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 chat.
Mike Reiss (12:00 PM)
Just back from the locker room. Going to get a few things together and then we begin.
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
OK, let's roll. Here we go. Big theme this week among players is "discipline" -- have to be disciplined when going up against this different type of offense.
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
Slow day in the locker room from a media perspective. Not a lot of players talking. All business.
Lee Tempest (Gloucester UK)
Mike, I sent a question to your mailbag that was not answered so will ask it here. Do you think opposing teams have studied the film on the Patriots Defence near the goal line? The past 2 weeks the defense has shifted and drawn the offense offside, drawing a flag and putting the offense into a more obvious passing play, making it easier to defend. I cannot believe this is not a premeditated call by BB. Your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:07 PM)
Hi Lee, thanks for the understanding, as there are a lot of submissions to the mailbag. I wish I could answer them all. I was surprised the Redskins were caught off guard by that. I absolutely think that is something Bill Belichick has coached the linemen to do. Smart.
Tim (Pensacola, FL)
Do you expect any lingering effects from the spat between Tom Brady and Bill O'Brien on Sunday?
Mike Reiss (12:08 PM)
None at all, Tim. It's over. They were hugging when the game was over. Two fiery guys with a lot of passion. At first, it made me wonder if something was wrong, but then you go down to the locker room and feel the situation out, and realize it was just passions boiling over in the heat of the moment. That's my view of it.
Slappy (Orlando, FL)
Mike, as disappointing as the defense has been, I agree with you that in the playoffs we still matchup well with anyone as long as we can keep Brady clean. That being said, if Chung can come back and sure up one of the safety spots, I think that could do wonders as the defense is coming together for the stretch run.
Mike Reiss (12:09 PM)
Slappy, this recent news with Chung -- that he was seen wearing a walking boot on Monday (always dangerous to read into) and that he wasn't at practice Wednesday -- is a little concerning from this perspective. These situations can always change fast, though, but that's my thinking on his situation right now.
Mike,Do you know what is going on with James Ihedigbo's shoulder. It seems each game he is down multiple times holding onto his shoulder. I actually feel like when healthy he can make a difference but lately he hasn't looked as agressive (because of his shoulder I believe). Any update or knowledge would be great.
Mike Reiss (12:10 PM)
Matt, I think it's more of a stinger. Type of thing that just requires a quick break and then he's back. He's playing hurt, no doubt about it in my mind, but he's a tough guy.
Rob (Borough of Manhattan)
Hi Mike! Do you think BB will have one of the linebackers "spy" Tebow? If I remember correctly, I think BB has used Guyton and/or Fletcher in that sort of role against mobile QB's in the past. Does that strategy make sense against the option attack?
Mike Reiss (12:11 PM)
Rob, in certain situations, it makes sense to me. Probably not all the time. I like Dane Fletcher in the role, when the situation is right. Tebow is 6-3, 236, so as Belichick said you want to make sure your spy can tackle him. That's a tougher tackle for some of the DBs who might be spy worthy (e.g. Edelman).
Vinny (Madtown, WI)
With Vollmer and Connolly out - Wendell, McDonald, Cannon and Solder have all steped up and kept Brady relatively clean. Walters and maybe Light are probably gone next year - is our line a stregnth or concern going forward?
Mike Reiss (12:14 PM)
Vinny, I'm not so sure Light is out next year. The way he's played this year, why let him go? He's on a two-year deal. Waters, I could see this being a Crumpler-like one-year stopover, and I'll just interject a little personal thought here: What a pleasure to cover Waters. Consummate pro. That's been one of my favorite parts of this team, getting to know "old man B. Waters" (as referred to by Matt Light). As for the question, yes, I think the interior OL is a slight concern (what happens at center?), but nothing a few tweaks won't correct. Don't forget Marcus Cannon is a promising, growing player.
James (Derry, NH)
Hey Mike, ?A? for effort yesterday in BB?s press conference trying to get the coach to open up about the option of using a spy on Tebow. The coach didn't tip his hand, but what do you think, will he use that method of defense on Tebow, and if so who will it be? Keep up the great work.
