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 (11:57 AM)
Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Going to get some things settled and shooting for a 12:05 start.
Mike (11:57 AM)
Thanks for joining in.
Hi Mike,Let me preface this by saying I love Bill Belichick but at the same time I loved your column on ?Pointing the finger at Belichick?. It?s so frustrating to watch Tom Brady years getting wasted year after year. Even die-hard fans will admit with this kind of defense maybe we have missed the superbowl bus this year too. Agree?
Mike (12:04 PM)
Going to start with a long answer here, Harsha.
Mike (12:08 PM)
There are a few thoughts I'd like to pass along in this forum about that piece. I wrote stronger than the norm after the game and the important things for me to pass along are: 1. It's never personal. Bill Belichick is the best coach in Patriots history and arguably of all-time. I do think, however, it's fair to scrutinize the defense and decision-making in putting it together; 2. By no means am I suggesting it's time to let Belichick go. That would be nuts. The point I hoped to make was that just as a player works to get better, I think Belichick can do the same when it comes to decision-making within the defense and development of players; 3. Context is important. The team is 5-2, one of the best in the AFC, and has had a great run under Belichick. I was writing with the thought that the defensive shortcomings of Belichick-led defenses in recent years are disappointing given the great opportunity this team currently has with Tom Brady; 5. It's my job to analyze and hopefully share an informed opinion. I'm not perfect by any means, but if I'm not doing that, positively and critically, I'm not doing my job.
Mike (12:09 PM)
That's a long answer. Apologies to start out by getting us bogged down with that. I just wanted to share some of those thoughts. I wish my piece from last week -- on how the '11 Colts are making the '08 Patriots look good and it's a credit to Belichick -- had generated a similar response to that one.
Mike (12:10 PM)
Our lead-in question today is "What do you think is the key for the Patriots against the Giants?" I'll add some answers as we make our way through the chat.
Do you see the team getting taylor price involved this week against the giants more. Its time to see what the young guy can do because chad ochocinco is not producing like he should.
Mike (12:11 PM)
Logan, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has already said they want to get Price in the game more. Tedy Bruschi made the point that he wouldn't be surprised if Ochocinco is inactive. I could see that.
Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada Go Pats Go!!)
Hi Mike I was really upset when I read the report concerning the arrest and allegations concerning Julian Edelman this week. Do you think the Patriots will eventually cut him and perhaps say his performance on the field is what caused his potential release? Edelman is one of my favourite players and I would hate to see him go. Do you think he will be gone regardless of his innocence or guilt? How is his ankle doing? Thanks for taking time to chat with us.
Mike (12:12 PM)
Hi Har. I think the Patriots will let the legal process play out before making any decision. As for his ankle, Edelman is not listed on the injury report.
SamB (Amherst, MA)
Mike, in your opinion, do you think BB should do more to explain some of his decision making to the fans who support the team, both emotionally and financially?
Mike (12:13 PM)
Sam, my feeling is that most fans just want the team to win. I think it's about wins more than explanations.
Jay (Concord, NH)
Bill is one of the all time greats, but is it time for some new blood with the coordinators? And, you can mask okay secondary play with an aggressive front line - why can't we generate more pressure?
Mike (12:16 PM)
I don't think so, Jay. I think Bill O'Brien and Matt Patricia/Pepper Johnson are good coaches. From my outside perspective, I think the bigger aspect of this would be having someone work with Bill Belichick, and present opposing views, from a personnel perspective. Belichick would still have the final call, but just having another voice, maybe an independent type voice to bat around ideas/counter-thinking, could be beneficial. Maybe they have that in place, and I'm completely misreading it. It's just a thought.
Brian (Boston, MA)
What's up with Mankins? It seems like he does his worst during bigger games and also it seems like it is very easy for opponents to get in his head. It was obvious that during the melee in which he became livid, he wasnt the same player. You could see Pittsburgh toying with him to get those false starts.
Mike (12:18 PM)
Brian, I don't think Mankins has played at an All-Pro level this year. I don't know about the Steelers getting in his head, but I do think he's the "enforcer" on offense and usually he's in the middle of the "fight" to establish a physical presence. Right now, I'd say "good player having a bit of a down year." Have to believe it will turn around. This week, that OL is a key so it would be a good week to do it.
