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 2009 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 (12:01 PM)
Good afternoon and thanks for joining today's chat. I just returned from the Patriots' locker room and here are a few items picked up that relate to Sunday's game against the Bears: 1. The Bears are viewed as a defense that "does what they do", but they do it very well. Nothing too exotic here. But they execute well; 2. Lot of talk about conditions. Patriots bracing for cold/wind; 3. Look for punter Zoltan Mesko to be angling his attempts toward the sideline, as there is great respect for Devin Hester; 4. Jay Cutler's athleticism as a runner -- even when the pocket holds up -- is a concern.
Mike Reiss (12:02 PM)
Let's go until 1 p.m. today. On a day when many of Boston might be talking about Carl Crawford, I am appreciative of logging on to the chat and seeing 121 questions before it even started. This is a football town!
Andres (Providence ri)
Hi Mike, Bill O'Brien has caught a lot of flak at the beginning of the season, for being too predictable with his playcalling. In my point of view I think Brady has to bear some of that blame by forcing the ball to Moss. Since Moss was traded we seen vintage Brady. Your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:03 PM)
Andres, I think that is fair when looking at the Jets game from Week 10, when Brady targeted Moss 10 times and completed just 2 passes. I think he felt a mental pull to keep Moss involved.
Dave (Charlotte, NC)
Hey Mike...the Pat's looked unstoppable Monday night but if you had to pick a weak spot that could hurt them in the playoffs, what would it be and how would you try and shore it up?
Mike Reiss (12:04 PM)
Two thoughts came to mind: 1. Third-down defense, which is improving after holding the Jets to 3 of 12 success rate; 2. Special teams kickoff/punt coverage. In terms of what I'd do to improve it, I think the personnel is what it is. It's just coaching those players that much harder.
Thanks for the chats Mike. Just wondering what you think about Urlacher's comments about the Bears being the best team. With a short week and coming off the biggest win of the season, do you think that this was the fuel that the Patriots needed to really get juiced up for the game? Bottom line is, are the Patriots going to keep playing with this edginess and focus now that we are back to the same ol Pats (AKA the most dominant team in football)? I am dying to know your take on the team. You like me have seen the glory days and this season is starting to have a familiar feel.
Mike Reiss (12:07 PM)
Greg, I can respect Urlacher's confidence, but it probably wasn't the best thing to say. I'm sure it's already on the bulletin board here in New England and we know how this team feeds on that stuff. I can see that helping the Patriots maintain their edge. As for this team, I'd have to say it's been an enjoyable one to cover. First, it's the way they use their personnel -- maximizing talents and keeping it interesting to analyze. Second, there are a lot of quality guys in the room.
New sod and probable precipitation in Chicago mean bad footing, which often means unfortunate knee injuries, and I'm thinking of Wes Welker.Mike, should we expect BB uses Welker less than desired to keep him healthy this Sunday ?
Mike Reiss (12:07 PM)
Mark, I think we'll see the regular Welker usage, new sod or old sod.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What was the Worst New England Patriots team that you have ever seen?
Mike Reiss (12:08 PM)
Chris, I'd have to say that 1990 team, or maybe 1992. I wasn't covering the team professionally at that time. Just a kid wondering why games were being blacked out and I couldn't follow the hometown team.
My best friend is a Bears fan so I see a lot of their games. The Bears are no doubt a good football team, but with the Patriots already taking out the Ravens, Steelers, Colts, and Jets all teams I view as good and probably better then the Bears. I feel that a loss to the Bears would be the biggest let down of the year considering how good we are playing. What is your take and what do you think the final score will be Sunday?
Mike Reiss (12:10 PM)
Norman, I think the Patriots should beat the Bears. I believe they are the more talented team. But that being said, you have to factor in conditions (looks like it will nasty) and coming back off an emotional win. Because of that, I think the game will be close. I'm going Patriots 24, Bears 20.
Corky (Destin Fl.)
Hi Mike: The amazing Woodhead story is just flat out remarkable, this young man is so humble and almost shy in the limelight of the media. How does he respond to you behind the scene? Bill sure can find some gems, and put them in a position to excel, hope to see Danny around for years to come...