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
James, I can't get over that you listened to the press conference and knew it was me asking the spy questions. That's some serious media scouting by you. I do think we'll see a spy at times. But not all the times. My sense, right now, is that this is a week not to complicate things. Play it straight, play disciplined, and don't stray from the core fundamentals. That will probably include a spy at times, but I don't think all the time.
John F (Boston)
Mike: This defense is so bad, that I doubt even a good draft this year will make a difference. They drafted Ras I.R. Dowling and he came as advertised. McCourty is a shell of his former self and there is a revolving door at safety. Bad drafting and too many holes to plug. The future is not bright and I am not wearing shades.
Mike Reiss (12:18 PM)
John, this defense has some issues and I'm not here to sugarcoat it. But let's focus on the big picture at this moment. When you have an offense that puts as much pressure on the opposition as the Patriots do, your defense sometimes needs to just do enough. This unit has done that at times, particularly with strong red-zone play. Overall, I think it's fair to criticize some of the personnel moves on D and I'd even go as far as to say I think a scheme change could really help. But I don't think it is necessarily that far away if they focus on the right players in the 2012 draft and add a few free agents. I believe there is some good talent on this D.
Mike, would you sort out how the depth chart for the Bill Belichick's doghouse looks like? I am sensing Ron Brace is among the top three. With the run offense of DEN is as powerful as it is, I am looking forward to seeing more contribution from big body DL players this weekend.
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
MarkJ, I don't think Brace is in the doghouse. I think he's just behind Wilfork and Love on the "big" DL depth chart. Let's not forget that Brace dressed over Gerard Warren last week. He was part of that solid short-yardage defense.
How is it that when we beat the Red Skins by 7 the media ouitside of Boston crushes the Pats and says they just don't have what it takes to make a run this year. But when the Steelers struggle against the Chiefs and Browns all people do is talk about how tough they are to win those games. Seems that we are always under the microscope...We are 10-3 as well
Mike Reiss (12:21 PM)
Lenny, I'm going to pass along a story from a family member who happened to be driving through Baltimore on Sunday after the Ravens' 24-10 home win over the Colts. This family member was listening to sports radio in Baltimore and apparently everyone was crushing the Ravens. "They didn't win by enough." "This offense isn't playoff caliber." "Too many mistakes." So I think the conclusion we can come to is that it's never good enough, no matter where you are. Perhaps Green Bay this year is the exception. Bottom line -- get in the playoffs and let's roll. Who's better for those 60 minutes? I see flaws in this Patriots team -- the defense is a concern -- but I like the fight with this team.
Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada)
Hi Mike While I think Tim Tebow is a threat to the Patriots on Sunday I think the key to stopping the Broncos on is shutting down their running game with Willis McGahee. Tebow isn?t great at airing it out unless it?s the 4th quarter with the clock winding down. What do you think? Thanks Mike
Mike Reiss (12:22 PM)
Har, it's sort of 2 in 1 from my view. You can't talk about the Broncos' running game without mentioning Tebow AND McGahee. They're intertwined. Got to stop them both.
I'm worried that in a year or so we're going to be like the Colts and just fall apart (maybe it'll be because Brady is injured, maybe it'll just be the defense getting even worse). Look at the Colts' record over the last decade, 2 years ago they were 14-2 and last year they were 10-6. are you confident that the Pats won't have a similiar 0-16 or 2-14 season in the next few years.
Mike Reiss (12:23 PM)
AJ, I think the Patriots have better talent in roster spots 10-40 to avoid that type of collapse, not to mention a more promising backup QB spot.
the gronk (foxboro)
how am i not the concensus num 1 tight end in the league, Finley and Graham can catch - but they cant block like the Gronk...Gronk catch ball, Gronk break tackle, Gronk score touchdown.