Ryan (Missing MA)
Mike I was as disapointed as anyone with the lost last week, but isn't there such thing as a good loss especially to a team as good at the Steelers? Keeping this team grounded is important and maybe a gut check coming out of a bye was a good thing for them. Prior to the bye this team, specifically the D looked hungry! Could this be just what the doctor ordered? Thanks and always appreciate the hard work you put it! Keep it up!
Mike (12:20 PM)
Thanks Ryan. As Jerod Mayo said after the game, if the team learns from it, it's worth going through. So I could see that. The one thought I have is that the Steelers' game might have shown us this defense, particularly the secondary, doesn't have the personnel to stop the top attacks. But, of course, that remains to be seen.
Hey Mike,Question about Ochocinco. I was at the Steeler game this last weekend, and not only did he drop several passes in warm ups, but he looked completely out of it on the field during the game. Even on the sideline I could clearly see Brady chewing him out after the failed deep pass attempt late in the game. Perhaps most telling was that when Branch was injured in the 4th Quarter, Price came in, and not Ochocinco. Does it seem to you that Chad has slipped further down the depth chart? Also, hypothetically, do you think the Pats would have had more success if they had re-signed Randy Moss instead of bringing in Ochocinco?
Mike (12:22 PM)
Steve, I don't think that was a good route by Ochocinco on the long incompletion. I wouldn't be surprised if that play was the spark for Bill O'Brien to say they wanted to get Price more involved. But, one correction, at the end of the game, Ochocinco came on for the 2 snaps after Branch took himself out. On Moss, I think it was time to move on.
Matt (Elon NC)
I think the key against the Giants is to bounce back quickly and come out strong so we can get the momentum early. Hopefully we'll be able to maintain it the entire game; we haven't been doing that well.
Mike (12:23 PM)
Thanks Matt. And with "breaking" news from Mike Garofolo of the Newark Star Ledger that RB Ahmad Bradshaw has a cracked bone in his foot and is out indefinitely, that could make it easier for the Patriots to do so.
Dane (Concord, NH)
BB says he makes decisions that are best for the Team and Eric Mangini says that he is trying to reconcile with BB, but it is a work in progress. Why doesn't BB pick up the phone and hire Mangini as his defensive coordinator to help fix this defense?
Mike (12:24 PM)
I don't see it happening, Dane, but I get your point. Too much repairing to do there for that scenario to come to fruition in my view.
Todd (Boston )
It turns out the Patriots didn't save a dime THIS year, by cutting Bodden last week. As a loyal fan this is frustrating to understand. I would love an explanation why this occurred.
Mike (12:26 PM)
Todd, I think it comes down to Bill Belichick's view that Bodden was no longer invested in the team. If he comes out and says that, he violates his own rules with players that everything stays in house. Belichick might consider that other players would see that and wonder if Belichick has their back. Belichick seldom, if ever, criticizes a player publicly. Players notice that, whether it's them or someone else.
What is your feeling about Vollmer coming back and getting thrown right into the mix? He didnt look to good to me.
Mike (12:27 PM)
Looked rusty, John, playing in a rotation with Solder.
Randy Moss (Still sitting by the phone)
I wish I had a dollar for every time my name was mentioned in these chats!
Mike (12:27 PM)
Do you really need any more dollars, Randy?
Hey Mike, What was up with Jerod Mayo not starting the game? What about the green dot? Is this simply a case of being cautious about the injury? I can't remember the last time an injured player who is normally a start come back and not resume the starting role. Seems to me the Pats think you're either ready to go, or not. Thoughts? #Pooowwwww
Mike (12:28 PM)
Think you nailed it. They wanted to ease Mayo back in and it's hard to give him the green dot when you're only planning on playing him 40-50 percent of the snaps. Sometimes it isn't black and white, as there are shades of gray on that stuff.
Ron Mexico (VA)
is it time to bring in sharper yet? not necesarily for a lot of playing time, but more of a veteran/crumpler type role. mccourty is the captain of the secondary and its his second year. chung, arrington, molden, all fairly young.