Mike Reiss (12:12 PM)
Corky, I had a nice conversation with Woodhead earlier this season for a "football journey" blog entry on the site. The thing that I remember was when he was talking about his wife, Stacia. I asked him what she thinks about his sudden rise and his answer went something like this: "I still wash the dishes and take out the trash. She looks at me the same way." I have a lot of respect for a guy like that.
Hey Mike, love your blog, looking at the Pats since Randy left and the change in philosophy that they have gone thru, what is your opnion on Moss returning next year for a deal that would probably be limited dollars and playing time...would that work for both parties?
Mike Reiss (12:13 PM)
I'll hold myself accountable here, Andrew. I have flip-flopped on this whole Moss thing. I have been reluctant to say they are a better offense without him consistently, but I think I'm officially ready to make that jump. I don't see Moss coming back.
Eric (Andover, MA)
The previous two drafts seem to have been very successful for the Pats with a lot of picks and selecting great players. This year they will once again have a bunch of picks early on and need to get right the big difference this year could be an extended playoff run. The previous two years they either missed the playoffs or lost in the first week giving the final decision maker, BB, more time to plan. I know it is early for this question but do you see this as a concern for the Pats making the right choices?
Mike Reiss (12:14 PM)
Eric, I don't see that as a major concern. I'd file it more in the coincidence category, as well as the "high-class problem" category in that it's a situation any team would want to be in.
Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada)
Hi Mike that was a very impressive performance by the Pats on Monday. Which AFC Team do you think would pose the most problems for New England in January?
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
Har, I think those teams from the AFC North -- Pittsburgh and Baltimore -- are ones I'd want to avoid if I was Bill Belichick. The Patriots have already beaten them this season. Beating them a second time will be the biggest challenge in my view.
Phil (New York )
Mike, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has quietly emerged into a solid running back. Even with Fred Taylor back, Belichick seems to be more and more confident in Green-Ellis each week and Taylor may well be there for insurance purposes only. Do you agree ?
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
Right on, Phil. That's also how I view it.
Bob (Plymouth MA)
Mike, weather forecast for Chicago this weekend looks like snow and frigid temps. Obviously both Pats and Bears are cold weather teams but do you see the weather, if as bad as forecasted, having any impact this weekend ?
Mike Reiss (12:17 PM)
I do see it having a big impact. To me, that puts an added emphasis on special teams and the Bears are more dangerous in that area in my opinion.
Tom (Beyersville SC)
Mike, the Pats Special Teams, particular on KO returns, seemed to really play much better Monday Night - especially against a strong special teams unit like the Jets - do you agree ?
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
Tom, I thought the return game was better, although the punt coverage unit had a breakdown. They'll need to rise up again this week. I talked with punter Zoltan Mesko today and he was explaining how he'll approach Devin Hester, often kicking to the sideline. Remember when Todd Sauerbrun once launched a bomb down the middle of the field when he was with the Patriots? It looked good on the stat sheet, but it created an opportunity for a return, which is what the Patriots want to avoid this week. Mesko is a big player to watch in my mind this week.
Kyle (Cranston, RI)
Mike,The Pats put together their most impressive victory in two years and they don't get a single A in your report card? You were kidding right?
Mike Reiss (12:22 PM)
Kyle, there were some As in there, but maybe just with a minus. Despite the final score, I still saw things that weren't great in each area of the game and that reflected the lack of a "pure" A. I thought the Jets ineptitude helped, too. That being said, I thought I was kind to the Patriots in scrapping the "three up, three down" blog entry and going with "six up, zero down." In all, I am not a big fan of the report cards. I'd be happy if I didn't have to do another one again. Seriously, who am I to be grading the team one hour after the game?
Isaac (Paterson NJ)
Mike, Devon McCourty continues to improve each week and has more than justified his 1st round selection this year. How impressed are you with him so far this year ?
Mike Reiss (12:23 PM)
Very impressed, Isaac. I think he should be in the discussion for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He looks like he has the potential to be an elite CB if he keeps improving and when you get a player like that, it adds so much to a defense.
