Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNBoston.com New England Patriots blogger Mike Reiss stops by to chat.
Reiss joined ESPNBoston.com in September 2009 and is a native New Englander. He first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004.
Send your questions now and join Reiss Thursday at noon ET!
Mike Reiss (12:00 PM)
Good afternoon and welcome to today's Patriots chat.
Mike Reiss (12:02 PM)
I am writing from the media workroom at Gillette Stadium, where reporters have come back after speaking with players this morning. Albert Haynesworth talked about being a "sleeping giant" ready to awake. To me, that was the story of the day. Captains have also been named (Brady, Mankins, Slater, Mayo, Wilfork, McCourty). You could see how much it meant to Slater, the 2008 fifth-round pick. He told me it was the high point of his career.
Mike Reiss (12:02 PM)
I'm just going to get a few things together here, and then we'll get back to the chat...
farn (Nova Scotia)
OT question : How far does Indy fall if in fact they are without #18 or an extended period (as his owner seems to be tweeting) ? The likely successors, the Houston Texans, haven't been stepping up at all since they joined the league a few years back. Could Indy still win that division with a 9-7 or even 8-8 mark ?
Mike Reiss (12:05 PM)
Let's start it out with a non-Patriots question, as Peyton Manning's injury status is a huge story. If he doesn't play this year, farn, I see a .500 team from this perspective. Huge opportunity for the Texans to take that division.
Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada Go Pats Go)
Hi Mike with Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, and Darius Butler all being let go by Bill Belichick and the Patriots do you think the Pats have a glaring weakness in the secondary? Do you see somebody like Darren Sharper being brought in to help the Pats if they struggle in the secondary out of the gate? I won?t feel confident until the Pats secondary can prove they can stop teams from throwing on them. What do you think? Thanks Mike
Mike Reiss (12:06 PM)
Har, I'm quite happy to see you back in the chat. I'm not sure you got my message, but I felt awful that we didn't get to connect at training camp. I looked for you on that rainy day after doing my taping, but couldn't find you. I apologize. As for the question...
Mike Reiss (12:07 PM)
I think the cornerbacks will be fine. I like the group, especially how it's a bigger group than it's been. The safeties are a little more of a wild-card. I think the hope is to stay in house, but if it doesn't look good early, I wouldn't rule out Sharper or another veteran option.
Billy D (Andover, MA)
It seems like an obvious answer but what side of the ball worries you the most? One would think defense, but with some questions at WR and at OLine, I'm not too sure about the Offense, at times.
Mike Reiss (12:07 PM)
Billy, I would start with the OL. Can that group hold up?
Who's gonna start at the SAM outside linebacker spot opposite mayo? Ninkovich was there in the preseason, but I'm worried about his ablity to cover and play in space. Could AJ Edds be the answer? thanks
Mike Reiss (12:09 PM)
Mike, I still think it's Ninkovich. Edds has some versatility, but I think he's clearly behind Ninkovich in the base at this point, unless it's a game-plan specific wrinkle.
Mike, read your "Brady South Beach" article @ 5:15am. We both need to get some sleep! Interior OL has been one of my biggest worries. What have you heard about Waters? Is he a major upgrade for us at guard?
Mike Reiss (12:10 PM)
Brett, get some sleep. That article was actually by colleague Chris Forsberg, who is doing a great job writing Patriots material and is a great teammate. Spoke with one scout whose job is to keep tabs on all pro players/free agents and he loves Waters. Thought it was unusual that a player of his quality was still available. Thinks the Patriots are fortunate.
Rob (Acton, MA)
Why haven't the Patriots ad much success in drafting WRs? I think it's worth pointing out that the Steelers' Mike Wallace was taken right after Brandon Tate in the '09 draft.
Mike Reiss (12:12 PM)
Rob, I think they've had some success when factoring in Deion Branch and David Givens, but it's probably their most volatile position when considering some big-time misses (e.g. Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson, Brandon Tate). Receiver is one of the tougher positions to evaluate, in part because there hasn't been a lot of press coverage in the college ranks. There is more projecting involved. That being said, it's the same challenge for every team and others have obviously done it better than the Patriots. I think it's a fair point.
Mark (Space Coast, FLA)
Mike, I saw that the Patriots named the team captains. The one that really stood out to me was Matthew Slater. What exactly does this mean? Has he stepped up on the depth charts or is it just a reward for having a great preseason??