Mike Reiss (12:24 PM)
We've been Gronk'd. No. 1. Hands down. We've been on that one early here at ESPNBoston.com and were waiting for some of the national reporters to confirm what we thought.
whats up mike!! should be a great game this weekend - i am excited to see if this run defense had an aboration last week or if thats really something we need to worry about!
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
I'm not worried about the run defense. I think this is exactly the type of challenge this team needs. I'm predicting their best game of the season, a full 60 minute effort. I like the matchup for them.
Are Tom Brady/coaching staff relying a little too much on Welker and Gronkowski? Shouldn't we be trying to find that 3rd, 4th and 5th way to move the chains and score points? Does Hernandez realize with better focus this offense could be legendary?
Mike Reiss (12:27 PM)
Clark, I think Hernandez and Branch fall into that category, but there is a breakdown when Branch is on the field for 46 plays Sunday and doesn't have a catch. I do think Brady has sometimes locked in on Welker and Gronkowski at times.
DJ (Ann Arbor)
Sorry Mike, I've got to ask this. Just rewatched the Skins game and, on his one target, Chad 85 got man coverage and *turned the CB around*, was wide open and made the catch for a first down. Then he wasn't heard from again. We need someone who can get open against man-to-man, right? I understand about the hurry-up, but when the Pats aren't going no-huddle, shouldn't they be trying to integrate Chad into the offense? What gives?!
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
DJ, you're right, I think that one play looked good. My sense is that the problems have been stringing them together -- plays 2, 3, 4 and 5 aren't always looking the same way. I just don't think there is that confidence he's going to be in the right place all the time. Overall, it's an interesting point because you're right, they need him. But at the same time, I don't think they expected growing pains in the offense to still be there in Week 15.
Mike Reiss (12:30 PM)
I'll also add this: Ochocinco has to be disappointed with the way things have unfolded. But I credit him for not making himself a story. He said he wanted to play for a winner and if he did, all the other stuff would go away. For the most part, he's been true to his word. I say that while also acknowledging this has not worked out like either side anticipated.
nate (oxon hill md)
Mike , love Brace but he is been outplayed by Love n Deadrick , and when pryor return I think he will be out , but I love The development of those three. Thoughts ?
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
Nate, that's assuming everyone's healthy. Pryor has had some nagging injuries in recent years and I'm not sure that 100 percent can be counted on at this point.
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
Also, I view Pryor and Brace as different style players. Forced to choose one, though, I agree that Pryor is superior.
Brian (Oxford, CT)
Hey, is this Sunday the last road game of the year, or what? (Unless you count Indy!)
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
Hope so, Brian. My wife is counting on it. I guess it's a good sign that she likes having me around :)
trader75 (wilton, ct)
Is spikes expected to be back this week? With a run heavy opponent, this game was made for him.
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
It's unknown, trader45, but my sense is that this is the week Spikes returns. Speculation.
Mike (Los Angeles)
BB alluded to in "A Football Life", in the playoffs, if teams doubled Randy Moss and bracketed Wes Welker, the Pats really had nowhere else to go with the ball. Whats to stop teams from doing that this year with Gronk and Welker...I don't see a lot of diversity or options right now.
Mike Reiss (12:35 PM)
Absolutely agree, Mike, although there are only so many double teams to go around. I would double Gronk and Welker, or in other words, devote extra attention to both. That takes four of your 11 defenders away, opening up opportunities for Hernandez, Branch etc. This is what Adam Vinatieri was talking about after the Patriots beat the Colts. Let me see if I can dig up his quote.
Mike Reiss (12:36 PM)
Adam Vinatieri after Patriots' win over his Colts: "They've got a lot of talent and a lot of weapons on offense. I've watched [Gronkowski] for two years and the kid is just special. And [Aaron] Hernandez is great, too. Then you have [Wes] Welker and this and this and [Julian] Edelman, so many different guys. You try to game plan for a team like that and say, 'We're going to shut down this guy.' Well, they have five other guys. It's pretty tough to shut that whole group of people down."
Tim (Newton, MA)
Hey Mike,We're 13 games in. Who's your biggest surprise, player-wise, both positive and negative this year?
