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 (11:57 AM)
Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started in a few.
Mike (11:59 AM)
Let's get this started. Some quick thoughts after watching Patriots-Bills live (and then reviewing on tape) and Jets-Buccaneers on tape: This is a game the Patriots should win. Jets are offensively challenged, but strong on defense. Special teams complements the defense.
Mike (12:01 PM)
Turnovers such a big part of things, as always. Patriots were minus-1 last week. If they are minus-1 again, keeps the Jets in it. The last time the Patriots were minus in the turnover differential during the regular season was after Week 2 of 2010. They played the Jets that day and were minus-3 (which brought them to minus-1 on the season). So Patriots need to obviously be better in that area. Jets are tough on D. That looks like one of the NFL's better defenses to me, and with some of the struggles the Patriots had on offense, that could be a tough combination. But I view the margin for error as significant because of the Jets' offense being a unit that lacks explosiveness.
Mike (12:02 PM)
We'll see how it all turns out. Look for DT Tommy Kelly and DE Chandler Jones to potentially have big days. Jets' guards looked like weak link to me. Jones as interior sub rusher could be big. Kelly on early downs.
Tim (Newton, MA)
Hey Mike,I'll admit, I'm as much of an advocate for wanting this team to blitz more and bring pressure on defense. But IMO this is a game to be conservative. Geno does his best work, and most damage, when he can scramble around and buy time. Personally, I think holding the edges and making him beat you with his arm and decision making should be the key in this one. Your thoughts?
Mike (12:03 PM)
Tim, that's what the Patriots essentially did with EJ Manuel last week. Rush-lane integrity very important against QBs who can make plays with their feet. I would expect something similar this week, although you might see a little more blitz pressure because I think the Jets' guards are weak and they could like that matchup better than last week.
Mike (12:03 PM)
Also, you don't have a CJ Spiller to worry about this week.
With Vereen out until Week 11 and Ridley's fumbilitis, the RB situation is obviously an area of intrigue. What do you think is the likelihood that Bolden gets the chance to take on a significant role? He's not as savvy in the passing game as Vereen or Washington, but prior to his suspension last season he looked like the third member of a 3-headed monster of a running game. Meanwhile, Blount looks slow, and Washington is old.
Mike (12:04 PM)
Zach, I'm just not sure on the health of Bolden, who is questionable with a knee injury. If he plays, I expect to see him quite a bit. Even though he's a bigger back, he has some skills that make him more of a "passing back" type. Good hands in passing game. Good pass protector.
Mike (12:05 PM)
Wouldn't be surprised if we see more of Ridley on third down tonight if Bolden doesn't go. And while Washington is old, I think he can help them in that area in spot duty.
C. Probst (Las Vegas NV)
Hi Mike, What are the chances that Zach Sudfeld plays tonight? I noticed you didn't project him as inactive, so it looks like there will be a good chance he suits up tonight right?
Mike (12:05 PM)
Here were my projected inactives, which is really more guesswork than anything: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4748665/projecting-the-patriots-inactives-6
Mike (12:06 PM)
Sudfeld might not play, but here's why I "guessed" he will dress. While he has a hamstring injury, he was on the field for 3 snaps on the team's final drive last week. If he was healthy enough to be out there for those, my thought was that maybe the hamstring isn't severe enough to keep him out. Just a guess.
Mike (12:07 PM)
As for what to expect from Sudfeld going forward, that was a tough opening game from him. I think we saw the jump from preseason to regular season was significant for him. Played 19 snaps. Maybe that grows a bit, but for now, that would be the projection I'd stick with in terms of playing time.
Ramin (San Marcos, TX)
Hey Mike, are you buying the report that Brandon Lloyd rejected six teams INCLUDING the Patriots?
Mike (12:08 PM)
Not buying it, Ramin. Don't think the Patriots have interest in Lloyd's return.
Mr. Lucky (Foxboro)
With the lack of weapons, do you see more time for Solder at TE and Cannon at LT to provide max protection?