Mike Reiss (12:13 PM)
Mark, the Slater pick is a combination of factors -- starting with special teams and overall approach to his craft. Players really respect him. He's still the No. 5/6 receiver, so this honor is more for his contributions on fourth down and how he approaches his job.
Nick (Pats fan from WI) (College Library)
Hey Mike, love the chats despite the fact you have an obvious bias against us Pats fans from the frozen tundra area. Why the conern about the O-line? I think Waters easily addresses the weakest link, and am far more concerned about the wideouts. If Ocho and Branch continue their subpar performances or an injury (only 1) happens, do you see the Pats giving Moss a call?
Mike Reiss (12:15 PM)
Nick, if you are really in the college library, should I be throwing a penalty flag on you for talking Patriots instead of classwork? No biases here. We like 'em from all over. My concern on the offensive line is based on what we saw in Detroit and losing some of those one-on-one battles. While I think Waters fills a big void, he also will need some time to get up to speed, one would assume. Agree on the WRs questions, but don't see Moss coming back unless there are big injuries.
Mike do you see Taylor Price as having a significant impact this year with the offense ?
Mike Reiss (12:16 PM)
John, at this point, I see him as the No. 4 option. I just don't think he fully has the trust of Tom Brady yet, so that makes a projection a bit harder. In terms of in-house options, he's the next man in if Ochocinco goes down.
Alex T. (Pats fan in Miami. FL)
Why hasn't J.Tarpinian been placed on IR. I feel the team has so many special teams contributors in T.White, J.Ihedigbo, J.Barret, M.Slater, D.Woodhead, etc. I remember reading tthat Tarpinian is a special teams maven so I assume thats the only place he can help this team this year. We have a lot of quality LB and with this short offseason theres no way he could have picked up enough to help out on D.
Mike Reiss (12:17 PM)
Alex, the Patriots like Tarpinian quite a bit and think he can not only help them on special teams, but also on defense. Had one player tell me they see a little Tedy Bruschi in him from an instincts standpoint. Also, you can't just place a player on injured reserve if he's healthy and Tarpinian is healthy again.
Sean (Richmond, Va.)
Mike - I was kind of surprised to look over the list of Captains for NE and see that neither offensive mainstay Wes Welker nor veteran Deion Branch were on the list. Do you think the combination of Welker having the most dropped passes last year and making all the "foot" comments during that notorious press conference doomed him from the spot, or is he just not viewed as Captain material?
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
Sean, I don't think it had anything to do with dropped passes or the foot comments with Welker. I just think on an offense led by Tom Brady, it's going to start there. Mankins covers your o-linemen, and then the question is whether you have a skill-position player. I think he would have been next in line, but then it gets to the point of "Do we really want to have seven captains?"
Borg (S Fla)
Not to burst all the Haynesworth man love, but verses the Giants, I saw either a great play or a guy flopping on the ground. I also saw a guy that looked very tired after just a few plays. What will be Albert's role...and how many snaps do you see him getting each game?
Mike Reiss (12:19 PM)
Borg, I saw the same thing. Some good, some not so good. I view Haynesworth's role to be part of a four-man rotation at DT on the four-man line, playing on a series-by-series basis to stay fresh. It could be perfect for him.
Mike, I know this has been discussed/debated all preseason long, but what are your thoughts on Ochocinco? Have you been seeing some improvements in chemistry/catching on as the weeks progressed?
Mike Reiss (12:21 PM)
Kevin, I'll start with some personal, behind-the-scenes thoughts. I have really been impressed with him. He seems sincere, works hard, and wants to do well. He is smart. I don't think the public perception matches the reality in all phases when it comes to Ochocinco. As a player, I would worry a bit about the lack of separation we've seen. I don't see him running by people any more. I think he's a good route runner and has better hands than he's shown to this point. His fit in this offense reminds me a bit of Jabar Gaffney.
Ken B (LaGrange NY)
Hi Mike,How do you think the Patriots will approach this game Offensively?The Dolphins have a very good Defense, which will likely give the Pats fits, Nolan is an excellent DC and has been able to shut down the Patriots in the past with less talent than he has now.If the Patriots stick to the short outs, screens, runs, then I feel they will be ok against this D... but if they try forcing the ball to Ocho, or even try making him a significant part of the Offense (IE - Lions game), limiting the opportunity to use Gronk, Hernandez, Woody, etc in his favor, I think things will get ugly.
