Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NFL Nation New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss drops by to chat and answer all of your Patriots questions.
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 1 p.m. ET!
Mike (1:02 PM)
Hope everyone is well today. Been here at Super Bowl XLIX since Saturday night. Patriots arrived Monday night and we've had media access Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I thought LB Dont'a Hightower had a good line when he said that he's seen more of reporters than his coaches, and he's not sure that's a good thing. That sums it up pretty well.
Mike (1:04 PM)
One more day of media access is Friday with the joint press conference with head coaches Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, and then commissioner Roger Goodell's address. Goodell's address will be worth watching from a Patriots perspective, as we'll see what he has to say about the underinflated football investigation. A chill in the air, from a Patriots perspective, with how Goodell has handled this one. Robert Kraft has been one of Goodell's biggest supporters, so that relationship bears watching.
JR (Connecticut) [via mobile]
Who do you think the Pats put on TE Luke Wilson?
Mike (1:06 PM)
JR, one thing I've picked up as it relates to Luke Willson (don't forget the second "l") is how the Patriots respect his acceleration greatly after the catch. They think he's a problem. They're going to mix man and zone, so I don't think there is one easy answer here, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Brandon Browner at times.
Hey Reiss, keep up the great work. Was wondering what you think will be the "X" factor in this game- what's going to tip the scales in either team's direction?
Mike (1:06 PM)
Special teams seems like the right place to start, Kevin. The Seahawks only had 17 punt returns against them during the regular season, in part because of Jon Ryan's excellent hang time. But Julian Edelman, Patriots punt returner, is as fearless and aggressive as they come. Let's focus on that as an X factor.
Carl (Roanoke, VA)
Mike, although many would say the Patriots don't deserve the benefit of the doubt, I've been very disappointed that many people with a national platform -- former players and media alike -- have been quick to judge the Patriots on DeflateGate. Your thoughts on this?
Mike (1:09 PM)
Carl, I'll start by talking about myself because I don't think anyone should be taking anyone else to task before making sure their own house is in order. These are some thoughts I've shared on the issue: http://www.mikereiss.net/media-coverage-on-underinflated-footballs/
Mike (1:13 PM)
I'll add a few more thoughts in this chat. I think it stinks. If anyone has ever felt piled-on before, and a target of something that they deem unfair, we know how helpless of a feeling that can be. You just ask whoever is doing it to be fair and balanced, and let the process play out. But this has been an absolute avalanche in many circles and the general lack of personal empathy stands out to me. Words like "jealousy" and "nasty" come to the forefront of my thoughts when I recap how this whole thing has gone down.
Have you ever covered another road game where the Patriots have been woken up by a false fire alarm more than once?
Mike (1:14 PM)
Dan, I asked about 10-15 players about the fire alarm, some who I trust wouldn't lie to my face, and all of them told me they didn't hear a thing. The property is so large that I think it affected some support staff but not the players.
Rob Freeport, Maine [via mobile]
Mike, One concern I have in this game is the Patriots ability to stop Lynch. Has the beast had prior success against the Pats Defense? There is not a lot of history with him since he left Buffalo.
Mike (1:15 PM)
Rob, the first thing is that you want to see multiple hats to the ball. It's hard to tackle him 1-on-1. Very powerful. I expect a heavy front seven, and probably a bit more base defense in this game because of it. So let's start there.
I do not see this happening, but I am hoping that the Patriots win the Super Bowl and Brady decides to go out on top and retire. I know Tom's desire to play is very high, but do you think the idea of leaving the game after winning a Super Bowl might appeal to him?
Mike (1:15 PM)
No chance, John. He wants to play into his 40s.
Josh (colorado springs)
Mike, I ask this q each week and this week it seems MOST important. Special teams have been a blessing for the Pats over all this season. Who, in your opinion, has the advantage in this all important aspect of the SB?
Mike (1:17 PM)
Seahawks are tough in that area, too, Josh, but I give the edge slightly to New England. One thing to watch is kickoff returns. Indoor game, so will that negate any returns? Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka has been about minus-6 yards in recent weeks in terms of how deep he's averaging kickoffs into the end zone. Minus-6 could be enough to take that out. Could the Patriots get a big play out of it?
