Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNBoston.com New England Patriots blogger Mike Reiss stops by to chat.
Reiss joined ESPNBoston.com in September and is a native New Englander who has stayed close to his roots. He first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. Since 2005 he has covered the Patriots for the Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004.
Send your questions now and join Reiss Thursday at noon ET!
Mike Reiss (12:00 PM)
Good afternoon. Thanks for joining the chat.
Mike Reiss (12:01 PM)
Last week at this time, I was mentioning how nice the weather had been in New England and then we had five days of non-stop rain. No weather talk this time around.
Mike Reiss (12:01 PM)
We'll go until 12:30 today.
Adamante (Toronto, Canada)
I think alot of people are underestimating the value of players who are coming off injuries and who could be potentially above average. Brandon Tate I think will fit in nicely after a year of being coached. Tyrone Mackenzie looks to be machine at ILB. Shawn Crable could surprise us all with high speed at OLB. With three injured draft picks to be seen as bonuses along with our draft picks this year I'd have to say the Pats are not only younger but have some depth that we tend to overlook Furthermore, we still have alot of graduating rookies going into their second year in the system. I feel completely optimistic about this year. We're going to be tough. What do you think?
Mike Reiss (12:03 PM)
Good topic to start off with because I was interested to hear Tedy Bruschi's answer to the question "Have the Patriots improved?" He says no. I look at it differently. I think they are well positioned to improve, and it's an incomplete picture at this point. Not many teams, in my view, can honestly look at what they've done in free agency and say 'We're better than we were two weeks ago.' The free-agent crop was too weak for that. Your point on the young players ties into this. I think it's valid.
Ken O'Hara (Hartford County)
For all the criticism of Belicheck not wanting to take chances on Free Agents and Trades in the past... I think everyone is forgetting that not only was Adailus Thomas a big name signing that fizzled, but just last season Derrick Burgess was brought in for a draft pick, and he also was not productive. If the main problem is a lack of leadership and rising to adversity, hasn't the Patriots organization taken an approach to the problem by handsomely paying their own free agents? Isn't the positive message by giving Wilfork a big contract after he never held out and never demanded a trade--the real victory so far this offseason? The Jets got a flash in the pan Cromartie and cut their best Running back and added another old running back who sat on the bench in playoffs games--the wrong direction?
Mike Reiss (12:04 PM)
Another interesting point of view, Ken. I wouldn't rule out Burgess' return, however. I thought his production was disappointing, but my sense is that Bill Belichick didn't think it was as disappointing as I did.
I like the David Patten signing. He is a level-headed, team player. He has been on the team for a week and he is already the guy out there speaking on behalf of the team. Who knows if he can contribute, but he is definitely good for the locker room.
Mike Reiss (12:05 PM)
Not sure if you saw this morning, Doug, but second-year cornerback Darius Butler tweeted how much he enjoyed working with Patten in the offseason program. The guy is a pro. That being said, if the Patriots are relying on him, they are probably in a bad spot.
What is going on with Josh Reed?
Mike Reiss (12:05 PM)
My sense is that the Patriots would like him to join the team, but the initial offer might not have knocked Reed over. I wouldn't rule it out in the coming weeks.
Hi Mike - As of today's date, can you project who the 5 WRs will be suited up opening night? Despite all the media coverage, I find it hard to believe that Patten makes this team.
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
I'd say Moss, Edelman, Tate, Aiken and Josh Reed/Deion Branch.
the dude (natick)
Mike, how does Lawrence Maroney's future here look?
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
I don't see the Patriots cutting him, but if a team offered something attractive in the form of a trade, I could see the team moving on that.