Mike (12:09 PM)
Now that they have TE Matthew Mulligan, that might negate the need to go with Solder as a TE. Mulligan, in a lot of ways, is like another OL. But wasn't that unusual to see Solder in motion on the first drive last week? Maybe we see something like that on the goal-line and he gets a chance to catch one.
T Brady (Foxboro)
Mike,Who is going to catch my passes? My best pass catching receiver, tight ends and running back already out and I think it's only game #2.TB12
Mike (12:12 PM)
Tonight, Julian Edelman becomes a key player, no doubt. I think it's a great story in the sense that when we look back at how we envisioned potential life without Wes Welker unfolding, many of us figured Edelman would be the heir apparent. Remember the '09 finale in Houston when Welker got hurt and Edelman stepped in and played well? But Edelman has battled injuries and this past offseason, they spent big money on Danny Amendola. So with Amendola now likely sidelined, they need Edelman (1 year deal worth about $1 million if incentives are reached) more than ever before. Interesting how these things work sometimes.
Tom B (Beverly Hills, CA)
Magic Mike, I think Ridley's fumbles are blown WAY out of proportion. He barely fumbles more than the league average, it's just the timing/results of a few of them that draw too much focus. He's the Pats best back by FAR and look forward to seeing him shut the media and fans up tonight.
Mike (12:14 PM)
Tom, I expect to see a heavy dose of Ridley tonight. They need him. He also might be their best pass-protecting back, which could be where they miss Vereen the most. As for the fumbles being blown out of proportion, I just focus on the bottom line. He was benched. That's a significant statement by the coaching staff. But that was one game and now we move forward. I expect to see a lot of Ridley tonight. The Jets did a good job on Doug Martin last week, so this can be a tough defense to run on. But it is imperative for the Patriots to create some balance with the run game tonight. They need that to help settle things down given the uncertain situation in the passing game.
i admit i am one for overreaction but i cant help but think why are we rebuilding the WR core now with Brady at 36? It may be that 2-3 years time the WRs are great and considered steals but we need to be in win now....BB did nothing to improve the defence apart from Kelly and keeping his fingers crossed that Jones/Hightower make some sort of jump.....i look at Manning and think "wow, he has it made"
Mike (12:16 PM)
You aren't alone, John. That general frustration has been easily sensed by me from many emailers and chatters. The idea is that they aren't maximizing this special opportunity with Tom Brady. I understand the viewpoint to a degree. But let me counter it with a few thoughts...
Mike (12:19 PM)
They could have brought back Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch and said "We have most of our guys back." But they felt that wasn't good enough and I can understand why. Sometimes to take two steps forward, you have to take one step back initially. I do believe this WR corps has more upside than we've seen in recent years. The question is how fast we see that upside realized. The Welker issue is one that has been dissected to levels where we don't need to revisit it. But right now, as we look at the present snapshot, it's natural to wonder if that was a mistake. Let's see how it turns out. As for the defense, Kelly and Talib (for a full season) are solid additions. They whiffed on Adrian Wilson. Continuity and development can sometimes lead to significant improvement. Similar to the WR corps, let's see how it turns out. Long way to go.
Nick (Albany, NY)
You taking the over for this game? O/U is only 43.5 pts.
Mike (12:19 PM)
Nick, I went Patriots 27, Jets 13.
Jamie (Washington DC)
Any chance we see Dobson get significant snaps with all the injured receivers?
Mike (12:20 PM)
Jamie, I'm not sure where Dobson is health wise with the hamstring. If he's healthy, I'd think they open with Thompkins/Edelman with Boyce as the No. 3 and Dobson mixed in there. Wouldn't be surprised if we see a long bomb to Boyce tonight. He can run well.
JL (Norwell, MA)
Mike,If Brady can't plant his feet and throw, we are in for a long game. Against Buffalo he seemed to have "happy feet" and rushed throws. I know everyone thinks we have a great O line, but I thought they were up and down last week.
