say, the cornerbacks coach and tie the hands of the incoming defensive coordinator. They already would like the new guy to keep OLB coach Greg Manusky and ILB coach Kirk Olivadotti. Locking in a third position coach might made it very hard to persuade a quality coordinator to come on board.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

However, they can’t hold Pleasant, who is a young, energetic coach who relates well to the players, back indefinitely. Presumably McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips have a bigger role in mind for him and they won’t wait forever for him to get things resolved in Washington.

But it’s not like the Pleasant situation will need to be resolved by the close of business today. We’re talking days, not hours. How many days? They could lose him due because of the Redskins’ deliberate process if it stretches into sometime early next week. I think the chances are strong that there will be a decision on the new defensive coordinator by, say, the close of business on Tuesday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

I’ll wrap this up with a quick round of laying out the $100 in casino chips on the various defensive coordinator candidates. Things have changed since I did it on Monday. I’ll still make Greg Manusky the favorite but I’ll drop him down five bucks to $35. I’m downgrading Mike Pettine down to a $10 wager; I’ve heard that the organization was not impressed with his interview. I’m more than doubling the wager on Gus Bradley to $25. It’s been a few days since reports that the Chargers were pressing him for a decision and yet he remains in play. I’m going with $10 on Dennis Thurmon, who is from the school of the aggressive style of play that Jay Gruden is looking for. Rob Ryan gets not a cent and the remaining $20, including John Pagao, who interviewed yesterday, goes on the field.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.