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 who has stayed close to his roots. 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. Since 2005 he has 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 (12:01 PM)
Good afternoon and thanks for joining today's chat.
Mike Reiss (12:03 PM)
I am here in Dallas for the week leading up to the Super Bowl. My goal has been to look at the week leading up to the game through a Patriots-type lens. I've written on the Patriots needing that edge rusher like the Steelers (LaMarr Woodley) and Packers (Clay Matthews), Hall of Fame candidate Curtis Martin's Patriots tenure, Tom Brady as Offensive Player of the Year, Bill Belichick as Coach of the Year and tight end Rob Gronkowski being here.
Mike Reiss (12:03 PM)
Looking forward to chatting until 1 p.m. Let's do it.
Mike, what did you think of Commissioner Goodell bringing up the matter of Belichick in his interview with Peter King? I thought it was unprofessional at best, vindictive at worst. I'm wondering if there will be more blowback from Goodell's poor judgement.
Mike Reiss (12:04 PM)
Had a similar thought, karnak. In one sense, as a reporter, I appreciate the unfiltered honesty. In another, I'm not sure why Goodell wanted to go down that road in his role as commissioner.
munchkin (glenwood springs, co)
I can't help but thinking that the COY and OPY awards for BB and Brady respectively while appreciated by the recipients may be more of a salve for the fans than for the recipients. While I am sure they are thankful the voters respected them enough to give them their votes they would gladly give them up for a chance at the Lombardi Trophy.Mike, are you staying for the game or will you be heading back to MA?
Mike Reiss (12:05 PM)
You nailed it, munchkin. I won't be staying for the game this year.
Mike:With respect to the trade offers for the picks, I am assuming that those offers don't involve players given that no such trades can happen without the CBA. Am I incorrect?
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
Ian, usually those trades are draft picks for draft picks, involving general positioning. The sides are still operating under a CBA, which expires March 4. So for now, it's business as usual, but after March 4, all bets are off.
lstan6900 (boca raton,fl)
Hey Mike, Greetings from Boca, yes it is beautiful today! Can you explain how a defensive coach like BB, still fails to undervalue or under emphasize the outside pass rush? He had LT with the Giants and Vrabel and Colvin in NE. Why do the Pats put so few resourses to get to the opponents QB? Seems like an stud edge pass rusher could push this team over the top. Sorry, TBC is not that guy.
Mike Reiss (12:09 PM)
Pass rushers are hard to find, lstan, and I think the disappointing Adalius Thomas free-agent signing in 2007 is an example of Belichick putting the resources into that position and it not working out. So I don't think it's simply a case of Belichick not valuing it. However, I think it's fair to ask the question if their evaluation process should be tweaked based on the need. For example, usually a player has to have three-down value to have a first-round grade. But I'd argue that if you think you can get a Clay Matthews-type late in the first round, even if he projects to a more specific pass-rushing role, that's still worthy of first-round consideration.
Hi Mike: Have the Pats already signed off on Faulk,I saw the piece where the running back coach said his goodbye's? A three way back rotation with BJGE, Woodhead, and Kevin could be pretty good??
Mike Reiss (12:09 PM)
Not at all, Corky. That blog post I believe you are referring to was Faulk's first-ever NFL running backs coach -- Kirby Wilson of the Steelers -- sending some well wishes to Faulk no matter what Faulk decides.
Papi Shimon (NYC)
Hey Mike,So is Tory Holt missing something when he says Pats need that WR?Thanks!
Mike Reiss (12:10 PM)
Torry Holt was in the Patriots' building, Papi, so I thought he brought some interesting insight on that. Is he missing something? I don't know. I wouldn't invest big resources in a wide receiver, but that's just me.
Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada)
Hi Mr. Reiss I think you've picked the Packers as the winner of Super Bowl 45. Can you please explain why you personally think they will be able to defeat Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh seems to be a closer knit team and has more expierence playing in big games. I'm picking Green Bay because I don't want Big Ben to get a third ring. Thanks
Mike Reiss (12:12 PM)
The main reason I am picking Green Bay is that I think they will be able to stop the run against a Steelers' offensive line that I think can be controlled, while also generating pressure on Roethlisberger. With strong coverage players, I like the matchup for Green Bay against that Steelers' offense. I also think the Packers' spread offense will have success against the Steelers. One X-factor is experience. The Steelers have more of it and that can be a tough factor to project in a big game like this.
Anthony Tomashefsky (California)
Will Logan Mankins likely be back? Whats the current situation with Matt Lights contract?