Sam Rothstein (LV, NV)
I don't know the winner, but I don't see a close game Sunday. I expect it hinges on the Pats... they're either going to be in the zone or a mess. Can you provide any help?
Mike (1:18 PM)
I see it differently, Sam. I think both of these teams are built for the fourth quarter. Both of these teams are physically and mentally tough. I think to expect a knockout is unlikely. You have to make it to the end of the fight and win by decision, not KO.
Uncle Mark (NJ)
Mike, can the Pats truly establish the run against Seattle? Seems like this is the best roadmap to victory Sunday but we have seen them abondon the run so many times. Several teams ran well against Seattle this year, but can we really expect that Blount will be that successful? If he does, Pats win, right?
Mike (1:19 PM)
I see that as a key, Mark, and after watching Eddie Lacy of the Packers do some good work in this area in the NFC Championship Game, I see no reason why Blount couldn't match that. They are similar backs. I also think the idea of making Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas tackle with their injuries is a good one.
Rasheed, Dallas, TX [via mobile]
Hey Mike! I wanted to ask you about the change in Bill's demeanor with the press at the SB vs how he is at the Gillette Stadium. Did you notice it as well?
Mike (1:24 PM)
I thought the tone was set on Monday night when owner Robert Kraft stepped to the fore and made his remarks. At that point, it allowed Belichick to settle in and not have to be the front person for the inevitable questions on underinflated footballs. Many in the media expected Belichick to be a little tougher in these sessions, as a result of the NFL's investigation and the feeling that he wouldn't want to play along with the NFL's "dog and pony show", if you will. That hasn't happened. He's risen above it.
Steve A (NY)
Mike, I am surprised by your comment about "lie to my face." Care to elaborate?
Mike (1:24 PM)
Sometimes players put on a unified front to keep issues in-house. I don't think this is one of them.
Mike, What's the ratio of Seahawk to Pats fans in Glendale? Will it basically be a home crowd for Seattle?
Mike (1:25 PM)
This is always tough, Joe, because I'm only experiencing certain parts of it, or seeing a small fraction of it all. But to this point, feels like a heavier Seahawks presence.
Shimon [via mobile]
Mike! Not to beat this to death or absolute deflation, but all of these former players ripping Brady and the Pats apart are going to look foolish when this is over. Trent Dilfer had the courage to admit he was wrong after the KC blowout when he said the pats weren't good anymore. Do you think any of these guys will apologize?
Mike (1:31 PM)
Shimon, some might, but here's the bottom line: It doesn't matter because the damage has already been done. Opinions are already formed/shaped. Reputations have been damaged and legacies potentially affected. It's like the correction to a mistake in a newspaper story (I had plenty of those) -- everyone remembers the story, not the correction. This is part of why the whole situation just stinks from my view. I'm not sparing the Patriots accountability; if they were found to manipulate the footballs, they should face a penalty. But the fact it has gotten to this point -- without any hard-core evidence -- is just crazy and makes me question the direction and leadership of the league office.
Matt (Medfield, MA)
I know that they are different teams, but in 2012 Brady threw 58 passes. Some of that was trying to come back in the end, but the game plan clearly called for quick passes in the holes in SEA's zones. Is this the game plan again this time?
Mike (1:33 PM)
I'd be surprised if it's 58 passes, Matt. The one thing I'd want to look at is how many of those 58 passes on Oct. 14, 2012 could we look at and really call glorified runs because the short passing game is an extension of the running game in some respects.
I know its still undecided, but from all stories you have heard what does your gut tell you about if deflate issue really happened?
Mike (1:34 PM)
If you're asking me if I think the Patriots purposely deflated the footballs, my gut tells me no. And part of the reason I say that is that in 15 years, Tom Brady has never given me a reason to question his integrity.
Tony L. (Springfield, TN)
Did Tim Jernigan ever get fined for poking Brady in the eye? I didn't see anything about it.
Mike (1:35 PM)
No fine, Tony. I was surprised at that.