Mike Reiss (12:22 PM)
Ken, sort of a cliche answer here, but I think getting off to a fast start and creating balance will be key. I like the Dolphins' defense and envision them giving the Patriots some problems.
Andy Leeco (Berkshires)
Cameron Wake and the health of our offensive line worries me most going into Monday night's game.
Mike Reiss (12:23 PM)
Andy, the injury report will be interesting today when it comes to the status of starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. He hasn't practiced since playing in the third preseason game.
People seem to be doubting Sergio Brown. While his playing time was limited lasted year, I think he could have been one of the drafts hidden gems. Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:25 PM)
Justin, Brown played 86 snaps last season (including penalties) and we remember he had the big tackle in San Diego, the day after he was promoted to the roster. Bill Belichick said on sports radio WEEI the other day that he's done nothing but improve. I think the coaches really like him, but until a player proves it, it's probably fair to look at the position as having some uncertainty.
John F (Walpole, Ma)
Why cut 2 rookie T/E's and then realize you need to go sign the 2nd best T/E in the Gronkowski family? Why play Meriweather in scrub time and declare to the league that he is being dumped thus killing any trade chance? Why carry two mediocre Iowa LBs' on your 53 man roster but cut James Sanders and Gerard Warren? Answers, Mike. I need answers.
Mike Reiss (12:28 PM)
John, the only answer I can think of on the two rookie TEs is that Bill Belichick didn't see them as good enough to make the roster/having enough upside to keep. He probably views them as a dime a dozen, and in Dan Gronkowski, feels he hasn't missed anything in the exchange. Another scenrio is that he overplayed his hand, thinking he could trade Darius Butler and waited too long, costing him one of the rookie TEs. I would have kept Yeatman. As for Meriweather, you have to play him so people can see what he can do. Don't think that was a biggie. as for the Iowa LBs, I wouldn't look at them like that. They have some things going for them. Sanders was a salary dump in my view ($2.8m) and Warren could still be back.
Dave R (Cambridge, MA)
Mike! On a scale of 1 to Alcatraz, how hard is it going to be to get off McCourty Peninsula this season?
Mike Reiss (12:29 PM)
Dave, one has to be impressed with McCourty, both on and off the field. He had a great rookie season. We saw some hiuccups in the preseason, but I still think he'll be one of the AFC's better corners this year. I'll give it a 6.5.
Jay (Adams, MA)
Regarding Merriweather, he strikes me as one of the players who's had the most difficulty adjusting to how the game is being called now (hits on defenseless receivers, etc). He came into the league trying to be Rodney Harrison Jr, and has struggled having to adjust to the "new" game. Merriweather has basically become a relic at age 27; you don't need an intimidator at safety, you need a third cornerback. Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:30 PM)
Jay, I don't think it's the hitting that ultimately led Meriweather out of town. I think it was his freelancing, not fitting in the scheme, and not falling into line the way Bill Belichick wanted. I think he can still play.
AJ (Cranston RI)
First time, long time. Assuming Dan Gronks is dropped by the team sometime during this season - what effect will this have on the team chemistry. If I worked with my bro and he was fired, I would be upset. Even assuming he stays the entire year (which I don't think will happen), could dropping his bro during the offseason hurt the Pats relationship with Rob Gronks in the long term? Any inside info on the Pats having a sitdown with Rob Gronks beforehand to hash this out?
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
AJ, I think they'll be fine here. These guys know it's a business. And I'll say this about Bill Belichick -- he might work the players hard, and the players might sometimes look at him with the idea that he's like a father you can never please, but most of them respect him greatly. Darius Butler, on his way out of town, spoke about how appreciated Belichick shooting him straight. I haven't heard of too many players getting the run-around from Belichick.
Mike, do the team regulates who does or does not speak to the reporters in the locker room? I am sensing that we have hearing a lot from Matthew Slater this year.
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
Not necessarily, MarkJ, but I think the players are aware of it. There are certain times when it's the leaders time to speak, and everyone else steps back, and players take their cue from the leaders.
Howard (Denver CO)
Mike do you see any chance the Alge Crumpler will be brought back this year or is his injury situation just keeping him from playing ?
