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 11 a.m. ET!
Mike (10:55 AM)
Good morning and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started in a few...
Mike (10:57 AM)
Every year, I am asked to go through the schedule and pick the outcome and include some thoughts. With less of a focus on the outcome and more on the analysis included (e.g. Jets in a tough spot coming here for Thursday night), here is the link: http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/10826739/mike-reiss-game-game-predictions-2014-new-england-patriots
Mike (10:58 AM)
Will have to wrap about 10 minutes earlier than the norm today to scoot to the stadium for Devin McCourty media access.
Mike (10:59 AM)
How is everyone doing today?
Tyler(Oklahoma) [via mobile]
Morning mike. What do u make of all the road games toward the end of the Pats' schedule? And how did a Manning/Brady matchup not make primetime?!?!
Mike (11:01 AM)
Tyler, didn't think the road stack at the end was anything out of the norm. The Packers/Chargers double-dip looks tough, as it should be. But if you make it through that, you have two of the final three games at home, with the lone trip to the Jets. Not bad travel stress in Weeks 15-17. On Manning/Brady, CBS pays a lot of money for the rights as well. They shouldn't have to give that game up every year to NBC. That wouldn't be fair. So they rotate years, it seems.
Hey Mike...why are you thinking the team ends up with a worse record than last year after all the off season pick ups?
Mike (11:02 AM)
I didn't really factor in last year to the consideration. This is a completely different year and I think Bill Belichick might actually agree with me when I say, "2013 will have no impact on 2014." Now if I can only get him to agree that Ryan Shazier would be a slam-dunk pick for the Patriots if he's there at 29. LOL.
Mike, Is it too early to know if you are planning on having a meet up in San Diego?
Mike (11:04 AM)
Ernie, I'd really like to do that. I'll need to clear some things with the powers that be, but it would be great to fly out to San Diego on that Friday before the game, opening up Saturday for a possible gathering. Would be great to connect with the West Coast Patriots fans, who always come out in big numbers. Let's see if we can make it happen.
Mark (San Diego) [via mobile]
Hey mike, Hope all is well. After seeing the schedule yesterday I was pretty excited because it's the first time I won't have to dress like I'm going to Antarctica to attend a patriots game in December! I have read a lot about how deep this draft is, which probably means that Bill will trade out of the first round. To me, I see this team being one or two players good players away from an elite level (especially on defense). Do you see a scenario where the patriots trade up in the draft, and if so, who would you want them to take? I think DT is a bit of an overrated need because we already have a pretty solid rotation at that spot, but definitely think a safety, defensive end, or right end would be ideal. Enjoy your weekend. -Mark
Mike (11:07 AM)
Thanks Mark. Very much looking forward to the trip to San Diego in early December as well. I wouldn't rule out any scenario when it comes to trading up (e.g. 2012 with two trade-ups), but I don't necessarily see a Jerod Mayo-type Day 1-starter type that deep in the draft. I am high on Shazier, the LB from Ohio State, and will repeat that I'm surprised he's even a consideration that deep in the draft (athletic instinctive linebackers like him don't come around often). But in a year where a lot of WRs and QBs could go early, pushing defensive talent down the board, maybe it sets up a scenario where the Patriots could capitalize again.
James (Northeast, TN)
Mike, I hear you keep giving Brady another 3 or 4 years. Brady will be 40 and 41 years old by then. Not many quarterbacks have remained succesful at that age. Also the risk of injury seems much greater, much harder to bounce back at 38 as opposed to 32. I think BB needs to go all in these next 2 years. Take the 7 draft picks and package them to get 3 or 4 top players each year, move up some in the draft. I feel its now or never. No guarantees that post Tom Brady quarterback will be good enough to win titles in the future...we dont have a Steve Young on the bench like the 49ers did. Thank you mike!
Mike (11:09 AM)
I understand the mindset James, and the idea of making sure the team does all it can to maximize the years Brady has left. At the same time, I don't think depleting the draft chips for one player is necessarily the best way to do it unless the player is a can't-miss prospect. There aren't too many of those around.
sid [via mobile]
Im not sure you accounted for belichick teams taking off in the second half of the season as you have them going 8-1 and then 3-4. Whats up with that?
Mike, you are predicting the Patriots to start 8-1 and then go 3-4 after the bye. Don't Belichick-coached teams generally improve as the year goes on?
Mike (11:11 AM)
Alex/Sid, I predicted the Patriots to go 12-4 last year, but was 8-8 in terms of accurately projecting the games they would win/lose. So maybe you're on to something!
Mike (11:13 AM)
... Seriously, I always respect how Patriots teams improve after the bye. I do think it's a tough post-bye slate, though. Look, we all know it's impossible to accurately predict these things. What I'd like to focus on more than the prediction is the analysis within it and how some games set up better than others based on the opposition's schedule (e.g. Chargers coming off a road game at Baltimore; does that negate the idea the Patriots are coming off a road game at Green Bay?). Those are the points of analysis that I think are most pertinent at this time to discuss.
why is the Miami home game always in December and the away game always in Sept?