Mike Reiss (12:37 PM)
Biggest surprise (positive) -- Solder. Wasn't expecting such immediate contributions.
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
Biggest surprise (negative) -- Ochocinco. Didn't think we'd see 75 catches, but 50 seemed realistic. He has 13.
Do you really think that this Denver defense will be able to slow down Brady and the Pat's O? They did give up 35 points to rookie Christian Ponder (Minnesota) - they haven't faced a QB of Brady's caliber since they began their win streak.
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
I think it all comes down to the pressure, Nick. If they can disrupt the rhythm of the passing game with Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller and Co., yes I think they can slow it down. If they can't, I think the Patriots could put up 35-40 points.
Gordon (Prince Edward Island)
Do you think Denver's offense actually plays to the Patriots defensive strengths? Tight secondary coverage is not needed when playing an inaccurate quarterback, while big mobile linebackers and runstuffers in the middle help negate Denver's running game.
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
Great point, Gordon, and one I agree with.
Mike, I saw a very interesting stat yesterday: the top 4 teams in the league in passing yards (Pats, Saints, Giants, Packers) are also the bottom 4 teams in the league in passing yards allowed. I don't think this is a coincidence - I think it reflect that if you play a certain style of offensive football, you're bound to also give up a lot of yards. And if you play it closer to the vest offensively, you'll also give up less yards, as offenses tend to play more conservatively against you (think Ravens, Jets, Jags). Long story short, while I think the Pats defense is probably a bottom-10 unit, they certainly aren't the worst defense in the league, and definitely not historically bad.
Mike Reiss (12:40 PM)
Nick, I think there are legitimate concerns on this defense. But one of the main things the unit has going for itself is strong red-zone play. That can take a unit far. Thanks for bringing up this point.
Is there a coach on staff that Scott Pioli would come after as HC of the KCC?
Mike Reiss (12:40 PM)
I don't believe so, Bobby, because I believe he has too much respect for Bill Belichick to "raid" his staff unless Belichick signed off on it.
Mike, I thought Greg Easterbrook offered some good insight into Denver's offensive tactics. Basically they just pound away at the run. Sure, good defenses can hold them off for a while...but all that contact will lead to a tired, slower D in the closing minutes. Do you think the Pats will try to rotate their front 7 early and often to keep guys fresh for 60 minutes?
Mike Reiss (12:41 PM)
It makes sense Eliott, but if my numbers are correct, they are playing their top guys a lot (Vince Wilfork for 74 of 75 snaps last week). So they might rotate some linemen, but I could envision a scenario where Wilfork stays on the field throughout.
Tron (Waltham, MA)
Hey Mike, Do you think the Pats will play a bit more aggresively this week. It seems that their modus operandi the past few weeks has been to sit back and wait for the other teams offense to make a mistake. However, since the Broncos don't turn the ball over oftenly-which in my opinion is the biggest reason why they are winning-wouldn't the defense be better served to try to force the turnovers. I would love to see them blitz Mayo more and see what he can do. If we play our normal 'safe' D it may be Tebow time for four quarters instead of one because the prevent looks that Tebow gets in the fourth quarter are usually the ones he thrives on.
Mike Reiss (12:42 PM)
Tron, my view is that they will pick their spots. Unlike last week, where the plan was to play press coverage and get after Rex Grossman, this week's plan sounds like it's more about discipline and controlling blockers.
Will we see more of Shaun Ellis this week, it looked like he made some nice plays against the run last week in limited time?
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
Paul, we saw more of Ellis against the Redskins than we've seen in the three weeks combined prior to that game. So I do think we'll see more of him this week, which ties in to Eliott's thought about rotating linemen.