Mike, would it be fair to say that this has been the most difficult Super Bowl you've covered?
Mike (1:37 PM)
I don't really look at it that way, Hank. There is a lot of work involved in any Super Bowl and I look at it as a privilege to be doing what I do. I enjoy the work. When I think of "most difficult" things in life, it's things that would affect us much deeper than a football game, such as a trip to the hospital.
George (Bangor, ME)
Mike, I feel like Jonas Gray would be a better run option against this Seattle front line. Less hesitation and dancing in the backfield against a defense with a 2nd level that can close in quick if your not hitting the hole hard. Thoughts?
Mike (1:39 PM)
Could be, George. The one counter-thought I had on that is how experience and ball-security will probably be valued at the highest level in this high-stakes game, and that tilts things in the favor of LeGarrette Blount in terms of which running backs given them most comfort being on the field. But if Blount starts slow, sure, why not give Gray a crack at it and see what he can do?
William M. (Recliner )
Mike, do you think Arrington will be the likely matchup with Baldwin? He did a great job against TY speedy Hilton. Also, do you think Tavon Wilson will get some playing time to stop the run? He is big and I think is a better tackler than Chung against the stout Beast Mode.
Mike (1:39 PM)
I could see that William. The one question I'd have is "does that mean Browner is on Willson?" If so, that puts them in a sub defense and how stout are they against the run against whatever personnel the Seahawks have on the field at that time.
Do you know anything about the reports that Mike Kensil was involved in deflategate?
Mike (1:42 PM)
CB, Mike Kensil works for the NFL's security team. He was at the Patriots-Colts AFC title game and was indeed involved in the investigation and all the procedures that went down. Does he have an agenda against the Patriots based on anything from the past? I don't know him, but I think that's a fair question to ask based on some back-stories I've been told, and it's on my list for Roger Goodell on Friday. Because if there is a person with an agenda leading the investigation, that immediately puts the integrity of the investigation into question. We talk about integrity of the game. Well, what if the investigation to preserve the integrity of the game lacks integrity in and of itself?
Rob (Portsmouth, NH)
Hi Mike, what is your best guess at this point on Stork? Will he be ready to go on Sunday or no?
Mike (1:43 PM)
Looks good at this point, Rob. Just a hunch.
Steve (North Attleboro)
Mike:Sorry to revisit deflategate, but could you elaborate on ESPN's policy on reporting based on anonymous sources? Do you need a second source? How does a sources track record and background play into whether you (and your editors) decide whether or not to run with a story? Mort's report implying Indy's footballs were not deflated (which defies the laws of physics) was the single most damaging report, and gave the story longer legs than it may have had otherwise. We've also had numerous stories contradicting each other, so i don't know what to believe. Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Mike (1:44 PM)
Steve, I think that's a better question for an ombudsman than the Patriots reporter. I hope they tackle it, because I'd like to think this could be a good learning experience for all of us, me included. I'm not perfect either.
Bob Woodward (DC)
Mike, while too much has been said about DeflateGate, I'm not sure enough has been said about the media leak. Do you think Harbaugh would have tipped off Pagano if he had known it would come to this?
Mike (1:45 PM)
Bob, my sense of it is that the Colts didn't need Harbaugh to tip them off. They had some suspicions from the Nov. 16 game when they got their hands on two interceptions.
Mike (1:47 PM)
Speaking of the Colts, I'll be curious if owner Jim Irsay is held accountable for his public comments, via Twitter, about the investigation. I thought that was pretty low-brow of him, not to mention his usage of the English language was a bit off. This just reflects the overall mess that this has become.
What's your prediction for what Goodell's going to say about Deflategae at his presser tomorrow?
Mike (1:49 PM)
The easy way out would be that he won't comment on an ongoing investigation, per orders of attorney Ted Wells. That would be my guess.
Manny C. (Fairfield, CT)
Mike - I agree with Berkshire. I've heard enough of this to last me a lifetime. Lets talk about the X & O or Jim and Joes!
