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 1 p.m. ET!
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Just getting set up and then we will begin.
Mike Reiss (1:02 PM)
Beautiful day here in New England. Excitement builds for home opener, as well as the Troy Brown Hall of Fame induction. I went last year when Drew Bledsoe was inducted and thought it was terrific. Recommended for anyone in the region (Saturday at 5 p.m.). It is free.
Mike Reiss (1:02 PM)
Let's chat until 2:02 p.m.
Stanley Perlmutter (Iselin,NJ)
With the injuries to the o-line seemingly growing, Do you think Matt Kopa might be a leading candidate to make the leap to the active roster?
Mike Reiss (1:03 PM)
Stanley, I see it as a tradeoff. With Connolly's status in question for the game, it looks like Nick McDonald might be ready to make a return. So a 1-for-1 situation there. Unless Sebastian Vollmer can't go, which would alter the picture, I don't see the need for an OL addition.
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
Just going to take a quick TO and see how I can get the auto update on here for the chat.
Mike Reiss (1:05 PM)
Should go into effect shortly. That's easily a 5-yard penalty. Might make it a 15 if it happens again.
Mike do you see NE bringing back Andre Carter to play opossite Jones this year?
Mike Reiss (1:06 PM)
I don't right now. They have a lot of options at end, and I think they are high on the top three of Jones/Ninkovich/Cunningham. Trevor Scott, as a No. 4 option, is solid too. Then you have development types in Francis and Bequette. Not sure there is any room for Andre Carter right now. If injuries strike, perhaps.
Har Journalist (Sunny - Vancouver, Canada - Go Pats!!)
Hi Mike do you think the Patriots and Bill Belichick will attempt to scale back the amount of targets Wes Welker sees this season in an effort to give him less to negotiate a new contract in the offseason?? My thinking is if Wes Welker isn?t producing the Pats won?t have to shell out top dollar for him? What do you think about that theory? Thanks Mike
Mike Reiss (1:08 PM)
No, I don't see it that way, Har. I don't think Bill Belichick would sacrifice what gives the team the best chance to win to hurt Welker at the negotiating table. He might be a stubborn guy at times (he admits that), but he's not that stubborn.
Ronald Tadur (Las Vegas,NV)
What are the chances in your opinion of us bringing back one of our receivers we released such as Deion Branch? I don't quite understand his release in the first place and think he would be very valuable to the squad.
Mike Reiss (1:09 PM)
Ronald, based on the way the Patriots played in the opener, seldom going to the 3 WR package, the need for a receiver doesn't seem high on the list at this time. You have Lloyd, Welker, Edelman and Salas (who you thought enough of to trade a draft pick for) atop the depth chart. I think they are sticking with that for now and running things more through the TEs. Some might say Hernandez, while having the TE in front of his name, is just as much of a TE.
Philip Provost (Little Rock,AR)
If both Patriots QB's were to get injured in the same game, then who would be the next "emergency QB" to take over for that game? How many current Patriot players could become "emergency QB's", should such a situation ever occur?
Mike Reiss (1:10 PM)
My guess would be Julian Edelman, a former college quarterback at Kent State.
Wallace Weems (Columbus,OH)
I am concerned with the depth at o-line than with the way the starters fared, particularly in light of Dan Connolly's head injury, which he sustained late in the Titans game. I'm also still a little unsure of the pass defense in the secondary, but even there, I saw improvement over last season in that first game. Kickoff returns could be better, too, but overall, there wasn't much to nit-pick about that 34-13 win in Nashville.
Mike Reiss (1:11 PM)
Wallace, all fair from this view. I actually thought the kickoff return by McCourty in the first quarter was pretty good. Compared to what we've seen recently, it was an upgrade.
Harlan Moore (Rutland,VT)
I know this is jumping the gun, but I was really impressed with Jermaine Cunningham's performance. Not that he dominated the game or anything, but that he contributed at all. Were you as impressed as me? Should I be excited about his play?
Mike Reiss (1:12 PM)
Harlan, absolutely an impressive performance by Cunningham (sack, drawn holding penalty on Steve Hutchinson). It is one that makes him deserving of more time. He would project to left end and he could press Rob Ninkovich for some time. Ninkovich wasn't happy with his performance in the opener as Titans right tackle David Stewart, an underrated player in the NFL in my view, got his hands on him a bit and nuetralized his rush.