Hey Mike, Do you see the Pats trading Matt light,maybe like a package deal with AD,to seattle for lets say a third or even fourth round pick,considering AD dosen't have much value alone(worth maybe a 7th)do you think this is realistic?Or the chiefs maybe as a trade partner for light,since they need help on the line,do you see them giving up a 4th rounder and a 6th,your thoughts,Mike,thanks
Mike Reiss (12:08 PM)
I don't think so, Tim. I think the Patriots will hold on to Light. Left tackles are hard to find, and while Light isn't elite, you can still win big with him, as the Patriots have proven. This will also give them another year to get Sebastian Vollmer ready, or at least provide themselves quality depth at one of the game's most important positions.
Mike - huge fan...isn't Greg Olsen an immediate upgrade to this team to a degree far greater than anyone we could possibly draft in the 2nd round? Why not go get him?
Mike Reiss (12:09 PM)
Thanks Anthony. I believe the answer is yes, but sometimes teams like to wait until draft day to make that call just to see how the board unfolds. I think that's the type of deal that could happen on that day.
David B (New York)
Hi MikeAs far as you know, how hardline are the Pats about attendance in OTAs? Obviousy if it's voluntary they cannot punish players for non-ttendance, but do the Pats accept that some players prefer to work out on their own, or is there a culture where the real "team guys" are expected to be present throughtout? And how much does this depend upon the stature of the player?
Mike Reiss (12:10 PM)
Not too hardline, David. I think it's clear their preference is that players are there, and they promote that. They also put incentives in contracts to promote their attendance. A guy like Mike Vrabel is a good example. Many would call him a big team guy, but from what I understand, he was not part of the workouts during his time here.
Have you gotten a chance to get out on the new playing surface? If so what did you think of it?
Mike Reiss (12:11 PM)
Very nice Chris. I was out there for player interviews Tuesday and Wednesday and it looked sharp. Not that I'm an expert on playing fields, but it looked like a finely manicured golf course to me (even though it's not natural grass).
Ian (Hamden, CT)
Hi Mike, I was curious about what occurs during draft prospects pre-draft visits to teams. While I know Tim Tebow's private workout report with the Patriots really isn't that big of news/surprise, I was wondering what the Pats do when the prospect arrives. Workouts? Interviews? etc?
Mike Reiss (12:13 PM)
I'd say there is a difference between a pre-draft visit to Gillette Stadium (which doesn't include a workout) and a private workout (which is usually held at the player's college). At the workout, it's more the physical aspect of playing football, gauging movements etc. At the pre-draft visit, it's more a meet-and-greet type situation where the pure football aspect of it could be more film-based.
Rich (Arlington, MA)
Is there anything to be concerned about with respect to Brady skipping the voluntary workouts and staying in LA? From what I've read elsewhere part of this is to allow him to spend some time with his first son -- hard to begrudge him that! But still, after he called out the team re: leadership at the end of last season it seems to ring a bit hollow with him away from the team now.
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
Rich, I'm pretty sure it's been this way for the last few years. I'm with you -- hard to begrudge the guy for wanting to spend time with his son (he's also working out in L.A.). I also noticed his commitment during the season, when he was present at the stadium the day after his son was born.
Mike - Was wondering if you thought trading Maroney could net a 3rd round pick. The #3 would be useful if we were interested in any of the RFA's tendered at that level like Morrison. Do you think we are done wtih free agents, or do you think the restricted route is still possible to fill some holes?
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
I think that's rich for Maroney, Steve. As for the Patriots and free agents, I think they have more work to do, whether it's free agency or trades. Another veteran receiver, tight end and pass rusher would top my list.
The Cat (Brookline)
Mike, which player injured all last year do you envision making the most impact this season: Crable, Tate, Mckenzie? Any others i'm missing?
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
I'm going to pick Tate, because of his potential big-play ability on returns. If he's healthy, I think he could be a big playmaker for them.
Hey Mike, I gotta tell ya that I really don't even understand the Pats bringing in Tebow for a workout. Why would they waste their time when he holds no value above a 3rd round pick, which we don't have? Please tell me that we seriously aren't thinking of taking him with one of our 2nd rounders like a few ridiculous mock drafts have us doing!