Mike (12:29 PM)
RM, just don't see how you can sign a player mid-season and expect a leader out of that player, especially someone who hasn't been here in the system.
hello mike you have now made 2 prediction against the Pats and 1 against the jets. In the Bills stretch you said the Pats are going to lose one of those game and they did you also predicted that Pats are going to lose to the Steelers and they lost you also predicted that Jets are going to win their last two and they you are scaring me mike are the Pats going to lose the Giants your thought
Mike (12:31 PM)
I get enough of them wrong, so I wouldn't read too much into predictions, Aakoko. But I like the Patriots to bounce back this week. An angry Patriots team is usually a winning Patriots team, and I think they'll be able to come up with enough resistance defensively, and enough protection for Tom Brady, to win a game played in the 20s to low 30s.
Corky (Destin Fl.)
Hi Mike:I know there is a lot of dooms day stuff cast about after the Steelers lost, but the fact remains time is really clicking off on taking advantage of Toms prime years. To make a push this year we will have to play the guys we have, which brings me to my question. Can Wes pull a Troy and play some slot corner, he is in shape for it and would be a interception machine! We are desperate for defensive back help, why not at least try this on 3rd and long plays, I bet you he'd get zero passes thrown his way after the 1st pick...
Mike (12:32 PM)
Corky, if anything, I think you want to go in the other direction with Welker. He takes a lot of hits and his value to the offense is such that it's just too risky, in my view, to be thinking along these lines.
tim g (boston)
simple question, do you think molden and adams have ANY potential?
Mike (12:32 PM)
Earl of Mangwich (Keyboard, MA)
Mike, Meriweather, Bodden and Sanders were all servicable veterans and knew the Pats' D, even if some didn't adhere to it at all times. Given the salary considerations, and lack of special teams contributions, or maybe even lack of leadership qualities, I realize why they were let go, but to do so without equivalent replacements in mind and the heir apparent on the sidelines/IR, I find to be a bit perplexing. Do you forsee a depth veteran signing to come in at the 1/-way point for 4th CB or 3rd S, or will Coach Belichick put stock in the front-7, that they will more consistently and successfully create an interior and outside pash rush to take the pressure off the secondary?
Mike (12:35 PM)
Earl, nothing would surprise me, but I don't sense anything is imminent. The Sanders example is one I point to when wondering if Bill Belichick had someone he respected to say, "Are we sure we want to make this move?" Seems to me he'd be the perfect type guy to settle things down in the secondary from a communication-based perspective. I understand why some are frustrated that the team would pay Ochocinco $6m this year (between signing bonus and salary) and maybe felt Sanders was too expensive at $2.7m. It's never apples to apples, but it's one of those decisions that doesn't seem like it was thought through as thoroughly as maybe it could have been.
Mike, given the proliferation of tight end production around the league, I feel an underrated part of the Patriots' success this year has been using Ninkovich as a shadow for Gates, Keller, etc. He has pretty much shut them out by being physical at the line of scrimmage. Given that he is not a huge pass rush threat, this seems to be a great role for him. That said, were you as surprised as I was that they strayed from that against Pittsburgh? Heath Miller was allowed a free release and he killed the Patriots. I know they were concerned about the deep receivers, but I feel this was a coaching angle that was overlooked. Thoughts?
Mike (12:36 PM)
Great point, Vincent. What I saw was Miller going free early, then the Patriots adjusting and putting Ninkovich into that type of role where he was jamming more at the line. I agree with your thoughts.
do you think Shaun Ellis is better than Anderson coming off the edge, seems like our pass rush needs more speed, agree?
Mike (12:37 PM)
Greg, I'd say Ellis is stronger against the run, while Anderson gives more speed from a pass-rush perspective. If only we could turn them into one player. We could call him Shaun Anderson.
Regis (Braintree MA)
Mike do you think that Brady will try to stretch the field against the Giants secondary with Taylor Price getting more snaps on Sunday? I think if they at least try to go down field a couple of times it will start to open up some of the underneath stuff. Your thoughts?
Mike (12:38 PM)
Regis, if he has time -- and that's a big "if" against a solid pass rush like the Giants -- I do think they'll take some shots.
Hey Mike, is it too early to talk probowl for Gronkowski (87)? Also, do you think the line is stronger with Volmer, Solder pride of Boulder, or both?
