Chat with Chris Forsberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPNBoston.com blogger Chris Forsberg stops by to chat about the NFL and 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.
Send your questions now and join Forsberg Friday at noon ET!
Chris Forsberg (12:00 PM)
Hey, everybody, thanks for dropping by. Let's tackle your questions for a bit.
Kyle (Cranston, RI)
Chris, what are you expecting from Dowling, Hernandez, Haynesworth, Woodhead? Which will play? Which will sit?
Chris Forsberg (12:03 PM)
I'll be interested to see if the guys that returned to practice yesterday are back out there today (we should know during the chat). Encouraging to see them back out there, especially Wright given the concussion. The Patriots could everyone healthy, but biggest boosts would come from Hernandez and Haynesworth (Wright, too, if he's able to jump right back in). Any health in the secondary would be a big lift, too.
gary harding (New Bedford, Mass.)
How do the Patriot get better play out of the free safety position? Josh Barrett does very little out there. a play maker there?
Chris Forsberg (12:05 PM)
Barrett's battling injuries, including thumb and hamstring issues, so that's tough for a guy trying to make his mark. But as you said, the Patriots need a little something more from the guy opposite Chung. Brown and Barrett have probably had more bad than good so far, but that doesn't mean they won't develop. I think the Patriots are giving them that chance to carve out roles.
Chris, are you eating more broccoli or anything like that?
Chris Forsberg (12:06 PM)
Unlike Welker, all of my success can be attributed to broccoli. My 2-year-old can't get enough of it.
Chris, how do you see Shaun Ellis impacting the game against his former team? It seems to me he always played well against the Pats so having him on our side feels like a win already.
Chris Forsberg (12:07 PM)
Well, if he does the exact opposite of Richard Seymour against his old team, that'd be a start. Ellis needs to keep his emotions in check and just play his game. I think it's good to have a little extra motivation -- and despite what the Patriots have said all week, that playoff loss will give a little for everyone -- and let's see if New England can harness it properly Sunday.
Scott K (Salisbury, MD)
Do you think the Pats will use Patrick Chung on Keller like they did on Gates in week 2? Keller has killed us with some big catches in the past and I know Belichick respects his abilities.
Chris Forsberg (12:09 PM)
I'm thinking the Patriots will have to add a wrinkle there. Jets are probably expecting this after watching the San Diego game. Maybe the Patriots rotate Chung and someone like Gary Guyton to pester him at the line. But can't agree more, tight ends and how each team defends them will be huge in this game.
Chris, how close to 100% do you expect Nick Mangold and is it wise to rush him back to match up with Vince Wilfork?
Chris Forsberg (12:10 PM)
Dipping into my Bill Belichick lexicon: No one is 100 percent this time of year. It is what it is. As Vince Wilfork noted, the Jets are a different team with him on the offensive line, so even at 75 percent, he gives them a spark. And considering the woeful Patriots pass rush (at least in terms of sacks), I can't imagine he'll be a liability.
Rex (New York)
Chris, how long will players wear pink cleats for? I can't get enough of them. P.s. what size shoes do you rock?
Chris Forsberg (12:11 PM)
Damian Moran (Ireland)
Hi Chris, I know it's a little early for awards but if there were on for 'Early Season Unsung Hero' it would surely have to go to Brian Waters. The right side of the line looked very vulnerable going into week 1 but Waters has been a rock fitting in seamlessly with the rest of the unit. His blocks on Ridley's touchdown run last week were fun to watch. On a related note, any chance we could get Dante Scarnecchia to coach the D-Line for a week or two? He knows how to stop the pass rush, surely he must have some new ideas on how to generate one.
Chris Forsberg (12:13 PM)
Imagine if the Patriots hadn't have signed Waters and the conundrum they'd be in after Koppen went down (that's not a knock on Ryan Wendell who could have stepped in at center if Connolly had to stay at guard), but Waters has been exceptional. I thought it was telling that all 97 of Ridley's yards came to the right side of the line last week. That's quite a compliment to Waters and rookie Nate Solder (along with the exceptional blocking of Gronkowski).