Hector X. Delgado (Chula Vista,CA)
Looking at how many different tight ends the Pats have brought into camp or signed since, I keep wondering if they are looking to run a three (or four) tight end formation. It would put a lot of bigger guys on the field for run blocking and if the TEs are all able to catch the ball, what would the opposing team do with the size mismatches? Have any teams in the past deployed 3 or 4 TE sets other than on the goal line? What would you consider to be the advantages or disadvantages of these formations? Thanks in advance.
Mike Reiss (1:16 PM)
Hector, I'm going into Xs and Os land for a moment here. The TEs are going to be a story to monitor all season long. The Patriots were in their 3 TE package for 10 of 67 snaps in the opener and they had tremendous production out of it (3 TDs). They did it two different ways -- "13 personnel" (1 WR/3 TE/1 RB) and short-yardage personnel (3 TE/1 FB/1 RB). The key, when watching this aspect of the game, is to see how the defense matches up. The Titans at first stayed in their nickel defense against it, so the matchup tells Tom Brady to run the ball. If you can't run the ball against a light box/nickel out of a 3 TE formation, it doesn't make sense to keep utilizing the package. The Titans also played some base against it, and that's when I thought the Patriots hurt them through the air. Add it all up, and what we have is a perfect example of how TEs are matchup busters.
Mike Reiss (1:17 PM)
That was one of my biggest takeaways from the season-opener, how the TEs created matchups that the Patriots could capitalize on. It's why I envision the offense will continue to run through the TEs.
munchkin (glenwood springs, co)
Mike, I was at the game on Sunday. What a great setting for the Stadium. The Titans' fans were easy to be around despite their taking a loss. The game didn't feel, at times, as one sided as the score indicated. I am still leery of our DBs. Safety play seemed much better though they left a pretty big hole for Locker on the QB draw and they let Cook get free a couple times. The O-line held up well considering their preseason performance and the continuing moving parts; much to the chagrin of the Titans' fans around us. The Cardinals have a formidable defense. They will provide a good test for our Offense. But with really poor QB and O-line play their offense should have a hard time sustaining drives. I am not putting anything in the win column yet though:)
Mike Reiss (1:20 PM)
Munchkin, I thought the setting was terrific. Disappointing we couldn't get together for a quick hello given your regular participation here. I echo your thoughts on the game and some of the concerns -- DBs still a little shaky, O-line hung in there. Like the Cardinals defense too, and the fact Tom Brady hasn't faced them since 2004 leads me to think there could be some early struggles with all the looks the Cardinals can give an offense. When Brady knows a team cold, I usually enter with a feeling of more confidence that he'll sort it all out. I guess what I'm saying is that there could be more of a feeling-out period in this game.
I read somewhere that Welker just needs a few catches to be the all-time Patriot receiving leader. Is that true? And if so, with the game out of hand, couldn't they just have been saving that moment for this week's home game?
Mike Reiss (1:21 PM)
TJ, Welker needs just one catch. I don't think anything the team did in the season-opener, in terms of Welker usage, was tied to the idea of him getting the record at home.
Ryan (Raleigh, NC)
Do you see Ridley turning into the reliable all down back we have been looking for since Corey Dillon?
Mike Reiss (1:22 PM)
Ryan, I thought it was interesting that Tedy Bruschi, much more of an authority than me, still wants to see more from Ridley before he goes there (he said it on our weekly podcast). A big part of it for Tedy was watching how Ridley absorbs contact. I like what I saw from Ridley in the opener, but also subscribe to the theory that a young player has to do more than flash one time before we can mention him in the same sentence as '04 Corey Dillon.
Mike...I would have bet hard earned money the Jets would implode by the 1st half and light the fuse to the Tebow vs. Sanchez debate. After putting up 48 points against the Bills, are the Jets THAT good or the Bills THAT bad?
Mike Reiss (1:24 PM)
Dave, I think the Jets are a worthy foe. The offense is still going to struggle at times, but with that defense and special teams, they're going to be in a lot of games. I feel like my opinion has been consistent on that. Likewise, I never bought into the Bills' hype this offseason because of two main questions: 1) Quarterback; 2) Depth questions.
I did not see the game, aside from highlights, but how did Chandler Jones look?
