Chat with Chris Forsberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPNBoston.com blogger Chris Forsberg stops by to chat about the New England Patriots.
Forsberg has been reporting on the Boston sports scene since 1999. With his video camera in tow, Forsberg covered everything from Massachusetts high school sports to Boston's pro sports teams. Follow him on Patriots blog.
Send your questions now and join Forsberg Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Forsberg (1:01 PM)
Good afternoon everybody (and good evening to those reading the transcript). Many thanks for dropping by. We'll tackle your Patriots questions for a while here.
I'm honored to be helping out my good friend Mike Reiss on the Patriots beat with the NBA in lockout mode. Here's hoping my Pats knowledge isn't too rusty. Let's dive in.
James (Derry, NH)
Hey Chris, Since it doesn't look like Rondo is going to be doing much for the foreseeable future, why don't the Pats look at him for their thin safety position. He's tall and fast and get up for jump balls. Just tell him don't let anyone behind you. Sadly, I'm only mostly kidding.
Chris Forsberg (1:03 PM)
Now there's a good question to ease in the guy who covered hoops the last two seasons. Ironically, Rondo was out at Patriots practice during training camp. He was a star quarterback in high school and if Brady ever goes down, he might make a solid backup to Hoyer and Mallett. But I think we need to see this new-look secondary in action before we worry too much (or start recruiting hoopsters).
Everyone seems to think that Brian Dabol has a big advantage after spending so much time with the Pats. Is this still true after the Pats completely revamped their defensive scheme and personel? Technically there is no tape on this defense unless you count the preseason.
Chris Forsberg (1:05 PM)
Forget his experience with the Patriots a decade ago, let's remember that Daboll was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland when the Browns rolled up 400 yards on the Patriots in last year's 34-14 loss. But like you said, I can't imagine there's any advantage -- besides maybe knowing some of New England's terminology and philosophies -- that will aid him too much in Miami. Daboll has his own set of worries in getting that offense to click than what's on the other side of the field.
Patrick (Keene, NH)
Do you think BB expected either of the waived TE'S to make it through? Or possibly he wasn't happy with their play.
Chris Forsberg (1:08 PM)
As Belichick explained this week, any time you release a player, you have to do so with the understanding that they're likely not coming back. That being said, it's certainly a calculated risk and, if I had to guess, I'd bet Belichick expected at least one of the two to clear waivers. I think having a third tight end is extremely important for this team given how much they operate out of two tight end sets. Leaning on just two tight ends would be extremely risky from a health standpoint (hence the addition of the second Gronkowski).
Chris, I love your writing on Patriots. I am believing that Ochocinco is a 3-year project. This is the contract year for Branch and Welker and both could be gone next year. The team needs a veteran WR, and the role of Ochocinco in this season is to learn the offense, and will be back next year as an insurance. Am I too easy?
Chris Forsberg (1:11 PM)
Three-year project?! Ocho turns 34 in January. He's certainly a work in progress at the start of this season, but I'm guessing by midseason the chemistry/learning curve talk will long be in the rearview mirror. While New England will spread out its offense given all the talented pass catchers, I think Ochocinco will thrive for that same reason (defenses can't focus on him).
John (South Boston)
Chris, I'm worried on offense. If both Branch and Ocho are unable to separate, can the Patriots beat Miami playing "9 on 9"?
Chris Forsberg (1:12 PM)
I think it's safe to assume that all that chemistry we gushed about between Branch and Brady over the years didn't just disappear this offseason. Let's get through Week 1 and if Branch's 2011 shutout streak is intact, then we can start to worry.
Adam (Keene, NH)
Love the Pats blog and it's a pleasure having you along for the ride this season Forsberg. I have an iPhone and check the regular site periodically when away from home. For a while all the videos posted in this blog were accessible from my iPhone but now it displays a 'not authorized for playback' message. Any chance this isn't permanent?
Chris Forsberg (1:14 PM)
Ooooh, technology questions also encouraged. I can't say this for certain, but I know ESPN upgraded its video players and I'm guessing getting those videos to play on mobile devices is a top priority. I know the company is insanely high on making sure you can access ESPN content on the go, so it's probably just a matter of time before it works across all mobile platforms. Sit tight.