Larry (Denver CO)
Mike, love the way our defense continues to improve and come up with the big play / turnover. Do you see that trend continuing ?
Mike Reiss (12:24 PM)
I do see it continuing this week, Larry, although the Dec. 19 game against the Packers will be tough. I think some positive momentum has been built and don't see any signs that it will be knocked off track this week. They should be able to make plays on this Bears' offense that has a weaker offensive line.
Danny (Charlotte NC)
Mike - both Belichick and Brady stressed after the game that everyone needs to move on to this week's game vs the Bears which is typical of the Pats. If Monday showed anything I believe it is how important home field is / will be for New England in the playoffs which makes all remaining games this year critical - we must get that bye and secure home field for the playoffs or Monday's win is meaningless - your thoughts ?
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
I don't think it's a must Danny, but it's obviously the preferred route. A first-round road game at KC or Jacksonville doesn't "scare" me as much as a date with Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
Tony (Miami Fla)
Hi Mike - loved the win monday night. Do you see any chance of a letdown this week vs the Bears after coming off such a high on Monday ?
Mike Reiss (12:26 PM)
Sure, Tony, they are only human. But I do think they learned a lesson in Cleveland back in November. I also think they have good leadership and positive momentum. So I think they will find a way to pull through it.
Eddie Thipphavong (Deltona, FL)
I bought a Patrick Chung hoodie, and he gets hurt for two games. Just bought a Patrick Chung Jersey, and he doesn't start and is limited on snaps. Is it me jinxing him, or is there more to his story?
Mike Reiss (12:26 PM)
Health, Eddie. I think his knee is bothering him more than he is letting on.
Mike, obviously great win Monday but now on to Chicago. How do you see the Patriots matching up with the Bears ?
Mike Reiss (12:28 PM)
I like the matchup for the Patriots, although the elements add a new wrinkle that I think tilts the needle toward the Bears a bit more. The Patriots are more talented. If they can block the front four on offense, I think they should be able to do some damage.
Hey Mike, were you impressed with Darius Butler last week? Kid looked like he is finally starting to prepare and play with confidence.
Mike Reiss (12:28 PM)
So so Peter, from my view. One play where he missed a tackle in run support comes to mind.
Mattugi (Gulf of Siam)
Woodheads catches average 1.6 yards beyond the line of scrimage, but he has a zillion YAC yards. Is Brady getting to much credit for these short passes that turn into long "passing yards"?
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
No, I don't think so, Mattugi. The accuracy of putting the ball in the right place sets up that YAC in a lot of cases.
Mike, why are you fearing Baltimore and Pittsburgh?
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
Big, physical, tough, battle-tested teams compared to the rest of the AFC field.
Greg (Happy Valley)
Who on defense do you see getting in the Pro Bowl this year?
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
Greg, I'll go with Wilfork. Don't think we'll see another Patriot on the Pro Bowl squad.
John (Lincoln, MA)
No love for the fans or Jermaine Cunningham in your up/down post? Also did you see in Inside the NFL, the view of Sanchez grabbing Cunningham's helmet when he was about to sack Sanchez?
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
John, I talked to Cunningham about it today. He said it was his job to get Sanchez down, and he needs to do a better job. I was like 'Man, the guy grabs your facemask and you're still hard on yourself?' That's a reflection of his approach to getting better. I thought Cunningham played well on Monday. He just missed the top-6 cut in my view.
Murray (Orlando FLA)
Mike, I see Matt Forte as being the key to this week's game - if we can control him - both in the running game as well as the passing game, I think we have a great chance at winning. Your thoughts ?
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
I concur, Murray. Limiting Forte will, in theory, put the game in Jay Cutler's hands in tougher long-yardage situations. I like the Patriots' chances in that scenario.
Harry Slimm Jr (Vineland NJ)
Mike, how do you feel Jermaine Cunningham has progressed this year ? Seemed like he played very well on Monday Night and got several pressures on Sanchez and was in the backfield often. Your thoughts ?
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
Harry, I like Cunningham and see a high ceiling there, but also think his rise is tied to Tully Banta-Cain's fall. Banta-Cain looks like he's struggling to me. I wonder if the Patriots are regretting that contract they gave him.