Mike Reiss (12:13 PM)
Anthony, I think we'll see the Patriots place the franchise tag on Mankins, and then work on a 2- to 3-year extension with Light. I think both are viewed favorably.
Anthony Tomashefsky (California)
What are the chances the Patriots sign Vincent Jackson or Chad Johnson if their free agents?
Mike Reiss (12:14 PM)
Doubled you up, Anthony. I don't see either player in the mix.
Hi Mike, I'm curious about press etiquette. When you guys are watching the game, do you cheer on big plays, or do you try to remain composed? I remember a couple years ago, one of the super bowl stories, was how Larry Fitzgerald's father didn't react when his son would make a great play, because he felt that, as a member of the media, he had to remain objective. I'm curious about whether you feel the same. I personally don't think I could contain myself after a big play. I'd at least have to do a little fist pump or something.
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
Jay, one of the announcements that you hear at games goes something like this, "This is a working press box. Please keep that in mind over the course of the game." So there is no cheering in the press box.
Kevin (Sayreville N.J.)
Mike, Bill Belichick usually goes after 2nd tier type of free agents looking for good value . Once in a while, however he will spend the money and go after a big ticket free agent such as Colvin or Adalius Thomas. While those players didn't exactly pan out, do you think this year assuming a CBA gets worked out, he may try to get a big time player in free agency?
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
I don't, Kevin. All things being equal, I think the big player in free agency they'd like to get is Logan Mankins.
Kyle (Cranston, RI)
Mike, I think the only aspect of the Patriots offense that has suffered since Charlie Weiss was here is the RB screen game. Brady used to be so skilled at concealing the ball and the lineman were great at working as a group and getting down-field. I think our excessive use of the shotgun and multiple receiver sets has shifted our emphasis away from these types of plays. Agree? Do you think this is an area of the offense that needs attention/improvement?
Mike Reiss (12:17 PM)
Kyle, I thought the Patriots really struggled in the screen game this year. I can't think of too many big ones. That was a big weakness in my view.
The team really needs draft a RB and OLB/DE pass-rusher but Bill's 11 year history tells us that will NOT draft a pass-rusher so why do we all think/hope that he will this year?
Mike Reiss (12:18 PM)
I look at it a little differently, Eric. I think history tells us that Bill Belichick is unpredictable. I remember the 2005 draft and when I was analyzing the first round, I said something like: "At 32, the Patriots could go in a number of different directions, but one thing we can take to the bank is that they won't pick a guard. They just don't value that position enough." Then they picked Logan Mankins.
Mike, I did not think that this was one of Bill Bellichek's greatest coaching years, I think the whole season was a testament to Tom Brady's greatness. Brady was so good at spotting the defense leads that he made it easy on the defense to just sit back, read the qbs eyes and get a lot of turnovers. As you saw in the jets and packers games, the defense, which was run by Bellichek, was not very good unless it had an early lead.
Mike Reiss (12:20 PM)
Interesting point, Bill. I agree on the Brady part. He had a tremendous regular season. I might quibble with the lack of credit given to the defense. I thought the best quarter the defense played all season was the fourth quarter of that Packers game. Also thought the unit deserves credit for the Baltimore game, which was one where they didn't get out to an early lead.
Mike, in regards to the CBA i have to say i could care less whether there is 16 or 18 actual games in a season. for me i want to see a rookie wage scale. the money being given to these kids before they even play a down is ludicrous. if a team picks the "wrong guy" it kills them for years to come. what do you think we can expect to see in the new CBA?
Mike Reiss (12:21 PM)
Good point, Robert. I think we will see a rookie wage scale in this next CBA. I think we'll also see 18 games, although my vote is for 16.
Jim (New Hampshire)
Hello Mike. What kind of compensation would a man like Larry Fitzgerald command? Could Mankins figure in a trade for him?I don't think there needs to be a major overhaul of the defense - a few adjustments here and there. This is a good football team. Fitzgerald would be a beast.
Mike Reiss (12:23 PM)
I think an elite receiver like Fitzgerald would command a first-round pick and something else in the range of a second-rounder. Also, the team giving up those picks would have to break the bank with a huge extension for Fitzgerald. I can't tell you how impressed I was with Fitzgerald in my chat with him here at the Super Bowl. He was rattling off stats that I didn't even know about the Patriots. I think he does that with a lot of teams -- he's a real football guy -- but I walked away thinking "This guy really has his stuff together."
Hi Mike, With an expired CBA, if the Pats choose to franchise Mankins does he have the right to negotiate with other teams and if so would the Pats still be entitled to 2 first round picks ?