Mike Reiss (1:25 PM)
Yogi, in rewatching the game, I didn't realize how effective he was at setting and holding the edge. A real professional effort from a player making his first career start. Titans LT Michael Roos is a good player (113 career starts), and Jones accounted for himself very well.
grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)
Mike, been missing these chats lately due to a busy work schedule. It's killing me. I guess I'll have to submit way early. I've been a big Ridley fan since last year, wishing he got more reps. That said, Vereen is legit too. What are the odds we see a 3-to-1 ratio of carriers for these two this week, easing Vereen back into the mix? I think BB would love to start splitting reps in case (gulp) Ridley fumbles in the near future and he wants to send him a message...not sure Bolden or Woodhead are ready to carry the load. Is Vereen healthy enough this week?
Mike Reiss (1:28 PM)
Tough call on Vereen this week. I don't have a sense at this point. Woodhead is going to be an interesting one to watch. Just 14 snaps in the opener, which I'm going to assume was because the Patriots were hardly in the shotgun (13 of 67 snaps), which is when we'd usually see him. Once Vereen is healthy, I do see him cutting into some of Ridley's snaps. Consider that last year, there was just one game in which lead back BenJarvus Green-Ellis played more than 40 snaps. Ridley hit the 40 mark in Week 1. I could be reading into it too much, but I think the 2011 RB snaps/keeping Green-Ellis under 40 is an indication that the Patriots don't want to overload their lead back.
Mike, couldnt this whole Wes Welker thing be he just isnt in shape yet? he barely practiced missed all the pre season and we listed to bill preach about "conditioning"....although it was telling...Wes' last target last season and first target this season were drops...hmmmmm
Mike Reiss (1:29 PM)
Charles, I wouldn't be surprised if that is it. Practiced in Tampa, in full pads, on Aug. 22. Didn't practice the next day or play in the preseason game Aug. 24, which makes one thing he might have sustained some type of injury on the 22nd (speculation: perhaps a concussion). It was somewhat stunning to me to see some crticial situations in the season-opener and not have Welker on the field. I file it in the "something to monitor" category. Let's not read too much into it, but just keep an eye on if it continues.
Brad Armbruster (Providence,RI)
Which player on the Patriots' practice squad is most likely to become a core contributor? Alex Silvestro and Jeff Tarpinian head my list.
Mike Reiss (1:30 PM)
Brad, the Patriots actually released Alex Silvestro on Wednesday. I like the Tarpinian pick.
Mike, not a Pats specific question, but a general one. last week we saw a very long field goal attempt bounce over the crossbar and go for 3. other weeks we see long ones just sneak over the bar. My question is, with some players obviously able to jump over the hight of the bar (as evidenced by the number of them "dunking" over it after touchdowns), could a team station a player out of the back of the end zone, and jump up and glock it back out before it crosses through? Kind of like a goaltending in a basketball game? Is that even legal or can it only be blocked at the LOS? Can they not start out of bounds? Just wondering!
Mike Reiss (1:31 PM)
Chris, I don't have the exact rule in front of me, but I see no reason why I player couldn't leap up and knock it away as long as the goalpost/crossbar wasn't aiding the player's leap. I'll double check this one if I'm wrong. We've seen players stand back there before for potential return possibilities.
Adam Fox (Albuquerque, NM)
Mike, I noticed this preseason once, Belichick atually chose to receive after winning the coin toss. That's a first. We lost the coin toss last week, but when luck smiles upon New England again, will Hoodie return to his tried-and-true ways of consistently deferring? Or will we see a mix given the strengths of the offense and the opportunity to hang up an early crooked number on an opponent?
Mike Reiss (1:32 PM)
I'm curious about this myself, Adam. If I had to guess, I think it's still a defer situation for the Patriots.
Ramin (San Marcos, TX)
Hey Mike, can we expect an extension for Patrick Chung sometime this season, or do you see him as a strong candidate to get franchise-tagged?
Mike Reiss (1:34 PM)
Ramin, it's possible, but my sense on that one is that Chung's health is the key. He's missed some time and one would think the Patriots would like to see some durability there before investing big.
mike,a player cannot block a field goal once the ball has hit it's apex and is on it's way down. very similar to the goal tending rule. heard the answer on mike and mike.
Mike Reiss (1:34 PM)
Thanks trader75. Bill Belichick wouldn't be impressed with my initial answer. Have to know the rules better than that. Time to take a lap.
Mike, we've all talked about Solder allowing a big hit on Brady, but how did Vollmer look last week? I thought his play last season was very erratic, and hopefully that was injury related and he is a pro-bowl caliber player going forward. Does he look like he's playing at a high level again?
