Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NFL Nation New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss drops by to chat and answer all of your Patriots questions.
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 (11:59 AM)
Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started in a few...
Mike (12:02 PM)
WR Austin Collie has re-signed with the Patriots, colleague Field Yates reports. My educated guess is that we'll see Aaron Dobson land on injured reserve.
Mike (12:04 PM)
Spent some time watching the Week 16 Colts-Chiefs game, as it was a good one to help answer the question, "Which opponent might be the best matchup for the Patriots?" It's rare to get a late-season game like that, with playoff implications, to have as a guide. Very impressed with the Colts that day. Not so much with the Chiefs (it obviously wasn't their day). That doesn't guarantee anything going forward, but I feel much more familiar with both teams after watching that game.
Mike (12:05 PM)
One thing I'd say on the Colts. You think of the defenses we grew used to seeing over the years -- 4-3, undersized, quick off the edges. This unit is much different. Still has Robert Mathis coming off the edge, but they're bigger inside and they really took it to the Chiefs' o-line in that game. Colts showed me a lot -- road win, cold day, tough place to win, tight all-three-phases type of performance. That's a tough team.
Mike (12:07 PM)
So the question is sometimes asked, "Which opponent is the best matchup for the Patriots, and which opponent might be the worst?" I truly don't think it matters this year. There isn't a huge difference between the three possible foes -- Bengals, Colts, Chiefs. Patriots should beat them all if they play their best. At the same time, they could lose to any of them if they don't. That's the AFC this year. Wide, wide, wide open. Forced to pick, from toughest to most preferred, I'd say: 1) Colts; 2) Bengals; 3) Chiefs.
Mike (12:07 PM)
So what's on the mind today?
Mike - If a team was to offer the Patriots a 2014 2nd round pick for Ridley (assuming Blount resigns with the Pats), would you accept it?
Mike (12:08 PM)
Quickly, Billy. I'd be shocked if another team offered a 2.
Tman (Belmont, MA)
Is the fact that the team is relatively young the reason why the Pats haven't been given a 2 -3 day off stretch?
Mike (12:08 PM)
Tman, they'll get their 2-3 days off Saturday-Sunday-sort of Monday.
Michael (Cologne, Germany)
Mike, that all-AFC East defense is kinda messed up. Bad enough that Wilkerson got snubbed from the Pro Bowl, but he is definitely the top DT in the AFC East. My line would be Wake, Wilkerson, Richardson, Chandler Jones.
Mike (12:10 PM)
Yes, Michael, there is no explanation for Wilkerson not being on that team. There are a lot of good DEs in the division. He had my vote. But on your listing, you have three DEs (Wake, Jones, Wilkerson) the way we had them categorized. One would have to go.
Mike (12:11 PM)
For those interested in the All-AFC East team, selected by ESPN.com's four reporters covering the Bills, Dolphins, Jets and Patriots, link here: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4756263/all-afc-east-new-england-patriots
Mike, great job with your coverage! I am more worried about the Bengals than any other team due to their physicality - do you agree?
Mike (12:12 PM)
Brian, greetings in Framingham. I wouldn't worry about any team from a physicality standpoint. The Patriots are plenty phsyical as we've seen the last two weeks. What would concern me most about the Bengals is a stingy defense led by a solid coordinator in Mike Zimmer and A.J. Green. On the flip side, I'd be salivating at the chance to face a QB who just threw four INTs.
How much are Mayo and Wilfork influencing this team while on IR? Are they in the locker room and at practices?
