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. 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. From 2005 to 2009, he 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)
In past week's, there has been a lead-in question asked on the Patriots blog to be dissected in our chats. Today's question: What type of affect do you envision Ty Warren's and Leigh Bodden's return from injuries will have on the Patriots' defense?
Mike Reiss (12:01 PM)
I'm going to scroll through some of the answers now, post them, and then we'll get started.
Warren and Bodden equals two proven starters, equals instant improvement in defence. Add wright and brace into the calculation as well and the maths begin to come together......equals sb 4??
Morten Rosenbak Kristensen (Denmark)
After I read the post about Ty Warren I think he will be back and have a huge impact on our Defense. He will be the deciding factor against the run and think he will help Cunningham get to the opposing teams QB. If cunningham makes the great jump, witch I believe he will do with ease, then will bodden have a +6 interception season and there for we will get a better team overall with the addition of these two very talented and experienced football players.
Jeff (Needham, MA)
Hey Mike, about Ty Warren and Leigh Bodden: I think their return will provide a veteran reinforcement to the defense. While both will also, I'd expect, assume starting roles I think their presence as not only playmakers but mentors to the younger players will have a very positive effect on the unit as a whole. I think a lot of fans have forgotten just how good the two of them are and to have them back and playing in place of Kyle Arrington at RCB or Mike Wright as a DE on early downs is going to seriously bolster the D.
If they come back healthy playing like they are capable and if the 2nd to 3rd year players make strides... I think it has the potential to make this defense dominant. These are big 'ifs' but if it does work out this way it provides us with more depth and personel options across the board.
Neither guy was a disruptive impact player for the Patriots in his prime, but both were above-average at their positions. It's not like we're hoping for mid-2000's Richard Seymour and Champ Bailey to return to form here. A veteran presence is great to have, but it's more likely that Warren and Bodden return as great rotational depth options as opposed to key starters. And with the lockout, it's hard to say how rusty they'll be after more than a year off.
Laurie (Moncton, Canada)
The return of Warren and Bodden will create more opportunities for an attacking defence. I would expect a lot more safety and ILB blitzes simply because of the increased confidence Belichick would have with his veterans returning.
Dienasty (Brockton, MA)
I think the return of Warren and Bodden will have a tremoundously positive impact as long as they are able to be at full strength. The Patriots will be adding two starters that are at least above average when compared to the rest of the league. Also, it will mean that the young DEs will be competing for one spot instead of two and moving Wilfork around won't be as necessary. With the CBs, it allows the young players to fall in line and compete for nickel and dime looks. I think it is significant...as long as both guys are healthy and ready to go.
I think the return of both Ty Warren and Leigh Bodden both obviously improve and add depth to the Pats D. I think Ty Warren is going to be the bigger help. At 30 years old he is not much past his prime as a def tackle he should be able to get past the hip injury. I have heard he had the same surgery as A-Rod and he seems to still playing at a very high level. The interesting piece will be to see what Bodden has left. At 29 years old he is starting to become a little long in the tooth at d-back. I still think he is a valuable player as he is more of a physical corner that a pure coverage corner. Also his injury was not to his legs so he should be ready to go. I think the Defense is better this year but I still wonder how the return of either of these guys helps when its 3rd and 8 and I still have no faith that the dfense will come up with a stop.
Radim (Czech republic)
Hi mike. I think that Bodden's return should be really good for our secondary. Bodden, McCourty and Dowling. Really great group of DBs. But I think that if QB has a lot of time you can have three Deion Sanders and it still wouldn't be enough. After few seconds WR always find a way to create the separation. We need to find guy who will go after QB. Then our DBs can do their job and we won't be the worst 3rd down defense. Defense has to work together. Your thoughts?
In regards to your lead off question, I feel Bodden will be fine but is on a short leash with the drafting of Dowling. Warren must have been given a vote of confidence with no drafting of a DE. I think an off season of working out will do him much better than last off season when he went back to school instead.
Re Warren and Bodden, I was very encouraged by Warren's recent comments about being a potential comeback player of the year winner. I don't think of him as a boastful guy, so for him to say that suggests at least he believes he will be the player he was before the injury. Of course only time will tell. With Bodden, if he returns to 2009 form, I see this secondary as being truly elite, as he would push Arrington and Dowling to the nickel and dime packages.
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
Let me just say, I appreciate everyone's opinions on this. I had a nice chat with Ty Warren this week and I was struck by how confident he is about his return. If he's hungry, and it sure sounds like he is, I think that would be a big addition to the D. Dito for Bodden. While there is a bit of an unknown there, as both are closer to the end of their careers than the start, I think they still have solid starter-level contributions to offer if healthy.