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
Howard, I wouldn't close the door on that, although for now, I think they go with what they have.
David (North Attleboro,Ma)
I am picking the Patriots and the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Any thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
Would be a great matchup, David. On the podcast with Tedy Bruschi yesterday, I went Patriots-Giants. Truthfully, though, I hadn't put much thought into it.
Will we see Bodden lining up on the outside with Arrington in the slot? Until Arrington got hurt I believe it was the other way around.
Mike Reiss (12:35 PM)
Interchangeable there, Skye. Wouldn't be surprised if we see both.
How concerned should we be with the long snapper position? Is it hard to build chemistry in such a short time?
Mike Reiss (12:37 PM)
Pete, I think it's a concern and this is where I feel it's fair to hold the Patriots/Bill Belichick accountable. It hasn't turned out the way they drew it up. Lonie Paxton signs a mega-deal with the Broncos, and one could understand why the Patriots didn't want to match it. More than a million per year for a snapper? That's a lot. But when you turn around and give that money to Joey Galloway, Chris Baker and Fred Taylor -- who didn't work out -- that's some questionable decision-making. So when you look at it from that perspective, and think about how a snapper could cost a team a game, I think it's fair to question that one while noting that no team is perfect.
Hi Mike, a DB focused question here. My biggest frustration in watching the coverage units of the past few years has been that they couldn't stop anyone even when they knew what was coming. Butler especially stood out in my view, seeming to be overmatched by even slighty big wide receivers. Do you think this was BB's motivation in getting bigger at those positions? Winning those individual battles seemed to take more of a priority this season, along with playing more press coverage.
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
I think that was part of it, Jim. Butler, to me, is an example of a player who has all the physical skills but struggles to put it together technique-wise.
Matt D. (Portland, OR)
McCourty over Chung as the secondary captain? I thought that the Pats were grooming Chung for a leadership role. It would seem like that would be a good place to start. Then again, it says alot about McCourty to be named captain after his rookie year...
Mike Reiss (12:39 PM)
Stood out to me as well, Matt. I'd echo Bill Belichick's thoughts that just because you're a captain doesn't mean you don't lead. Chung will be a leader.
Hi Mike, very worried regarding the Safety position - - is Sergio Brown REALLY ready to be the full season starter? I'm thrilled with what we saw last year and liked his pprogress in TC but.....
Mike Reiss (12:40 PM)
Understand, Shmessy, and it's a fair concern. All I can say is that the coaches really like him. Mix him with Josh Barrett and there is potential there. Potential is a dangerous word, and it's a wild card of sorts, but I think they'll ultimately be OK. If it doesn't work out, they have Darren Sharper or another veteran on speed dial.
Kyle (Cranston, RI)
Mike, there has been a lot of debate on sports radio this week regarding the merits of BB's draft strategy because of the recent cuts of second round picks. Even though the picks might have been busts I think the strategy is sound; how can you argue with an approach that gives us extra 2nd and 3rd round picks every year?! Settle the fierce debate for us.
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
Kyle, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, which doesn't make for great talk radio. Is Bill Belichick a genius, as some suggest, when it comes to drafting? No. Is he a terrible drafter? No. When it comes to trading out of the first round, he's had mixed success with it. In 2009, it backfired. In 2003, it was brilliant (leading to Vince Wilfork the next year). So like anything else, full context is important when viewing this. Anyone can look at one year -- 2009 -- and create an argument for one side. That's too easy, though.
Hey Mike, hope you had a good summer. Good chance they bring G. Warren back after week 1? I thought he was solidly in that interior rotation with Pryor, Vince, and Love, or is 4 enough?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
Thanks Chris. Gerard Warren's suit and personal items were still in his locker at Gillette today. Not sure we can read too much into that, but it could be an indication he'll be back.
While I'm a firm believer in the passing game, Brady statistically struggles in Miami whats the chances we run the ball early to set up play action?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
I think that is very important in this game, Jerod. Have to be balanced early.
Mike, How much do you think Julian Edelman will see the field? I know he is low on the depth chart but I would love to see him be the full time kickoff/punt returner and see some action at reciever. He is a playmaker and should have the ball in his hands. Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:46 PM)
I see Edelman as the full-time returner (kickoffs and punts). At receiver, he's a No. 4/5 option at this point, unless he's part of a specific game-plan wrinkle.