Mike Reiss (12:18 PM)
I don't really know the answer, Chris, as it pertains specifically to Tebow. But I think it's important to understand the context of what these workouts are all about. The best teams thoroughly evaluate all the players -- whether they are interested or not -- because it helps them better understand the entire draft and where the potential opportunities could arise. The Patriots, I'd guess, will have more than 100 private workouts when all is said and done. Sometimes they are held just to confirm what is already on file with another set of eyes.
hello Mike. is there any coaching that oocurs during the voluntary training camp, or is it just workouts under the watchful eye of the training staff?
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
It is my understanding that there is some coaching involved. I saw clips on Patriots.com (Patriots Today program, with Brian Lowe) of the coaches in attendance in the practice bubble.
Mike, i know its early, but the Pats schedule looks absolutely brutal. What are your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:20 PM)
Mike, agree that it looks tough. At the same time, my feeling is that the best way to evaluate a schedule is when the actual dates come out. I think it's almost more important when you play a team as who you are actually playing.
can you please explain what the heck the jets were thinking by essentially trading thomas jones for tomlinson? makes no sense to me.
Mike Reiss (12:21 PM)
Seems to me like it's money-based. Jones was due to earn $5.9m. I don't think Tomlinson's two-year deal eclipses that. Still, I think it weakens the Jets -- in the locker room and on the field.
bill (new hampshire)
what are the odds of tebow becoming a slot type guy, similar to what julian edleman did?
Mike Reiss (12:21 PM)
If it's not QB for Tebow, my thought would be more H-back type tight end.
Hey Mike, Great job keeping us up to date as usual. I was wondering if tedy bruschi is being a little too critical in his patriots assessment. I think the patriots are lining themselves up for some draft day maneuvers (Alot of Picks to swing around) and solidified their own players status in a weak free agent class
Mike Reiss (12:23 PM)
I feel the way you do, Russ. This is an incomplete picture right now, and I think that context is very important when answering the question "Have the Patriots improved?" I don't see too many teams, outside of Baltimore, that I can say are much better today than they were two weeks ago. Some of the Patriots' best acquisitions have come later in the year (e.g. Ted Washington trade in 2003; Jabar Gaffney free-agent signing in 2006). The process is ever-evolving and, as you mention, the free-agent crop was weak.
Would Willie Parker fit with the Patriots?
Mike Reiss (12:24 PM)
I didn't see much of Parker last year, Alan, so I don't have a great feel on him. My general thought is that any addition to the RB group would probably be best if he was younger because they already have three over-30 backs.
Do you think that Pats will come up with a third round pick ,by draft time or day of,so maybe they can go after a top notch RFA,Like Vicent Jackson(1rd,3rd)or yes the one year wonder,Ray Edwards(vikings).
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
I don't see them going that route, Tim.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Mike who's your final four, and who do you have winning?
Mike Reiss (12:27 PM)
No bracket for me this year, Will. My rooting interest is Kentucky because I was at UMass when John Calipari was the coach there. One of my fondest memories of that time was waking up at 5:30 a.m. as a freshman to cover a morning UMass practice for the special section of the Collegian. I had to ask Calipari about using Temple as the blueprint for building his own program. Was quite nervous, but he put his arm around me, told me to turn my recorder on, and wrote my story for me with a four-minute quote that answered every question I had written down.
Steve (San Francisco)
Any word on the Pats interest in Jason Taylor? he's a free agent correct? Is he dancing with the stars?
Mike Reiss (12:28 PM)
Steve, my sense on Taylor is that he'll wait to see what the Dolphins do. If they want him back, he's there in my opinion. If they don't, I think it would be the Patriots.
Mike Reiss (12:28 PM)
Let's go for another 5...
Alex (Knoxville, TN)
Mike, I keep hearing/reading that the Pats will stay put in the first round this year, but doesn't the depth of talent in this draft beyond the first round play exactly into Belichick's proven strategy of trading down or out of the first round? My opinion, he trades down 5-10 spots and grabs the likes of Pouncy or Ordrick and an addtional pick for this year and/or next.