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
Let's chat today until about 12:50...
Nate C (Burlington MA)
Hi Mike, just wondering what is up with your Shane Vereen love affair? You have been talking up Ridley a bit as well, but to me these are two of the most questionable picks in the draft. I know we needed an RB, but not two, and not Vereen over LeShoure. I just don't see what has you fired up about these guys; at best they are just another member of the committee, and I feel Vereen duplicates Woodhead's skillset to an extent. I don't see either rookie really impacting the Pats offensive approach. I sure hope your assessment is correct and they turn out to be studs, but I can't help but wonder if you are having another Darius Butler moment...
Mike Reiss (12:08 PM)
Another Darius Butler moment :) Man, that one is living with me, eh? My thoughts on Vereen go back to the combine. When I came back from the combine, I listed 10 players I thought would be good fits for the team. Vereen was one of them. Here is the link: http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nfl/columns/story?columnist=reiss_mike&id=6169791
Hey Mike - Ty Warren said hes feeling healthy and said that when he feels that way, he believes there is no one better at the 5 technique than him. Pretty strong words, but I see Warren coming back and having a great season. He's motivated to be comeback player of the year and will give us the pass rush we need. Whats a realistic goal for # of sacks for Warren, 7-8?
Mike Reiss (12:10 PM)
Chris, let's look at Warren's history when it comes to sacks: 1, 3.5, 1.5, 7.5, 4.0, 2.0 and 1.0. So I think if we take the average, that might be the way to go.That would be 2.9.
Eric (Boston, MA)
The secondary will be much improved this season with the addition to Bodden. While Butler stumbled, Arrington stepped up and did a great job proving that he is more than a special teams player. This will give the Patriots a plethora of coverage corners to work with. The question will be who will cover the slot receiver? McCourty would be the logical choice by process of elimination. Taller CBs are typically better as sideline CBs so we can expect Dowling to be there. As for Bodden, his strength has been as a sideline CB too. McCourty recovers nicely and out of the 3 seems to be the better fit to cover the slot. That will leave 4th CB to be Arrington (over Butler). Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:11 PM)
Agree on the fourth CB (Arrington), mainly because he'll be more valuable on special teams, giving him the better chance on being active on the 45-man game-day roster. As for the slot receiver, hmmm ... McCourty seems like best choice if we're looking at McCourty/Bodden/Dowling as CB options.
Hi MikeI'll make this short and sweet or maybe I should say short and sour. In regards to Tim Graham's "What was the Patriots' defining moment in the history of the franchise?" I'm going to go in a different direction here and say the 07 SB LOSS. It's a what have you done for me lately world and the last time the PATS organization made any note worthy news it was for all the WRONG reasons.
Mike Reiss (12:12 PM)
Tough crowd, Brian.
Assuming no major injuries or no major veteran FA signing, Mike, who do you predict would start in base 3-4 defense and passing down defense, respectively?
Mike Reiss (12:14 PM)
MarkJ, if they are opening in a 3-4, I'll go with Ty Warren/Vince Wilfork/Mike Wright along the line and then Rob Ninkovich/Jermaine Cunningham at OLB, with Brandon Spikes/Jerod Mayo in the middle. Had some question on that RDE spot -- if not Wright, maybe Stroud or Deaderick. As for a passing/sub defense, that can take on a lot of different shapes depending on the opponent/situation.
Borg (S Fla)
Mike, the 2010 draft was considered a very deep draft with the Patriots ready to take advantage with three 2nd round picks. McCourty and Gronkowski were definitely first round talents. Spikes and Cunningham had solid rookie years and it would be tough to argue that the Patriots didn't get good value from those 2nd round picks. Just curious where you think Solder and Dowling would have been slotted in that 2010 draft?
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
Dowling probably a first if he came out last year, and Solder probably a second as his strength probably would have become more of an issue when combined with him coming out early )hypothetically).
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
That's just a guess. I don't know that for sure, but these prospects are a lot like stocks.
Mike O'Brien (Pflugerville, tx)
Hey Mike.... If you have to pick a Free Agent for the Pats to sign (Big money or small) who would it be and why?
Mike Reiss (12:17 PM)
Ray Edwards of the Vikings was the first name to come to mind. Edge rusher. Comes from that Purdue program that has produced some solid 4-3 ends or 3-4 outside linebackers. Would cost a lot. Could be restricted this year depending on the free-agency rules.
