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 (12:00 PM)
Good afternoon and welcome to today's Patriots chat.
Mike Reiss (12:01 PM)
This week, I attended Devin McCourty at the Patriots Hall of Fame speaker series, and then caught up with Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski at Boston's Children's Hospital. Gostkowski has confidence that he will be ready for the start of training camp. Meanwhile, McCourty is scheduled to be on NFL Network tonight (7 p.m. ET show).
Mike Reiss (12:02 PM)
I've spent more time in the last week getting familiar with the draft. At this time next week, I will be at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, chatting from there alongside Mike Rodak. So the intensity of draft coverage should be picking up.
Mike Reiss (12:02 PM)
Let's chat until 12:55 p.m. ET, which will give me a few minutes to get prepared for Mike Mayock's media conference call at 1 today.
mike: any chance for info on ty warren's progress?
Mike Reiss (12:03 PM)
All good, dp. Had run into Warren at the end of the season and everything was heading in the right direction.
Mike,If you could have one free agent wide out who would you prefer in a patriots uniform that you think is realistic
Mike Reiss (12:05 PM)
Craig, I like the idea of Carolina's Steve Smith in a trade if Carolina would move him. Otherwise, I don't see much on the free-agent market, unless the team was serious about possibly bringing back Randy Moss.
Mike, You always talk about progress year 1 to 2, with that in mind who do you expect to take the "Patrick Chung" leap and make an impact next season (whenever that is)
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
In context, Chris, I think a player like WR Taylor Price is in position to make the biggest leap because he is starting from a lower point that most rookies.
Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, Florida)
Mike I think in order for Tom Brady and the Patriots to win their Fourth Super they need to get meaner and nastiser on both sides of the line of scrimmage and I think J.J. Watt and Mike Pouncey would be a good start and do you see them going after Nnamdi Asomugha?
Mike Reiss (12:08 PM)
Agree, Anthony. Not sure Watt will be there based on some mock projects from the likes of Todd McShay and Co. Pouncey should be an option and I could see the Patriots pouncing. As for Asomugha, I could see the Patriots being interested if Asomugha was looking at things from a Randy Moss/2007-type financial perspective (e.g. playing for short money to be part of a top team).
Hi MikeI want the franchise tag negated because than there are no star players on the market. Your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:09 PM)
Since the NFL Players Association doesn't seem to think it's a huge deal, that sways my opinion. I don't feel strongly about it. I'm not a big free-agent guy, in general. I think it is often overrated.
Chris (Annapolis MD)
I dont get why the patriots would be against moving in to the top ten for a player if they feel he will step in right away and make the team better. If they traded their own 1st and 2nd round picks and maybe a 4th they could move up to get almost anyone, and the patriots would still have at least another pick in the first 3 rounds.
Mike Reiss (12:10 PM)
Sure, Chris, but the counter to that argument is whether they feel that one player would have as much impact as three possible players. Usually, they don't view things that way. In the end, it would come down to how strongly they felt about the player they were trading up for.
Hi Mike: Been reading a lot about how we should draft a running back high, I couldn't disagree more, and this would really surprise me if Bill went this route. Apass rush, any pass rush please....
Mike Reiss (12:12 PM)
The running back crop is interesting, Corky, as it looks like a position with one top guy (Alabama's Mark Ingram) and then a fairly significant drop-off. Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. made the point that it's a tough draft to find a starting RB. If Ingram is there, maybe the Patriot take the plunge. Otherwise, my hunch right now is that they probably pass.
Josh (Cape Cod)
Hey Mike, my question pertains to a lockout. If there is a lockout that delays the start of the season, do players currently under contract (Brady/Wilfork, etc) get their full yearly contracted salary or does it get cut down based on how many games they play this year? also what happens to bonuses tied into the off season? do players just lose out on those opportunities? Thanks
Mike Reiss (12:13 PM)
Josh, I'm not sure on the first part of the questionm. On the second part, the offseason bonuses would be forfeited as I understand it.