Mike (12:39 PM)
Wesley, I think Gronkowski deserves Pro Bowl to this point. What you have to like about him is his ability to be a difference maker in both aspects -- pass-catching and blocking. Great pick by Belichick and the Patriots.
Arjuna (Durham, NH)
Mike, Giants have a banged up secondary, but also have a susceptible front to the run. Which do you see the Pats offense taking advantage of more?
Mike (12:40 PM)
Arjuna, I don't think it's one or the other. But I think an important aspect of this matchup is establishing the run to set up play-action possibilities. It's going to be hard to beat the Giants, with that pass rush, if the Patriots are in long-yardage situations too many times.
Mike, Remember the game when Colts played the Dolphins a couple of years ago on a Monday night, the Dolphins did everything to keep the ball off from Peyton and the colts had about 12-14 min of TOP but the Colts still won the game. Agreed Miami doesnt have the same level of talent as Pittsburg but Brady could have tried a little more in getting those balls downfield. Do you agree ?
Mike (12:41 PM)
I do remember that game, Summi. I really believe they tried against the Steelers. They just couldn't excute, whether it was getting open, running the right route, protecting long enough. Frustrating day.
munchkin (glenwood springs, co)
The offense has to get on track again. In order to do that the O-line will have to play better against the Giants formidable pass rushers. Beyond the front four the Giants are a soft-shell of a defense, just as the Pats are.Talent evaluation in the Drafts and Free Agency; until that gets better this team will win enough to make the playoffs but the Grand Prize will elude them. Brady's talent will put a lot of W's in the win column but the sum of the parts here is not championship caliber. Belichick is still a great coach but there have been too many misses in player evaluation to not conclude there needs to be another STRONG voice in the room. Bill is not optimizing his, ownerships', the teams' and the fans opportunities to bring more Championships to Foxboro.
Mike (12:42 PM)
Thanks munchkin. My daughter asks to stop by Dunkin' Donuts every day. She's a big fan of yours.
nate (oxon hill md)
where is lawyer milloy mike ? I know he played last year
Mike (12:43 PM)
Milloy was never signed this year. That could be a fun story to write. Imagine that? Not sure how much he has left.
Dan (Leominster, MA)
Mike, I believe the key to bouncing back is controlling the pass rush, giving Brady time. Heck, that's the key to the whole season!
Mike (12:43 PM)
I agree, Dan.
The KEY for a bounce back win is pretty simple. Taylor Price he is going to play third wide receiver and do so well he will also cut into Deion Branches plays at some point. On defense listen to Rodney stop being soft get in someones face and bump them at the line and disrupt their route. (Sometimes it seems like NFL Coaches think to hard)
Mike (12:43 PM)
Kyle (Dudley, MA)
Hey Mike, Im a bit confused still as to why dowling was placed on season ending IR. from my understanding, his injury could heal up in possibly 4 to 6 weeks. Understandably, we needed a roster spot and im sure the coaches had grown very impatient. But I feel that fellow second round pick shane vereen has been just as disappointing, and now that kevin faulk has returned and instantly played the majority of snaps sunday, vereen is essentially useless and there is no need to give him a roster spot.i would have preferred to see vereen somehow deactivated since his role is redundant with kevin faulk and danny woodhead both on the roster, and pray that dowling gets healthy for the end of the season and the playoffs. thats the weakest position on the team in my opinion, and runningback is the least of our concerns. thanks and keep up the great work!
Mike (12:45 PM)
I know what you're saying, Kyle, but you can't place a player on injured reserve if he's not injured so it would be hard to do so with Vereen and stay within the rules. I know we joke about the "Foxborough Flu" and stuff like that, but I think you nailed it -- they needed roster spots and just couldn't wait for Dowling.
Hi Mike, it has become quite clear that since Scott Pioli left Bill Belicheck has had a lot more misses than hit's when it comes to the draft. While you can say that drafting is not an exact science, and lots of teams have unsuccessful drafts, I don't think any team has had as many draft picks as BB has had, over the last few years and most have not panned out. Do you think it's time for Mr. Kraft to help BB and hire a GM this offseason?