Brandon (Dartmouth, MA)
Hey Chris, what worries you the most about the Dolphins? On the flipside, what is the Patriots' biggest advantage heading into the game? Thanks
Chris Forsberg (1:16 PM)
Biggest worry: The play of the offensive line (is Light ready? can Solder hold the fort if Vollmer can't go? Is Waters ready for RG?) against the Miami rush. As we've seen in the playoffs vs. the Jets and preseason vs. the Lions, a pass rush has a way of taking the Patriots offense out of the game... That said, I think the Dolphins are going to struggle to put points on the board. Even though it's a new-look defense for the Patriots, there's too much talent not to thrive while getting comfortable together.
John F (Walpole, MA)
Aren't Albert Haynesworth's verbal post mortems on his Red Skin experience getting old? I would respect him more if he would just say " I play for the New England Patriots now" and stop the ripping the Skins. Shut up and sack someone Albert.
Chris Forsberg (1:18 PM)
One of the biggest story lines of the preseason is just how excited he is to be in New England. Now, I'd assume he'd probably feel that way in any of 31 other locker rooms after getting out of D.C. I think the references to his past will subside now that the games are starting. The focus, as you suggest, will be on whether he's getting to the quarterback or not.
Sham (West Springfield MA)
Whats taking so long for the Pats to sign Randy MOSS!!! Ochocino tweeted that if randy mossed signed wit the pats there will be more single coverage for him. Its a win win situation for the PATS!
Chris Forsberg (1:22 PM)
Remember this isn't Madden 12. There's more that goes into the NFL than putting together the best team on paper. You never rule out the possibility -- as Brady said -- but the Patriots like their current depth at wide receiver. The only reason it really intrigues me is because the Pats don't have that deep threat on the roster right now, but Brady earned an MVP last season without one either.
Nathan (Lexington, MA)
Regarding the releases of Meriweather and Butler - how much do you think is due to lack of ability/development, vs their skills not fitting in with the new 4-3 attack-based scheme?
Chris Forsberg (1:24 PM)
The stats from last year for both players are not flattering. When targeted, defenses were very successful against both players. With a revamped defensive front, I think the team is putting a premium on being able to cover tight enough to make that pressure worthwhile. As Belichick is fond of noting, it all goes hand in hand. Meriweather and Butler, despite their lofty draft status, simply weren't showing the improvement the team desired.
Casey (Plymouth, MA)
Hey Chris, who do you see as a breakout player for the Pats this year (offense, defense or both)? I see someone like Brandon Spikes potentially taking over a game with the ability to work with a little more space despite the fact that he's not one of the "faster" LBs in the league...although any film I see on him he looks very "sudden" for lack of a better term. He won't chase down a lot of guys, but his mechanics and awareness seem to put him in the right places at the right times. Same with Dane Fletcher
Chris Forsberg (1:27 PM)
Is Patrick Chung too easy of a pick? Given the overhauls in the secondary, I simply see him as insanely important to that group. I think he emerges as the leader of the defensive backfield based on his play.
Upset!!Upset!!Upset!!! Miami 24 Pats 23.Book it!!!
Chris Forsberg (1:29 PM)
Brady is 4-5 in Miami for his career, so anything is possible. Just don't see the Patriots dropping this one.
It seems like BB's plan is to rotate our enormous DL during drives to keep the players fresh. But what happens when a team (like the Lions a few weeks ago) goes up-tempo and leaves no time for substitutions? Who do we have on DL that can play a whole drive without getting gassed? What is our option here? Seems like a weakness waiting to be exploited.
Chris Forsberg (1:32 PM)
Certainly something to watch. It's on the Patriots to force stops and incompletions in order to get those sub packages on the field. But if it works to plan, and if you believe guys like Haynesworth who say they enjoy the idea of rotating reps, it has potential to keep New England fresh (which should also aid the pass rush).
Hey Chris, I am really excited to see what Aaron Hernendez can do with a year under his belt, he showed some real promise in the preseason. Do you think 700-800 yards and 6-8 TDs is a possibility for him? I love what he can do in the two minute offense and he has the explosiveness to get open down the middle.
Chris Forsberg (1:35 PM)
That might be the most reasonable expectations I've heard voiced for Hernandez this season. After putting up 45 catches, 563 yards, 6 TDs last season, it seems most have him pegged for something like 80 catches. I agree he has monster potential this season. Staying healthy will be key.
Chris, do you expect the rookie RBs to see any snaps on Monday? Ridley looked good in the pre-season, but will that translate to PT in real games?