Hey Mike, Just read Rick Gosselin's piece on the "re-draft". Is he kidding putting Angerer from the Colts ahead of Hernandez and Gronkowksi. Angerer has looked lost in pass coverage and he makes downfield shoestring tackles. In terms of 2011 draft, after pass rusher does O-Line make the most sense with the age of Koppen and Light and potential retirment of Neal ?
Mike Reiss (12:35 PM)
Marcus, I think that is fair on Angerer. That TD catch by Welker to open the Colts' game was one example of his struggles in that area. As for next year, it's not a very "sizzle" type response, but I'd just take the best player. I'd do the McCourty. When we looked at cornerback last April, it wasn't a top need. But McCourty was the best player and you can never have enough good players. I'd agree that OL is a need, but I wouldn't force it just to force it. Get the best player.
Awesome win on MNF! Too bad we didn't hit 54 points! Any update on Mike Wright? How long can a concussion keep a player out?
Mike Reiss (12:36 PM)
Still no sign of Wright at practice. Depending on the severity of a concussion, it could end a career. That's unlikely with Wright, but these are serious issues, Aroon.
Mike if BB had an aggressive dial for the defense, it seems to me he mostly keeps the dial set conservatively around 3 or 4. Occasionally Bill will crank up the dial for a few plays here and there in hopes of creating turn overs. Monday night vs. the Jets, it seems the aggressive dial was turned up to 7 or 8 and Bill kept it there. Where will the aggressive dial point vs. Chicago?
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
I think a huge focus will be on defensive backs playing up on the receivers. Because of that, I expect the safeties to be kept back for a good portion of plays, to protect against the deep ball. With that, I don't see any consistent heavy pressure-based blitzes from the Patriots, only picking their spots this week. One thing you notice from watching Cutler last week against the Lions is that he can get out from under center fast, open up those shoulders, and throw to the defensive right side in a matter of 2-3 seconds. Doesn't matter if you blitz, you're not getting to him when that happens.
Steve (My cube)
Were you surprised to see Jarrad Page get so much playing time against the Jets? It seemed as though Sanders, Chung, and Page all rotated in and out with Meriweather playing the whole game. What does Page bring that Sanders/Chung do not?
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
Steve, I think Page's playing time was heavily skewed to the second half, which I viewed as the coaching staff doing to ease him back into the mix. I'd have to study a bit more of Page -- I've hardly seen him -- to have a better feel of what he brings that Sanders/Chung do not.
Mike Reiss (12:40 PM)
Taking a quick timeout to post a blog entry from our man, Mike Rodak.
Mike Reiss (12:40 PM)
Timeout is over.
Mankins is a beast and I strongly believe that his arrival has sparked this offense to higher levels. IMO, this is a contract that needs to get settled. In 2001, Seymour earned a starting spot midseason...and the defense took off. Mankins has had the same effect this year. The OLine has been awesome, and Mankins is the key. Will the Patriots attempt to retain Logan?
Mike Reiss (12:42 PM)
Absolutely. I think they will keep their offer on the table. If Mankins is still looking for a Jahri Evans-type contract, it won't happen. But perhaps they can find a middle ground. Speaking of Evans, he has been flagged for six holding penalties this season. I can't imagine that is what the Saints had in mind when they signed him to that big deal.
Andrew (Madison, Wi)
Hi Mike, I get tired of hearing that the Patriots are last in defense. Total yards given up does not tell the whole story. We are tied for 18th in total points given up. Not great, but not last. While that statistic can be misleading, this one is not: the defense has preserved (stops, turnovers) 6 victories this year. And that does not count the lights out performance against the Jets. While teams like the Chargers rack up impressive statistics, Belichek's D is only interested in one: 10 and 2. I've seen plenty of Super Bowl calibre teams whose defenses made the stops when they needed them most. That ability to rise up when game conditions matter most is what separates the statistical wonders from the game winners. What do you think, Mike? Do we need a better system to evaluate defenses?
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
Andrew, I'd go the bottom-line approach: Points. No statistic is more important than that. This defense gives up yards but comes up with the key stop. You'd like to limit some of the yards. On the whole, I think this defense is better than a 32nd-ranked unit.