Mike (1:51 PM)
Here is this week's Patriots mailbag, which focuses solely on the matchup. Enjoy: http://espn.go.com/boston/story/_/page/reissmailbagweek0127/let-talk-super-bowl
Jobin (Jersey City, NJ)
Mike, what do you think is the key on defense for the patriots? I personally think, with our secondary that can hopefully shut down Seattle's receivers, we need to have a good pass rush. I would think having an outside pass rush (rather than more of a push from the middle) would keep Wilson in the pocket so he wouldn't be able to scramble. Enjoy the rest of the week and go Pats!
Mike (1:53 PM)
I think you hit the right notes here, Jobin. Starts with stopping the run, IMO, and that includes Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and to a lesser degree backup tailback Robert Turbin (not a bad player himself). I expect a conservative pass rush where the ends make sure they don't run pass Wilson and sink at the line of scrimmage in an attempt to try to pin him in.
Mike (1:53 PM)
Let's take a few more.
Alienbun (Laguna, CA)
Which WR is most likely sacrificed to Richard Sherman? My guess is LaFell. But might be interesting to throw Slater out there to rough him up - especially on running plays.
Mike (1:55 PM)
I think that gives Sherman a little too much respect, to be honest. Why not throw a few quick passes to Julian Edelman to that side, where Sherman almost always lines up, and make him tackle a bit with that injury? As for Slater, I respectfully say 'no thanks' from a Patriots perspective. Seeing Slater at WR in big playoff games probably doesn't bring back good memories for some who follow the team.
Kolby (Staunton, VA)
I can't remember anything from any press conference ever. Except for "Playoffs, playoffs?" And now "Im just here so I won't get fined". Wouldn't that mean that really, Lynch is giving more for people to have fun with then the forgotten words of everyone else that die before the next game/season?
Mike (1:57 PM)
That's one way to look at it, Kolby. I view it as a selfish act by Lynch, but I know others see it differently. While I generally don't want to talk to any player who doesn't want to talk to me, the one thing I think everyone deserves is some human decency and respect. I don't think Lynch showed it there. I felt like there was a different way to do it.
Mike, what was wrong with Irsay's twit? Seems harmless (assuming "arouse" was a typo).
Mike (1:59 PM)
An NFL owner fanning the flames of an investigation directed at a team that just beat his club, at a time when the NFL's investigation is springing leaks left and right and the league is struggling to get its house in order, strikes me as an act of petty jealousy. Especially given what the person himself had just been through personally. Weak.
Tron (Waltham, MA)
Mike, Do you think if there was no investigation, simply a $25k fine, this would never have reached the point it has? If there is really no discernible advantage, as sports science suggests, and the NFL didn't make any grand investigation, wouldn't this be more akin to wearing the wrong colored shoes than taping a d-coordinators signals. Essentially, if the NFL didn't blow this out of proportion, this would be an equipment violation and not a cheating incident.
Mike (2:01 PM)
Tron, there was a game in November this year between the Vikings and Panthers when footballs were being heated on the sideline. It is proven. And there was simply a warning issued by the NFL in that case. I think we can draw our own conclusions on this one based on that.
Rob (Portsmouth, NH)
Mike, any thoughts on some of the recent reports re: Revis' contract situation?
Mike (2:02 PM)
Premature, IMO. No decisions made, or even considered at this point, based on my intel.
Rob (Worcester, MA)
Hey Mike, seems like the Patriots are losers either way. If they win it's because they cheated to get here and if they lose it's because they had to play with properly inflated footballs. Thoughts?
Mike (2:05 PM)
Rob, for the players and coaches, they know the hard work that goes into it and no one can take that away from them. I don't think they lose either way in that sense. Maybe the public perception is such that they can't win regardless, but that's something they can't control. To that, I'd just say, "Who cares about what everyone else thinks?" Stick to your beliefs and what you know is right.
Mike...you are coming across as subdued during the chat. Cheer up! You're at the Super Bowl!
Mike (2:06 PM)
Let's end on this one, Dave. I'm on the Matt Patricia "four-hour sleep plan" so that might be part of it. I really appreciate being here. It's a privilege. Thanks to all for chatting, nearly 500 questions, and I salute your passion and interest. Enjoy the game.