Tanner (Saint Andrews)
Mike, do you ever have off the record conversations with the staff or is the entire group tight lipped? And...what are you hearing in terms of what the organization sees as its needs?
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
Yes, Tanner, there are conversations that occur that don't produce stories on the website or elsewhere. Often times, they help provide more context or understanding of a situation. As for the needs, I think they are pretty much out there. Pass rush is a big one.
Peyton (Boca Raton)
My eyes tell me that Kevin Faulk is a bigger man physically compared to the SuperBowl years. If Faulk returns, could his bulkier size allow the team to use Faulk as a primary back on 1st and 2nd down. Woodhead has the quicks that Faulk cannot match on 3rd down, so the only role I see for Faulk is as all-purpose depth, a 4th back role.
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
I don't see Faulk sliding into a primary back type of role from a first- and second-down perspective. I would still bring him to camp, if he was interested, and see how it all shakes out from a competition standpoint. I can't see him knocking off Woodhead.
Immobile pocket passers have not been capable of leading their teams to SuperBowls during the backhalves of their careers...Marino and Fauts are two examples. Despite the glowing accolades Brady receives regarding his pocket presence, the fact is he won't tuck the ball and run for a first. Can the Patriots win in the playoffs if their QB isn't willing/able to extend a play with his legs in a do-or-die playoff game?
Mike Reiss (12:17 PM)
I believe they can. Kurt Warner from 2008 with the Cardinals is one QB who comes to mind as a non-scrambler who recently led his team to a Super Bowl.
Twice in the last two years, teams that play with attitude stomped the Patriots at home in the playoffs. It's as if the brawlers intimidate the academics, the bullies push around the model students. The Patriot roster is enfused with do-gooder college team captains. Do you think think BB will look to add some fiery emotional guys to this stoic group? I'm of the opinion that the playoff mindset needs to be altered compared to the 16 week regular season grind.
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
I think they are fiery, ReDrew, but I like the idea of adding someone like Bryan Cox to the coaching staff in that regard. He's a firecracker. In the end, though, I'm more about the execution than fire/stoic. Brady doesn't throw that INT, Crumpler doesn't drop that TD pass, and I'm not sure we're having this discussion.
Mike, Can you discuss the details of the transition tag? Is this something the Pats can apply to Matt Light (assuming the current CBA rules)? Thanks.
Mike Reiss (12:21 PM)
Real good thought, Todd. I think it's possible with Light. The transition tag would give the Patriots the chance to match any offer for Light and would pay him a one-year contract that averaged the top 10 salaries among offensive linemen. The Seahawks tried it with guard Steve Hutchinson back in the mid-2000s and got burned, with some arguing that they have never recovered from it. But if I was sitting in the management chair, it is something I would consider for the Patriots with Light.
Michael (Lynn, MA)
Mike, I know that the Patriots like to keep injury information quiet but I am concerned about the health of Mike Wright. Does anyone have any updated information about his condition? Is he going to be OK (even if he doesn't make it back to football form)?
Mike Reiss (12:22 PM)
Still trying to track that one down, Michael. Not getting any call-backs on Wright.
Mike,Do you think the Pats should give serious though to signing Haloti Ngata even with the Franchise designation? Before you say no let me make my case. I think the current rules would be give them our first round pick this year 28 and next year. Which I dont think would be that bad of a price to pay to get what I see as another Big Vince (if not better) on the D-Line. Would we be able to add a poison pill like teams tried with the restricted free agents? I would think with all of our picks we could trade into next year and get back a first rounder and what we would be giving up in terms of draft value chart would probably be close to about the 15th pick in this years draft (Assuming we do something like trade our 2nd & 3rd for a 1 next year). That would fill one of our biggest needs with an established player who is only 27. I understand he would cost a lot to sign but I think if we could get him for a number close to Vince's it would be worth it by far. And then we could spend our 17th
Mike Reiss (12:23 PM)
I like the way you laid it out, Noah. I would personally pass -- too much to give up both in $$$ and draft picks -- but he is surely an impact guy.