Dennis (WPB, FL)
Mike, watching some of the Bears previous games this year one thing that stands out is the field conditions. On several passing plays receivers repeatedly slip and fall because of the field turf conditions, which lead to interceptions/turnovers. I heard they laid new sod or whatever the type of turf they utilize. Do you see this being a problem for the Patriots offense who utilizes short passes for a running game often and do you know if the Patriots have done anything to prepare for these field conditions?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
Dennis, we just posted a blog entry on this topic. Players will adjust their footwear. In the past, the Patriots have adjusted to these type of changes (thinking of the Tennessee snow game last year) and kept their balance.
Raina (Boston, MA)
Hey Mike. I know it is only one touchdown catch but I want to get your take on Brandon Tate moving forward. Does he have a chance to be a playmaker in this offense? How do you break down his route running and ability? He could become a very good compliment to Branch and Welker next year if he can become consistent.
Mike Reiss (12:46 PM)
I see him as still hrowing, Raina. I thought it was too early to go the Bethel Johnson route with him last week. Let's give him some more time. I do think he can be a solid receiver for them. I saw Johnson as a one-trick pony. Tate is more than that.
Dan (Manchester, NH)
What happened at practice the week of November 8? Pats get embarrased in Cleveland the day before, with the toughest game to date (at Pittsburgh) coming up, Brady (who had presumably been healthy, but was only playing OK by his standards) injures his ankle and starts missing practice time...and the Pats come out in Pittsburgh and go on a 4-game-and-counting run of offensive production unseen since the first half of 2007. How did everything come together so quickly?
Mike Reiss (12:48 PM)
Dan, people said after the Browns' loss that it could be the best thing to happen to this team. It sure looks that way. They obviously started to focus more and approached practice with a more business-like approach. At the same time, I do think some of the chatter about a "good week" or "bad week" of practice is overblown. For example, the Jets thought they had their best week of practice last week. In the end, it's about doing it on the field when the lights come on.
Has Brandon Deaderick become the first to hit the rookie wall?
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
My sense Deaderick is being sent a message by the coaching staff. It is just hunch, but reading the tea leaves, this is what I think the message would be: Follow the team's schedule, be on time for meetings, ask questions if you're not sure. Deaderick strikes me as a hard worker who is being taught a lesson about paying attention to the behind-the-scenes details of being on an NFL team.
Mike, the crowd noise was coming through the TV loud and strong. Can you compare this crowd with other games this year and with playoff games of the past?
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
One of the best crowds since Gillette opened in 2002, from what I heard Benny. Think Tedy Bruschi night, coupled with the magnitude of the game, had something to do with it.
Billy Joe Armstrong (G Day)
Have you ever had a conversation with Tom Jackson about his relationship (lack of) with Belichick and the Patriots?
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
Have not, Billy.
David (Norwalk, CT)
Mike, how about Vince Wilfork? How many players have we seen get paid and take their foot off the peddle? Wilfork has not only played his role, but has stepped up and played in sub packages due to injury.
Mike Reiss (12:54 PM)
Great point, David. I was thinking about this today and how when you make that big investment (had Carl Crawford on my mind), you have to make a projection on how a player will respond. Will he keep working? I think the Patriots viewed Richard Seymour as a player who maybe changed a bit once he got his extension in 2006. Wilfork, on the other hand, has not. I respect that.
Mike, love the way the national media is eating up Rex burying the ball. At some have given BB credit for doing it first. By the way, no way Rex had the energy to dig that hole himself! Now the questions. What are the keys to stopping Chicago Sunday? What can the Pats do well on offense to score points?
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
Chris, my three keys were: 1) Identifying Peppers and making sure he's blocked because he's a Freeney/Mathis type disruptive force; 2) Direction punting/kicking to limit return explosiveness; 3) Limit Forte.
I think Matt Light is having pretty solid year. What are the chances he resigns for a couple more years?
Mike Reiss (12:56 PM)
I could envision both sides having an interest in extending their working relationship, for sure.
