Playbook mailbag: Should Patriots be concerned?

Every week, our cyber sack of mail gets heavier. More questions come in, and the quality isn’t deluded one bit.
Heading into Week 4 of our WRWW (War Room Wisdom Wednesday) mailbag, we have received inquiries from coast to coast – and some from overseas.

What went wrong for the Patriots this past Sunday in Buffalo? Should the Patriots be concerned — @ gus_vaz

Nobody on the Patriots defensive line can get to the quarterback, and that exposes some of their problems in the secondary. New England’s corners cannot cover man-to-man – and not for the eons of time opposing quarterbacks have to sit in the pocket and dissect the Patriots’ secondary.

We wouldn’t be too concerned about Tom Brady, though. He isn’t going to be throwing interceptions off of defensive tackle’s helmets on a weekly basis.

What’s up with Frank Gore? He’s been less than amazing so far and now he has an ankle injury? — @redaeRS

The main issue doesn’t rest with Gore. Sure, he’s older. But it could be Grandma Gore back there and the results wouldn’t be any worse, because the offensive line isn’t blocking. It shows they have a new center (Jonathan Goodwin for David Baas) and 2010 rookies Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis haven’t taken that next step.

On top of that, the 49ers aren’t much of a threat in the pass game and opposing defenses stack the box. Last week, nine of Gore’s 17 carries were versus an eight-man front. On those nine carries, he averaged 1.3 yards per carry.

What are the Bills doing differently than last season? A lot of their pieces are still the same. — @i_klek_tik

Offensively, the pieces haven’t changed, and continuity is a positive. Last year was Chan Gailey’s first with the Bills and it takes a while to implement a system. This year, you are seeing an offensive line that works in tandem, running backs who burst through running lanes and a quarterback who understands where his wide receivers will be.

Defensively, Buffalo improved its front seven dramatically, pairing Marcell Dareus with Kyle Williams, creating a ripple effect from the front line back to the linebackers. The defensive line is eating up blocks in the run game and getting a more consistent rush versus the pass. The secondary could be a little more consistent, however.

Is Jahvid Best more suited to be a third-down running back? Is the Lion’s running game their weakest link? — @D_DreadKBM

Detroit drafted Mikel LeShoure hoping he could be a more traditional, every-down back for this offense. But he got hurt. So, yes, in an ideal world, Best is a change-of-pace back in a pass-heavy offense for the Lions. They aren’t a power running team in the first place, they don’t use a fullback, and they love to spread it out with tight ends and wide receivers and let their offensive weapons stretch the field.

It’s not that Best isn’t talented enough to be a three-down back. He can be used in a variety of ways in the run and pass game. But he isn’t built for more than 15 touches a Sunday at this level. Best isn’t a “between-the-tackles” kind of guy and that limits him a bit.

Can the Ravens overpower the Jets like they did the Rams? — @ravensNcanes96

On defense, Baltimore is more than capable of pushing around a depleted Jets offensive line. But we aren’t so sure they can have the same kind of production offensively against the Jets defense.

You never know what you are going to get week-to-week with Bryant “Mount” McKinnie (or how much he is going to weigh). The Ravens also plugged ex-Cowboy Andre Gurode at left guard. And while Torrey Smith impressed with his speed last week, let’s wait for a repeat performance before declaring him a true threat.

The Ravens wideouts will be tested by the Jets’ more athletic corners, who play a lot of man coverage, something Baltimore struggled against versus the Titans in Week 2.

The last 10 Games, is it safe to say the Raiders have had a high powered-offense? Thirty points a game. — @ _Mr_Potts

Because of Al Davis, the Raiders will always have the biggest and fastest players. And for the first time in a while, these specimens have talent. Darren McFadden is living up to his potential and Denarius Moore has made a huge impact in his rookie season.

The Raiders’ offense centers around the ground game. Their offensive line has been outstanding in opening up running lanes. And in Jason Campbell, the Raiders have a steady quarterback who consciously takes care of the ball. This Raiders offense is clicking on all cylinders.

Keep the questions coming by e-mail at playbook@nfl.com or with #askplaybook on Twitter. There is a chance they could be answered — on-air — by Joe Theismann, Sterling Sharpe, Brian Baldinger or Matt Millen. And the debate is always brewing on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show — airs Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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