Mike (12:22 PM)
Quite a few comments on the o-line in today's chat, JL. I thought that was around a "B, B-minus" performance from them last week. Brady was moving around a lot. I do think part of it was the chemistry not being there with the WRs. Another part of it was some blocking breakdowns. The Bills have a good d-line so let's give them some credit too. One more note: Not sure what the deal was with center Ryan Wendell's shotgun snaps. A little low.
Mike (12:23 PM)
Jets have a good d-line too. Keep an eye on Muhammad Wilkerson (2011 first-round pick) and Sheldon Richardson (2013 first-round pick) tonight for them. Two impressive young players from what I saw in the opener.
James (So. Portland, ME) [via mobile]
With the oft-injured Vereen again injured, do you think there are any regrets at not spending the comparatively trivial amount to resign Woodhead? I recall you were quite skeptical of that non-decision at the time.
Mike (12:24 PM)
Still don't understand that one, James. Really felt like Woodhead should be here.
Jack (Denton, TX)
Hi Mike, I asked this question last week, but you weren't able to get to it. But do you know anything about the state of Gronkowski's ankle? If not, could you try to find out? Has the extended time off it got it back to 100%. He looked slowed last season when he was on the field.
Mike (12:24 PM)
Jack, as I understand it, the ankle is just fine. The only thing holding him back is the forearm/back.
Neil Pountney (North Branch MI)
Hi Mike, I freely acknowledge how well this franchise has operated over the last decade or so but I am at a total loss as to how it can find itself in this situation with receivers. Hernandez's situation was obviously unforseeable, but THREE rookie receivers an injury prone big signing and Gronk banged up. How and why did we get to this situation, its seems so incredulous for a team that prides itself on being ready for anything? Where does the blame truly lie here?
Mike (12:27 PM)
Neil, this is similar to the previous question. I don't think there's any blame. If they wanted to, they could have brought back Deion Branch and had Brandon Lloyd under contract for the second season in a three-year deal. But they opted to move on because they felt that wasn't good enough. Wes Welker obviously falls into a different category, and right up to the end, they could have retained him (even after agreeing with Amendola, when Welker gave them a chance to match). They decided not to. Maybe they will come to regret the decision, and right now, the doubters and talk-radio hosts have some ammunition on their side in that area. ...
Mike (12:28 PM)
... They feel like to get where they wanted to go, it was a tear-down and rebuild situation. Time will tell if that decision was correct. I think we need to give it more time because as we know, teams evolve over the course of the year. What happens in Week 1 seldom reflects what we see in Week 8 or Week 16.
Um... so i guess we now all see why Thompkins and Sudfeld went undrafted. It's only 1 game so we shouldn't be too quick to judge but wow that was bad.
Mike (12:30 PM)
Jeremy, that was a tough opening act for both Thompkins and Sudfeld. It was a good lesson/reminder for me of how what we see in the preseason doesn't always transfer to the regular season. One thing I'd say on Thompkins, though, is that he has impressed me with his mental toughness. I wouldn't be surprised if he bounces back. He had a really poor practice on July 29 in the stadium, but then came back the next day and was really strong. Don't count him out just yet.
Hi Mike, nice to see Pats pull out come-from-behind with a lot of new faces on field in key positions - That was the good in the victory - In what you see and hear this week is Ridley back in BB's graces to return to his planned role of 15+ carries and goal line work - or do we see BB sitting him part-time to further get his attention on ball security - thanks
Mike (12:31 PM)
PJ, I think we'll see a lot of Ridley tonight. BB said on Boston sports radio station WEEI that it's a long season and they're going to need him. I think they feed him quite a bit tonight.
Mike, Are you able to give your thoughts on the power rankings of the NFL putting the Pats in 5th? After barely squeaking by a low ranked team, and after injuries, I am curious why the Pats are ranked as high as they are. What is your take?