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
Alex, I really think the movement on draft day will be determined by the opportunities that present themselves based on the way the board unfolds. I know it's a cop out, but I don't think the team knows right now that it will be trading back or up. They'll have a general idea by the time the draft comes around, but it will all be dictated by what unfolds ahead of them.
Speaking of Florida prospects, a couple weeks ago you said there was no way the Pats would look into drafting Carlos Dunlap. Mike, I think this guy is the perfect Willie McGinest clone (we've really lacked a true strongside outside backer since he left). His size and speed fits into what BB loves. So, why not take a deeper look?
Mike Reiss (12:30 PM)
Jason, my opinion on Dunlap was solely based on one of the national draftniks saying he was one of the most boom-or-bust prospects in the draft. Just didn't sound like a Patriot to me, but of course, the Patriots should take a closer look to see if that opinion is valid.
Devan (Phoenixville, PA)
Hey Mike, I know its a longshot but do you think the Pats give Brandon Marshall any look? They have 3 second rounders, and half the time they trade out of the first round anyway. Draft picks can be such a crap shoot sometimes, and Brandon Marshall is one of the best in the league. I really believe that if he gets in this system, with Bill, Brady, and other locker room guys, we could make this work. This would be a HUGE boost for our offense and put our offense back into elite category. What do you think?
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
I'd say it's a no-go Devan. I just don't see Marshall as the type of player who would make that transformation into this locker room.
Cliff (Port-Au-Prince, Haiti)
Hi Mike,Does Brady absence for the offseason work out have any impact on a team that was lacking leadership last season?
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
To say no would probably be naive, Cliff. I'm sure if Brady was there, and calling around to other players, the attendance might be higher.
Mike, are the Jets a solid contender this year for the super bowl?
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
I think it all comes down to Mark Sanchez' development at quarterback. Since they were in the AFC title game, I could see why some view them as a Super Bowl contender. They are tough. But I still see the Patriots as the better team in the AFC East.
Do you think the Pats are going to throw any major shockers at us this off season? A suprise trade or a major aquisition?
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
I do, Kellie, and my hunch is that it would probably come on draft day. Wish I knew what it was.
Justin (Bangor, ME)
do u think Belecheik can handle playing 2 roles this year, seems to be a tough task?
Mike Reiss (12:35 PM)
I do, Justin. I think the perception that Belichick is coaching everything won't match the reality. They will have an internal structure that is well defined to those involved. We just don't know what it is yet.
Nick (Worcester, MA)
I think everyone makes way too much of being of the "pre-season elite". What about the Steelers and the Saints seasons of 2009?...The Steelers were the best team in theleague in 2008 and then went to having a lesser record than the Patriots...while the Saints were 8-8...with no HUGE additions on the personnel side (Darren Sharper...but a year ago would you say he put them over the top!?)...People need to learn that the NFL is UNPREDICTABLE!!
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
From my spot, Nick, it's a catch-22. It's fun to write about the NFL at this time of year -- and I like how the NFL is in the news -- but what can we really write at this point on a day to day basis that really applies to what will happen on the field? It's a challenge and that's where some of this stuff (preseason rankings) percolates from in my view. I thought Bill Belichick said it best when he mentioned something about this being the hot-air season. It doesn't really matter until you are on the field. I'm open to any and all opinions of what we, as media members, can do better in this regard.
Does the Pats' lack of a TE coach affect how they'll try fill the position? What would be the benefit of drafting a TE only to have no-one to teach him the game? Does this increase the chance that they'll fill the position through FA/trades?
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
I don't think so Matt. I think they have one in house, they just haven't announced it yet (my sense is it will be Brian Ferentz).
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
Let's end on that one. Appreciate everyone taking the time to chat. Enjoy the day and we'll catch up again next week.