Mike Reiss (1:35 PM)
Bunk, I thought the RT spot was solid. Didn't hear much from Morgran, the Titans' LDE who was a former first-round pick. Vollmer and Marcus Cannon split time at RT in the game.
We brought in Lloyd to stretch the field but it didn't seem he was targeted too much. Is it just working out the kinks with Brady or does Josh McDaniels call certain plays depending on the flow of the game?
Mike Reiss (1:38 PM)
Dave, Lloyd was targeted eight times in the opener, which was actually a team high, but I know what you are saying in terms of shots down the field. I think the idea of stretching the field might be a little off here. Lloyd provides an excellent perimeter threat, and it's more than just sprinting down the field. If you have a chance, watch his route early in the second quarter of his 27-yard gain on the sideline. He sets up the defensive back beautifully because of his footwork. So he didn't blaze by the DB, but through crafty route-running, he helped create a 27-yard gain. That's a big play in the passing game, something the Patriots didn't have as much of in 2011.
Joey (Madison, WI)
Mike, where would you say Gronk ranks as a run or pass blocker among tight ends in the NFL?
Mike Reiss (1:39 PM)
Joey, doesn't get much higher than Gronk. In terms of combination TE -- run-blocking and pass-catching -- I put him atop the list.
Mike, On Mike & Mike they talked about the crossbar thing. If a player blocks it, it is a 15 yrd penalty. Its similar to basketball. If its on the way down they cant touch it.
Mike Reiss (1:39 PM)
I missed it, Ernie. Thanks for jumping in with the correction.
David (North Attleborough, Ma)
Last Sunday one of the biggest key's on defense was Vince Wilfork's ability to penetrate the offensive line and prevent Chris Johnson from cutting back. Your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (1:40 PM)
David, Wilfork is a terrific player. His presence in the middle of the line was a key in limiting Johnson, no doubt about that.
Zack (Boston, MA)
Miiiiiiiiiike....Is the incomparable Greg Salas still going to catch 60+ balls this year? At this rate, I don't even know if Welker gets to 60...
Mike Reiss (1:41 PM)
LOL, Zack. You're going to hold me to that 60 number, eh? It's going to be hard to catch 60 balls when you don't play a single snap (Salas suited up but didn't play). But I wrote it so I own it. Accountable.
SamB (Worcester, MA)
Mike, could you give us some of your thoughts regarding the platitudes given by both teams in the upcoming game on Sunday? I mean, does Bill seriously think Fitzgerald at age 29 could usurp Jerry Rice (3 time super bowl champ with 13 Pro Bowls)? It's a bit too much for me....
Mike Reiss (1:43 PM)
Let's keep it in perpsective, Sam. We know Bill Belichick builds up the opposition each week and part of that is to get his players focused. The process works for them. Tedy Bruschi describes it as "pouring on the perfume." That said, we also know that if a team isn't focused and doesn't come to play, it will probably lose that day. So the idea is to respect the opposition, keep that razor-sharp focus, and put forth the best performance possible. In terms of compliments Belichick gives before a matchup against a team, I think this context is important to keep in mind.
Professor Frink (Springfield)
Hey Mike, everyone seems to think this week will be an easy win, but I think the Cardinals are an underrated matchup. They've won 8 of their last 10 games, and only given up 18 points per game over that span. Cailais Campbell and Patrick Peterson star in one of the best defenses most people don't know about. How many points do you see the Patriots putting up against this unit?
Mike Reiss (1:44 PM)
I predicted 31-14 Patriots, Professor.
Kendrick dallas [via mobile]
What is your take on devin mccourty. He is back to his pro bowl ways?
Mike Reiss (1:46 PM)
I thought McCourty was fortunate on that non-PI call in the end zone. A little shaky on a few other pass plays too. On the flip side, he is so sound when it comes to run force and tackling. I think when we look at cornerbacks, sometimes we focus solely on coverage and plays he's beat. But McCourty does a lot of other things that aren't always noticed that help the team win. I thought the overall tackling of the defense was outstanding in the opener and McCourty was a part of that.
How frustrating is a Bill Bellichek press conference?
Mike Reiss (1:47 PM)
Kurt, I like them. I enjoy the daily interaction.
Kevin (Kingsport, TN)
Nice to have met you Sautrday night at Buffalo Billiards in Nashville....
Mike Reiss (1:48 PM)
Nice to meet you as well, Kevin. That was a nice turnout and a fun evening for me. Hope to do it again in future weeks.