Mike (12:32 PM)
Darby, I'm not a huge power rankings guy. The things that interest me more than a No. 5 ranking is how the team matches up with its next opponent. So in this case, the Jets are ranked No. 27. But if we were to rank defensive coaches that have given Tom Brady some issues in the past, I'd put the Jets/Rex Ryan in the top tier. To me, that's probably the best way to look at power rankings -- how they impact that specific week's matchup.
Do you think the Pats deserve any criticism for hitching their wagons to Hernandez and Gronk. While its hard to believe they had definitive knowledge of how bad a guy Hernandez was, they hitched their wagons to two players who dropped down draft boards because of injury concerns and character issues. One is in jail, the other cannot stay on the field
Mike (12:34 PM)
In retrospect, Greg, the answer is yes. But from my viewpoint, if you're not going to criticize them when they do it, it's sort of disingenous. Many of us thought it was a stroke of brilliance when they did it. Some viewed it "finally" as an example of the Patriots being more aggressive with their contract dealings. "It's about time!" I remember hearing from some.
Mike (12:35 PM)
I will say this, I had one scout question it to me when it happened. It was less specific about the players, but more the position they played and if they could endure the pounding that often comes with playing tight end. It was a good thought. So there were some out there that had some doubts.
Hi Mike, why is no one is anticipating an expanded role for Blount? Vereen is definitely out and Bolden and Washington are likely out as well.
Mike (12:38 PM)
Nick, Blount is going to play, but my question is what does he look like in pass protection. Just not sure there. Against this team, which brings pressure from all angles, need reliability back there. He played 23 of 94 snaps last week (penalties included). Big guy. Probably can't ask him to be your bellcow right now. If they have 70 snaps tonight, and we assume Bolden is out (knee), I'd say Ridley 35/Blount 25/Washington (assuming he plays) about 10.
Mike (12:38 PM)
Just guessing. Not sure how they feel about Washington in pass protection either.
Is Blount really the best they can do on kickoff's? He looks like he has cement blocks in his shoes. Somebody has to be better.
Mike (12:40 PM)
Sean, rookie Josh Boyce would be the next man up. The only question there would be confidence in Boyce's ball security. Not sure this is the night to test it. A mistake in that area of the game could keep the Jets in it.
Scott (Monroe CT)
Mike, if the rookie WR's struggle the first month or so, do you see the normally patient Patriots scouring the available free agents to bring in a veteran who is unsigned?
Mike (12:40 PM)
Scott, I do think they're committed to these young guys, but that wouldn't stop them from bringing someone in they feel could help them. Wouldn't rule that out.
Is this game on local TV or just NFL network
Mike (12:41 PM)
Jason, it will also be broadcast on WCVB-TV in Boston (Ch. 5). Here is some more broadcast information from Patriots.com: http://www.patriots.com/news/article-1/Patriots-vs-Jets-Broadcast-Information/7a6e36cb-cac0-4a9c-96ec-957a9c2c1fa2
Mike,Let's take a look at the Pats recent history with choosing players with an injury history. Gronk, hurt in college, hurt here. Ras-I, hurt in college, hurt here. Danny Am, hurt in NFL, hurt here. Sudfeld, hurt in college, hurt here. Football is a very physical game and certainly the most physical at the NFL level. While injuries can happen to anyone, isn't it logical to think that that type of history is a pretty good indicator to what an individuals body can withstand? Can you name a Patriot that had an injury history that then stayed healthy for them?Thanks
Mike (12:42 PM)
Dan, if they thought along those lines, they never would have taken Curtis Martin in the draft. Those situations can be tricky. Seldom black and white.
Re Hernandez: they gave a $40m contract to a murderer. Obviously, they screwed up. Maybe he was a perfect sociopath where no one could have possibly imagined he'd get into trouble. But my experience is that when you work with and around someone, you get a good sense of what sort of person they are. For me , the burden is on the Pats to show that they didn't know perfectly well he was a sketchy character.