Andrew (Siesta Key FL)
Mike, I know the Moss thing has been beaten to death..but..clearly he knows or at least should know his value is not as he thought in terms of dollars and terms, doesn't it make sense that they bring him in under a possible incentive contract to see what he has left, it seems with Moss he only plays when motivated and last season he lost the fire. I would think he sees the Pats succces as something that at this stage of his career is his last chance for a ring..your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
I agree, Andrew. I don't know how the Patriots view things -- if they're moved on from Moss. If they felt like they were getting the Moss from 2007, it's worth exploring in my view.
Hey Mike, my question pertains to Wes Welker. Do you think the patriots have been grooming Julian Edelman for the time Welker's contract comes up. With Edelman and Welker having so many abilities in common, could you see the Patriots letting Welker go, inserting Edelman (who is younger) and keeping their cash free to go towards another hole identified?
Mike Reiss (12:26 PM)
Matt, I don't think Edelman was drafted and developed with the idea that they will let Welker walk. The preference, I would think, is to keep Welker. But what Edelman's presence does is give the team a fall-back plan if things don't work out.
Brian (Orlando, FL)
With the abundance of early picks in this year's draft, do you see the Pats trading down and into next year's draft due to the looming lockout? It makes sense to me if the lockout lasts into August/September, thus making this year's rookies fairly irrelevant.
Mike Reiss (12:27 PM)
Brian, I could see the Patriots trading into next year with 1-2 of their picks. But I still think they end up making 8-10 selections once all the compensatory picks are finalized.
So do you think there is really going to be a lockout or will a deal get done?
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
I'm going the optimist route, Pam. I think we'll have an extension of the March 4 deadline and a deal at some point before the end of the summer. That's not based on any inside information, but a hunch. I'm thankful I don't have to cover that story, as I find it painful watching the NFL and NFLPA and how they are handing this from a PR perspective. It reminds me of a bad divorce and both sides slinging mud at the other. It brings out the worst in people.
Cameron Prescott (Norwalk High School)
I know most of the questions will be draft related, but how come rob gronk wasnt in contention for rookie of the year? He had a season that most tight ends wish they would have..why wasnt he mentioned?
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
Cameron, I hope you are on break at school, and not chatting during class :) Gronkowski had a solid rookie year, but I think we'll always see those quarterbacks (Sam Bradford) trumping a tight end because of the spotlight on that position.
Linda Marino Kern (Sherbourne)
Why is BBs 3-4 defense less effective than other 3-4 teams
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
I'm not sure I'd agree with that thought, Linda, as the Patriots ranked eighth in the NFL in fewest points allowed this year. But I think I get where you're going: Why can't the BB defense pressure as well as other 3-4 defenses? If that's the thought, I'd say it's based on two factors: 1) The scheme is more read and react than penetration based; 2) Personnel.
I recently watched BB's Saturday night speech to the team before the SuperBowl vs Philly. He relayed the Philly parade plans as if he was an accountant delivering a quarterly report to shareholders. That was 6 years ago and I can't believe he has amped up his pregame pep talks. He is dealing with a very young team that has made it to the pros riding BOTH emotion and skill. How about an infusion of emotion when battling teams that have used their own emotions to steam roll the Patriots in the playoffs!
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
Hootie, I just don't think throwing chairs and pounding walls is what necessarily works. I understand the need to spark it up from time to time, but I don't see that as the problem for this team.
Mike, Are the Maple Leafs dumb enough to send Kaberle to the Bruins? As a Leafs fan, I vote yes the are!
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
Hi Anthony. Had to sneak the hockey question in there, even though I'm a football guy. Thanks for mixing it up. Let's see what the Leafs get in return; I think the compensation will be worth making the deal from their perspective.
Colon (West Springfield)
Are you heading to the Combine to check out the draft possibilities? If you are, is there any way that you could pin a star or some other marking on anyone there who looks to be another Clay Matthews? Just so Belichick might be helped to recognize them when April comes around.
