Bob Socci, the Voice of the New England Patriots, joined Toucher & Rich to discuss the team’s loss against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football. Socci talked about the offensive struggles that plagued the Patriots both this past week, and Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Transcript: Bob Socci on Toucher & Rich
Toucher I’m going to just ask a simple question, not lead you in any direction, and we can go from there. I’m just going to ask you to give us your thoughts as you now reflect on what happened less than 12 hours ago.
Bob Socci Well, similar script, right? It’s the first game. Fall behind, make mistakes, dig yourselves a hole, try to come back and just not have enough to do it. And I think, though, in the case of last night’s game, it seemed like it was to me it was remarkable. We come at it off air during a number of the breaks that the Patriots still have a chance to come back in the game because the way it flowed throughout, it seemed like Miami was in complete control. And I think that the Dolphins not only demonstrated the huge disparity in speed and athleticism, but also the way they control the line of scrimmage as the Patriots defensive line could not get any penetration there. For a guy like Mostert running with a full head of steam towards the line. And it wasn’t just him, it was Ahmed for the Dolphins to run for that kind of yardage. After struggling the way they did against the Chargers, not necessarily known as a physical defense, and that’s concerning for the Patriots. Maybe part of that’s the way the Patriots played defensively, but still got to be better upfront. And then the offensive line too many times negative plays that first drive an example they move into Dolphin territory, then they lose yardage on a run and then they lose yardage on a sack. And you know, last week against Philadelphia, it was a couple of penalties to kill a drive in the Eagles territory. Yesterday it was negative yardage plays. I think there was a sequence where it was that that particular series where they had the negative carry on a running play and then a sack and then essentially a screen for no yardage if not done, maybe a loss of a half yard and indicative of the struggles of the offense.
Rich I just want to get a sense of what you were feeling in the booth at the end of that game, because when you hear the clip and you see it on TV, when they ended up saying that Cole Strange had not ended up getting that first down, there are audible boos. In your opinion, are they booing the refs or is that more of a we’re booing the state of this team right now that we’ve been watching the past couple of weeks.
Bob Socci Yeah, you know, which probably probably both. The thing about the the overturned on that particular play is that I think there were a couple of challenges during the course of the game. One for each team relative to spots and you know it’s difficult really to see enough video evidence to overturn a play. And as we were watching the replays over and over again, I kept wanting to convince myself that he had it in a couple of angles. It appeared as though he did, but at the end it seemed to be the right call. And so I think in that case, maybe as the fans saw it on the video boards, too, maybe they saw it similarly and therefore were just expressing their frustration with the result and really overall, how you got to that result last night. Again, basically what we’ve seen not only this year in week one, but what we’ve seen too frequently over the course of the last three or four years.
Wallach The offensive line is so key to this team, Bob. And watching them last night, I mean, you can understand the two tackles struggling and one guy who’s hasn’t been here hasn’t played on the line in Anderson on the other side is not particularly great but the interior of the offensive line really struggled for the base basically the entire night. And that in itself was shocking to me.
Bob Socci You know, John, I think that’s the thing for me, too. You know, I knew that there were going to be concerns, and rightfully so, at the tackle spot. I thought the Patriots got a bit of a break personnel wise when Jalen Phillips was ruled inactive for the Dolphins coming off a back injury late in the week in practice. So Miami loses, you know an edge player who now along with Bradley Chubb are their two main guys to exert pressure from the edges, obviously. So you know I thought at least the Patriots could establish the running game against Miami the same way the Chargers were able to at the Chargers, not generally a physically, you know, opposing team running the football. And thy lost Ekeler along with Joshua Kelly. Those guys amassed over 200 yards combined and the Patriots never were able to get the running game going. And part of that again, the circumstances of the game, they fall behind by a couple of scores early and now you’re chasing points. But you’re right, the offensive line in the interior really struggled to tackle strange. You know, And again, I’m watching the ball and I don’t know enough about offensive line play to judge, but it looked like, you know, he was having a tough time. They rotated some people in Mafi came in later in the game. You know maybe part of that is the conditioning concerns that we had back in in training camp with all that much time for both Onwenu and Strange and then they never came off the ball. It seemed a third and a half yard and you go backwards on that and the adjustment by mark at the line of the pitch play, you know, the quarterback sneak was really, you know, their best weapon in the short yardage situations last night and with two backs like Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott they you would think that that that’s a formula handed to those guys and you’re going to be able to pick up those short yardage conversions. But again, they just didn’t come off the ball.
Toucher All right, Bob, what did you make of the benching of Demario Douglas and how much do you blame him? For the fumble?