Mike (12:14 PM)
Big-time, Joe. They are in the locker room, in the meetings, on the sidelines during games. Bill Belichick talked about this during the Dec. 27 edition of Patriots All-Access. Link here: http://www.patriots.com/media-center/videos/All-Access-Presented-by-GEICO----122713/d4b3b71d-a4d4-428f-b1fe-ef502c61a716
Mike (12:15 PM)
Not sure how the guy interviewing Belichick got the assignment on that one. LOL.
johnnymag (Hampstead, NH)
Mike, it appears that Tom Brady has few options with receivers. It seems that Julian Edelman is the only reliable receiver, with Vereen in on a few plays. I think they will be doubling up on Edelman as we go in to the playoffs. Thompkins and Dobson are either not on the same page as TB, or hurt in some form or another. Do you find this as troubling as I do? Run the ball I guess, like we did last week, and hope Brady hits one of these guys when needed. I think the Pats organization should try and get this future hall of fame QB some decent receivers as Peyton Manning had, instead of draft busts!
Mike (12:16 PM)
Johnny, it's not ideal. You'd like to see more weapons at WR. But at this point, this is what they have to work with, and I wouldn't overlook Danny Amendola either. But with another year of growth in 2014, maybe Dobson, Thompkins and Boyce can develop into those guys. It didn't happen overnight from Deion Branch and David Givens in 2002 either.
John (Manchester, NH)
Other than geography, what possible interest would Josh McDaniels have in the Browns job? Granted it would offer him a head coaching opportunity, but there's no QB, ownership has issues and the team isn't exactly talent rich. It would be more money, but with the amount the Broncos paid him, one would think Josh would have the luxury of being more selective.
Mike (12:19 PM)
John, I'll try to put myself in McDaniels' shoes and answer the question. There are 32 jobs and you never truly know if you'll be in position to land one of them. When you are, it makes sense to at least explore it. He also seems tight with Browns GM Michael Lombardi, so maybe the chance to work with him has some appeal. And finally, it's a challenge. I think coaches in this ultra-competitive league crave those challenges, and the power/control that comes with it feeds into it too.
Rod Shoate Happens (Norman, OK)
So is Belichick frosted at all that McDaniels is taking an interview this weekend with the Browns, or does he support Josh's candidacy there unreservedly? Is this a Bill O'Brien situation, or an Eric Mangini one?
Mike (12:24 PM)
My sense is more O'Brien than Mangini in this case. I think he really likes McDaniels personally, respects him as a coach, and believes he goes about things the right way. This is the way the NFL has it set up, so what can you really do? That said, don't let anyone tell you it isn't, at the least, a mild distraction and sends a conflicting message to players. Some of them told me as much. You have your head coach telling you nothing is more important than this game, this opportunity, this chance to win in the playoffs after all the work that's been put in. And yet, at the same time, one of your top coaches is interviewing for a job elsewhere?
Mike (12:26 PM)
That's why I have great respect for the approach that Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has taken to decline all interviews until after the Broncos' playoff run is over. If I'm an owner, that's the type of guy I want to hire -- someone who puts his team over his own personal situation. What a powerful message.
Mike (12:27 PM)
I know it's different in some cases, and you don't want to stop a coach from career advancement or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ... but something just doesn't feel right about the way the NFL does the hiring process. I'd love to see it changed so these situations could be avoided.
Matt (Dedham, MA)
What are your thoughts on 3 NFL cities not being able to sell out their Wild Card weekend games?
Mike (12:28 PM)
Eye-opening to me, Matt. Explains why the NFL and teams have been spending so much time on the "in-stadium" experience to try to make it special.
Mike...when one team asks another team for permission to interview one of their coaches, who gives permission? The owner, GM or the head coach? Or is it a combination?
Mike (12:30 PM)
Dave, it's the old "buck stops here" theory. Everything starts and ends with the owner, but in the case of the Patriots, Robert Kraft isn't going to make that decision without consulting Bill Belichick. What I'm saying is that I think it's Belichick call, even though Kraft has the final hammer.
Michael (Cologne, Germany)
Speaking of Mangini, the Miami Herald has linked both him and Scott Pioli to positions which may be opening up in the Dolphins organisation as soon as today. What's your take on the Dolphins situation this offseason?
Mike (12:30 PM)
Michael, I'm not close enough to it to have an informed opinion. If I was the owner, I'd stay the course with the current structure, but that comes with limited knowledge of the inner-workings of that situation.