Mike (12:50 PM)
I'm not sure I agree, Nick. The '10 draft, and this year, still have potential to be promising in my view. I think '09 looks average at this point. You're not going to have a GM come in over Belichick. I think you're asking for trouble there. More than anything, I think the idea of empowering some others within the organization (someone like Floyd Reese, who has outside experience in other systems/teams) to be more involved in the final process might help. That might be happening right now, and I don't know it, so it's a lot of speculation on my end. To sum it up, I just think Belichick could potentially be helped by another trusted voice. I'd point out that dissent can be healthy as long as everyone has the same goal in mind -- to do what's best for the team.
Daniel McBrayer (District Heights MD)
Hey Mike, I'd like to say that I was disappointed in the route Chad ran Sunday. I had long waited for Chad to do something to aid the offense. But I think now is the time to move on to Taylor Price. Of whom I have also been waiting to see. The biggest disappointment for me is that Price and Tate have suffered due to the move of getting Chad. You're thoughts?
Mike (12:51 PM)
I agree, Daniel. When you make the trade for Ochocinco, you're indirectly affecting the growth and development of those at the position. I vividly remember watching training camp and seeing Ochocinco/Welker/Branch working with Brady for most of the day, with Price/Tate/Edelman working with Hoyer and Co. That happened a lot. ...
Mike (12:52 PM)
... I think there's this idea that you just pick a young player in the draft and he comes on to your team and he's a difference-maker. That's not the way it works. You have to develop him, build up his confidence at times, endure the inevitable ups and downs that come with a young player. I think this is an area the Patriots could look at themselves criticially and ask, "Are we doing everything we need to do to help our young players grow?"
John (South Boston)
Mike, the Giants have reviewed the tapes from last week's Steelers' game and can still remember how they beat the Patriots the last time these two teams played. It's all about toughness - especially up front! The Giants' defense is going to attempt "manhandle" the Patriots' offense. The Giants will be coming right at Matt Light and Logan Mankins all day. They will be constantly jamming the Patriots' receivers at the line. The linebackers and safeties will be hitting anythinh that moves in the middle - even Welker if he plays. The Giants' offensive line will be playing tough too! If there is no Patriots' pass rush - well, we know what good quaterbacks and receivers can do. Don't you think it's time for this team to step up and start to play with a little more "edge" if the Patriots want to win on Sunday?
Mike (12:53 PM)
Right on, John. The Patriots should play angry. As Brady said this week, the mood around the team is not good. They're all mad.
Albert #92 (Foxboro)
I know I am saying that I am still knocking the rust off but how long do you think I have to get the rust completely out of my system?
Mike (12:54 PM)
LOL. That's a prettu big system.
Mike (12:54 PM)
Seriously, you'd think we're at about the time that the "knocking off rust" period should be over.
Not to pump a competitor, but Boston Globe this week on its "Inside the Playbook" series broke down a third down where the Steelers were able to convert a 3rd and 11 and it seems like it mostly boiled down to communications problems between the secondary and the front 7. How much of the Patriots' defensive problems are just a result of miscommunications / poor assignments by new players and not just lack of talent? The thinking being that miscommunications can be cleaned up, talent obviously is what it is for the rest of year
Mike (12:55 PM)
I did see that, Alex, and learned something myself watching Greg A. Bedard and Jermaine Wiggins diagram that play. Overall, I think it starts with communication, but it's a mix of the two. Not one or the other.
Danny Woodhead (Bench)
Whats going on Mike? I can't seem to get on the field and produce like I did last year. And now coach is putting someone that just came off the PUP list ahead of me? I thought I earned that spot last year.
Mike (12:56 PM)
Hi Danny. It's never about you did, it's always about what you can do now. Keep plugging. You know I'm always pulling for the short guys. We have to stick together.
Roger (Washington, DC)
Isn't the key to stopping Eli Manning to disguise the coverages? Seems like he's easily fooled, and can really rack up the INTs. However, the Pats seem to defend quite predictably, as we saw in the Steelers game. Any sense that the defense will be more complex this week?
Mike (12:56 PM)
Roger, I think that might be the "old" Eli. He's been very good this year. Not easily fooled.
Sean (Indian Land, SC)
I think we need to be effective running the ball with both Faulk, Green Ellis and Ridlay then mix in the dynamics of our receivers/TE's and throw T Price in there to confuse everyone.