The broncos offense has been quite stagnant in the first half of their games with Tebow and the Patriots have had a few rough starts recently. What can the Patriots do to ensure they start quick and have a commanding lead going into the 4th quarter?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
Richard, I believe the Patriots are the better team, but that doesn't mean they will be better in those 60 minutes. So as always, the key is to come out and play with crisp execution. Forced to pick one key, I'll say pass protection. If they give Brady time, I think that would ensure a commanding lead heading into the fourth.
rich (defreestville,new york)
Returning to the background of the Pats @ Broncs flex issue: Was CBS required to yield the Dec. 4 Broncs road contest to FOX (after Fox lost the Dec. 4 Lions game to NBC via flex) for airing on the FOX network or was it a voluntary yield to prevent/lessen the likelihood of losing Sunday's Pats/Broncs to an NBC flex?
Mike Reiss (12:46 PM)
My understanding, Rich, was that it was agreed to by them (with the NFL asking/"insisting") and CBS was being a "team" player. In the end, I believe the reason the game stayed on CBS is that flex schedule has hurt CBS's ratings and the NFL wanted to show sympathy to that.
The Replay Official (Under the Hood)
Mike: About 2 weeks ago you played off a question about the possibility of a surprise Belichick move to put Chung on IR as a non-issue. Given that he is back in a walking boot and out of practice are you ready to overturn the ruling on the field?
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
Good one, Mr. Replay Official. I appreciate you holding me accountable. From a Patriots perspective, I'm more concerned now than I was a few weeks ago.
Mike O'Brien (Pflugerville, Tx)
Mike I am a lil tired of the Tebow talk. I am all for the guy and hope he succeeds with all the Haters he had when this first began; but it seems most are forgetting that the Broncos are a TEAM. Noone is talking about this defense that is keeping them in the games in order for Tim to have comebacks or this FG kicker who banged a 59 to get to OT and 51 to win the game. Seems like the NFL is looking for a Savior (For Some Reason) and apparently Tebow is the only person in the NFL that believes in God so lets bandwagon him. I cant wait for us to end this nonsense.
Mike Reiss (12:48 PM)
Me too, Mike.
BamaPat (Mobile, Ala.)
Mike: I think the real story with Tim Tebow, which the media hasn't really explored during his win streak, is the coming change to how we define a QB and whether he is "elite." The days of pure pocket passers like Brady and Manning are dwindling. More and more kids in H.S. and college are running verisons of the spread. There will be more and more QBs with skill sets like Tebow and, perhaps more importantly, the next generation of NFL coaches favor the spread-type offense. It's coming and Tebow is the trailblazer. Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:49 PM)
Interesting to think about, BamaPat. To be honest, I haven't put much thought into it. I'm locked in on the Patriots. Something to delve into in the offseason.
aaron hernandez (foxboro)
i knew i would get a ton of tebow questions this week...well, i guess its better than questions about how i have dropped another td pass this past week - we are still cool tom right....right??
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
Aaron, the drop was bad, but on the bright side you seem to be moving better and looking more like the player pre-injury.
George (Atkinson, NH)
Mike, avid reader, great stuff. Denver has a very good and motivated defense. I see us having trouble scoring in the first half until we figure out how they are defending us. Denver likes to run so we will get limited number of drives. I feel we need to score 30 plus to win and the Denver defense is stingy. Your Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
Good insight, George. That was one of the things that Patriots players have talked about this week, how the Denver conservative offense protects the defense a bit and creates a situation where there are limited drives for the opposing offense. I think 30 is a little high as the magic number for the Patriots. I'd put it closer to 24.
Sam (Nashua, NH)
Matt Williamson from Scouts Inc. said yesterday that Jabaal Sheard is on his AFC Pro Bowl team. If Dowling gets healthy do you think he has the talent to EVER make a pro bowl, or should we just admit that pick was a mistake already?
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
Sam, I know at least one other team that really liked Dowling a bit later in the second round. I guess we can take that for what it's worth, but let's not count him out just yet. Still, fair to say it's a disappointing start.
Any ideas on how we can improve our kick return unit? Woodhead is a nice player but doesn't seen to be able to get to the nextl level past the initial wedge. What about giving Ridley, Vereen (when healthy), or even Underwood?? or do you feel its more the blocking thats the issue?