Hey Mike, Heading to London for the game next month. Arriving saturday leaving Monday. Are there any NFL events or patriots parties being planned by the club?
Mike Reiss (1:49 PM)
Pat, I'm sure there will be plenty, but I am not aware of any at this point. Stay tuned.
Hi Mike, I'm thinking Early Doucet is a guy whose name we hear a lot during the game on Sunday. He's definitely under the radar with Fitzgerald on the other side of the field, but he seems to be a possession receiver with decent speed.
Mike Reiss (1:50 PM)
Good point, Kyle. You figure BB will devote resources to limiting Larry Fitzgerald as much as posisble, so that will create opportunities for others. Doucet is a top candidate.
Patrick (Keene, NH)
Hey Mike, Loved Bill Belichicks praise of Troy Brown at his press conference yesterday.
Mike Reiss (1:52 PM)
Patrick, that's one reason I enjoy the news conferences. Belichick was a bit fiesty on Wednesday. Seemed like he wanted to drill into things a bit and the Troy Brown commentary sort of got him going and then he let it rip when asked about the rookies possibly needing to be reminded it was only one game. "Are you kidding me?" he said. Terrific, and done in a way that didn't disparage the questioner, but got his point across.
I'd like to hear your take on the O-Line's performance on Sunday. Thanks for all the great info, Mike!
Mike Reiss (1:53 PM)
Zig, I thought they hung in the fight. A little shaky at times (e.g. Solder on a few rushes). But overall, couldn't ask for much more from that unit. Communication seemed solid, which is something to monitor with new center Ryan Wendell, and if there were breakdowns they seemed more physical than mental.
LSCII (Boston, MA)
Jones looked like he hurt his leg in a pile up last game, and even motioned for someone to come take his place. Then once the pile moved off him, he kind of walked it off and stayed in. Is there any update on what happened in that situation?
Mike Reiss (1:54 PM)
Nothing big. Jones just took a little shot to an area that might require a little extra protection. He was smiling, as usual, when he came through the locker room today.
Ravi (Cambridge, MA)
Mike! Given how much the Cardinals move Fitzgerald around, do you think we'll see Ra's al Ghul (Ras-I Dowling) matched up on him or do you think Belichick will have McCourty shadow him?
Mike Reiss (1:55 PM)
Ravi, the Patriots seldom have a cornerback stay with a receiver, instead preferring to play sides. I don't have a feel for whether they will go away from that, but if I had to guess, I'd say they will still play sides.
Brendan (Washington DC)
I know it's the Patriots way to take it one game at a time, but I can't help myself from looking past Arizona and on to Baltimore next weekend. This will be a clash of the two best teams in the AFC in my opinion. While many analysts pick Baltimore to represent the AFC in the superbowl I'm still not convinced Joe Flacco can take them there. It seemed like most of his passes last week were off of play action. With our run Defense shouldn't we be able to contain Ray Rice, and therefore nullify the play action pass a bit? Also if we can get pressure on Flacco it wouldn't allow Torrey Smith to get down field. What are your thoughts Mike?
Mike Reiss (1:57 PM)
Brendan, my thoughts are that it's a good thing you're not a player. LOL. Already looking ahead, and that's how you get beat. But how can you not? I am very much looking forward to that game. I think that game will be terrific. Tough spot for the Patriots. Containing Rice is going to be a challenge, but I do think the defense has it in them. So can the pass defense stop Flacco? That would be where my concern for the Patriots lies.
Hi Mike,Was hoping to get your thoughts on the Patriots move to a more balanced attack. For me- I think it shows the team is (once again) ahead of the curve. We saw in week 1 the other preeminent pass offenses struggle without the ability to run effectively. The Packers look like they will falter again in the playoffs this year with zero run threat.
Mike Reiss (1:58 PM)
Chris, I want to see if they truly stick with it. Part of it might have been contingent on the matchup, and how the Titans stayed in nickel against the 2-TE package. It takes discipline to stay with it.
Jack (Denton, TX)
Mike, I'm not saying that you do this. But why do so many media members overreact? I understand somewhat how fans can overreact, but the sports media do this as a job. A team has one good game, and media members are penciling them in for the Super Bowl or one bad game and they're penciling them in for the first pick in the draft. The media are supposed to be experts who study the ins and outs of the game and so on, so why do they overreact instead of taking a more considered view of the situation?