Mike (11:14 AM)
Peter, how soon we forget. Last year's Patriots at Dolphins game was Dec. 15. Can I throw a penalty flag on you, 5 yards, for illegal procedure there?
corky NPR Florida [via mobile]
Hi Mike, first game in south beach, Florida heat in sept is big for the fins. See this one tough right off, glad to see the bye in the middle, but what is your take on it all??
Mike (11:15 AM)
Corky, I like the schedule. First thing I look for is the bye. That's nice, and then you look at a contender like the Broncos getting it so early, that's an edge to the Patriots IMO. All in all, I think it's a fair schedule and I'm just glad we have a pertinent piece of information to talk about and analyze.
Tyrone (Richmond) [via mobile]
Mike... My question to you stems from your early predictions on the outcome of the newly released schedule. How can you make a win lose prediction on games that take place in September and the draft, minicamp, training camp and preseason hasn't taken place. To assume a team's past success or lack their of will translate to the subsequent year seems irresponsible.
Mike (11:18 AM)
It's a great point, Tyrone. It is the same thing, in a way, as citing strength of schedule as a meaningful stat when it is based on 2013 records. So much changes on a year to year basis, a month to month basis, a week to week basis ... so I think the key is to understand that it's not an ultra-serious exercise. I, for one, can benefit from lightening up once in a while. Let's not take it all so seriously all the time. This falls in line with it to the point that when I tweeted out that predictions link, it went something like this: "For your amusement ... at my expense ... but hopefully maybe a thing or two learned about '14 Patriots schedule?"
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Mike - Will the Patriots move up to draft a wide receiver and who are they interested in [if they're talking] or who would be good under the Patriots scheme of things ?
Mike (11:20 AM)
Rich, it is a deep WR group. I'd be surprised if they trade up for one and surprised if they still took one by standing pat at 29. The only thing that changes the picture is if Aaron Dobson's foot injury (February surgery for a stress fracture) has potential long-range concerns tied to it.
Mike (11:20 AM)
USC WR Marqise Lee was reportedly in for a visit.
Shawn W. (Manchester, CT)
Do you see RB Ka'deem Carey as a fit for the patriots? If no why isn't he a good fit?
Mike (11:23 AM)
When I went through the running backs, Carey fell just under the radar because of questions I had about some off-field stuff. There was a team suspension and a run-in or two with the law. It may be nothing, but with the resources I have to study these prospects, it was enough of a flag for me to stay away in projecting who the Patriots might view as the best fits (on and off the field).
Hi Mike, any thoughts on Alabama GC Anthony Steen? He looks like a potential steal on day 3, especially if he can play C (where his shorter stature and arm length -- for a G at least -- is not as much of a liability).
Mike (11:26 AM)
Matt, I am in the process of trying to identify the interior OL options who might fit and he'd be a good one. He has long-snapping ability as well, which adds to his value. Penn State's John Urschel was another earlier-round possibility who caught my eye. Trying to identify those interior guys who can move well and get to the second level effectively. Has to be able to pull.
Dev (Wilmington) [via mobile]
With the release of the schedule each year I find myself in the treaky position of taming my expectations, understanding that the season is a long tough grind why also trying to be cautiously optimistic. With that being said based off the schedule I find it plausible and foreseeable that the team can achieve a 12-4 record. Is that being too confident or am I wrong for seeing the the possibilities barring injury and giving that they they reached that record despite the injuries? Keep up the good work.
Mike (11:26 AM)
Dev, I don't think 12-4 is too optimistic. It sort of ties into the theme we're talking about today -- it's a clean slate. In the words of Kevin Garnett, "Anything is possible."
Mike (Vancouver) [via mobile]
Hey Mike. Why does it seem everyone is counting out kenbrell thompkins.. IMO he was showing great promise until he battled injuries.
Mike (11:28 AM)
Mike, I think the fact Thompkins tailed off at the end of the year and was a scratch in the AFC title game might play into it. Also, he has that undrafted label and the team went out and signed veteran Brandon LaFell as a free agent. I like your point, though, and believe Thompkins will be a factor in 2014.
Mike, do you forsee Bill Belichick making another Minnesota type deal like last year to get more pucks?
Mike (11:29 AM)
Hank, I see what you did there. The hockey playoffs are on my mind as well. If the same type of 4-for-1 deal presents itself this year, I think BB would be hard-pressed to turn that down.
