Sports Illustrated’s Peter King spoke with Mut & Merloni about the Patriots and other NFL news Friday afternoon.
King said that the Patriots’ more aggressive pass rush this preseason reflects less a philosophical change and more a personnel-based decision.
“If [Albert Haynesworth] is in the lineup on September 11, he’s going to be a force in a 4-3 defense next to Vince Wilfork,” King said. “I think Wilfork is excited about it, I think all the guys behind him are excited about it, and there’s no question in my mind … they’re going to play a lot of 4-3.”
King also said trying to label NFL defenses as 3-4 or 4-3 is “so silly.”
“What happens mostly is that teams just morph into so many different things,” King said. “Last year, the New England Patriots had three defensive linemen on the field on 39 percent of the snaps. So, if that’s a solid 3-4 defense, and that’s your hallmark, I mean that’s crazy. … They might be one thing on first down, but they’re very rarely that same thing on third down.”
King said that new Patriots defensive end Andre Carter is “like the vast majority of guys who were free agents this year,” needing to take a league-minimum one-year deal wherever he could find one.
“It doesn’t mean he’s not a good player, it just means that there are a lot of teams that don’t have the cap room to sign these guys,” King said.
Based on how he’s used this Brandon Meriweather this preseason, Bill Belichick may be looking elsewhere for a starting safety, King said.
“I think he’s basically saying, ‘We’re open for business at safety, and if I can do better I’m going to,’ ” King said.
King also said it was too early to judge the NFL’s new kickoff rules, because, “History says that kickers kick the ball better and farther when it is nice weather outside.”
“If the average kickoff in the 2010 season landed at the 5.5-yard line, is there any reason to think that it won’t land somewhere near the half-yard line now?” King asked. “And if it lands at the half-yard line, that means probably that at the very least half of the kicks are going to be returned this year in the NFL over the full season.”
The Patriots scooped up controversial quarterback Ryan Mallett in the third round of the draft, and he's shown promise in the preseason. Kind said the Dolphins are probably “kicking themselves” for not drafting Mallett.
“What the Dolphins are, they’re the team that was kept without a quarterback when the quarterback musical chairs ended,” King said, adding: “They were positive they were going to get a quarterback.”
King called the decision to allow former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor into the supplemental draft but suspend him five games because of Pryor’s NCAA issues “one of the most slippery-slope decisions I’ve seen the NFL make in years.”