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 11 a.m. ET!
Mike (10:58 AM)
Good morning and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started in a few.
Mike (11:02 AM)
How is everyone doing this morning? Hope this holiday season is treating everyone well. Lots to discuss, so let's get right into it.
Mike (11:03 AM)
A few nuggets to pass along: Ed Hochuli has been assigned as the referee for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game ... Patriots practice today at 11:15 so we'll get a report on Devin McCourty/Josh Boyce during this chat ... Players were off Wednesday but were in for practice Tuesday, their normal day off.
Hi Mike. At what point do the Pats rid themselves of Gregory? He is always out of position, misses tackles and has seemed to cost us big plays all season.
Mike (11:05 AM)
Joey, I think they had it on their mind this season that maybe Gregory could become their third safety, and that's why they signed Adrian Wilson. But things with Wilson didn't work out. Gregory is exceptionally smart and that's one of the things the coaching staff really values with him. While he doesn't have the prototypical physical measureables, or the physical upside that maybe you'd like, he makes up for it in other areas. I put him in the Kyle Arrington category -- the type of guy you like to have on your team but maybe not in a full-time role.
Gary Tremblay (Falls Church, VA)
Hi Mike, hope you had a good holiday season as well! Do you have any insight as to why Brady doesn't go to Hooman more? The few times he gets thrown to, he always seems to make a play.
Mike (11:07 AM)
Gary, Hoomanawanui has great hands, as we saw in Miami ... and in training camp ... and when he was with the Rams and made a great catch against the Patriots in the preseason. But Hoomanawanui doesn't often create separation, so those windows Brady is often throwing into are pretty tight. That's probably the best way to describe it. Sometimes the rules of quarterbacking say 'I'm going to throw it into that window regardless', but that's usually the exception more than the norm.
Adam (Denver, CO)
Hi Mike! With Amendola the highest paid WR at 5-6m a year, if I recall, the team should be able to make a competitive offer for Edelman. How do you view the market for the Pats most productive skill player on offense going into this off season? Thanks!
Mike (11:08 AM)
Adam, someone also asked this on Twitter this morning. I think the market for Edelman is basically what Amendola received this year from the Patriots. To me, that's a real strong comparison.
I think this team stands a better chance to win the Superbowl then past teams, they show more toughness then last year and their offence isn't just dink and dunck like it was with Wes.
Mike (11:09 AM)
Mark, one of my best pals played minor league baseball for the Erie Sea Wolves. Hope all is well in Erie. This quest to the Super Bowl is wide open this year -- wouldn't be surprised if they make it, or if they are knocked out in their first playoff game. That's this year's NFL for you.
Charles W (Fairmont)
Mike, what do we do with Spikes this offseason? He may be the best run stopping LB in the league but we really need to add some speed
Mike (11:10 AM)
Charles, I think they make a competitive offer to Spikes as a two-down LB, and if someone steps up and views him as more of a three-down LB in their scheme and pays him accordingly, the Patriots probably lose the player.
Evan (Portsmouth, NH)
Good morning, Mike. With such a huge win over the Ravens should we expect more of the same from the Patriots? Obviously they aren't going to go out and win by over 30 points every game but they just played fantastic against the Ravens, a team they usually struggle with.
Mike (11:11 AM)
Evan, I think what that performance showed us is that the Patriots are capable of playing a smash-mouth, physical style if they need to. But I wouldn't look at one 60-minute effort and say 'OK, the Patriots are rolling now.' Every week is something different and we've seen enough inconsistency from this team to know there are no givens. In fact, I think the same could be said from all teams in the NFL.
Greg (Atlanta )
Toss up... More realistic of resigning Talib or Julian?
Mike (11:12 AM)
Greg, I just don't think we can answer that question until we know what the market bears. I'd lean toward Talib, jiust because they don't have as many financial resources devoted to that position and thus I would project them being more willing to extend themselves to keep him.
Deavin (Bristol )
Great predictions on the winner of Pats Ravens game Mike spot on... All jokes aside I want to know do you sense this team will allow themselves to ride the emotions of the big win and have a let down or take care of business by having a short term memory?
Mike (11:14 AM)
I really nailed that one, right? Logan Mankins and a few others were sure to remind me of that, which is always kind of fun. I thought it would be a close game and with a Ravens team feeling good about itself after four straight wins, and the Patriots banged up in a big way, I felt like it was the right pick. In the end, I underestimated the Patriots' resolve and depth. I don't anticipate any type of hangover. The Patriots' leadership is too strong.