Scott K (Salisbury, MD)
What happens with Kevin Faulk when he is off PUP...will they find a roster spot for him? Our running back situation looks very good with Woodhead, Law Firm, Ridley all contributing and I am still eager to see Vereen.
Chris Forsberg (12:14 PM)
You saw a situation last week where Danny Woodhead tweaked an ankle. Doesn't sound like a big injury, but you never know when one of those guys will go down. Having Faulk around to jump into the fray is nice depth. His veteran experience can't hurt this team, though it's fun to watch Coach Faulk right now.
Fezyk (29th floor with a mountain view)
Is there real hope that our young safeties start to "get it" at some point this season, or are they what they appear to be through 4 weeks? Feels like we need a veteran signing ASAP, so the new guy can be up-to-speed in the defense by Thanksgiving.
Chris Forsberg (12:16 PM)
See, I just don't think you help your team long-term if you just give up now and bring in a Darren Sharper. You can do that in Week 10 and be fine. But if you honestly believe that Barrett is a safety of the future -- and he's shown glimpses in Denver and New England that he can be -- you gotta let him develop, even at the risk of giving up plays. Without that confidence, you'll never develop younger players.
Hi Chris. The Jets beat the Patriots in last years playoffs by flooding the secondary with DB's and playing bracket coverage on Welker. They used leverage on the outside receivers and lined up their defensive linemen wider to make Brady look inside more where they were waiting. Does this game plan work this time on the Patriots or is it a case of 'fool me once' when it comes to Belichick.
Chris Forsberg (12:18 PM)
We've seen situations -- even something like the preseason in Detroit -- where pressure and schemes can throw the offense off. If a team takes away one aspect of the passing game, or if it brings pressure, it's up to the Patriots to take advantage. Specifically, I think it's on the outside guys like Ocho and Branch to come up big. So let's say the Jets find a way to at least limit Welker, then it's on the outside guys to step up and do more than they've done in recent weeks. The big thing is how much can the Jets crowd the middle if Gronk and Hernandez are also on the field.
if hernandez does play can we expect him to be competetive coming back so early from injury, as well whats up with seabass?
Chris Forsberg (12:20 PM)
Remember that Hernandez was coming back from injury in last year's playoff game and I believe he only had one catch for 4 yards. I wouldn't expect too much unless that knee is feeling a lot better (the fact that he sat out Wednesday's practice suggests he's still working his way back a bit)... As for Vollmer, backs are tricky, especially with big guys. Might just need time to get that right. Drafting Solder and bringing back Light huge right now. Patriots couldn't have played their cards better on the offensive line with their moves (including Waters).
Jeff (Wisconsin )
How many touches does Ridley get this week?
Chris Forsberg (12:22 PM)
If Woodhead is out, let's say 10-15. I'm interested to see if he can build off last week, but I don't think it's the type of game where you thrust a rookie into 20+ touches.
Any chance this defense won't make Sanchez look like a Hall of Famer and restore his confidence? I can see a worse case senerio coming out of this. Pats with two divisional loses and the Jets with their swagger back. I think is a must win for the Pats
Chris Forsberg (12:24 PM)
It's not like the Patriots have made Chad Henne or Jason Campbell look like all-pros (oh, wait). Honestly, I think the Jets have a tough choice this week. They might want to get back to ground & pound, but throwing the ball might be the best bet against New England. I think they have success through the air, but the Patriots could really benefit from getting to the QB this week and trying to rattle Sanchez after the constant pressure last week vs. Baltimore.
Here is my bullish prediction: Leading receiver in this game is Ochocinco. Ridley runs for 100 yeards. D-line gets 4 sacks. Shonne Green runs for 28 yards. Jets get 4 first downs...in the whole game. Pats 34, Jets 13 (including garbage time TD). And finally, Sexy Rexy says postgame he will kiss Bill's rings.