What will S. Ridley's role be on this team? Is he just BJGE's backup or will he see a more extensive role in the offense? Possibly goal line/end of game?
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
Ross, I think he's third/fourth in line for carries, but do expect him to be active on the 46-man game-day roster. He plays on all the special teams.
Erik (South Texas)
Mike, what will Jermaine Cunningham's role be during this season? He seems to have been lost in the shuffle during the scheme shift. Obviously it's way too early to give up on him, but do you see him making his way back into the starting lineup during the course of the year?
Mike Reiss (12:48 PM)
Erik, Cunningham looks like the backup right end, playing behind Andre Carter right now. Injuries derail him this preseason, but even before then, I didn't think he was standing out.
Mike, one player that doesn't get enough recognition is Benny. The Pats need to run Benny 20-25 times a game and he put up great numbers, Brady will stay upright, and the Pats will win the Superbowl.
Mike Reiss (12:49 PM)
John, I think this is the balance that's tough to strike sometimes. You don't want to take the ball out of the hands of Brady too often, but I agree with you, they'd benefit from running it more at times.
Mike , You mentioned during camp that wright did not seem himself. How as his performance in 4th preseason and pratice now.
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
Just playing seemed to be uplifting to Wright. He's had a tough last nine months with the concussion, and then getting injured in camp.
Mike Reiss (12:50 PM)
Let's go for another 5 here...
I know this is a way down the line thought but it still intrigues me nonetheless. BJGE will be a free agent after this season. Is there anyway he comes back considering we have (via draft) 2 high picks behind him? I hope he stays because he's as consistent as they come. He's doesnt fumble and he's low maintenance/humble.
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
All guesswork at this point, 401, but given the nature of the position it wouldn't surprise me to see Green-Ellis look to maximize his earnings. Will the Patriots be the top bidder? My hunch says no, but it's just a hunch.
Mac (S Hadley)
Miami having extra energy and motivation due to REVENGE factor
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
That's what players were talking about today. They expect a fired-up Miami team. Have to start fast.
Wilson (King of Prussia)
Love the chat Mike. What is your take on how we break up the carries for our running backs BJGE, Woodhead, Ridley and Vereen?
Mike Reiss (12:54 PM)
The Patriots averaged 28.3 carries last season, so let's say it's around the same this year. A lot will depend on game-plan specific thoughts and which back fits best. Here is a projection for Monday night: 1. Green Ellis (15), Woodhead (7), Ridley (3), Vereen (3).
quick question (mass)
How do you think the team will stop reggie bush monday?
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
Tough matchup and one figures the Dolphins will try to get him the ball in different areas of the field. Dane Fletcher did some good spy work last year. Perhaps that's part of the plan.
Hey Mike... Any word on Eric Moore? Has he signed anywhere else since he was released?
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
Still not signed anywhere, Hunter.
Mac (S Hadley)
Thought Yeatman looked outstanding in preseason and thus do not understand keeping him and cutting Butler for original 53 man roster. Is D Gronchowski that much better?
Mike Reiss (12:57 PM)
Mac, Yeatman was still a work in progress, but I thought he showed enough to warrant sticking when factoring in upside/salary etc. I don't think Dan Gronkowski is a huge upgrade,if at all, although he has played in the NFL so he has that going for him. In the end, Belichick gets the benefit of the doubt here, but I'm with you, it seemed a bit curious to me when considering they apparently wanted three TEs for this game.
Mike Reiss (12:57 PM)
Almost as if Belichick might have out-thought himself there.
Lars (Bonn (Germany))
Who are the 7 players you see inactive monday night?
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
Guesses on possible inactive 7: Vollmer; Anderson; Tarpinian, Edds, Wendell, Cunningham, Price. Let's see how we do...
Dan (Manchester NH)
Did you notice if Gerard Warren's locker was still intact in the locker room the other day?
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Yes, although the nameplate was taken off above it.
Hey Mike, how was the Belichick movie last night?
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
Let's end on this one, Devin. I thought the Belichick documentary was well done. NFL Films is first class. Belichick is a fascinating guy. He doesn't let too many people get close to him. This was a glimpse inside. Well done. I would recommend it to any Patriots follower.
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. We'll have a special game-day chat on Monday. Catch up then.