Jim (Boca Raton)
I really like what Belicheck did in the draft, with the exception of not drafting a pass rusher at #33. Brooks Reed would have been my choice there and I think he could have made a huge impact on this Patriot team putting pressure on the QB. Time will tell, but my feeling is that Bill may have outsmarted himself a bit there.
Mike Reiss (12:18 PM)
Let's keep an eye on it, Jim. I also wrote that the Dowling pick is what defines this draft, mainly because in making that choice, the team took itself out of the running for the top two pass-rushers left on the board (Brooks Reed/Jabaal Sheard). Once they were out of the running for Reed/Sheard, it all but assured they weren't coming out of this draft with a pass rusher, because no one left was worth the risk/investment.
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
I give Bill Belichick the benefit of the doubt, but I think it's fair to ask the question, "Should they have been more aggressive when it comes to a pass rusher?"
Mike Reiss (12:20 PM)
And as we've seen with some of my "personnel choices" -- as Nate of Burlington correctly pointed out with Darius Butler -- I don't have all the answers either.
Hey Mike, Two questions: What have you heard regarding what Belichick and his staff are doing differently to prepare for the season this year considering the lockout has made contact with players impossible? How does that compare to how other coaching staffs are handling the situation?
Mike Reiss (12:21 PM)
Nick, I can only speak to the Patriots. I don't know how most of the other 31 teams have handled it. But Belichick, before the lockout, entrusted his captains to keep everyone on the same page. Jerod Mayo has been great arranging workouts. Tom Brady is emailing guys. This is when your captains really need to step up and Belichick, as I understand it, stressed that prior to the lockout.
I had a nightmare last night. I was reliving the 4th quarter of the playoff game verses the Jets. You remember that drive to nowhere. The Patriots abondoned the passing game...and methodically ran the ball play after play as the clock disintergrated. The Patriots accepted what was given to them...running lanes. and they conceded that the Jets owned them in the passing game. So can you or anyone explain to me what measures the Patriots have taken since that game in order to prevent the Jets from doing it all over again. I just don't see this new draft class as being a solution to the problems we saw in that 4th quarter.
Mike Reiss (12:24 PM)
I know what you're saying, ReDrew, but I think it simplifies it too much. The same way a 45-3 Patriots blowout win in early December turned into a playoff loss to the same team in January, each game has its own dynamics and they seldom carry over. But to play along, I think, in theory, they should be able to run the ball better and that could help pass protection as well. Maybe those two elements create a different picture.
John (Acton, MA)
Mike, Assuming a reasonable recovery from his neck injury, wouldn't Mathias Kiwunuka be an intriguing player to throw into the Pats' outside linebacker mix? He's not entirely unfamiliar with standing up in a 3-4, and it seems like he would have the character, measurables and pass-rushing productivity the Pats seek. Seems like a reasonable risk/high-reward possibility. Your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
John, I like Kiwanuka as a player to look at, although he could end up being just a restricted free agent, which makes it less likely they go that route because of the draft-pick compensation it would take to sign him.
Mike Angers (Worcester, MA)
Hey Mike, when, not if, is Ochocinco coming to the Pats? The bengals just drafted a stud receiver and clearly BB and him get along great. I think it's a perfect fit and might have happened already if it were not for the lockout situation. Thanks
Mike Reiss (12:26 PM)
Mike, if it happens, maybe it's at the end of training camp when the Patriots take stock of their WR corps and perhaps feel there is a need there. That's often when we see those veteran-type trades.
Mike O'Brien (Texas)
Since the rookie might not be able to get with the team until June, July, Aug etc.... Dont you think that is one of the main reason BB didn't draft an OLB/DE in the draft. I know that everyone says it is such a hard postiion and rather than wasting a pick on someone that their first year will be a red shirt year, lets save it until next years draft and have the entire time to work with them. Your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:27 PM)
Perhaps, Mike, but I look at it a bit differently. If you're looking for a pass-rusher, and you're putting him on the field on third down to play a Tully Banta-Cain rush-type role, that doesn't seem too complex to me. You can either get after it, or you can't. Sure, there are some complexities to it, but a high motor is a high motor.
Joe (Waltham, MA)
Mike,You're on the clock at #56 and it's your call, do you take Vereen or Leshoure?
Mike Reiss (12:28 PM)
Joe, most folks had Leshoure as the better back going in. In one our mock drafts leading up to the real draft, I picked Leshoure. So I can't be hypocritical and change now. That being said, I like Vereen quite a bit, and that goes back to the combine.