Mike (12:57 PM)
James (Derry, NH)
Hey Mike, It seems like when the Pats loose, the opposition gets a good rush with 4 linemen, and drops 7 into coverage with a combination of man and zone. (Except Buffalo where they just kept turning the ball over.) Most of the blame has been on the o-line for these losses, but I?m starting to wonder if the receivers and tight ends have to take some of the blame as well. If they can?t get open against average cornerbacks (like Pittsburgh?s corners) and the plan is to throw the ball, I?m not sure how Brady?s supposed to win the game. Is that fair? Thanks and keep up the great work.
Mike (12:58 PM)
James, I feel like I sound like Bill Belichick, but it's a combo. On some plays, you see WRs open, or coming open, but the line doesn't protect long enough. On others, the line protects but the pass-catchers aren't getting open. Sometimes Brady just misses them.
I still dont understand the rational behind the CB situation.Belechick preaches how this is a passing league and the need for multiple good corners. Is he seriously thinking that Phillip adams and antwan molden give the team a better shot and have more talent than Bodden, Butler, whilhite?? A position of strength coming into the season is now the weakest on the team. Even if they are not falling in line (as BB would say) i find it very difficult to believe they are a better team who is in the hunt for a SB with basically 2 CB's..What are they gonna do??
Mike (12:58 PM)
Right now, Matt, I think the answer is "coach them up." This is what they have and they have to make the best of it.
The 2 keys in the patriots bouncing back this week would have to be 1. the play of the Oline (Keep Brady clean) & 2. Pass defense (Cover someone)
Mike (12:59 PM)
I said last week that I thought this (Steelers) could be a good loss for the team. While I may have been right, I really wish I had been wrong! As for the Giants, I'm focusing on the O-Line giving Brady time and BB et al. to come up with a workable defense. Belichick and crew have been so much at making week-to-week adjustments in the past, and we all know they need to adjust after last week's thrashing.
Mike (12:59 PM)
Good stuff, CB.
Mike,Can you please stop predicting game scores? ;) You predicted Bills and Steelers loss and it happened. By the way, any stock tips will be appreciated seeing how well you predict the future :-p
Mike (12:59 PM)
Maddy, just a string of luck. If you've been following around here in recent years, you know it's usually the other way around.
Bruce Wayne (Gotham)
Hi Mike, This season reminds me more of the dysfunctional/disappointing team from 2009 than the great team from 2010. The off field stories are troubling. Would you agree or disagree? Thanks
Mike (1:00 PM)
Disagree, Bruce. Think this locker room has a better vibe and more players pulling in the same direction.
Andrew (Madison, WI)
Hey Mike, while you do have one of the greatest jobs in all of sports covering a legendary team and coach, still, as a reporter, do you ever get frustrated when there is a story and you know you're just not going to get answers - say, Bodden's release last week, or even Edelman's troubles this week?
Mike (1:02 PM)
Andrew, you'll probably laugh at me, but I have sort of taken a cue from Belichick over the years. Take the emotion out of it, work the story as hard, fairly and aggressively as you can, then move on. It's never personal.
With a banged up secondary it only makes sense to use Taylor Price, his speed will be able to blow past these corners easily
Mike (1:02 PM)
Agree, Tom, but I'm not sure it will be easy. And they need Price to do more than just run past CBs. He needs to be precise in his route-running and run all different routes.
Tim (New York)
Taylor Price, get him on the field and stretch the field for Benny and inside passes to Welker and the tight ends in the middle. Defense well your guess is as good as mine
Mike (1:03 PM)
I think we'll see it, Tim.
Jesse (Cape Cod)
Mike, Rodney Harrison talked this week about how he didn't like what the secondary was doing and felt like they weren't challenging the quarterback. Does he have a legitimate point or is this an overreaction considering it was the first game together after shuffling the group?
Mike (1:04 PM)
Jesse, I'm going to disagree with Harrison. I thought they tried to play aggressively early in the year -- with man coverage -- and we saw how that turned out. So, to me, you can't have it both ways. I like the idea of simplifying and trying to get back to fundamentals. I don't think more man coverage is necessarily the answer, even though they still mix it in there.
I know you explained the reason teams defer after winning the coin toss ("double-score" potential), but come on, why on earth would you ever want to see this defense on the field before Brady?