Mike Reiss (12:35 PM)
Colon, you give my personnel evaluation skills too much credit. Maybe Mike Rodak could nail that one down for us.
I don't see Tate's speed. I see deep threats on other teams blowing by the DBs. Tate seems blanket covered at all times. How about a long legged burner that has physicality to fight for a jump ball?
Mike Reiss (12:36 PM)
I respect the opinion, Julio, but I'd pass. I think an all-around receiver is my preference over a one-trick pony who just runs fast in a straight line and tries to outjump defenders. I'm of the belief that approach works in college, not so much in the NFL.
ATTTITUDE ATTITUDE ATTITUDEThat should be the mantra of this off season. Logan Mankins brings it on offense and Vince Wilfork brings it on defense. We need a couple of more players on each side of the ball with that attitude. Our secondary is missing that Rodney Harrison attitude and our linebackers need a new Tedi Bruschi. Brady is a fiery leader but besides he and Mankins I thing we need a few more nasty boys on that side of the ball. For the draft I would love to see them add to the O and D lines and then a CB and WR. We need some players who refuse to lose and refuse to let their teammates lose.
Mike Reiss (12:37 PM)
Appreciate the thoughts, Rick.
The Defensive Line (Foxboro)
Hey Mike, its a bunch of us from the d-line. If Bill drafts a DE/DT and Ty Warren returns, thats a lock for 3 guys (rookie, Ty, Wilfork). Which 3 of us do you think make it? Deaderick, Brace, Pryor, Wright, Love, G Warren, Richard, and Weston all here wondering who needs a new job!
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
Here's the beauty of it: We don't need the answer right now. Let the competition play out and the best man win. With injuries and other potential unexpected turns of events, who knows what will happen?
BamaPat (Mobile, Ala.)
Mike: Why does the NFL still have its outdated injury list? Every other major sport has a graduated system? There are players every NFL season that are put on IR for roster reasons that could have come back later in the season, or for the playoffs, but it would take too long to hold their roster spot. I propose: a 4-game, 8-game, 12-game and 16-game (or 18-game) disabled list. A player could only be on the 4, 8 or 12 lists once during the season. After that, if they get hurt again, their season is over. Teams could still have a smaller inactive list for game day. What do you think?
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
That's something the league is discussing as part of a possible 18-game season, BamaPat. Would probably just be one disabled list (maybe 6 games) and you could put 1-2 players on it. The inactive list on game day serves as their other IR list.
Michael (Leominster, MA)
I am interested in your thoughts regarding the BB coaching tree. Successful head coaches are often viewed in terms of the success their assistants have once they move on. To date with BB this has been decidedly a mixed bag.
Mike Reiss (12:41 PM)
My main thought, Michael, is that some of the assistants try to be too much like Belichick. There is only one Belichick -- off-the-charts smart, able to balance multiple tasks etc. So if I had any advice to a Belichick assistant going out on his own, it would be this: Be yourself, don't necessarily implement the Patriots infra-structure in your new job, and surround yourself with good assistants.
Jason (Denver, CO)
Mike, I am wondering why you don't view Price as a "burner", he ran a 4.3 coming out of college.
Mike Reiss (12:42 PM)
When I watched him in practice and that one season-finale, he didn't strike me as a 4.3 guy in terms of playing to his timed speed. Maybe that comes with more knowledge/comfort in the system.
Hey Mike, there are four guys I want in the draft in this order: Cameron Jordan, JJ Watt, Aldon Smith, and Gabe Carimi. How would you rank these guys?
Mike Reiss (12:43 PM)
Still have questions on Jordan as a fit as a 3-4 DE based on media-analyst scouting reports, so I'll go this way: 1. Watt; 2. Smith; 3. Jordan; 4. Carimi
Mark (Washington DC)
What do you think the chances are the Pats will draft a deep threat in the 1st or 2nd round? I understand their need for a more talented line, but with Moss gone and Branch getting older why not get a guy to take the ball deep and take the top off the defense?