Hi Mike, I think Bodden ad Warren will serve as veteran stabilizing influences on the defense. I feel like the focus on oiffense in the draft was, in part, a refelction of BB's belief that the problems encountered on defense last year was more due to youth and injuries than a lack of talent and that this defense need more experience, not more youth.
Mike Reiss (12:28 PM)
Thanks JT. I missed that one.
Paul C. (My office in SATX)
Hey Mike- I am a bit torn on the draft. With the acquisition of Shane Vereen and Ridley, with, in my opinion, Vereen resembling a quick, smaller back with pass catching ability, etc. a-la Faulk - where does this leave Woodhead in the rotation? I thought we found a hidden gem in Woodhead last season, a solid replacement for Faulk. Then we add 2 more backs with one similar to Faulk? Do you think the Pats envision Woody as a long-term member depsite his contract extension this past year?
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
Paul, I think Vereen is being miscast when people call him a third-down back. He is strong, too. I think he's a complete, three-down back. Put him with Green-Ellis and Woodhead and it's a strong 1-2-3 combination. Ridley adds a powerful fourth option.
David (North Attleboro,Ma)
Hi Mike. As a fan I find it difficult to proceed like the NFL is going to have a good quality season. Other than the draft nothing was been normal about this off season. How difficult has it been to find non-lockout stories to write about? Have you considered writing more about the lockout and more about the position the players and owners have taken?
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
David, I haven't found it too difficult to find stories to write about. One change is that we'd normally be down at the stadium a couple of times each week to talk to players, and I do miss that. As for the lockout, our approach is to leave that to the national reporters who have been covering that story from the outset. We're going to focus solely on the Patriots in this space, and target that area.
Behn (Kitchener, ON)
The Pats are stocked at MLB, what about moving Mayo, Spikes or Guyton to OLB? Who would you move and why? Would it help the pass rush? Thanks in advance Mike!
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
Behn, In the standard 3-4 alignment, Mayo, Spikes and Guyton are better suited as off-the-line players, not in an on-the-line position at outside linebacker. Really, those OLBs are DEs, but they are just standing up. Not to hold it against Guyton from three seasons ago, but I remember they tried it with him in a December game at Seattle, and he just had trouble holding up. He's better in space.
Hey Mike! Can't remember if I had asked it before, but: It seems that since the "Jetsons period" (AD, Springs, Baker...) the Pats are putting an even bigger emphasis on identifying good character guys. This year with no FA, was Belichick's envolvement into draft preparations even bigger than usual? As he kept saying all the time regarding rookies that were chosen: "Great kid to talk to." it seemed he had more personal contact than previous years.
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
Greetings in Hungary. Will look forward to the next time we cross paths, _bb. I'm not sure if Belichick's involvement in the draft was any greater than past years. As for more character guys, I think it more business as usual this year. The team has always tried to do that, with the understanding that there's always a little push and pull in that area; you take some calculated risks here and there.
Hi Mike: Do you see any potential free agent that could be an impact pass rusher, kinda like when we got Rosie from the Bears(I know that didn't work out becouse of the busted hip), but a guy we can all feel excited about. I just don't see that player on the current roster...
Mike Reiss (12:36 PM)
Corky, not many rushers out there. That's why I felt the draft was their best chance. Maybe they could swing a trade when the rules are known, and target someone like Detroit's Cliff Avril. Not sure why the Lions would give him up, but it's fun to consider the options like that. Avril is another Purdue guy, in that Ray Edwards/Rosie Colvin/Shaun Phillips DE/OLB category. Maybe Jets DE Shaun Ellis fits the bill? I don't see much out there.
The Patriots do not invest in a pass-rusher because they feel that a pass-rusher is either too one-dimensional or an overrated asset. Although, I do wish they had a pass-rusher, I have said time and time again that they prefer players that set the edge first, stuff the gaps, and hold up their blockers. All are preferences that go against the traits of a pass-rusher which are too not be held up by a blocker. They?re philosophy is so simple but the fans and media choose to ignore it or bye into the hype of the sack. It is to have players do their job and hold their lane. Do not give up the big play. Limit the offense?s big play ability. By drafting another corner, they are looking to put pressure on the QB through the play of the secondary which would lead to turnovers (by forcing a ball into coverage) or by throwing the ball away or taking a coverage sack. Also, on the other side of the ball, by drafting two linemen, keep the defense fresh by controlling the clock more which in turn would keep the defense off the field and more effective.