Mike C (Canada)
Hey Mike, Was wondering how you think the Patriots will deal with blocking Peppers? Will they run alot of multiple tight end sets as they did against the Steelers? Or running more TEs out of the back field to help chip on him? Or will he simply get double teamed with the help coming on the other side?
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
One of the hard parts on this one, Mike, is that Peppers moves from one side to the other. You never quite know where he will be. I think we'll see plenty of two TE sets, which has been the norm this year, with more on-the-line TE play to widen things out up front. You watch Peppers last week against the Lions and you see him rushing, or sometimes dropping back into short zones. If you're going to devote two players to him and he drops off, you sort of waste your resources.
Mike, would you mind staying with us for another hour today?
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Oh man, Bernie, an hour? Let's do an added 15. We're rolling today.
John (Boston MA)
Mike - do you think that Cris Carter's comments last week about Deion Branch were warranted and did they provide any extra motivation for the Pats / Deion on Monday night ?
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
John, Branch doesn't strike me as a guy who would use that as motivation. He's pretty grounded.
Arjuna (Durham, NH)
Mike, if you had a vote for MVP voting, would you put your vote for Tom Brady?
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
I would at this point, Arjuna, but still four games to go.
Marky Mark (Boston)
Mike, if Brady is playing this well at 33, it really says something about his future production. His personality and skill set seem to prepare him for (at least) a good 5-6 more years of elite status. Yes?
Mike Reiss (1:01 PM)
Marky Mark, with good healthy, why not? I put the window at 5-8 years for Brady.
Mike - despite being one game up in AFC East, both Pats and Jets have a tough schedule, including a Bills team that is playing tough. A bit early to be patting ourselves on the back - what do you think?
Mike Reiss (1:01 PM)
Absolutely David. As we saw with the Jets, things can change that fast. That Packers game, especially, looks tough to me.
Tim (Exeter, NH)
What's going on with Edelman? I thought we would see somewhat more production from him.
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
Tim, I talked with Edelman about this earlier in the week. The answer is pretty straight-forward. When you have an offense that has evolved from a three-receiver attack to a two-tight end attack -- and couple that Deion Branch and Wes Welker atop the depth chart -- it's going to limit opportunities for the Nos. 3 and 4 receivers. That is what has happened to Edelman. Now, part of that is the coaching staff going out and getting Branch. If they believed Edelman was the right choice to step in as a starter, they wouldn't have made that deal for Branch. So I think you combine all those factors and it explains the lack of snaps for Edelman.
hey Mike- I think when the Pats are "up" late, that BB allows the defense to go soft in the center of the field to allow other teams to attack there, get tackled, let the clock run and let it become the 12th man in aiding wins. Comment?
Piggybacking on some questions above: where's the stat for drive killing, momentum swinging & game winning turnovers? Also, they should do a stat on "wasted yards" for D. i.e., when they allow a team to drive down the field then deprive them of any points.
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
Two good thoughts, Dano and Bobby. Stats can be sliced and diced in many ways. What we're talking about here is "situational defense" in a sense. The Patriots are very good in that area.
Johnny (Come Lately)
Down the line in a 2-3 year span do you think Brandon Spikes can become a 3 down linebacker?
Mike Reiss (1:05 PM)
I wouldn't rule it out Johnny, but it's too early to tell. He seems like he moves better than a Ted Johnson, who was more of a pure 1st and 2nd down guy, and that's why I wouldn't rule it out.
Reed (Charleston, IL)
Thoughts on recent head coaches being fired?
Mike Reiss (1:07 PM)
Disappointed for Josh McDaniels. Think he's a good coach, Reed, who made a lot of mistakes personnel- and management-wise. I think if you told me Bill Belichick was stepping down in 5 years, McDaniels would be the guy I'd point to as his successor. That's how strongly I feel about him as a coach. One thing I believe will benefit him in the future is adopting a more mild-mannered approach during games. A bit too exciteable. As for Childress and Phillips, I thought those moves had to be made.