Mike (12:43 PM)
Matt (Elon NC)
Don't forget, with Leon Washington back he can return kickoffs.
Mike (12:43 PM)
Good one, Matt. Washington has the thigh injury, so unsure if he'll dress tonight.
Where is the pass pressure this year? I thought C. Jones was primed to breakout!?
Mike (12:44 PM)
I think you have to look closer at what they were trying to accomplish on defense last week. It wasn't a heavy pressure game. They wanted to take away RB CJ Spiller (mission accomplished, 2.4 average per carry) and see if EJ Manuel could beat them from the pocket. They were close a couple times with the four-man rush. Looked better on tape to me than it did live.
Do you expect a big game out of Edelman or will the Jets put Cromartie or double team him? Thanks
Mike (12:46 PM)
The Jets play a lot of man coverage on the outside and rely on their CBs to lock down those WRs which creates flexibility to do things in other areas of the field. But if Edelman is in the slot, I'd expect a lot of double-teams on him. That would be a smart plan by them. Make Brady go to another receiver with whom he obviously doesn't have the same comfort level.
alan (new hartford, ct)
how about arrington last week? he was all over the place makin very smart moves, has he moved up to the #2 spot next to talib?
Mike (12:47 PM)
Alan, that was one of the bright spots for them -- Kyle Arrington stepping up with some big plays. On the Stevie Johnson TD, he was in coverage, but I didn't think safety Devin McCourty helped him by being a bit too shallow depth-wise on the play. Arrington is currently the No. 2 CB, as we saw when the Patriots were in their base defense for 2 snaps and he stayed on the field while Alfonzo Dennard went off.
McCourty could also return kicks...not that I wish to see him do it and risk injury.
Mike (12:47 PM)
Another option, but one I'd think is further down the line at this point.
trent (columbus, oh)
Technical question for a closet GM--Why did the Patriots re-sign Leon Washington one day before the Week 1 game--thus a guaranteed salary--only to have him inactive for the game? I want to call BB out on it.
Mike (12:47 PM)
Trent, I think Washington was not fully healthy. Had a thigh injury.
Mike, Thoughts on the weather forecast and how it impacts the game?
Mike (12:48 PM)
Matt, just highlights the importance of ball security and turnovers. Shouldn't be a major deal for either side.
How do you think Buchanan looked in his debut?
Mike (12:49 PM)
11 snaps, Dennis, mostly rushing off the edge in sub. They kept it simple for him. He was OK. Probably the biggest thing is that with his presence, it moved Chandler Jones to an interior rushing position in sub. I like that matchup tonight for the Patriots -- Jones on guard Vlad Ducasse. Could see a big play.
andy skalicky (Minot Nd)
Hey Mike, what's with Dobson? I'm confused. He was primed to be above Boyce but has dropped down the depth chart.
Mike (12:51 PM)
Andy, let's start with health. Dobson as a hamstring injury and didn't even make the trip to Buffalo. If he's healthy enough to suit up tonight, I'd expect him to play. Been an up-and-down first year for him, going back to spring camps. Learning what it takes to be a pro.
At what point do you stop making excuses and ask for some accountability from BB? Or is it just easier to blame the players?
Mike (12:51 PM)
Be more specific, Dave. Where am I making excuses for BB? He's far from perfect. You and I aren't perfect either.
Scott (Monroe CT)
Mike, do you have the defensive snap count for rookie Jamie Collins last week? Will he be slowly integrated into this defensive over the year?
Mike (12:53 PM)
Scott, just 2 snaps for Jamie Collins last week. The Patriots were in their nickel or dime defense for all but two snaps because the Bills were in their 3-WR package for almost the entire game. The reason Collins came on was because Brandon Spikes wasn't available. With all those factors in play, I think it's going to be a slow integration for Collins.
ILoveTB12 (Cambridge, MA)
At what point we agree that bellichick screwed up Brady's Career?
Mike (12:53 PM)
I think this is a joke, right?