Mike (1:05 PM)
It's an interesting topic, Andy. I see your point. It sort of puts all the eggs into that first-drive basket, but I can see why that might be a good thing to do. Get ahead and put some pressure on the other team. Something to consider.
Thank you Rodney for speaking about what NE fans have thought of this defense for years now! Why do you think that people (like me) have questioned the Patriot?s coaching, particularly the defensive scheme for the past few years? I am an avid fan and watch games very closely. With that said, it seems that every defense backfield plays tighter than the Patriots. Now that is only a generalization but I guarantee you that fans agree with me.
Mike (1:07 PM)
Eric presents the opposite point of view, which looks at things from more of a scheme perspective.
rick (in the cold in CT)
Mike, what is the key for the Patriots to bounce back this week against the Giants? PROTECT BRADY!Will Pats make the playoffs?
Mike (1:07 PM)
Yes and yes.
Mike (1:07 PM)
Let's go for another 5...
Mike, what concerns me most about this defense is the linebacker play. When you watch the linebackers closely too often they are standing there and doing NOTHING. I understand a zone coverage but that does not mean run to a spot and stand there. It seems like they know what they are supposed to do but cannot react beyond that. What are your thoughts?
Mike (1:08 PM)
I see similar things, Matt. The hope has to be that a healthy Mayo will upgrade things.
BamaPat (Mobile, Ala.)
Mike: I think it's time for everyone to let up on the panic button. We're only halfway through season. There are three things that matter when it comes to winning a Super Bowl: 1) Making the playoffs; 2) Who's the healthiest at end of the season; 3) Who's hot I seem to remember a couple of our Super Bowl winning teams looking good but not championship caliber at this time of the year.I do think we need to get the two rookie running backs more in the mix as cold/bad weather approaches. It will also take pressure off Brady. I am surprised we didn't see more of Ridley against the Steelers, with the law firm still looking a bit banged up and Faulk just returning.
Mike (1:08 PM)
I am telling you and everyone else who likes the Patriots, Taylor Price give that man a chance and no one will regret it. Price ran a 4.36 give that man a serious chance
"What is the key for the Patriots to bounce back this week against the Giants?" and the answer is....... TAYLOR PRICE NO. 17
Mike (1:09 PM)
These two comments echo a lot of what I am seeing. I don't expect Price to be the savior, but he could help.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Hey Mike. Great work with the Pats. I have a feeling that the Giants are going to play the Pats tough on Sunday. What's your feeling on Welker and BJGE? Will they play? Thanks!
Mike (1:10 PM)
I think they both play, Stuart.
Rob (Borough of Manhattan)
Hi Mike! We have questioned some of the personnel decisions that BB has made with the defensive backs... but what about the wide receivers? Do you think it was a mistake to let Brandon Tate go when Ochocinco can't make an impact and Edelman can't get on the field (let alone the off field issues)?
Mike (1:11 PM)
Rob, it looks like Ochocinco was a mistake. As for Tate, he had really become a different player from the midpoint of last season to when he was cut. I couldn't blame them for the decision, but I think they might want to look closer at whether they did everything they could to put Tate in the best position to develop.
Hey mike, one thing i cant stand about a loss is the amount of criticism the pats receive afterwards, not only from the fans but from every media outlet as well. I mean there isn't a single team other than the patriots that espn and nfl network would make such a big deal about one loss... in a game where the offense was barely on the field, and the defense couldn't stop anything underneath. and yet if it weren't for a few bad calls and some coaching errors, there was a big possibility the pats could have won. Analyse it how you will, but i think we have a tough scrappy team. The defense isnt great right now but they get gritty inside the 20...only way is up from here.
Mike (1:12 PM)
Totally fair, p, and hold me accountable too. I was hard on them, particularly Belichick.
Hi Mike - long time chat reader, first time questioner. Do you feel like there has been too much focus on the defense's recent struggles? I'm just as concerned with the offense's recent production, and it's not simply a matter of high standards. They struggled to get anything going against the Pittsburgh D last week. And 7 of their 10 points really belong to the D, as they made a quick strike after the INT. The D had little time to rest, and their red zone performance gave the team a chance to win, but the offense couldn't come through.
Mike (1:13 PM)
Thanks Greg. My view is that the offense clearly has some solid talent, so you can envision that getting better. The defense is a little more shaky in that regard, and that's why I think there is more focus placed on it.