Drew (Pontiac Mi )
Good afternoon Mike... Merry Christmas I just want to know does the Pats performance against Baltimore make you more or less confident in our chances of going to Mile high and winning?
Mike (11:16 AM)
Drew, this isn't going to be a popular answer, but my opinion hasn't changed based on that result. Just like it didn't change after the loss to Miami. A matchup against Denver creates a whole different set of challenges/matchups etc. We also don't know what the health picture will look like that week for the team. I absolutely think the Patriots could go into Denver and win. I thought it last week. I think the same thing this week. Anything is possible in this year's NFL.
Isacc (Berkley )
Hey Mike good morning I just want to get your stance on if reporters should be fans of the teams they actually reporting on?
Mike (11:21 AM)
Hi Isacc, I think reporters should be fans of what they do. If they aren't, it probably shows in their work. I've said this many times before, you aren't human if you are covering a team and don't have some feeling toward the outcome -- whether it be for a player, your own personal situation, a coach etc. But I've always felt the professionals find a way to remain as close as possible to that neutral ground that allows them to report as objectively and fairly as possible. I'm not perfect and there have probably been some stories that I've been too close to. In those cases, you do your best to pull back. ...
Mike (11:24 AM)
... One of the favorite stories I ever wrote, for example, was after the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants and their perfect season was dashed. That finish was heart-stopping and after my experience covering the team and getting to know some of the players and coaches involved -- and thinking about being a reporter who helped chronicle the season and how that would be remembered and what it would mean -- there was obviously some emotion as to what unfolded that night. But to be able to compartmentalize that, and write a story on deadine as to "why" they lost with X's and O's detail from key coaches/players involved on both sides, was something I didn't know I had in me. You get challenged at times and that was a big one. ...
Mike (11:25 AM)
... Even though I'm sure no Patriots fans read it. LOL.
Mike (11:26 AM)
So I'm not sure that answers the question, but hopefully the point comes across. Be a fan of what you do. Appreciate the game. Treat it with respect, as well as those involved. And be a professional by staying as close to the neutral ground as possible, knowing that no one's perfect. That's why we're human.
Zach Studfeld aka Baby Gronk (Newark NJ)
What's the reason for me not filling in for Gronk? I thought I was his little twin who could have of been important to the success without him. Was it me? And if so what could I have done different?
Mike (11:31 AM)
Suddy, thanks for checking in from the Meadowlands. As I look at your body of work with the Jets, you've played 131 offensive snaps in 10 games, and have four catches for 56 yards. ... As we've discussed in the past, every team has to balance the short- and long-term picture. You started so strong in training camp and preseason, I think you really surprised everyone. The Patriots probably thought you'd be a year away when they initially signed you. But that put you on the fast track, and when things dipped pretty considerably -- and it looked like 10 guys on offense were playing one speed, and you were maybe in a lower gear -- it became an issue of whether the Patriots could "red-shirt" you on the 53-man roster this year. When injuries struck elsewhere, that luxury became too much. This is part of the challenge, from a team perspective, of building a team.
Mike - What do you make of BB claiming that the reduced off-season and practice/workout limitations are leading to more injuries? Is it safe to assume the league isn't particularly fond of that type of statement - since they quickly countered with stats that suggest BB is wrong and reaffirmed that the NFL is committed to player safety.
Mike (11:32 AM)
Lou, I thought that was pretty interesting stuff from Bill Belichick. I think he's right. There's nothing like preparing for football than doing football type work. Less work doesn't necessarily mean fewer injuries.
How does Bill coach of the year for pats sound.
Mike (11:33 AM)
Jim, I think Bill Belichick has coached his tail off. As has his staff. I think I'd personally lean toward Carolina's Ron Rivera, but you couldn't go wrong with Belichick.
Tom (Syracuse, New York)
Many were ready to send Logan Mankins and Dante S. out of town on a rail. Once again Coach S. proved he is one of the best assistant coaches at his position and Logan Mankins just a great player. Your thoughts
Mike (11:34 AM)
Tom, that performance by Logan Mankins at left tackle gets a gold star from me. Wow. It wasn't perfect, as we saw Suggs get by him once or twice, but there was one play on tape that stood out to me that trumped everything. Mankins was blocking on the back side of a running play and he cut down Suggs and you saw Suggs looks back at him as if to say, "Who is this beast?" That, to me, said it all. The Patriots wanted to play physical and their most nasty linemen brought the lumber.