Chris Forsberg (1:36 PM)
Health is my concern. I think the Pats can lean on Green-Ellis and Woodhead until their comfortable with the readiness of the rookies.
Matt D (Portland, OR)
I know what Haynesworth meant by his "sleeping giant" comment, but I just can't stop thinking "Oh, you mean now you are ready to do the job that teams pay you millions for? How nice of you to let us know..."
Chris Forsberg (1:39 PM)
It sounds like it was a pretty frustrating situation for all sides. Again, it's up to Albert to show he can be the sort of player he was in Tennessee in 2007 and 2008 before we can assume it was more the situation than his own doing.
Nick (New Hampshire)
After watching the special teams last night, do you see the slower run up allowing for more large returns on non touchbacks and the importance of special teams to drop less than everyone was expecting?
Chris Forsberg (1:41 PM)
I'll be interested to see how the numbers play out, particularly as the weather gets colder around the league. That said, I think we've seen how the additional 5 yards can be a curse and blessing. In Detroit, the Lions did a fantastic job dropping that ball inside the 10 and forcing starts before the 20. It's up to teams to figure out how to get better starting position on a consistent basis.
grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)
Also, who's taller, you or Reiss?
Chris Forsberg (1:42 PM)
I've got the height advantage, but Reiss once dunked on me in pickup hoops.
Straight Cash Homie (Rand, West Virginia)
Make sure Bill don't lose my number!
Chris Forsberg (1:43 PM)
Rand U's not publicly listed in the phonebook?
Vinny Mac (McMahonsion - Greenwich, CT)
Chris, I think it's time that Tom Brady made a heel turn. I think an edgy side of him coming out would do wonder for him, on and off the field. Perhaps we can make the turn by having him blindside tackling Ochocinco after a dropped pass, then in the post game presser, have him tell all the reports he did it all for the money and not for the stinking fans! Gold Chris, Gold!
Chris Forsberg (1:46 PM)
Let's go ahead and make a list of questions that I will absolutely answer. If they reference:
* Apple products
* Celtics basketball
* WWF wrestling.
I think Brady screaming at the offense and pretty much venting at anything less than a touchdown is as close to that as we're going to get. What if we gave him face paint and bicep tassels and played the Ultimate Warrior's theme song as he came out of the tunnel?
Hey, don't go skipping my questions like Reiss does!!Only kidding. Why should I think we won't see the same old thing (L) when a big physical front attack out O line and pressures Brady???????????
Chris Forsberg (1:48 PM)
Reiss's answer-per-minute rate blows mine out of the water. No way he leaves any question standing. The O-line is certainly a concern. Rest easy knowing Waters played extremely well last year in KC (no sacks in over 1,000 regular-season snaps). And the young talent of Vollmer and Solder -- when healthy -- is key.
What can we expect from Waters at RG on Monday? With only a week in the system, is he really that much of an upgrade from Dan Connolly?
Chris Forsberg (1:49 PM)
I think he starts -- maybe rotates a bit if Connolly is healthy enough -- and the Patriots gauge where he's at on the field. As long as the switch to right guard went well, he's got potential to be a key addition.
grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)
Celtics question: best thing for the C's to have a half season? Old guys stay fresh and hopefully avoid injury? Otherwise, no season means an end to this Big Three, right?
Chris Forsberg (1:52 PM)
Oh, I gotta answer the C's question... A shortened season could be great (the Celtics started the last two seasons red hot before fading; so maybe they'd be a high seed) or it could be terrible (the last lockout featured back-to-back-to-backs; incredibly daunting for this team). I don't even want to think about no season yet.
HHH (Degeneration-X Compound)
Chris, you have the right idea for Brady, but wrong music. Think about how perfect it would be if Brady walks out to MY music "Time to play the game!" Hey - Haynesworth has clearly made the babyface turn, why not turn Brady heel? I think Belichick should make the turn with him and call babyfaces like Welker "pencil-neck geeks!"
Chris Forsberg (1:53 PM)
The Celtics used HHH on the JumboTron during the playoffs and it got the crowd fairly amped. If Brady carries a sledgehammer, I'm in.
Chris Forsberg (1:53 PM)
Thanks to everyone for dropping by. We've got a two-hour Reiss/Forsberg doubleheader marathon session scheduled for Monday in Miami. Drop by then and let's get amped for Monday Night Football.
Chris Forsberg (1:54 PM)
Thanks again for all the questions everybody. Even those who called me Mike.