Bob Socci You know, couple of things, Fred. I think, number one, it’s an effort play. It’s young players trying to make a play with the ball in his hands after the catch, which is something the Patriots don’t get. I mean you look at the in this is going to get off track for just a second you look at the disparity in the yards per attempt for the two quarterbacks I don’t know the two or threw the ball downfield far more and far better than Mac in terms of ten plus yards or anything to medium to deep range. But the Dolphins averaged about eight yards per pass attempt and a lot of that’s after the catch. That’s the formula. So Demario Douglas is the one guy in that page’s offense, maybe along with Vaughn to some degree who’s able to give you that. And I think he tried to make a play there. I think Chubb makes a good hustle play. I mean, he’s a defensive end who’s who’s running from behind. And he comes down with the chop, but the ball was loose and he’s got to tuck it away. And you work on that repeatedly.
Toucher I think that that’s a great play by Chubb. And I just don’t know why that was considered so I mean I thought Ezekiel Elliott fumble in week one was more egregious. I don’t get benching the kid. It’s like.
Bob Socci Yeah, very comparable I think to the Zeke Elliott play.
Toucher Yeah. Did you agree with the decision? So you don’t agree with the decision to bench the kid?
Bob Socci Um, I understand that that’s kind of the M.O. with young players in the past. I remember.
Toucher But it doesn’t make it right.
Bob Socci You know, but I think circumstances do change over the course. You know, in any. And each game situation is different. If you have the confidence, the way I look at it, to put somebody back in on punt returns, he was a bit of an adventure to on to punt returns. After March, Jones got hurt where he nearly overran the ponds twice and then the second time kind of lost yardage after catching the punt. I mean, I think if you put a guy out there in that situation where the ball is definitely at risk, then I don’t maybe I don’t understand why there isn’t the same level of confidence to give him a chance to atone for that fumble offensively.
Rich All right. After that unbelievable field goal block. That’s the one play you can take a look at. I mean, it was there were a couple of good plays. I mean, obviously, Christian Gonzalez had a great game. But that play right there particular was one where for the first time for an hour joking in I don’t know how long you saw something innovative from the Patriots easily because Brady was here. You know you see these things everyone’s like, oh yeah, everyone’s going to rip this off. But that truly was something else. When you and and Zolak were in the booth, had either of you guys seen anything like that or had any indication that that was what was coming?
Bob Socci No. Brenden Schooler said it kind of developed during the course of the week, and he was even surprised that Joe Judge conceived it during the course of the week. And McDaniel said after the game to, you know, it’s nothing that he’s ever seen before. And he kind of he liked what the Patriots did there with school or to what the Dolphins do offensively. So they kind of use the same motion we do offensively, you know, to to create that block. I think the one thing you do see in our school are about it afterwards. Again, I’m sure every team does it to some degree. Suppliers who’ve been elsewhere, say the Patriots at least do it more than a lot. They work on, on, on, on the technique, the angle they block, soccer balls or volleyballs in training, you know, right from day one to training camp and Schooler obviously that’s his concentration special teams and he came close to a couple of kicks over the course of the first two weeks of the season. And you know but that particular play was just timed up perfectly the last year. They got a punt block. Jonathan Jones got to a point in a game that was similar against the Indianapolis Colts that I thought was a well-conceived play. But it to me, and I’m one of those dorks that really appreciates special teams and I want to see special teams, you know, stay in football as a relevant part of the game. And I think that’s a that’s the kind of play, you know, that can have an impact. And he should have had a much greater impact on the win. And a lot, you know, with a play like that, you got you got to take advantage of it and whatever.
Toucher But it had I think it had an effect on the kid. But how could a look in the field go left that could have sealed the. Yeah. What about rumors that they wanted to do it last year? Patricia crapped all over it, so they did it.
Bob Socci Well, you know, it’s funny. Somebody in the booth last night, you know, mentioned that last year everybody was like, down on the coaches. And, you know, in this year, it’s a lot of talk right now about personnel and some of the shortcomings there. But, you know, they’re open to for the first time, as we know, since 2001, they got to go to the Jets with that defense. And the Jets obviously didn’t play well yesterday. I would have to say an emotional letdown, I would think, too, for the defense that, you know, you lose Rogers in the first week you say all the nice things you want about Zach Wilson. We go into that game and it’s got to be deflating. And, you know, they were outclassed, but they’re going to come back next week. They won’t be sluggish defensively against the Patriots. A division folded beat them 14 straight times and you still got to deal with that that you know offensive line. So whether it’s Bill O’Brien, Matt, Patricia or Joe Judge, it’s pretty basic. You got to win at the line of scrimmage.