Mike Reiss (12:53 PM)
Branden, I'd switch the returner. Woodhead does a lot for this team, but I like the other options at kickoff returner. Edelman would be my choice for now.
If Romeo Crennel doesn't get the HC job in KC is there any chance he could be brought back the Pat's staff? Would there even be a fit for him on the team?
Mike Reiss (12:53 PM)
Yes and yes. It's my understanding that Crennel wasn't in the discussion to come back in 2010 when he returned to coaching after a year off. But perhaps that mindset has changed at this point.
Adil (London, England)
A lot of the predictions on this game centre on the Pats scoring quickly & getting up on the scoreboard. But the Pats haven't really clicked offensively early games, plus the Broncos have a very good defense. I can see this game being close in the 1st half
Mike Reiss (12:54 PM)
Adil, nothing would surprise me, really. But overall, I think this is a good matchup for the Patriots.
Chris Walker (Brockville ON)
Hey there Mike. My thoughts on the D are this. I truly believe that the Patriots need to have a D coordinator on staff. During the Pats heyday it was the relationship between Belichick and Romeo Crennel that allowed the Patriots D to flourish and be the primary reason they won three superbowls. With that being said I was wondering what your thoughts were on bringing in Steve Spagnuolo as a D cooridnator assuming he gets the axe in St. Louis
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
Chris, this issue is so complex because I don't see Belichick giving up the D to a coordinator that would come in and run a completely system. But if there was some way that Spagnuolo could come in and somehow integrate some of his defensive core into what the Patriots do, that type of fusion intrigues me. I'm not sure how realistic that is, Chris.
Mike, when is your big break coming? I would think that a national media spot is right around the corner!
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
Shane, thanks for the support and thoughts. This is a big break. One of the things I appreciate about covering the Patriots is that the team is a national story. I also like focusing on one team and getting into that locker room and really getting a feel for a team. Not to mention, this job helps me strike the type of work-life balance that is important to me. I have a wife and daughter at home, and I'm not interested in flying all over the country in a national type deal and being away from them.
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
A little too much about me. Let's shift it back to the Patriots-Broncos, and go for another 5.
Hey Mike, Seems like coaching questions are popping up, so here is another. How long is Matt Patricia's rope? I just don't see what the love is for him. Since he has been the defacto defensive coordinator, the defense has not been coordinated. You can definitely see progress with O'Brien, but Patricia just seems to be in way over his head.. Would love to see RAC back
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Lav, Belichick loves Patricia. He isn't going anywhere. My feeling is that he's a good coach, but what we're seeing is more reflective of talent evaluation than Xs and Os scheming.
Ras-I-Dowling (the Hot Tub)
Dude, I've never been healthy in my life.
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
Just not true, Ras-I. In fact, it seems like the "injury-prone" rap is not fair when it was your final year at Virginia -- not your entire career -- in which you had the injuries.
I know I'm not a Pats fan, but am asking legitamte questions. Do you have to be a Pats fan to have questions answered?
Mike Reiss (1:01 PM)
Hi Silver/Black, this is a Patriots chat, geared mostly toward those who visit ESPNBoston.com. But in the spirit of Al Davis, I'm calling a timeout and I'm going to comb through all the questions and find yours. We want Raiders fans to be happy, not to mention I want to come out alive in my next trip to the Black Hole :)
Seeing how much fans love the old school uniforms for teams like the Pats and 1980s era Broncos, why don't teams just bring back the old school uniforms permanently if they'd earn more revenue?
Mike Reiss (1:02 PM)
Good one, Silver/Black. I generally like most of the old uniforms. I think the way the teams and NFL view it is that why eliminate one uniform when you can sell both? So they keep the old ones in circulation a few times a year -- which helps jersey sales -- but also feature the new look (which also helps sales).
Brian (Oxford, CT)
How long a field goal can we expect Gostkowski to possibly hit in the thin air? Is 60 a possibility, or would BB elect not to risk the field position (end of half, perhaps...)