Mike, thoughts on Vereen's status? The offense basically died last week after he left the game.
Mike (11:35 AM)
Nick, Vereen wanted to go back into the game but they held him out as a precaution. I wouldn't be surprised if they hold him out again this week as a precaution. He'll be there when it counts. Take it to the bank.
Mike, Pro Bowlers are announced tomorrow. Guess on what patriots make the team?
Mike (11:37 AM)
Dave, I've sort of ignored the Pro Bowl this year. Maybe a little tired of it. I haven't looked closely at all the positions around the NFL and AFC to have a really informed opinion. Players I could make a case for: Brady, Gostkowski, Mankins, Edelman, Chandler Jones, Talib.
Mike (11:38 AM)
Did I miss any? Sort of hard to do when you don't have enough context of the competition the players would be going up against.
What are your thoughts on how Joe Kline played?
Mike (11:40 AM)
David, Joe Kleine was a slow, big-bodied center for the Boston Celtics back when I was a bigger fan of the NBA. Believe he wore No. 53. I think you are referring to rookie free agent Josh Kline, who started at left guard. He hung tough on Sunday. That's not an easy assignment against Haloti Ngata. Had a holding penalty but overall, have to give him credit for answering the challenge in a tough spot. Couldn't ask for much more.
Brian (Arlington VA)
will the team try to and be able to resign Blount after the season?
Mike (11:40 AM)
Brian, I don't see any reason why they wouldn't. He's been a good player for them this year.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is your Pick to Play in Super Bowl XLVIII?
Mike (11:41 AM)
Before the season, I picked the 49ers and Patriots. I'll stick with it, Chris. Anything is possible here.
Jessie (Copenhagen, Denmark )
Hey Mike, what do you attribute Talib's decline in performance, relatively speaking? It seems his hip is fully recovered, if the daily practice reports are to be believed. Like everyone else, I've assumed he's still partially injured, but now I'm not so sure. I'm not sure if he's less motivated since the D is not carrying the O anymore, or if he's possibly saving himself for the playoffs, not wanting to reinjure himself by going 100%, but he's definitely been performing a tier below what he was earlier in the season.
Mike (11:42 AM)
Jessie, while Talib maybe isn't playing at the same level he was early in the season, it's still at a high level. He's their best cornerback. The last two weeks have looked pretty good to me. They basically put him on the inside part of the field against the Dolphins because that was a big part of their plan -- to make Ryan Tannehill beat them to the outside. Tannehill did. That's a credit to him, but also, in my view, a reflection of how the Patriots view Talib. Difference-maker. Matchup corner. Still playing at a high level.
Ethan (Palm Springs)
Hey Mike, everyone seems to be blaming Talib's slight decline on his hip injury. I was wondering if there was any veracity to this claim or if he has regressed throughout the season. Thanks.
Mike (11:43 AM)
Ethan, I'd like to know who is saying this. The tape I watch looks pretty good to me.
Mike - you missed Slater for the Pro Bowl. One of the top gunners in the league. Got a nice shoutout from Nantz/Simms last week.
Mike (11:44 AM)
Absolutely Slater. Shouldn't be overlooked. That was a big-time play Sunday on that punt return. Textbook.
Mike, what was the best Christmas present you got this year?
Mike (11:46 AM)
Dan, I must be getting old because the best thing to me in the holiday season is being together with my wife and two kids, and if everyone is healthy. I really don't need anything else. Pretty content guy here.
Jonathan (Tampa, FL)
Hey Mike, happy holidays. Do you believe Tom Brady should be up there with Peyton Manning in the MVP race, or do you think Manning's historic season makes him the most deserving winner? It seems that Brady has had to do more with less, but I'm not sure how that compares to Manning's astronomical stats.
Mike (11:47 AM)
Jonathan, I do think Brady should be in the discussion, but I'll be honest, why not Jamaal Charles? I haven't studied it close enough, but if I had a vote, my research would start with Charles. I'm not saying I'd pick him, but that's where my instincts would take me first and then see if there is anything there to validate it.
Michael (Cologne, Germany)
How did you like Tavon Wilson as the dime linebacker, do you think he might have a future on defense after all?
Mike (11:48 AM)
I thought he did well, Michael. Some good coverage on Pitta. Had one where he lost leverage to the inside and they made a catch on him. Overall, that was a solid fill-in effort IMO, for a player who had played just 6 defensive snaps all season.