Mike Reiss (2:01 PM)
Great topic, Jack, and I'll be the first to acknowledge that sometimes I do overreact. You try to just keep things in perspective, but no one is perfect. I think the thing that is stunning to me is how quickly things spread, and it sort of becomes a runaway train. If you have a chance, check out this week's Patriots podcast with Tedy Bruschi, as we talk about that a little bit as it relates to Wes Welker.
I just chimed in - do you think this Pats team can "run the table" and go undefeated this season? Looking at the schedule.
Mike Reiss (2:02 PM)
Rick, I think that's asking a lot. Too much in my view. I predicted 13-3 and when accounting for the inevitable injuries and off days, that still seems right from here.
Sarah (Bridgewater State U)
Didn't recall hearing the name Brace last week!
Mike Reiss (2:03 PM)
Limited action for Brace, just 6 snaps on defense -- one series in the regular D and then some short-yardage work.
Jon (Richmond Va)
Hey mike! sorry I havent been able to post in a long time but just wondering do you think McDaniels is "recreating" the playing style so that when brady does leave its easy for Mallet to step in with the talent that is built around a more power offense instead of precision?
Mike Reiss (2:05 PM)
Jon, I don't think McDaniels' approach is tied to Mallett. More than anything, I think it's what gives the Patriots the best chance to win.
I think Jones is going to see double teams and a lot of chip blocks in the future. He looks explosive off the edge. Can you give me an update on Bequette? How has he looked in practice?
Mike Reiss (2:06 PM)
Eric, we don't get to watch any team drills in practice, so can't add much on Bequette at this point. My general feeling is that he seems raw, maybe a year away unless there are injuries.
Marc (Malden, MA)
The one issue I have with Ridley is he tries to turn every run into a big one. Sometimes the defense is only going to give you 2 yards, but Ridley won't take it, he tries to make it 8 and loses 4.
Mike Reiss (2:06 PM)
Marc, could be something that comes with maturity. Still a young runner. Interesting point.
Arjuna (Durham, NH)
Mike, for those of us not at the tweet-up this past Saturday, can you let us know how it went? A great idea and I have a feeling it turned out very well.
Mike Reiss (2:09 PM)
Arjuna, I'd say we had about 100-200 people stop by. I was overwhelmed by it, to be honest. It is great to talk with passionate fans, and make that personal connection. I really enjoy seeing how sports, and in this case the Patriots, brings people together. I saw a father and son. Husband and wife making the trip together. Boyfriend and girlfriends. Friends getting together on an annual trip. Old teammates from high school together again. It's what it's all about. Big believer in community.
Eli (Berkeley, CA)
Ninkovich is getting a lot of grief for his lack of a pass rush last game, but he did an excellent job setting the edge. How does Cunningham compare as an edge-setter?
Mike Reiss (2:10 PM)
Eli, Ninkovich had to stay disciplined because of the scrambling capability of Locker. If he just rushed up the field, he would have put the defense in a vulnerable position. He also set a solid edge, as you mentioned. As for Cunningham, if we go back to the 2010 tape, he set a pretty good edge as an OLB in the 3-4. So he can do it too.
Mike, after watching the opener our front seven looks like its going to be a handful for the rest of the league this year, and hopefully the next 3-4 years at least. Unfortunately though, the pass coverage was still showing it has a long way to go before we can be talking about a super bowl trophy to add to Patriot Place, especially with the clinic the 49ers and Ravens put on in terms of shutdown pass d. Will we be seeing any types of personnel changes in the near future, or is BB going to roll the dice with what he has?
Mike Reiss (2:12 PM)
Shawn, right now, I think what you see is what you get. The thing to bank on is improvement with the players on the field.
.Hi Mike - What is your take on Ryan Mallet - is he the heir apparent to TB? I haven't seen anything to make me believe he can take over, but I'm curious if you've seen flashes in practice that the average fan hasn't seen. Thanks
Mike Reiss (2:15 PM)
John, I believe the coaching staff is really high on Mallett. I think this is one of those situations where you have a lot of "amateur scouts" in the media who saw one thing in the preseason when behind the scenes the coaches were really pleased. I could be off on this, but I believe they feel very fortunate that they landed Mallett in the third round of the 2011 draft. My sense is that they look around the NFL, see some of the QBs playing for other teams, and they believe their No. 2 is better than some of them.
"Let's chat until 2:02 p.m."...it's a good thing you majored in Journalism and not Math :-)Love your work & the chats Mike, keep 'em coming!