Bobby (College Library, NJ)
Hey Mike, As a long time fan, I have not been more excited in any previous year then i have been this year(2007 season is close). however Devin Mcourty is tearing it up and this is coming from someone who didn't like the pick in April. Why is his name not in the Pro Bowl voting or on the list of Patriots that are in the votes for thier repspective position? 6 Ints and most of them against clutch qb's in clutch time's.
Mike Reiss (1:08 PM)
Bobby, I'm not sure the answer to that one, other than maybe he just isn't in the top 5. He is known to Patriots fans, but perhaps the country is just catching up. Also, with three of McCourty's INTs coming over the last three games, the production on the stat sheet is more "recent" and could affect vote totals.
Devin Hester (Chicago)
One mistake kick and I'm taking it to the house and breaking the record on Sunday. Mark my words.
Mike Reiss (1:09 PM)
Thanks for checking in Devin. I know the Patriots are concerned. Zoltan Mesko, the punter, said so today.
Sean (Falmouth, MA)
Do you think the Pats would consider drafting a highly rated OT like Anthony Castonzo from BC or Gabe Carimi out of Wisconsin, with Oakland's first round pick?
Mike Reiss (1:10 PM)
Yes, Sean, as long as they are the best player available at the time. That is an area where I could see the Patriots looking to lock in a "franchise" type player to groom.
Mike, in your personal opinion, do you believe we will have football next year?
Mike Reiss (1:11 PM)
Absolutely there will be football, but it's too bad it has come to this point. I talked to a player in the locker room this week who is holding off trying to have a child with his wife because he is concerned about losing his health care. It's disappointing to hear stories like that.
How do you see these last 4 games going? I could see a loss to Chi or GB but I would be shocked if they more then 1 game
Mike Reiss (1:12 PM)
That's the way I view it, Frazier. Assuming good health and reasonable weather conditions, I see 3-4 wins here. But that's assuming a lot now.
I agree with Tully - think he's gone after this year - don't see it. I have always thought he was one-note player. His play in SF confirmed it. The Pats will look at many of the DE/OLBs coming out in this years draft - it looks like there is a lot
Mike Reiss (1:13 PM)
Eric, I go back to one of the big mysteries that I still haven't found the answer to -- why not Jason Taylor? I still thought he would have been a better fit for that type of role.
What do you think of all these teams worrying about the Pats "spying" on them? Peyton steps out of the locker room, Rex makes the team take their playbooks with them wherever they go. Makes the Pats look bad, does it not?
Mike Reiss (1:14 PM)
Silly stuff, Lexi. Sometimes you wonder about the agenda of the reports when stuff like that comes out. As a reporter, I think you always have to ask yourself, "What is the agenda of the person telling me that information and what is the complete context of it?"
Hey Mike, should we be worried about the Bears offense against the Patriots pass defense? I know they give up a ton of yards, but what can the Patriots do to slow down Cutler?
Mike Reiss (1:17 PM)
Erik, I think the Bears' line is the weak point. The Bears have some nice talent in other areas, players who when they get the ball in their hands can make big plays. Olsen, the TE, doesn't look like a natural fit for the offense. If Cutler avoids the mistakes and they cut Forte going, they'll give the Patriots all they can handle. That's why I'd start with Forte -- as a runner and receiver -- and make limiting his prodcution my No. 1 goal. As for the "how" in that question, it's nothing exotic, per se, just tackling well and playing good fundamentally sound football.
Do you remember predicting that the Pats would go 11 and 5 this year? And you thought you were sticking your neck out saying that before the season started. How do you feel now?
Mike Reiss (1:18 PM)
I felt good about the prediction based on the information we had at the time. Then I lowered it to 10-6 after all those injuries. I'm not a big prediction guy, Bennie, but it's fun to revisit them and see if any of them came true.
If you could play any position in the NFL, where do you think you'd be most effective?
Mike Reiss (1:18 PM)
Slot corner :)
Hey Miike, which player has surprised you the most so far this season?
Mike Reiss (1:20 PM)
Let's end on this one, Oliver. I'd say McCourty. Didn't expect the 27th overall pick to come in and lock down the left cornerback spot and have six picks at this time.
Mike Reiss (1:21 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. A lot of good stuff to digest. Appreciate your interest and we'll do it again next Thursday.