Hey Mike, any word on practice participation yet? Interested to see if McCourty is out there today
Mike (11:49 AM)
No McCourty. No Boyce.
Ken (New York)
I think we're all carried away with the Ravens victory. With nine minutes left, the Ravens were driving to make it a one score game. I think a lot of us were dreading a disastrous finish. Obviously, the Patriots completely dominated after that, but the game was closer than the score would leave you to believe.
Mike (11:49 AM)
No disagreement. We have an in-game chat and at the exact moment you are mentioning, Ken, I wrote this, "Anyone else think this one is coming down to the wire?"
Michael (Cologne, Germany)
No Pro Bowl case for Devin McCourty?
Mike (11:50 AM)
Possible, Michael, but I might be influenced by just having seen 2 INTs slip through his hands on Sunday. A Pro Bowler makes those plays IMO.
Jim D. (Houston TX)
Hi Mike, Merry Christmas. I think it might sometimes get overlooked, especially given all the injuries, but the defense has really improved over the course of the last few games, and particularly shined against the Ravens. Do you think they can hold the Broncos to mid-20's in a playoff game outdoors in January?
Mike (11:51 AM)
Jim, I think what we've seen is the importance of turnovers to the defense. The run D has also improved a bit, and part of that has been the inclusion of DT Sealver Siliga. Big body in there playing with some pretty good technique. Mid-20s might be asking a lot, but I wouldn't rule it out.
mike (west roxbury, ma)
Mike,Been a terrific season -- agree 100% with your assessment -- we can beat anybody but also can lose to anyone.So what are the keys for us - beyond the game specific strategies? It would seem that a) getting off to a good start, b) protect TB12, c) stay mentally sharp (e.g. no penalties), d) be disruptive on defense and e) execute. That might be a good list. Of course, easier said than done (hence 'execute'). What do you think?
Mike (11:54 AM)
Mike, I think the word "turnovers" needs to be in there. We see what a difference those make. The Patriots basically had seven of them on Sunday -- 3 INTs, one fumble recovery and 3 fourth-down stops. That is the best formula IMO. They keep getting seven turnovers a game, they're probably raising the Lombardi Trophy. We know that's unlikely to happen, but I just think it speaks to the importance of them in the game.
Eric (Bozeman, mt)
Matthew Slater is a total stud in the kicking game. Why does he never see the field as a receiver?
Mike (11:55 AM)
Eric, they actually are using Slater a bit more in 1 WR packages when it's usually a running play. Tough kid. But a whole different skill set, for the most part, if we're talking about a more traditional WR role.
Do you think the pats with the comeout party that Logan Ryan has put on the last couple weeks do you think the pats are less likely to resign Talib and if they were looking to resign him how much would the Pats be willing to give?
Mike (11:55 AM)
No, Marcel, I don't think what Logan Ryan has accomplished will have much impact on Talib's future with the team.
Hey Mike, this question may be a little late but can you explain why Brian waters was willing to play with Dallas this year(before his injury) but not with the patriots before?
Mike (11:56 AM)
Blindo, that was closer to home for Waters, who lives in Texas. He didn't want to be away from his family for what his salary was that year.
Mike, Joe Kleine gave the team a real boost on Sunday. Do you think we might see Greg Kite against Buffalo?
Mike (11:58 AM)
Peter, that's not too kind. I might start raining 3s down on you from the corner, a la Scott Wedman. "Beat LA! Beat LA!"
David (Quincy, MA)
Hey Mike. As a Pats fan, I will be rooting for them to win on Sunday, and for Oakland to pull the upset the Broncos so that we get the 1 seed. I know it seems unlikely Oakland upset Denver, but we've seen many surprising things happen in the NFL this season. How much of a chance do you see this happening?
Mike (11:59 AM)
David, I'd put the odds at 10 percent, a bit lower than the odds I put at Ed Hochuli wearing short sleeves as the referee on Sunday.
Josh (Norwalk, CT)
Hi Mike. I don't put any emphasis on the "TB nobody to high-five" thing, but I have noticed for quite a while now that every time the Camera is focused on Brady on the bench, he is always sitting alone and not talking to anyone. It looks from afar that there is no camaraderie there. I am sure that I'm just conjuring up this issue, but I have been interested to ask this question for a while.