Mike Reiss (2:15 PM)
Yes, Dave, sometimes I get a little carried away. Let's go for another 5...
Tron (Waltham, MA)
Hey Mike, There have been a few articles written about the Patriots implementing a defensive line similar to that of the Giants' 'NASCAR' front. I like the idea, especially if guys like Cunningham can step in and make an impact off the bench. I was wondering if you thought this will be a bigger part of the gameplan moving forward. Also, in your mind what four defensive lineman make the 'ideal' NASCAR front for the Patriots? Could this lineup be a good opportunity to give Wilfork some rest and get Brace or Pryor (when healthy) on the field?
Mike Reiss (2:17 PM)
Tron, this is something Tedy Bruschi has mentioned, specific to what we saw with Jermaine Cunningham in the season opener. I like the idea of keeping Wilfork in there for some bulk, so a Ninkovich/Wilfork/Cunningham/Jones foursome seems like a good place to start.
This defense looks more like a hybrid 2-5 than 4-3 front. Both Jones and Ninko can rush and drop in coverage like 3-4 OLBs, but they're playing on the line. Do you agree?
Mike Reiss (2:19 PM)
Scott, I think however we want to classify it, 2-5 or 4-3, the key is highlighting the versatility of the players. They can do a lot of different things. I am guilty of this sometimes; I think we try to classify things and put it in a box. If I had to simplify it, they've basically taken out a 5-technique 300-pounder on the line and added a 6-foot-3-4-5 and 250/270 pounder. A little lighter in the box, but still powerful, and a bit quicker and more versatile.
Al (Jamaica Plain,MA)
Hi Mike, Thanks for taking my question. Who do you think will be the starting Right Guard this week assuming Connolly doesn't start? Seems to me the Pats must think more highly of Cannon than we think, since he came in at RG at the end of the game over Thomas.
Mike Reiss (2:20 PM)
Al, Connolly was back at practice today, so he has a chance of playing. If he doesn't, my guess would be Donald Thomas at RG.
Hi MikeA couple of observations.1. I believe Cannon is at RT due to lack of better options. I think with Waters not coming back Coannon could slide into RG and be a fixture for 10 yrs there but because there isn't another tackle on the roster to help out in case Vollmer gets hurt (again) Cannon is that third tackle.2. This defense is going to be special. The attitude Spikes brings mixed with the talent is going to make this defense finish in the top 10. Last few seasons getting off the field on 3rd down killed us. Last we we gave up a few 3rd downs but overall we did a great job getting off the field. Our front 7 is young and hungry and is gonna make some noise this season.
Mike Reiss (2:21 PM)
Good points, Rick. Agree on the usage of Cannnon at RT. Thought he played pretty well on Sunday at RT. As for Spikes, the defense is different with him in there. He brings an energy and attitude.
Jam Lemon (Dragonskeep, MA)
Mike, thanks for taking the time out to chat! I have a question about the role of Brandon Spikes on Sunday. The way I see it, the Cardinals are not a very effective running team, and so the Patriots should try to be effective vs the rush in their sub packages. Do you see reduction in snaps for Spikes?
Mike Reiss (2:21 PM)
Jam, Spikes was still on the field in some nickel packages last week. So even if it's a heavy sub plan, I don't necessarily that means less of Spikes.
Mike, please explain to Dave your first post was at 1:02pm. Since it's a one hour chat....
Mike Reiss (2:22 PM)
Todd, I think it was because I was well past 2:02...
ben (Cape Cod)
Will Chandlar Jones win defensive rookie of the year?
Mike Reiss (2:22 PM)
Ben, if he plays like he did Sunday, he'll have a great chance. I think he has it in him.
Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, FL)
Mike Larry Fitzgerald Seems to have great respect for Bill Belichick is There any chance he could finish his career in New England We all know how badly he wants a Super Bowl Ring?
Mike Reiss (2:24 PM)
Fitzgerald is No. 1 on my all-NFL-player interview list. What an impressive guy. When I spoke with him at the Super Bowl after the 2011 season, the way he was rattling off players' names on the Patriots' roster, including coaches, it was Belichickian. Wouldn't surprise me if they are some day linked, assuming BB has another 6 years in him.
