Special teams concerns
I was reading an article over on the Boston Globe site and it struck me how many dangerous kick and punt returners the Patriots have on their roster (Edelman, Woodhead, Faulk, Welker). Our special teams were hit or miss (literally) in the Texans game. Giving up the big return early, but then making solid tackles the rest of the way.
During the regular season, the Patriots ranked 29th in the league (rather surprisingly I might add) on kickoff return yardage gained (according to NFL.com stats on KO return yardage for the 2011 season, sorted by average yardage gained per return). The Ravens were a solid 9th overall.
Giving Brady a short field is going to be poisonous to our chances on defense. It's going to be absolutely CRITICAL to get solid special teams play. Ideally Cundiff would blast touchbacks all day long, but since his injury he seems to be hitting the 1 to 5-yard lines routinely.
I think Gostkowski is a better kicker than Cundiff, and the Patriots have better return men than we do. I know there's been a lot of talk about various coaches being on the hot seat. Do you guys think if special teams has some sort of breakdown, that Jerry Rosburg will be in trouble? Who should be returning kicks for us? Webb and David Reed are our best bets to take one to the house, historically, but Webb's the #1 CB and D. Reed is in the doghouse. More Zbikowski?
Honestly, the game can't get here fast enough...
Re: Special teams concerns
One of the worst moves the Pats made this year was cutting Brandon Tate, a dynamic KR. Woodhead has been meh all season in that spot, as has anyone else they've tried.
At PR, they are a threat. Edelman is always dangerous, as is Welker, but thankfully he only fields the punts from the 10yd line & in.
Gostowski is very good on kickoffs, but has been more erratic than usual on FGs this season. Mesko is very good as the punter.