Mike (12:00 PM)
Josh, trust your instincts on this one. It's a fun topic and if you ever saw what goes on behind the scenes, you'd have no doubt about how Brady is viewed by his teammates. He's their leader and there is great respect from most of them. Those camera angles, and still shots, can create a perception that isn't accurate. It's sort of funny to me how this stuff spreads. Trust me on this one. I have absolutely, positively no doubt on it.
MIke, lots of talk about BB for Coach of the Year--but what about Executive of the Year? He had a strong draft, made some tough calls with free agents, signed Edelman, traded for Blount, made some key pick-ups along the way that have helped the team keep winning... who has done a better job than Bill?
Mike (12:02 PM)
Matt, I think that's a bit too generous from this viewpoint. Some of the top signings in free agency didn't pan out (Adrian Wilson, Leon Washington), and I still question the decision with Danny Woodhead. I think overall, few rival Bill Belichick when it comes to building a successful team. But this year doesn't strike me as the one to put him at the top of the mountain. I'd have to research it a little closer, though.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
What did you think of Ridley this past week?
Mike (12:02 PM)
Hard not to be impressed, Stuart.
Mike (12:03 PM)
Let's take a few more...
Re holding Denver to the mid-20s, let's not forget that for all the Pats high powered offense over the last 6-7 years that they scored, in their playoff losses starting with the first NYG super bowl - 14, 14, 21, 17, 13. We always worry about the D, but really it's the offense that has let them down.
Mike (12:03 PM)
Good reminder, Dave. Thanks.
Rob (Sharon, MA)
Hey Mike! What's the status with all the rookie Wide Receivers (Boyce, Dobson, Thompkins). Will they play this week, or will we see them ready for the playoffs?
Mike (12:04 PM)
Rob, Dobson will be there. Boyce won't be. Thompkins a 50-50 shot.
PatsFanInSC (Columbia, SC)
Mike, if you could wave a magic wand and bring back one player from IR, the one that would make the most impact on a playoff run, who would you choose?
Mike (12:04 PM)
Would have to be Vince Wilfork, right?
Do you still believe that Atlanta made the right decision giving 2 one's a 2 a 3 and a 4 for one player not a franchise QB, when injuries have decimated their team with poor backups. Bill wouldn't make that deal, would you still make it
Mike (12:05 PM)
That was a good topic earlier this year, Jay. I thought the deal was the right one for Atlanta based on where they were that year with Tony Gonzalez possibly in his final season and the overall picture in the NFC. I liked the deal for them and still would have made it. But like I said at the time, just because the deal is right for one team doesn't mean it is for another team.
Mike (12:05 PM)
And you're right, the Falcons' depth has been exposed a bit this year. Fair point.
Hey Mike will the Pats use the throwback uniform this season?
Mike (12:06 PM)
No throwbacks this year, Daniel.
How much of Sunday's win was the Patriots playing well vs the Ravens not stepping up? To put it another way, if the Ravens were playing like they did in the AFC championship would the Patriots still have won last Sunday?
Mike (12:07 PM)
Brian, a mix of both, but I give the credit to the Patriots. They took it to them. In reviewing the game, there were "effort" plays that stood out and each time the Patriots were making them (e.g. CB Kyle Arrington setting the edge against OT Michael Oher). That was more about them than the Ravens, although as we know, those things are seldom black and white.
Patrick (Keene, NH)
Hello Mike, Good to see Hightower play well last Sunday. I thought the criticism he received was unfair and premature. He was thrust into a difficult role in a complex defense and will be the better for it.
Mike (12:08 PM)
That was one of his best games, Patrick, but I thought he's had some other good ones too. The Steelers game is a good one to look at as well.
corky (NPR Florida)
Hi Mike: With all the ups and downs this year, I think the tm is playing with a bit of a chip right now and we can be dangerous going into the play offs. your thoughts can we win this thing this year???
Mike (12:11 PM)
Let's end on this one, Corky. I'm not sure what it means, but the "us vs. the world" mentality is back. Rodney Harrison was the king of this in the Super Bowl championship days. Well, players told me there was a pretty inspirational message after the Ravens game Sunday, in the locker room, about the fact no one believed in them. I'm not sure how far that can take a team, but know this: They took great pride in rallying around each other and proving the doubters wrong. We'll see where it all goes. As has been said for much of the year, and I feel like I've been pretty consistent with this after the wins and losses, anything is possible.
Mike (12:11 PM)
Thanks to everyone for the great questions. We'll do it again next week. Have a great day.