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Eric. I look at it a little differently, thinking back to Belichick's days with Lawrence Taylor, but that's part of what makes sports great -- people look at things differently.
Mike, With the drafting of Solder, we're assuming Matt Light is gone (or signed for short money which sounds unlikely). That gives us a pretty good line if Mankins is resigned, but that also appears unlikely. So, if Cannon is out for at least the first 6 weeks getting better (though he could pull a Wes and surprise us), who is your best bet to start at RG assuming Connoly is in at LG? I think going into the season that is my biggest worry, even more than the pass rush.
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
Next man up is Ryan Wendell based on last year's depth chart. Held his ground in that Buffalo game when they rushed for all those yards.
michaelcee (Columbia, Maryland)
Hi Mike! To me, the Pats' draft was a disaster. With a little maneuvering they could have drafted any combination of the following in the first round (pick any two)--Ryan Kerrigan, Cam Jordan, Cam Heyward, Robert Quinn--and still drafted a solid right tackle (move Volmmer to LT) a cornerback, and a running back in rounds 2 and 3. What gives? Did Bill just have a low opinion of the front 7 defensive players available in the mid to late first round? I know no one knows what's going on in the hoodie's mind, but c'mon man!!
Mike Reiss (12:41 PM)
All fair, and now let's give it time to play out. Robert Quinn was falling ... falling ... falling, creating an opportunity to snatch him if the Patriots felt he was the guy. They obviously didn't feel that way. Time will tell if they were right. They could have had Heyward at 28 but traded it away for Vereen/2012 first-rounder. Again, time will tell if that was right. Like you, I'm interested to see how it plays out because I thought there were some solid opportunities for them that they could have taken advantage of. Belichick gets the benefit of the doubt right now, but as we've seen in past years (e.g. 2006, 2008), he's human like the rest of us. It's fun to debate.
Tanner (St Andrews)
Wes Welker has 1 year left on his contract in New England. What kind of contract could this 31 year WR get on the open market and do you thin Belichick would extend this aging vet?
Mike Reiss (12:43 PM)
Good question, Tanner. Was thinking 4 years, $28 million, at a $7 million per year average. Not sure that gets it done, or if I'm even close to being in the right ballpark, but that was the first thought that came to mind, paying a big chunk of it up front.
Todd Lane (Nashua, NH)
Hey Mike, do you see the Pats changing their philosophy to a smash mouth running attack. They just drafted a couple RBs and shored up the offensive line for the future. The tight end position was improved last year as well. I think it's a smarter move considering there seems to be more talent in this area as opposed to the WR position. Although it may be best to let TB chuck it 50 times a game. Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
Todd, I don't think we'll really notice anything big in that area. More than anything, I think the focus will be on a more consistent running game. It was productive at times, but when they needed it other times, it let them down. So while there might be some scheme tweaks in the run game in 2011, that's the main thing I think we'll see -- the possibility of more confidence producing more consistent results.
Joe (Waltham, MA)
Mike,Of all the draft choices, which player do you see making an immediate impact on this team?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
I'll go with Shane Vereen, mainly because of a combination of position, need, and readiness.
Do you think Butler has any trade value?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
Not right now, Pete. Some less-than-flattering 2010 tape on him.
Clark (Muncie, IN)
More of a comment than a question. Shane Vereen's 31 reps is a Combine record for running backs. (Mikel Leshoure 21 reps) I have no idea why 5-10 215lbs keeps getting compared to 5-7 185lb Danny Woodhead. they are nothing alike except they both play RB. Thanks.
Mike Reiss (12:46 PM)
Thanks Clark. You have been a big Vereen booster from the start. You might have to change your handle to Clark12to34 on the ESPN page. That's assuming Vereen gets 34.
Bellichicks days with Lawrence Taylor? I dont think Bill was building that team. Parcells and whoever the GM was at that time was clearly the one building the team.
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
MarkP, I can't argue that point. My point is that Belichick wouldn't turn down a pass rusher. I don't think he devalues pressuring the opposing quarterback.
who on the pats do you expect to land in the NFL networks top 100 right now and what range would you expect them?
Mike Reiss (12:49 PM)
Cory, I've noticed we've had no Patriots yet. Welker, Wilfork, Mayo, Brady and Mankins would figure to be in the mix. Tough call on the range. I haven't really taken the time to try to put together a 1-100 ranking.
