To hear a couple of former All-Pro wide receivers tells it, the Patriots receivers wouldn’t make the 53-man rosters of other NFL teams and the Patriots defense is suspect against the high-powered Atlanta Falcons offense in the Super Bowl.
Former Jets and Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson, now an ESPN analyst, told an Atlanta radio station that if the Patriots receivers were on other NFL teams, they probably wouldn’t be on 53-man rosters. So, apparently they’d be practice-squad players on 31 other teams.
Here’s an excerpt of Johnson’s comments on 92.9 FM The Fan in Atlanta, via WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable:
“When you see guys that fail and play for other teams at the receiver position, they can go to New England and excel and everybody goes, “Oh my God, Oh my God, these receivers are top of the game.’ Well, they couldn’t excel with other teams because of the system. If they were on other teams right now, they probably wouldn’t be on the 53-man roster.” Johnson said.
“It is the system and it is Tom Brady. As long as they are precise and are doing everything they are supposed to do, which is the reason they are there for the Patriots, because they don’t make the mistakes, that is why they excel. You get a high-caliber wide receiver with the Patriots, typically they probably aren’t going to do what they are supposed to do. They are going to freelance a little bit because they have that luxury to do that because of their ability.”
A day earlier, Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, a FOXSports analyst, said the Falcons’ high-scoring offense will challenge the Patriots’ “holes in their defense.”
“This is not the most dominant Patriots team that I’ve seen. When you look at it, there are holes on their defense…,” Carter told Nick Wright on the “Make Me Smarter” football podcast.
Carter added: “So, watching Atlanta, and watching them this season score 540 points, I believe this is the most formidable offense [the Patriots will have been up against in the Super Bowl], even over the “Greatest Show on Turf” [the 2001 Rams team from Super Bowl XXXVI. Bill] Belichick in that game decided to be very, very physical with the receivers on the outside, which in turn, the rules were changed where you can’t even play that anymore. And they tried to take Marshall Faulk, from being a receiver, out of the backfield. So what they did was, their rush ends, any time Marshall Faulk was to their side, they always contacted him and made sure he didn’t get a free release.
“You can’t do that to Atlanta. They’ve got three great receivers. Their quarterback operates from under the gun and under center, and they’ve got two running backs. So their ability to run the ball between the tackles, they can be more physical than the “Greatest Show” could be against New England.”