Mike, if your inclination is correct and Dobson does land on IR, I feel like we're in the same boat as we have been the last three or four years - lot of crowd in the middle, no one over the top. Are teams really going to respect Josh Boyce if he's sent deep?
Mike (12:32 PM)
Very fair point, Nick. They lack that outside presence, and down-the-field threat, without Dobson. Going to have to find a way to win without it if that is the case with Dobson -- could come back to tha running game.
Mike, what draft picks per round do the Pats have coming up this year? Thanks!
Mike (12:33 PM)
Tom, the picks fall this way: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 (Eagles), 6, 7. The 5 went to the Eagles in exchange for Isaac Sopoaga (disappointment right now) and a 6.
When Romeo and Weiss interviewed did they wait until after the playoffs or did they do it during the run?
Mike (12:34 PM)
Jason, it was during the playoffs, as I remember it. Ditto for Bill O'Brien. So the Patriots have successfully dealt with it in the past. I just think the whole thing sends the wrong message and I know some players feel the same way. No biggie. Just trying to shoot it straight.
Speaking of improving the "in-game experience" at NFL stadiums, the NFL needs to provide something desirable that fans simply cannot get anywhere else besides the staium itself. What if fans who were at the game were allowed audio access to player microphones, and microphones on the sidelines? Whatever the options is, it needs to be a game-changer, not just beer and hot dogs.
Mike (12:34 PM)
Interesting thoughts, Corey. That type of thing could be where we're headed.
So how soon does BB hire Greg Schiano to help coach some of the Rutgers guys? Friday? Saturday?
Mike (12:35 PM)
LOL, Dave. You'd think there would be interest there, but Schiano probably wants to lead his own program again (likely in college).
Ryan (Enfield, CT)
Mike - thanks for the great work. I wanted to get your thoughts on Talib and a contract extension. What's the max contract you'd offer Talib?
Mike (12:37 PM)
Ryan, Talib will obviously be a top priority. He's a difference-maker and I think he's one of the main reasons we saw the defense playing so well earlier in the season. On a contract, I think the key will be structure more so than total value. The Patriots will probably want some protection if the hip is a chronic issue. If another team is willing to roll the dice without it, that's probably more the issue than anything.
Why not just say NO ONE can interview until after the Conf Championship Games? That way it is fair to coaches of teams in the playoffs, and at least if coaches for the SB teams interview it would be on a bye week. Yeah it is a 3 week delay but worth it I think
Mike (12:40 PM)
Dave, that would be a great idea. I fully endorse it. Obviously what the league is trying to do is not penalize the assistant coaches in the playoffs from losing an opportunity, and if the league mandated that no teams could hire new head coaches until after the Super Bowl, it would eliminate that issue. The reason they don't do it, most likely, is that it costs a team one full month in preparations, staff planning etc. But to me, what's one month when you're hoping to make the right hire for one decade or more?
Mike, do you really think an indoor team can come to Gilette and knock down the Patriots? I think the Colts are probably the best option for this team. Mediocre indoor running team coming into the cold North East? I think Bill and company could scheme against them much more easily than the outdoor teams with strong running games...
Mike (12:42 PM)
Lav, I normally would agree with the idea of an "indoor team" coming to Gillette as being an advantage to the Patriots, but that "indoor team" went into KC on a real chilly day and dominated. That sort of squashed my perception. That being said, don't get me wrong, I think the Patriots should win if that's the way it unfolds. I'm just saying, "Don't sleep on the Colts." Andrew Luck is really good, that running game looked pretty good to me vs. the Chiefs (Donald Brown long TD run) and the defense might be underrated. It's only one game I studied but it was an impressive one.
And WHO IS the RB coach? Whoever he is, he did a great job.
Mike (12:43 PM)
Mike (12:43 PM)
A member of the "Best Names in Assistant Coaching" team.
If Mankins can't go on Jan 11, what is your prediction for the starting OL?