Why isn't Washington returning kicks? Wasn't it the reason why he was brought in?
Mike (12:54 PM)
Good question, Jason. That's one I don't understand, going back to the preseason. If he's healthy, I think he's a better option that Blount. Earlier in the chat, I didn't mention him because I was thinking he might not be avaialable (thigh). But if he is, that's the player I'd think is their best option as kickoff returner.
Mike (12:54 PM)
Let's go for another 5...
I think the point on the Washington question was - if they knew he'd be inactive anyway, why not wait just 1 more day to sign him, thus not guaranteeing his salary. It's a good point. Maybe they thought he'd sign elsewhere??
Mike (12:55 PM)
Indeed. He had visited the Giants and Jets earlier in the week. It's a good thing they re-signed him, IMO, after what happened with Vereen in the game.
Cb [via mobile]
Hey mike. Do expect to see a lot of the nickel again tonight?
Mike (12:56 PM)
More of a mix. In the opener, the Jets played some two-backs, two-TEs, and three-WRs. Not sure what they'll lean toward tonight, but I am expected more base defense from the Patriots than we saw last week (2 snaps).
Neil (South Boston)
Mike, early thoughts on the Mesko for Allen swap? If the Pats had a do-over, would they make the same decision?
Mike (12:57 PM)
After the first game, I think most would lean toward Mesko. Allen was inconsistent. But in the end, this will be judged over time.
Does Washington still look like a better signing than Cribbs who they had interest in early in the preseason?
Mike (12:57 PM)
Yes, because Cribbs isn't healthy.
One offensive star performer tonight, one defensive?
Mike (12:58 PM)
Matt, a big night for Ridley on offense. On defense, Tommy Kelly/Chandler Jones are my picks.
Shaun (Boom) (Sharon)
Mike the sky is Falling!!! I've heard this before. After the loss to the Browns - how'd we do that season? After the losses to Seattle and Arizona - how'd we do then? We hear it ALL the time, then once the dust settles the Pats are at or very near the top of the heap. People need to keep perspective. Hope you post this
Mike (1:01 PM)
Shaun, I lean toward this line of thinking. We don't seem to wait for anything any more these days. We want the answers right now. That's just not the way it works in football. It seems like a current that has generated more and more momentum in recent years, it's almost like a tidal wave, and it ties to my belief that a lot of it is talk-radio driven. Not that all talk radio is the same, but I hear a lot of negativity in certain circles and it feeds into a culture where you'd sometimes think the Patriots are looking to make their first playoff appearance since 1999.
Mike (1:03 PM)
I'd just say it's sort of a shame for the people who get caught up into that. I do believe there's going to come a time when people look back on this stretch of Patriots football and long for the days when there were complaints over a 23-21 season-opening win. Part of it is that the bar has been raised high.
Mike (1:03 PM)
We just came from Buffalo, where the Bills are looking for their first playoff appearance since 1999. There's some good perspective there.
Hi Mike, is week 4 still realistic as the first start for Gronk?
Mike (1:04 PM)
I wouldn't rule out the Buccaneers game just yet.
Wes Welker (Denver, CO)
Amendola hurt? HAHAHAHA. Sorry, what I mean....is (chuckle) I hope he's ok...
Mike (1:05 PM)
Hey Wes, I know that's not what is in your heart. But I could understand if there was a small part of you that was saying, "I gave you all I had for 6 years, was as reliable and dependable as could be, and maybe you're getting a little bit of what you deserve here."
probably tons of askers (everywhere)
mike, why ask to submit questions in advance if you never get to them??
Mike (1:06 PM)
There are 400-plus questions in the chat. Just impossible to get to them and keep things going at a rapid-fire pace. Apologies.
Mike, It is what it is and we'll see what it is in December.
Mike (1:07 PM)
Let's end on that one. Nice to know Bill Belichick drops in on the chat from time to time. LOL.
Mike (1:07 PM)
Have a great week and we'll do it again next week.