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
I don't see it, Mark. This team scored 30-plus points in its final eight regular-season games. I'd endorse exploring a Moss return -- or a possible Steve Smith trade -- before using a first-round pick on that position at No. 17 or 28.
David (North Attleboro,Ma)
With the Patriots needing an OLB and with Belichick liking veterans that have already made the switch from DE to OLB. They have done it before with Thomas and Colvin.What FA OLB would be the best fit for the Patriots.
Mike Reiss (12:46 PM)
None of the options really jump off the page to me, David. I don't think there is anyone on the open market that is a major upgrade over what they have. http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4692899/free-agent-fit-outside-linebacker
Tamba Hali (Kansas City)
I am In a similar situation to Ngata, but I have experience in Romeo's defense, and my GM is BFF with Belichick. I understand the value of draft picks, but with a young, proven pass-rushing D-lineman such as myself, why wouldnt the Pats trade the 28th and a 2012 1st for me, draft at #17, and trade the 33rd for a 1st next year??
Mike Reiss (12:48 PM)
Tamba Hali, I think a move like that sends a tough message in the locker room that you're willing to sign a player from another team to a record-breaking contract, but a player who has given you six years (Logan Mankins) needs to fight more for his big deal. Very dangerous in my view.
Pass Rush Ghost (Foxboro, MA)
Motivation is SO overrated. If Tom Brady said that the Pats would beat the Lions, do you think the perceived slight would make Detroit come out on top? Talent. Wins. All.
Mike Reiss (12:48 PM)
Concur. Execution first.
one thing about Gron...his yardage was what it takes for a ROY candidate especially with M. Williams, Blount and even D Bryant having such good years
Mike Reiss (12:49 PM)
The Patriots are not going to draft a Dwight Freeney or Clay Matthews anytime soon however, they will draft an OLB/DE because that is a serious hole and really the only hole on this defense (the other flaw being that they are young). But guessing what the Patriots will do for the draft is nearly impossible. I see them trading up to get a cornerstone piece like OLB/DE Robert Quinn (6?5? 275). Most mock drafts have him going in the 6-12 range and if he falls to 10-12, I think we will see the Pats draft up using picks 17 & 62. They don't have many holes on D and they have very little spots to fill so hopefully they will maximize their value and trade for one good player. Although they don't do it often, I think this is the year they do it (and not lose any 2012 draft picks).
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
Interesting player, Eric, and some similarities to Rob Gronkowski from a draft perspective in that you're going off film from two years ago to evaluate him. The off-the-field picture needs to be cleared up for teams, too.
Paulie (The OC)
If we have football next year, what veteran wide receivers would be available to the Pats via free agency?
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
Mike Rodak link: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4692939/free-agent-fit-wide-receiver
Hi Mike,Time to put your GM hat on for a minute. I realize that none of us will ever be able to get into Bill Belichick's head to figure out who he likes. My questions is given picks #17, 28, and 33 who would you pick to improve this team.
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
A bit tough, Brian, because you don't know what happens in front of those picks, but I'd start with this: I'm making 2 of those 3 picks. The other pick I would use as an asset to get something else, whether it's a veteran player (Carolina WR Steve Smith?), a 2012 high draft pick etc. As for players, I think Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey would be a solid, safe choice that would solidify the interior of their line given some of the uncertainty there. I'd focus on defense with the other pick -- and need some more time to study what players could thrive in this system.
Jeff (Needham, MA)
Hey Mike - you blogged this morning about the center/guard situation going into next season, and noted that it was possible all 3 starters would return. What are the chances, regardless of what happens at Guard, that Dan Koppen gets replaced? I've always liked him but he's struggled in the past few seasons against interior defensive linemen. At this point I kind of view him as the weakest link on the offensive line.