Mike (12:44 PM)
Jamie, the only reason Mankins won't be able to go is if his ankle is no longer attached to his leg. LOL. More serious, it would be Josh Kline stepping in at LG.
max (my cube)
Mike, my crystal ball says, Pats play the Chargers at home in the AFC championship game. I am surprised the Chargers aren't getting any respect. Rivers is a play-off hardened QB (beating Manning's colts twice), they have talent, plus the "team of destiny" ring to them what with all the things going right (or wrong, as in the penalty non-call) the last couple of weeks.
Mike (12:45 PM)
Max, that would be fantastic. Mrs. Reiss would be particularly thrilled, so if we can order that one up, sign me up. I have the Bengals finding a way to beat the Chargers this weekend, where they are undefeated at home. But nothing would surprise me.
Hey Mike, quick question on the AFC East team you guys made: How does Chris Ivory get the RB position? Seems like it should've been Fred Jackson to me.
Mike (12:46 PM)
Spencer, they take the four ballots and add them up. I didn't have Ivory on mine. I think I went Spiller/Jackson. Also, we voted before the season finale. Could have swayed the vote to Blount.
Mike saw some rumblings that with Lovie Smith being hired in Tampa that Revis may become available. Any chance he wants to come play for BB? I would think the biggest stumbling block would be the $ especially with Talib a FA.
Mike (12:47 PM)
I'd think that's a longshot Eric.
David (North Attleborough)
I think it would hurt some if Josh McDaniel's were to leave for the Cleveland job . The next in line would be Brian Daboll. Has he been successful anywhere but here? Do you think it is a done deal that he would get the job as OC?
Mike (12:47 PM)
David, I think we have to keep a close eye on that offensive staff if McDaniels does leave, in part because we also know that any year now could o-line coach Dante Scarnecchia's last. I wouldn't call Daboll a lock if McDaniels goes. I really don't know.
Hi Mike,What do you think of Bill O'Brien being a succesful head coach? The track record of Pats assistants is not good (McDaniels, Crennel twice, Mangini twice, etc.). And even guys BB put in the good word for did not work out (Schiano). Probably the best hire assoicated with BB was when he put in good word for Harbarugh in Baltimore. Will O'Brien be the exception that will succeed? Thanks
Mike (12:49 PM)
Count me as an O'Brien believer. Thoughts here: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4756557/obrien-thoughts-from-pats-perspective?ex_cid=espnapi_public
Hey Mike - How do you think the team feels about the Saturday night slot next week? Hoping the late kickoff brings a greater likelihood of cold/weather? I know as Pats fans we're spoiled with 1-2 home playoff games every year, but it would be nice to have a playoff tailgate in the daylight once in a while!
Mike (12:49 PM)
Yes, Seth, I think the Patriots feel it plays to their advantage. Tom Brady touched on this a little bit on Wednesday. Cold-weather team, having practiced in these elements, develops mental toughness.
Nemanja (Vranje, Serbia)
Mike, what's going on with Adrian Wilson? Is he with the team? Will he be in the Pats uniform next season?
Mike (12:50 PM)
Technically he's under contract, but I'd be surprised if he's back. Probably wasn't going to make the team coming out of training camp/preseason.
Scott (Monroe CT)
Mike, any concerns if we rematch with Cincinnati in a week, does the home field and potential for better weather (Not a driving rain storm) give us fans optimism for that match-up (Assuming Cincy takes care of business this weekend).
Mike (12:52 PM)
Scott, this year is different than past years where you might be more inclined to say, "Let's hope we avoid Baltimore" or something like that. There really isn't any big difference between the possible opponents. This thing is wide open for anyone. I do think the Patriots have proven, when they play their best, they can beat anyone. They've also shown they can lose to anyone. So maybe the best way to put it is "hang on for the ride."
Kevin (Kansas City MO)
Hi Mike,From right in the midst of enemy territory, I'd say no question the Chiefs would be the least scary opponent for the Pats. While they have a defensive line that can pressure Brady like the Ravens or Jets have done in the past, their receiving corps seems to be less than sure-handed, while both the Colts and Bengals do have legitimate offensive threats. Thoughts?