Ryan (Baton Rouge)
Just a quick draft observation- Even though we criticize BB for moving down/out in the draft, he actually made all but one of the Pats selections (#28) either where they were slotted or EARLIER, and still came away with two picks in rds 1 & 2 next year. If we trust his talent evaluation, then this was a good haul.
Mike Reiss (12:49 PM)
Thanks Ryan. All the best in Baton Rouge.
Any thoughts on Clayton's article today? Basically if the league reverts to 2010 rules, the final eight teams (including the Patriots) would be very limited in making free agent aquisitions.
Mike Reiss (12:49 PM)
Haven't seen it yet, Andy. Will have to check it out.
TD (Portsmouth, NH)
George Young bought the groceries for the Gints. BB had a tough time w/LT, he kept dozing off in meetings and getting pulled over by police. However, he was 250 and ran a 4.3 40! Once in a lifetime player.
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
Belichick tells some great stories about LT.
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
Let's go for another 5...
Marc (Malden, MA)
I don't want McCourty in the slot. Teams rarely put their best WR in the slot. I want McCourty covering the best WR.
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
So who are you sliding inside to that "star" spot? Dowling? Chung?
Mike, I wanted a Pass rusher in this draft as much as anyone, and everyone always looks back at Clay Matthews and says we missed. I say we should look back at the two guys everyone wanted us to pick in Vernon Gholston and Sergio Kindle. I think Bill knows what hes doing and we need to lay off his drafting.
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
Can I answer ReDrew's question? What the Patriots did won't change that 4th quarter drive, but the 3 quarters before it where they had to pass pass pass. If Cannon and Solder both play this year and those RB's both contribute, they will run more and have more looks and plays left in the bag late and the Jets will have fewer looks at their complex defenses since the Pats are eating the clock .
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
Mike, are you taking my job?
Spaulding Smails (Bushwood)
Mike, can you give your thoughts on Darius Butler's role with the team next year? Is he going to improve enough to stay w/the team let alone compete for playing time?
Mike Reiss (12:53 PM)
I'd put him in the Terrence Wheatley category from this time last year. Time to prove it. You either get better or stay the same. I think he has it in him, and one injury can change the picture, but he looks to be fifth on the depth chart right now.
Nate C (Burlington MA)
I wasn't try to rag on you about Darius Butler, you do a great job with the blog/chats... nobody can pick 'em all correctly!
Mike Reiss (12:53 PM)
I love it, Nate. I am a big believer in accountability. That's why I was happy to lead off the chat with it. I appreciate you being a "checks and balances" guy.
Mike Reiss (12:54 PM)
UPDATE: I'd like to keep this chat going. Please disregard that 5-minute warning. Let's go for another 15 minutes or so. Missing the football chatter and we have a good thing going here.
Arrington in the slot. I don't think its a given that Dowling is above him in the depth chart
Mike Reiss (12:54 PM)
Thanks Carl. Now we're talking football.
What is Mike Wright's situation? Can he come back and be the impact inside pass rusher we wanted to see the Pats come up with via JJ Watt or Cam Jordan?
Mike Reiss (12:56 PM)
Al, Wright is working his way back. I saw him this week at a charity basketball game and he's in a good place. I think he is a solid interior rusher, and believe he will help the third-down defense. His return should help the sub packages, which the Patriots played 57 percent of the time last season.
Mike do you see a scenario with the current roster where TBC doesnt see the field. He is just plain awful: has no technique, cant set the edge, and cannot tackle to save his life
Mike Reiss (12:57 PM)
Mark, I could see him being challenged for a roster spot, but I do think he can still help a team with his pass rush. That will be a good competition to watch, with economics possibly a factor in management's decision-making.
Do you thnk the Mallett pick was a pure value move (i.e. develop and flip him for an asset down the road) or do you think they view him as a realistic long-term replacement? Have to think, barring injury, Brady plays at a minimum three more years. Can they realistically hold onto Mallett that long?
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
Seth, it's my opinion that they wanted to trade the pick, and when they couldn't, they picked a player who represented good value in the sense that they could guarantee him a spot on the 53-man roster. I don't think they saw any other players on the board, at any position, that they felt the same way about. In the end, you don't want to take a player in the third round (74th overall) and not have a roster spot for them.
The Ghost of Milt Cole (Amherst, MA)
Enough with the the Pats. Let's talk UMass as Amherst is the center of the universe. 1) Your favorite UMass bar? 2) Your favorite UMass hoops player of all time? 3) Your favorite WMUA broadcaster?