Chris Forsberg (12:25 PM)
I think that might be the Amsterdamn talking there, Derek. If you're a Patriots fan, maybe you hope one of those things happen and aids your cause.
Josh (Lowell MA)
Chris how do you rate Brandon Spikes' performance for the Pats and do you expect his play to improve this year ?
Chris Forsberg (12:27 PM)
His snaps have ramped up the last two weeks and I thought he had a solid game in Oakland after two rather unremarkable performances vs. San Diego and Buffalo. We've all focused on Guyton stepping into Mayo's role, but as far as a guy that steps up and becomes the tackle machine in his void, I'd like to see Spikes ramp up his game there.
Sunday October 9, Dane Fletcher, pro-bowl middle linebacker, is born.
Chris Forsberg (12:29 PM)
He'll get his opportunities. Let's remember he wore the green dot at times during the preseason. The team clearly likes what he can do on the field and has confidence in him to lead the huddle.
Vikram (Title Town)
Having James Ihedigbo, do you think Patriots can get some minute insight on Jet's special team? We all agree that Jets special team does a good job in positioning the opponents offense.
Chris Forsberg (12:31 PM)
Belichick suggested that gauging former players is "vastly overrated." I think those type of guys can tell you like, "They like to kick away from so-and-so," or whatnot, but it's not a game-changer. Any good scouting team will know that sort of stuff from film.
Jason (Denver CO)
Chris, in retrospect, how do you look at the release of both Merriweather and Sanders this year considering our apparent struggles at the safety position so far ?
Chris Forsberg (12:33 PM)
Again, I think if the Patriots felt like they needed to move on and give guys like Barrett and Brown a chance, you gotta expect some growing pains. I can understand the moves, but when the secondary is getting torched like it is, you wonder if someone like Sanders could have helped. The Patriots have never shied from bold moves.
Vikram (Title Town)
Finishing move for the Patriots? Pile drive, people's elbow, stunner or RKO?
Chris Forsberg (12:35 PM)
Given all the yards they've given up this season, I'm going with something cheap like where they smash the guy over the head with a chair and let him get counted out.
I have Deion Branch as a WR on my fantasy team...i know your not talking about fantasy but can I expect more out of him this week?
Chris Forsberg (12:36 PM)
One catch (albeit a touchdown) over the past two weeks, I think you have to expect more. We all remember in Week 2 vs. San Diego he was Brady's favorite target.
Kevin Garnett (Lexington)
Yo Chris, when are you gonna stop talking bout the Pats and focus your attention back to the boys in the Garden? I'm getting bored at home.
Chris Forsberg (12:37 PM)
KG, man, good looking out for the players and all, but let's get this season going. You guys are going to ruin all that interest you drummed up last year. And no one's going to be pleading for you to come back like the NFL.
Ian (Ottawa, ON)
Do you think BB plays fantasy football and has Tom Brady on his team???
Chris Forsberg (12:38 PM)
No way. Far too many Green-Ellis TDs the past two seasons. If Belichick had Brady, he'd be doing those play-action routes to guys like Fletcher all the time for giggles.
Why has Rex been so quiet this week?
Chris Forsberg (12:39 PM)
Getting kicked in the teeth by the Ravens will do that to you. He still had his Hall of Fame blazer, so he's not adverse to a little fun.
Andrew (Leominster, MA)
Chris, please tell me you'll be indulging in some chocolate items this Halloween? Reiss sticks with fruit flavored candies.
Chris Forsberg (12:41 PM)
Is this true? Listen, I'm a big fan of Hot Tamales and Mike & Ike, too, but Momma Forsberg always used to bust out the full-sized candy bars for the kids on Halloween. Fat Little Forsberg ate 'em all up before Oct. 31. And first person that serves up Milk Duds get 'em tossed back at their house.
Andrew (Leominster, MA)
Chris, is it wrong that I'm a huge Pats fan AND a huge Rex Ryan fan? I find him hilarious, and wouldn't mind if he coached the Pats after BB left.