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
Good one, Brian. We'll see in warmups, but my guess is 60 could be in play in an end-of-half type of situation. Conditions are supposed to be favorable for that time of year (low 40s last I checked).
Ian B (Ottawa, ON)
From a gameplan standpoint, how do you see the Pats coming out?
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
Ian, always strive for balance, but I'm thinking they go 2 WR/2 TE, and go to work, with some spread looks. Protection a key.
Neal (Cary NC)
Is Ocho gone next year? or do they give another season with a full offseason to get his game together before they cut or trade him?
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
Neal, I think that's where it's headed. They gave it a shot. It hasn't worked.
Mike I am becoming convinced that our problems on defense have to do with continuity. We don't have any. Injuries and numerous roster moves are hurting us. It doesn't seem like Bill has any patience with younger players and he keeps churning the roster till we end up with two WRs playing in the secondary. I say lock the roster and let the players grow. If he stuck with a lineup those players may have developed some continuity by now heading towards the playoffs.
Mike Reiss (1:06 PM)
Rick, this might be the toughest thing in sports, and I think you bring up a good, valid point. Here is the struggle: When you lock the roster, and have some major breakdowns with players like Sergio Brown, you're balancing the short-term and long-term. I catch myself at times because I feel like there are situations where I am trying to have it both ways. I question the decision to release James Sanders, but then elsewhere, I talk about the need to let young players grow. There is a balance and it's never black and white. I like your point. I don't think it's easy to do.
Glenn (Boston, MA)
Hi Mike. Does BB have enough trust in this defense to either use an 'amoeba' defense or exotic coverages to confuse Tebow?
Mike Reiss (1:06 PM)
I don't see it, Glenn. To me, this isn't about confusion as much as discipline, technique and playing with power. It's time to man up, not get cute.
Hello Mike, thanks for all your hard work covering the Pats! Your unbiased coverage is a nice alternative to quick-to-overreact culture in sports media. That said, I'm frustrated with your political correctness regarding Patriots draft picks. In particular Ras-I-Downling is who we thought he was, a talented CB who can't stay on the field. Jabal Sheard was the consensus pick amongst all armchair draftniks and it's clear he would have been a great addition to the Pats. Additionally, Ras-I was picked HIGHER than projected. It's not like a Marcus Cannon/Rob Gronkowski situation where they slid.
Mike Reiss (1:08 PM)
I agree, Todd, and feel like I've said as much. I just felt like it got to the point of piling on. I was really high on Jabaal Sheard and Brooks Reed in the draft and felt the Patriots made a mistake taking Dowling, missing a great opportunity to add young talent to the front-7 at a low-risk spot for a highly volatile position. But how many times can I say it?
Mike, what about the comparison of the Pats last three drafts and other teams you promised a few weeks ago.
Mike Reiss (1:09 PM)
Jay, I did promise it and I haven't delivered. I have been slammed workwise with other responsibilities. I will deliver at some point, hopefully this weekend. I have to be careful about promising what I can't deliver in a timely fashion.
Wasn't Dowling projected a 1st round pick after starting all 12 games in '09?
Mike Reiss (1:09 PM)
Yes, but draft picks are like stocks, Sean. They fluctuate from year to year.
Ras-I-Dowling (the Hot Tub)
I Played just five games in 2010 because of a left ankle fracture, hamstring pull and right knee injury. In ?08 I dealt with a hamstring and back injury. I pulled a hamstring at the combine and I had a broken hand and a knee injury in high school not to mention my many injuries this year during training camp and then again during the year. There is a trend here!
Mike Reiss (1:11 PM)
I think we're twisting the truth here, Ras-I. As this link says, "Few defensive players entered the 2010 season with a greater track record than Virginia's Ras-I Dowling. ..."http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/1272251
50 and sunny here on Sunday Mike!!
Mike Reiss (1:11 PM)
Nick, let's end on that bright note. Sounds like a great forecast. Should be a great game.
Mike Reiss (1:12 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Enjoyable, as always. Have a great weekend and we'll catch up next week.