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Classic. 1) Timeout (which has been re-named); 2) Lou Roe; 3) Too many to choose from!
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
Had a lot of fun in those UMass days. Great experience.
The Pats have the team to compete like last year, and a more diverse offense will make it hard for teams for D up on us the way the Ryan bro's did(extra dbacks, give them the run). We can now beat teams with our run game if needed...BUT i still think they should make one more move on each side of the ball...Trade for Kamroine Wimbley, or sign someone of the pass rush OLB presence... and also i think a wr would really help(someone like Steve Smith, Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Ochocinco)
Mike Reiss (1:01 PM)
Brian, I do see even more diversity on offense. The Patriots, assuming they can pass-protect, should be very tough to defend in 2011.
Dienasty (Brockton, MA)
It seems to me that fans, media, and teams undervalue the talent that can be found in the 2nd round. I did a cursory check of probowl appearances by the first three rounds on wikipedia over the last couple of years. (I know that there are issues with using pro bowl appearances as a measure for talent but it made the research easier). I found that you are twice as likely to find a probowler in the first than the second. In the third it becomes even more rare. If this is true and as we know it is very difficult to impossible to get multiple 1st round picks (unless you deal with Al Davis) wouldn't the best strategy be to target 2nd round picks using whatever assets you have (1st round pick trade down, players on your team (Cassel/ Vrabel), and third rounders into the future). That way you end up with (at least) two 2nd rounders as opposed to one 1st rounder. This means mathematically you end up with the same odds of getting a probowler AND you get a another player who could be of starting quality or maybe fill a specific niche. I think you can look at the players the patriots have selected in the last few years where they have seemed especially aggressive in pursuing 2nd round picks and you'll see that a lot of talent as come in as a result. The idea is picks are like an investment. You find investments that are undervalued and in the long run you end up with more talent than your competitors. Right now that is the 2nd round, but it may change as teams catch on (and the value of a 2nd round pick rises) or the rules change (i.e. rookie wage scale and the value of a first round pick relative to a 2nd go up).
Mike Reiss (1:01 PM)
Lot of effort went into that submission, Dienasty. Thanks for posting.
Tanner (St Andrews)
So what are the Patriots thinking, with regards to Marcus Cannon. It has to be a redshirt situation, right?
Mike Reiss (1:02 PM)
Tanner, that's sort of the way I'm leaning as well, when also factoring in the lockout as well (making it harder for rookies at some positions to get up to speed).
Drew (Fort Lauderdale)
Mike,What are your thoughts on Nate Solder's readiness to play left tackle in the NFL? It seems to me that another team will surely offer Matt Light more money than the Patriots will be willing to. Also, the money saved could potentially be used to sign Logan Mankins. Would you feel confident with some combination of Volmer, Solder, and Kaczur protecting Brady this season?
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
Drew, I think one of the big questions with Solder is his strength right now. In part because of that, I don't think it's a given that he's starting Day 1. I would feel confident with a Kaczur/Vollmer combo if that's what it came down to, assuming Kaczur is back to full health.
One of my favorite plays from last year was Zoltan Mesko's absurd 65 yard punt from our own 16 against the Ravens in overtime. We stopped the Ravens on their 19, got the ball back at our 38 (awesome field position gain), and won it on that drive. Do you see Zoltan improving on his incredibly consistent rookie season and becoming a top-flight punter? Do punters even improve, or are they a known commodity right out of college? I am hard-pressed to recall another exciting, clutch punt in Pats' recent history (aside from that Brady pooch kick).
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
Punter talk! I love it, Prasad. One of the things I've learned from listening to Bill Belichick over the years is that punters can improve, particularly when it comes to consistency. It's like a golf swing. I do see Zoltan improving. Can I add Chris Hanson's punt in the 2008 season finale -- in the swirling, violent Buffalo winds -- to your list?
Mallett fan here - what's the general consensus from Patriot Nation about his selection? I think he's in about the best spot for him, personally. Learn from a great coach, organization, and QB. I think almost any other spot could have been bad for him personally. I truly think he can be a good QB down the road. He can make throws that half of the NFL QBs right now can't make....
Mike Reiss (1:05 PM)
Scott, I've heard both sides -- some say it's a great value pick, others wonder why a QB when they didn't get a defender to help the front-7. I fall in the first category. I like the Mallett pick based on the way the draft unfolded.