Chris (ABQ, NM)
Thanks for the chat, Mike! Looks like I was right to be superstitiously concerned about Brady's past success against the Steelers - to the extent that anyone can ever be right about such things! I think the key for the Pats to bounce back this week is playing with more energy on the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, with the defense the way it is, it's gonna take a bunch of points most days to win. I think this goes hand-and-hand with seeing players like Ridley and Price on the field more often - guys with big-play potential.
Mike (1:13 PM)
Agree, Chris. Would like to see some of the younger players, Jermaine Cunningham included, on the field.
Kevin (Sayreville N.J.)
Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Patriots are lucky to have him. With that being said, I think most Patriots fans like myself are tired of seeing the same defense we've seen for the last couple of years. A defense that gives up way too many 3rd down conversions. Is it time for a major strategy shift in the Patriots defensive philosophy?
Mike (1:15 PM)
I lean toward that line of thinking, Kevin. I think Belichick has tried to tweak things this year, but the results have been uneven. I sort of buy into the line of thinking that it's a passing league and the game has changed, and wonder if Belichick has changed fast enough with it.
Hey Mike...It seemed like this past week, Kevin Faulk was thrusted back into full time action and that it may have been a detriment to the offense. It didn't seem like they ran too much on 1st down and kind of got away from things that worked for them previously. I think that he has made his living, at least over the past few years, as a great 3rd down back, so not sure why they were changing things up now. BJGE in there for the bulk of the carries and then bringing in Faulk on 3rd to do what he does best. Your thoughts?
Mike (1:16 PM)
I can't fault that, Brian. They tried to run early with BJGE, even going with 3 TE, and just couldn't get it going. Given that they fell behind and weren't having success, I understand why they skewed toward Faulk and that passing type approach. Would like to see Ridley more this week, though.
Matt (Elon NC)
All we are saying, is give Price a chance...
Mike (1:17 PM)
go for simmons record of like 3 hours
Mike (1:17 PM)
My fingers are aching, Benjamin.
MattyD (weymouth, ma)
Eli said he's in Brady's class at the beggining of the year, think Brady remembers that or its buletinboard material?
Mike (1:18 PM)
Not really, Matty. I don't think Brady will look at those comments in that light.
I prefer Shark Ellison for our fictional hybrid DE
Mike (1:19 PM)
Thanks Jack. You are wittier.
Will Hutch (NY)
Mike, Am i the only one who thought Danny Woodhead is a terrible kick returner. Didnt see him make it past the 20 everytime. I remember when we had Bethel Johnson it was always a chance of a great return, whats your opinion on a returner going forward?
Mike (1:20 PM)
I'd like to see them go back to Edelman this week, Will.
Mike,Bill is making all the calls but as far as the confusion with the d-backs goes, wasn't Matt Patricia moved to Defensive Backs coach this year. Can some of the personel moves and communications issues be partly do to the coaching change?
Mike (1:20 PM)
Mark, I really think this is Belichick's defense. While Patricia sort of leads the way on game-day, I think it comes back to Belichick.
Henry (Henniker, NH)
Mike, whats your take on Ellis and Haynesworth not having a sack thus far in the season?
Mike (1:21 PM)
Disappointing. At the same time, sacks aren't the only measure of effectiveness. Based on the investment the team made in both players, I thought there would be more production.
Dave R (Cambridge, MA)
Mike! You're a fan of saying things are never as good or as bad as they look, but... that was bad. Real bad. I can't imagine what the pass rush will look like when it goes up against a good offensive line. I want to say they can improve, but I just don't see the explosive front-seven players needed to get after the quarterback. Talk me off the ledge.
Mike (1:23 PM)
Dave, the biggest thing I can say is that anything is possible, the team is still 5-2, and they have one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game leading them. And while public confidence in Belichick's ability to fix the defense isn't high -- understandably so -- I can still think of 20-25 other NFL teams that would probably like being in this "situation."
Mike (1:24 PM)
Let's end on that note. Went a little overtime today. I'll go back through the chat and try to pull out some questions I couldn't get to. There are several hundred, which makes it impossible to get to them all.
Mike (1:24 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting and for bringing the Patriots discussion to a higher level.