Chris Forsberg (12:43 PM)
I'm double-dipping on your questions Andrew, good stuff. I'm 100 percent with you. I think a lot of Rex's antics are a lot of fun and I gotta think covering his team would be a good time. That's no slight on Belichick's style, it just shows that there's other flavors besides vanilla, and you can still be successful that way.
Taylor (The Dalles, Oregon)
Let's get a little positive on the defense. They give up yards but are good in the red zone. Is there a psychological advantage there? Teams play the Pats knowing they need to score to stay in the game. Now, because of the stats, teams expect to score. But if they're stopped is that an ego blow to opposing offenses?
Chris Forsberg (12:44 PM)
The key right now, to me, is field position. I wrote it in the blog this morning, but all the Patriots touchdowns are forcing teams to go 80 yards for their own scores and if the Patriots can hold 'em up after 79, it's a success. They'll take 7 vs. 3 all season and win most of those battles. And I do give the D credit for red zone success. But, in general, those yardage totals gotta come down.
Chris, the reason everyone keeps saying the Pats don't blitz on D is that they're afraid of giving up the big play. Well, they never blitz and yet still give up more big plays than any other team in the NFL. Why not increase their blitz percentage and see what happens?
Chris Forsberg (12:46 PM)
I'm with you. If you're not getting to the quarterback AND giving up big plays while rushing 4, why not take a shot with sending a corner every now and then and see what happens. The Patriots have never been a blitz-heavy team, but you gotta think they'll shake it up at some point, especially if the struggles continue.
Bill Foshay (Chester NJ)
Chris huge Pats fan here - wondering what role you expect Chad Ochocinco to play in this week's game ??
Chris Forsberg (12:47 PM)
Just gotta see progress. He had a couple nice grabs in the 2-minute drill last week. Keep waiting for it to snowball. He could have some tough coverage this week depending on how the Jets line up Revis and Cromartie, but he's gotta continue to ramp up that production.
Will Hanynesworth play Sunday? If so how much of an impact could he be?
Chris Forsberg (12:49 PM)
He was back out at practice today, that's encouraging. I still think it's going to be a game-time decision, but Haynesworth showed in Week 1 how he can be an impact player in the middle out there. Even Rex Ryan said as much.
Matt D. (Portland, OR)
I think we are too quick to forget how many times Meriweather was caught out of position, missed the tackle, missed the big hit, or completely took a teammate out of the play.
Chris Forsberg (12:52 PM)
No doubt. I think that move made a lot more sense on the surface than Sanders (though Sanders was surely due more money than Pats probably wanted to spend). Either way, will be interesting to see how Barrett and Brown develop. Again, a healthy Barrett could be better than what we've seen at times early on.
Kevin (Houston TX)
Chris do you expect Taylor Price to be involved at all in the offense if Edelman does not play this week ?
Chris Forsberg (12:53 PM)
All depends on his own health. Sounds like he's ready to go, but hamstrings and receivers are tough. I think he can definitely fill Edelman's role as fourth wide receiver. I'm more interested to see who the Pats will lean on in returns if Edelman can't go. Slater can do kickoffs, but maybe Welker handles punts in a big game.
Andrew (Leominster, MA)
What's wrong with Milk Duds?! Delicious milk chocolate surrounding a smooth caramel!
Chris Forsberg (12:54 PM)
They're no Junior Mints.
I dont know if jets fans are allowed in here.. but i see it being a close game. I think BB wants jets to put revis on welker and he is going to trust ochocinco more this week. Pats have too many options. Its scary being a jets fan this week..
Chris Forsberg (12:55 PM)
Don't let 'em see you sweat around here, Craig. Sharks in the water. Don't worry about it, though. I'm sure plenty of Patriots fans are sweating too given the defensive struggles. Should be a fun matchup. Maybe the first of three again?
Chris Forsberg (12:56 PM)
Alright, let's wrap it up there. Enjoy the game this weekend, should be a a lot of fun. We'll see you back here next week.