Hey mike,If "the best 5 technique d end" is as healthy as he says, how hard is it going to be to run the ball on the Pats? Big Vince, Ty Warren, Marcus Stroud, and also Brandon Spikes in his 2nd year as the ultimate run stuffer. Looks to me like we could be in for a lot of 3rd and longs, and given we get Bodden back and now have Ras-I, the coverage should be better and i think you will see more production from our pass rush. Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (1:06 PM)
That sounds great, in theory, MarkP. No doubt, it helps a third-down defense when it's third-and-9 as opposed to third-and-3.
Mike, with the lockout still going on, and not "getting to know" the drafted rookies and/or UDFA, what do you do to fill your time during this slow time?
Mike Reiss (1:08 PM)
Glenn, I went to a charity Patriots basketball game Tuesday night, spoke with Ty Warren about his graduation from Texas A&M, am filing mailbags and doing these chats. I re-watch some games to try to learn more about the team. I think there's always stuff going on (Wes Welker's football camp is coming up; Joe Andruzzi has a golf tournament etc...). It's a bit different, but the offseason is generally a bit slower.
Mike, love the Q&A format. Give us your honest opinion on the state of the Pats' defense. Are they banking on the growth of the young guys and the return of Warren and Bodden? Or is Bill going to find a way to get a guy(s) to help make the defense more dynamic? Is there any help on the way via FA or trade once the rules are set?
Mike Reiss (1:09 PM)
Rob, I wouldn't expect much from free agency/trades. I think BB is going with what he has, with maybe a supplement or two along the way. Some of the young guys, like Jermaine Cunningham, are going to be key.
Hey mike, If we do actually have a free agency , what are some of positions and possible names would you place on the Pats. Plus are there any Rookie F.A. you have in mind?
Mike Reiss (1:10 PM)
Kellen, I posted some possibilities last week that included Browns OLB Matt Roth, and a commenter added Jets DE Shaun Ellis to the free-agent list, which I liked. As for rookie free agents, DE/OLB Marc Scheicl (Colorado School of Mines), OLB Mark Herzlich (BC) and WR Vidal Hazelton (Cincinnati) are a few names that come to mind.
Mike,Are we flirting with disaster in regards to our defensive line? Ron Brace's short history of being out of shape and injured, Mike Wright's serious concussion last year and your concern about the unknown with Ty Warren's year off and possible decline in desire to play football. I'm really concered that this will be our achilles heal and come playoff time, give up a lot of yardage and crucial first downs on the ground, keeping the ball away from our offense.
Mike Reiss (1:11 PM)
Fair, Dan, and we have to let it play out. I thought the Patriots had a great opportunity to land a potential RDE for the next 10 years in Cameron Heyward/Muhammad Wilkerson at No. 28, but they passed it over. Time will tell if the combination of RB Shane Vereen/2012 first-rounder is the way to go. I have my doubts, but Belichick gets the benefit of the doubt in my book right now.
True or False: Brandon Spikes will make a bigger second year leap than Jermaine Cunningham.
Mike Reiss (1:12 PM)
I'm going with Cunningham, Tyler.
It seems to me that TBC is an above average option when assessing pass rushers, but as far as a standard 3-4 OLB, he lacks the strength to "set the edge" during running plays. Although from a stats perspective, the '10 defense appeared stout against the run, in reality the opposite was more true (see: Browns, Jets). Can Jermaine Cunningham develop into an OLB that can "set the edge", in addition to pass rush, and allow TBC to only rush in sub packages? Who could be on the opposite side to do the same? Ninkovich? Moore? This Carter kid? I think this team's problem is too many one trick ponies in the LB corps, and not enough swiss army knives.
Mike Reiss (1:12 PM)
That's the challenge, Damas, and to me is what made Mike Vrabel so special in his early years with the team. I think Cunningham has that in him.
Patrick (Keene, NH)
Hey Mike, I'm worried BJGE will get lost in the rb shuffle. Let's not forget he avereaged over 4yds a carry and has never fumbled. Thoughts
Mike Reiss (1:13 PM)
Got to respect the Law Firm, Patrick. I think he'll be fine. The quality always shines through.
Ed Hochuli (lockout USA)
Mike, Tell Nate he's flagged for that cheap shot.
Mike Reiss (1:14 PM)
And there it is ... my friend Ed "Guns" Hochuli wraps us up with a laugh. Nate's cool and I appreciate that he holds me accountable. I'm the first to say I don't have all the answers. That's part of the reason I enjoy these chats. I learn a lot from your insight as well.
Mike Reiss (1:14 PM)
Had a lot of fun today, and it was nice to talk football at this time. Let's plan on doing it again next Thursday.