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
Marcus, free agency isn't scheduled to start until March 4. So what will happen is that Mankins will probably get the tag any time from Feb. 10-Feb. 24. Things will remain idle until March 4. Then the big question is: Have the owners and players reached a new/extended collective bargaining agreement? If they haven't by March 4, everything is on hold and Mankins won't be negotiating with any team. No players will be negotiating anything. Everything will be on hold across the NFL.
Ramin ((Astronomy class) TX)
If Mankins is Franchised, what compensation would you expect for him if the Patriots were to trade him before the draft (assuming a new CBA is in place) ?
Mike Reiss (12:26 PM)
I think Mankins is an elite offensive lineman and that the Patriots would be seeking a first-round pick. If I'm a team picking late in the first round that needs OL help, and I was willing to give Mankins the big-bucks contract he wants, that's a price I'd strongly consider paying.
Jason (Denver, CO)
Mike, you keep using this season's heavy use of sub defenses as support for drafting a player that projects to strictly be a pass rusher. You are overlooking the obvious possibility that Belichick uses the sub defense not out of desire, but out of necessity. The team lacks the personnel to stay in the 3-4 as often as the coach would like. Drafting an incomplete OLB would only further compound that problem. I'm with Belichick, if they are drafted in the 1st round, they need to be a very special player and not just a one trick pony. That sub defense got us in trouble all season against the run, and didn't fare a whole lot better against the pass. Belichick prefers to be in the 3-4, can't we have a little more patience and let him find the players that fit his scheme?
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
I see your point, Jason, but don't see things the same way. I think opponents are putting the Patriots in those sub packages because they view that as the best matchup to exploit the team's weaknesses. Because of that, I think they need to alter the way they value that pass rushing spot.
What is the likelihood Taylor Price starts next season?
Mike Reiss (12:31 PM)
I think it's a bit early on that one, Pamela. I spoke with Torry Holt here at the Super Bowl and here is what he said about Price from his time watching him in training camp. "I think Price has the ability, the physical attributes, to help them. Mentally he has to continue to come along in terms of learning the system and believing that he can win, in terms of believing that he belongs in the National Football League."
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
So a big thing for Price is putting together a good offseason to put himself in position to make that jump. Right now, I think it would be premature to say what his spot on the depth chart will be.
Randy Moss (Tennessee)
Will you guys bring me back if I behave and for cheap to stretch the field again? There is no way i went from producing to not producing at all in a half a year. You know i just didn't like chilly and tennessee!
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
I've thought about it, Randy, and if I had to guess I'd say the door is closed.
Hey Mike, Great posts. Any idea how deep the draft is regarding the positions of concern for the Pats. A loaded question for sure, but any insight'd be appreciated. Thanks
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
Tim, check out the recent blog post with Gil Brandt. I just did something on that, with Brandt noting that CB and DL are two areas of strength in this year's draft.
Max (College Park, MD)
Mike! Great work! I'm wondering if you think the contracts of Bodden ($3.9M in 2011), Tully ($2.3M in 2011), and James Sanders ($2.8M in 2011) will be an issue this year? These are some of our highest defensive payrolls all for players who aren't guaranteed starters.
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
I think we'll see Bodden back, but the other two are ones to keep an eye on. Based on the way the Patriots used their safeties in the playoff loss, it basically told us that the coaches view Sanders as a No. 3 option. That's big dough for a No. 3 guy.
Hi Mike, I was curious if you were aware of Mr. Kraft's stance on the pending lockout and the proposed 18 game season. From what I can tell Dan Rooney bucked the trend recently and sided with the players regarding the 18 game season, going as far as to point out the double standard inherent in claiming you're pro player safety and then push them to play two more games. Kraft always struck me as someone with a good head on his shoulders, and am curious about his views on this big mess.
Mike Reiss (12:35 PM)
Jon, I think Kraft is in favor of 18 games, citing it as the best way to grow revenue.
To answer your question regarding Belichick's best year as the this year would be yes. From drafting, developing, and replenishing from the free agent market, Bill has deinitely been the most proficient. My question to you is how much more does Bill have left in the tank? He's now the longest tenured head coach and this job is wearing.
Mike Reiss (12:37 PM)
I like the question, Kevin, asking: Is this Belichick's best year? When I look at Belichick's future, I link it with Tom Brady. So I view him on the sidelines for as long as Brady is here, which could be in the 5-8 year range. My view is that Belichick is still energized by the job.
Jeremy (Brattleboro, VT)
Will Welker be back after his contract is up?