Mike Reiss (12:56 PM)
That wouldn't surprise me, Jeff, but the question to me is who replaces him? I don't see anyone on the roster, so it would have to be a top draft choice in my view (Pouncey?). If not a draft pick, I think Koppen will be back at center in 2011.
If Prince Amukamara drops to #17, albeit unlikely, do you think the pats will select him? I've seen atleast one mock draft where this has happened, and the pats have shown that they will draft the best player available, regardless of position.
Mike Reiss (12:57 PM)
It wouldn't be ideal -- I think they'll lean toward the front seven -- but if there are no solid option for them up front it wouldn't surprise me.
Billy (Charleston SC)
Hey Mike, who seems like a better fit in the Pats 3-4 OLB position, Aldon Smith or Justin Houston? The Pats should be able to get one of them in the first round
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
Billy, planning to talk to Houston at the combine. Don't know enough about him at this point, but he looks like a player who could be a riser as the draft approaches.
Hi Mike! With all these mock drafts, it's hard to know which analysts guess and who actually has insight. Who do you think has good instinct when it comes to mock drafts? And is there a record of how well the "draft experts" get the picks right?
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Ben, I don't know off the top of my head, but the thing that I find most helpful with the draft analysts is them putting the prospects into context in terms of strengths/weaknesses/fit with teams and the schemes they run. If we think about it, a mock draft is more fun than anything else. One trade and it blows up.
Do you feel that this team is a just a few pieces away from a Super Bowl victory or do you think they need more of an overhaul to get back to the big stage. Also, what's your thought on drafting a Safety that's more fundamentally sound than Merriweather?
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
I'm more of the thought process that it's a "few pieces." This safety class is not strong, according to Todd McShay, so I don't think we'll see instant impact there.
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
Let's go for another 5 here...
Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta, GA)
Mike, what's your favorite stadium to watch football? And who do you think have the best fans, besides the Pats of course?
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
Had a great experience at Qwest Field in Seattle in 2008. That one stands out. I also enjoy Pittsburgh. Those are a few that stand out.
As a Boston-born Terrapin, Kiper's mock pick of Torrey Smith to the Pats gets me all excited inside. Everyone at this University considers him a man of great character and excellent work ethic. Is there any scenario where he'll find his way on to the Patriots as some mocks suggest?
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
I'd be surprised, Anthony, but that's just based on a hunch. I don't see the Patriots going with a WR at that No. 28 spot.
What are the odds the Patriots select either Brooks Reed or Mikel Leshoure?
Mike Reiss (1:05 PM)
Nate, when it comes to pass rush, Reed is a guy who Pat Kirwan of NFL.com/Sirius Radio said has a little Clay Matthews in him. That caught my eye. He's more of a 2nd/3rd round type target, based on projections.
Billy (Charleston SC)
Mike, I like the idea that the Pats use their two 1st round picks on a OLB and DE, trade Carolina their pick back for Steve Smith, and spend their lower 2nd round pick on a guard or tackle, your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (1:06 PM)
I think that would be powerful, Billy.
Why are people worrying about the Offense next season? Did these people watch the 2010 season? The offense scored 31 points in something like 9 strait games - isn't that proof the WR isn't exactly a NEED? AJ Green and Julio Jones are not walking through that door! Come on people!
Mike Reiss (1:07 PM)
This is a hot topic this offseason, Eric, or at least it seems that way to me. I think the playoff loss to the Jets has some thinking along these lines.
Sono (Tempe, AZ)
How many prospects would you say BB brings in to workout every year? It seems that he is very prepared come draft time.
Mike Reiss (1:09 PM)
Let's end on this one, Sono. Teams can only visit with a small amount of prospects at Gillette Stadium leading up to the draft, and those aren't workouts. But the team will send coaches out for hundreds of workouts before the draft at college facilities etc. It is an extremely thorough process. The Patriots cover it well.
Mike Reiss (1:10 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Heading on a Mike Mayock conference call now. We'll chat again next Thursday from Indianapolis at the combine.