On March 19, a Felger & Mazz caller asked about the status of Stevan Ridley. Tony Massarotti said he’s not concerned with the running back position but instead remains worried about the state of the Patriots’ secondary. Here’s what Tony had to say.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the secondary is really the only thing on this team now that I have significant questions about.

I wanted a backup tight end behind Gronk, and they got that in Scott Chandler. I do have a question about the interior of the defensive line, but it is a secondary concern to the defensive backs.

I do look at the defensive backfield and that, to me, is the weak link.

I think that had they just let Vince Wilfork go and poured that money into retaining Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, I would have been fine with it. I would have been OK. And then they could have tried to address the interior of the defensive line any one of a million ways.

So, I like the Jabaal Sheard pickup, I think that that’s a good move. To me, they needed some depth there at linebacker/defensive end, and so he gives you some versatility, some depth, and you have some options there now.

But I just don’t feel good about any of it, not believing that they can cover.

It’s such a frustrating thing to deal with. Because as much as someone like Jim Murray says, “Well, I’ve accepted the fact,” I haven’t. I waited for them for 10 years to rebuild and fix that secondary. He’s accepted the reality of it, that Revis is gone. I have not accepted the reality of it yet. I find it very frustrating.

They had it!

I’ll get over it in October. I’m not joking. You think I’m joking? I’m not. Because I’m going to watch them in the beginning of the season, Revis isn’t going to be there, and even if they play well, I can tell you right now what I’m going to say: “Well, big deal, it’s September.” If they play poorly, I’m going to say, “See?!”

There is nothing that’s going to happen in the early part of that season that is going to convince me that they’re championship-caliber with a makeshift secondary. And that’s what it feels like to me — a makeshift secondary.

I’m not over it yet.

And it might take until later than October to get over it. If you’re expecting it before then, don’t!

The later you get into the season, the more important it becomes, the closer you get to the playoffs, let alone in the playoffs. I just look at that secondary as being a fatal flaw. Not being able to cover is a fatal flaw in my mind.

It doesn’t mean they won’t have a good year, it doesn’t mean they won’t win the division, it doesn’t mean they won’t be in the AFC title game. Hell, for all I know, they could be in the Super Bowl again. But without being able to cover, if that’s where they’re headed, if that’s where they’re going to be, they’re not going to win it.

I just don’t get over things as quickly as people like Murray do. I’m Italian; I can hold a grudge.

Listen to the Felger and Massarotti program weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 The Sports Hub.


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