Mike Reiss (12:37 PM)
Jeremy, as long as he keeps playing at a high level, and the sides can find a middle ground when contract talks start, I see no reason why not.
Mike, With the real possibility that the draft will happen this year before free agency, do you see the Pats philosophy changing about trading current years draft picks for future years draft picks?
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
Ken, I don't see it changing much, if at all. Already, Belichick is drumming up business, saying last night that teams have already called with offers on their top picks.
Mike,Very interesting that teams have already approaches BB about Pats draft picks. I think he has created the right environment for deals. He reminds me of Bill Walsh and Jimmie Johnson in their day. Everyone around the NFL knows if they give a fair deal and it works for Pats a deal can get done.I think it is too early to know what BB will do. Ia??ve heard that there are only 9 blue chip players - Nick Fairley, Da'Quan Bowers, Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green, Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones, Von Miller, Robert Quinn and Cameron Jordan. Additionally, many think 1 or 2 QBs will go in top 15 - Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton or Jake Locker. After that the next 30-40 players grade out very close. If this is correct than I think BB will be moving up and down throughout the first three rounds. Is this consistent with what you are hearing?
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
That's good detail, Rick. I haven't heard anything along those lines at this point, but I'd feel comfortable predicting that we'll be seeing the Patriots moving up, down, and all around at various points of the first three rounds. That's the way they roll.
Spike O'Like (Foxborough, FL)
Mike- Their is a lot of chatter that the Patriots need D-Line and OLB help in the draft. If they draft 2 high round picks, and assuming Ty Warren is back to helath, who from the current roster would be in jeopardy on the D-Line and OLB positions?
Mike Reiss (12:42 PM)
At outside linebacker, I think your lock is Jermaine Cunningham and whatever top pick you select, with Rob Ninkovich also right there if he keeps improving. At defensive line, I think Vince Wilfork and whatever top pick you select is your lock and then you let the competition play out, while factoring in economics in some decisions. May the best players win. My take on both of these positions is that while there are some numbers on the roster, this defense needs impact at those spots.
Mike....Who are the college OLB prospects that would be a fit in the Patriots system and how are they (prospects) any different then say Cunningham or Eric Moore ?
Mike Reiss (12:43 PM)
Tim, I spoke with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan of Sirius NFL Radio about this here at the Super Bowl and they gave me three names: Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Arizona's Brooks Reed, and Texas' Sam Acho. As for how they are different than Cunningham and Moore, I haven't seen enough of them, or learned enough about them, to know that answer.
Alvin (Deerfield, MA)
Maybe it's just me, but the seems to be much bashing on Brandon Tate & Julian Edelman. Given that these are 2009 draftees, and Edelman was a QB who is only in his 2nd season as a WR while Tate was sidelined last year with a knee injury, it's a bit premature to call these guys busts. What do you think?
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
I agree, Alvin.
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
I was interested, however, in Torry Holt calling Brandon Tate a speed guy. Makes me wonder if he will develop into a complete receiver at some point.
Whats the chances we will trade up in the draft to get a top ten stud? What do you think we can get for darius butler?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
Don't see the Patriots trading into the top 10, Trader. As for Butler, I'd think he'd have limited value at this point on the trade market.
Mike - Do you see the Patriots making a move for DeAngelo Williams? Or drafting a RB? Would love to see them get a quality RB to take some of the pressure off Brady.
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
On a player like Williams, it all depends on the price and the level of risk in terms of total years. I'm intrugued at the thought, but it's hard to say without knowing the price. I do see the Patriots adding a back or two in this draft. They need more there to complement BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead.
Reggie (Framingham, MA)
Mike, the draft is tough to predict, but breaking out the crystal ball can definitely be fun at this time of year. Last year you (correctly) had a corner going to the Pats with their first round pick because you saw it as a position that would be deep at their end of the first round. What position(s) do you see being deep from picks 17-33 this year?
Mike Reiss (12:48 PM)
Thanks for remembering that Reggie. I don't think we have enough information right now on this one, but if I had to guess, I think we're looking at the DE, OLB or OL spots.
I got the draft on my mind and my hope is that the top 6 picks are on the O and D line. We need some more nasty in the trenches. We have not had a pass rush in 3 years. Mankins brings the nasty but I think center and RG need and upgrade and if Light doesn't resiogn (he will) LT or RT (depending where they put SeaBass) needs a body. I have a feeling Ron Brace can be a player if he really hits it hard this offseason. He and Vince can be an anchor for the next few years but RDE needs an upgrade. Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
I am thinking along your "lines", Rick. The biggest thing with Brace is staying healthy to prove it. I'm not as convinced as you about how that will turn out.