LSCII (Boston, MA)
I asked you last week about the Pats move of cutting Branch and Gaffney being motivated by money, and you expressed the view that it was not. Then over the course of the week, you hear how they wanted to go week to week and pay per game for Waters, and I have to ask why? I realize they're not up against the cap, but why would they nickel and dime a pro bowl caliber player who rarely misses games, if money doesn't matter?
Mike Reiss (2:26 PM)
I don't think they were nickel-and-diming Waters. I think they bent over backwards for the guy, to be honest. They were willing to pay him a guaranteed $1.4 million if he reported. But Waters wanted the chance to earn more, so the Patriots agreed to do so, but reportedly wanted protection on a game-by-game basis just in case he checked out. Does that sound like nickel-and-diming to anyone? I think the Patriots can be cold-blooded on some of their personnel decisions (as long as they feel it's in the best interest of the team), but this isn't one of them. I would ask anyone: Which player, in Bill Belichick's 13 years as coach, has he extended for more than Waters?
Mike Reiss (2:27 PM)
I can't think of one. To let a player have an excused absence from offseason camps? When has he ever done that?
Mike Reiss (2:28 PM)
The Patriots aren't perfect. They have made some personnel decisions that warrant scrutiny. But I think anyone looking at this one objectively would agree this isn't one of them. They opened the door for the guy, rolled out the welcome mat, and told him to come when he was ready. When has Belichick -- the coach who says nothing is more important than the team -- ever done that?
Jacob (Elderwood, CA) [via mobile]
Is starting Brandon Lloyd a good fantasy option this week?
Mike Reiss (2:29 PM)
I might be careful on that one, Jacob. As Mike Sando of ESPN.com has noted, the Cardinals have been effective defending the outside passing game.
Sergio (Quito, Ecuador)
I know this is a Patriot's chat, but do you have any opinion about Manning's return?
Mike Reiss (2:31 PM)
Sergio, exciting to see Manning back on the field. I think he makes the Broncos a contender.
Jamie (Westbrook, ME)
We are facing arguably the best kick returner in the game this week so I find it funny that this is an area that seems a huge question mark for the Patriots. While kickoffs seem to have been removed from the game who do you think is the long-term choice for punt returns?
Mike Reiss (2:31 PM)
Jamie, I think Edelman did a good job on punt returns and McCourty wasn't bad on the kickoffs last week. I'd stick with that this week and see if they can build on that momentum.
The Cardinals have elected to start Kolb this week. Do you think the Cardinals have a better chance of winning with Kolb or Skelton this week?
Mike Reiss (2:32 PM)
I haven't seen enough of either of them, but my thought would be Kolb -- if he can recapture some of the form he had when the Cardinals decided to trade for him. That's a big "if" but he did some good things last week.
Reiss is fired up! He's mad about the Pats getting badmouthed about the Waters' situation! Tell 'im, Mike, tell 'im!
Mike Reiss (2:33 PM)
Doug, I'm not mad. I don't get mad. I just don't think it's fair. I'm all for criticizing the team when it's warranted. But I'd just like someone to tell me one player in Bill Belichick's career that he's extended more for than Brian Waters.
Mike Reiss (2:33 PM)
And this is no slight on Brian Waters, who was sensational last year.
Patrick Adam (Phoenix)
Do you think the likes of former Patriot players James Sanders, Paris Lenon and Rich Ohrenberger will be able to provide Coach Whisenhunt with any insight to how interpret what they (AZ) can expect from the Pats come Sunday?
Mike Reiss (2:35 PM)
Patrick, I think they could provide some helpful insight. Sanders, in particular, is a very smart player. Will it be a difference in the game? I'd say no, but every little bit of info helps. Likewise with Cardinals personnel man Jason Licht, the former Patriots director of pro personnel/scouting.
benmark (NY, NY)
I have to admit, it shocked me when I saw that the Cardinals were 8-2 in their last 10 games. What do you think Belichick's greatest cause for concern is in regards to this Arizona team, and do you think this is a potential trap game with a primetime trip to Baltimore coming up in week 3?
Mike Reiss (2:37 PM)
Let's end on this one, benmark. I think it starts with the big-play capability of Larry Fitzgerald. Then the special teams explosiveness of Patrick Peterson. And finally, the pressure that the Cardinals could apply on Tom Brady. I could see why some players might be peeking ahead to Baltimore, and that's why I think Bill Belichick might have been a little extra hard on them this week. Belichick was fired up Wednesday (re: rookies and humble pie).
Mike Reiss (2:37 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. We'll do it again next Thursday. Have a great weekend.
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