Mike (12:53 PM)
Kevin, just seems to me the Chiefs have faded a bit here late in the season. I wonder if they've peaked. Admittedly, I've only studied one game and it clearly wasn't their best (vs. Colts). But I saw them in the first Denver game and wasn't overwhelmed. Jamaal Charles would obviously be a big concern. I'd feel "better" about the Patriots being able to limit him than Andrew Luck. That's one reason I lean more towards the Colts.
Mike, with Gostkowski and Allen, Slater, Edelman, and Blount, wouldn't you say that a huge strength of the Pats is special teams? might be best in the league.
Mike (12:54 PM)
BP, I think that has been a strength of the team this year, no doubt.
Scott (Scottsdale, AZ)
Bill Belichick does it again. Fleecing great players from new coaches, i.e. LeGarrett Bluont. or in Randy Moss's case really old owners.
Mike (12:55 PM)
Scott, on that stuff, the key is the belief in the locker-room foundation. Those players are risky to take on. It's not like drafting a Nate Solder or signing a Mike Vrabel, who you know aren't going to give you any issues. So you have to have faith that your foundation is strong enough for those players to blend in. Put Talib in the same category. I think BB generally has a great feel for that, with 2009 one of the few exceptions.
Janice (Des Moines, IA)
Which, if any, Pats coaches/scouts is Bill O'Brien likely to invite to join him in Houston?
Mike (12:58 PM)
Janice, there is a general understanding among most who leave the Patriots that they don't poach from the staff. Eric Mangini did and that's one reason, from my opinion, he wasn't viewed favorably. Scott Pioli didn't. Josh McDaniels didn't. Thomas Dimitroff didn't. The one difference is that if an assistant coach has an expiring contract, it isn't viewed as much as a poaching. I would think George Godsey, the TEs coach who came to New England in part because of O'Brien's recommendation, would be the name to watch.
Roel Torres (Somerville, MA)
I just want to point out that despite your season long criticism of Blount as a kick returner, he qualified as 5th in the NFL in kick return average by the end of the season, well ahead of other glamorous return specialists like Devin Hester, Trindon Holliday, Brandon Tate, Josh Cribbs, and Ted Ginn.
Mike (12:58 PM)
You nailed it Roel. I was wrong on that one, although I think most would agree that until Blount broke those big returns, the production wasn't great.
Mike (12:59 PM)
Let's take a few more...
Mike I have a feeling that this season is going to end like 2006 when Brady did not have enough weapons on offense and plus this year defense have been very susceptible defending the run. I think our run is going to end in Denver. So my question is that if it ends like this can we expect a 2007 kind of offseason where we went on to add a top reliable receiver in free agency. In my opinion even if rob gronkowski comes back but with his injury history the patriots will have to sign someone to help Tom brady I mean even him being a once in a lifetime quarterback he can't get it done alone and I hope I am wrong but I think it will show up this year in the playoffs.
Mike (1:00 PM)
A lot will depend on Edelman, Mandeep. Also, we can't overlook the development of young WRs. I think Dobson could be a stud with another year in the system.
mike (boston, ma)
Guess as to whether Dobson goes on IR?
Mike (1:00 PM)
I'm expecting it, Mike. That's an educated guess.
Scott (Monroe CT)
Who do you see as a potential unsung hero for the Pats in the play-offs, I see Logan Ryan as the candidate assuming Dennard is still hurting. I know Logan is a rookie, but I sense he has a lot of confidence right now.
Mike (1:01 PM)
Scott, I like the pick. If you have a chance, check out this week's video "P.A.T." segment when it's posted. Logan Ryan is the player interview.
Mike, let's hear your predictions for the Wild Card games this weekend!
Mike (1:04 PM)
Let's end on this one, Rick. I like the Bengals over the Chargers, and I'll pick the Colts over the Chiefs. In the NFC, I'll go 49ers and Saints. Two road teams -- a little risky.