Mike:What are your thoughts on the patriots taking a stab at Mark Herzlich in the 3rd round provided that he's still available. Obviously health concerns are a major factor, but I was at BC while he was playing and I just don't think you can bet against this kid. He seems to be exactly what the patriots look for in a player attitude wise and if he can get back to his pre-cancer form it would be draft steal. What are your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
Some of the chatter from the Senior Bowl is that Herzlich could be around later than that. I wouldn't bet against him -- he seems like a high-quality person -- but I'd also be careful about reaching on him from a football perspective.
Regardles of the odds, do you think it would be worth the Pats giving the 33rd pick and maybe a 4th round pick for Larry Fitgerald, he said some nice things about BB and seems like he would fit in perfectly, in his prime!!
Mike Reiss (12:53 PM)
I'd do that tomorrow. Don't think the Cardinals would.
Neil (Southington, CT)
So much is made of how many times the Pats defense lines up in a sub package. My questions is - are we in the sub package because of the situation or because we lack players who can play all three downs? Also, do you have numbers to compare the Pats to the rest of the league for sub packages?
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
Neil, I think most of that is situational/matchup based. They have players to be in the 3-4. But when a team comes out in a 3WR set, you're probably going to your sub defense. My view is that opponents realize the best way to match up with the Patriots is to get their sub defense on the field, so they dictate the matchup with their personnel.
what type of RB do you think we need the most? What will they draft? Big Bruiser like Blount? Big play guy like Spiller or Best? Or try to get the complete package?
Mike Reiss (12:56 PM)
Complete package always preferred, but I think the big-play/speed threat is the perfect complement to Green-Ellis and Woodhead.
Rich (New Hampshire)
Do you think Tedy Bruschi would make a good coach? and would Bill bring him on as a DC?
Mike Reiss (12:57 PM)
I think he would be great, Rich, but Bruschi isn't interested in a coaching career at this stage of his life.
I agree with Torry Holt, the pats are one receiver away...Do you really think Torry Holt had big plans last year if he stayed healthy as he seemed to suggest?
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
I know the Patriots were excited about him, Dan, so I'll buy it. The injured knee changed everything.
colin (fall river)
Is the Safety position something the Pats would look to upgrade?Via free agency or draft? Merriweather seems to be a liabilty
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
Colin, with Meriweather and Sanders in the last year of their contracts, I think they will add to the position with the future in mind.
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
Let's go for another 5 here.
Mike - do you think the Pats will try trade away the 28th pick for a a future 1st rounder? They are already pickinga few spots later (33rd pick) and it might be useful chip to have further down the road, esp. if Ty Warren doesn't return to form next year.
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
We saw that exact trade in 2007, with the 28th spot going to San Francisco for a 2008 first-rounder (Jerod Mayo) and a 2007 fourth-round pick. I think they'd do something like that again if the opportunity presented itself with the right team.
ANGIS (Eastern PA)
Brandon McGowan... when the last time you heard that name? Does he make the squad if healthy, if so, who goes from safety group?
Mike Reiss (1:01 PM)
McGowan is a free agent, so the first question is whether he is re-signed. The Patriots claimed Josh Barrett on waivers from the Broncos and he might fill that type of "big safety" type of role, if he shows well in camp.
If Faulk is not a Patriot next year, how likely is he a (gulp) Jet?
Mike Reiss (1:02 PM)
Last year, Faulk said it was Patriots or no one. So I'm thinking it's unlikely he's a Jet.
Elliot (Narragansett, RI)
Andy Reid is the longest tenured coach now. (1999)
Mike Reiss (1:02 PM)
Yes, Elliot. I think the previous comment might have been a reference to Belichick's overall years in the league.
Has that message always been broadcast in the press box, or is that a more recent occurrence, perhaps due to a more diversified media (including those with little or no training/background in journalistic standards and etiquette)?
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
That's always been the case, Dex.
Matt (Portland, OR)
Have the rooting interests of a fan base ever swung so much than in the past month? We wanted the Jets to beat the Colts, the Steelers to beat the Jets, and now the Packers to beat the Steelers. Changing loyalties is exhausting.
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
Let's end on this one, Matt. I think you nicely captured what the last few weeks have been like for those who follow the Patriots. Better when your own team is there, for sure.
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. We'll do it again next Thursday and will also have the weekly mailbag on Tuesday.
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
Off to go find some Patriots angles here at the Super Bowl.