Hi Mike, not sure if you saw what happened with the Yankees pitcher Pineda last night, but I was interested to see if there were any comparable situations in Football. I.e. players or coaching regularly and blatantly breaking a rule, but opposing teams let it slide because it is an "unwritten rule." With such strict offseason rules regarding contact between players and coaches, I wonder if these "unwritten rules" every come into play
Mike (11:31 AM)
Steve, that was compelling stuff. I'm watching it at the same time the schedule is coming out and thinking to myself, "Is this real?" You might have seen it from time to time on broadcasts, how officials check players for foreign substances on their jerseys. Particularly offensive linemen, who maybe were hoping to be a bit more slippery when opponents try to get their hands on them. It's not the same thing, but that's something that came to mind. Can't do it. Not sure anyone does, which makes it different than the baseball dynamics, but sort of in the same category.
hey Mike, why don't you lighten up a little?
Mike (11:31 AM)
Right on, Andrew. Can't always be so serious. Always try to enjoy the journey.
Will all the talk of Teddy Bridgewater dropping, would the Pats consider him if he fell to their 1st round pick?
Mike (11:31 AM)
I don't see it, Vic. Too early for that line of thinking IMO.
Hi Mike, I know you like Devin McCourty (as I do as well), but are you really postive he definitly gets that extension? Let's be honest, he was drafted to be a CB not a safety, and failed at corner (or struggeled heavily depending on how one defines it). As you have also mentioned, he is one of the smallest safeties in the league. I guess my point would be, if you are going to spend 5-6 million annually on a safety, is it wise to do so on an undersized failed CB? He's good, but just not sure its the best investment. Thanks
Mike (11:33 AM)
Jared, I think they'd be comfortable spending $5-6 million per year on a safety like McCourty. It's if the number goes higher that it might become restricitive in the team's thinking. I think McCourty is indeed a player to build around -- on and off the field. I don't put him in the elite category, but if Earl Thomas and Jairus Byrd are 1A types, I'd be comfortable calling McCourty a 1b if that makes sense.
Mike, with the signing of Brandon Lafell, which receiver do you see leaving town after before pre season or after pre season
Mike (11:34 AM)
Probably one of those situations where an injury helps sort it out.
Jason D (NYC) [via mobile]
Mike, this team still has not have the personnel or the scheme to get off the field on third down in big playoff games. We have enough to go 11-5 or 12-4 which are great but to get another ring, we need Brady, Revis and Gronkowski healthy, and a pass rush. It is really that simple. I hope the coaching staff makes some scheme changes that help our pass rushers get to the QB. An impact sub pass rusher (not someone like Will Smith either) is needed to get this team over rhe top. Thoughts?
Mike (11:37 AM)
Jason, here's what I think you have to bank on, based on the present personnel: Better play at CB helping that pass-rush becoming more effective. Because as you said, it's not like there have been major additions to boost that pass-rush, unless we're banking on Armond Armstead being that much of a difference-maker or internal development from the likes of Jamie Collins and Michael Buchanan providing a significant boost. I do think they have some different parts to explore, but agree, more reinforcements are needed. I do like Will Smith a bit more than you, it seems. I think he could help.
Some thoughts on DE: Unless a veteran signs for the minimum (Smith or Shaun Phillips?), I think Belichick will go with what he has. In the sub, he can always bring Collins or Hightower in as a DE and push Jones inside. Thoughts?
Mike (11:37 AM)
Mark, can always do that, but still think they need another player there at DE. Too light in the event of injury to one of the top guys, unless Buchanan and Bequette take that next step and it seems risky to bank on that.
Tim C (Colorado Springs)
If your team needed a QB now and you were not going to draft one in the first round, would you rather have Cassel, Hoyer or Mallett?
Mike (11:38 AM)
Tim, would lean Cassel there after what I saw in 2008 from him here in New England. Because I have the most information on him, I'm most comfortable going in that direction.
Brian (Oxford, CT)
Hey Mike - Looks like the Pats have 5 weeks between road games in the middle of the season. Isn't THAT a bit of a break from routine, and do you think BB will approach it with any sort of ideas to prevent even a bit of sameness?
Mike (11:39 AM)
Brian, maybe a mini-bye in there if they beat the Jets on that Thursday night game, which would come that weekend. Could see that.
michael f (medford) [via mobile]
I keep hearing a ton of talk about solid prospects and truly enjoy the beyond the first round series you and field are putting together as I watch football religiously. I know you touched on layerla with off field stuff checking out but with that omitted from the thought process and bills history with risky players I don't see much downside to him being added as a 6th7th rpund option could be a Hernandez clone skill set wise and it would be a great late boom bust option. I feel his upside could be nearly as high as Ebron thoughts?
Mike (11:41 AM)
Thanks Michael. The Patriots do take risks in certain situations. I just thought this one was at a little bit of a higher level than maybe they'd be comfortable with. Maybe I'm wrong.
Rickey Baltimore [via mobile]
Hey mike, just wanted your thoughts on how big an impact losing blount will be. Does it require we go after another big back in the draft?
Mike (11:42 AM)
Rickey, I personally like the big backs. I do think they'll miss Blount. And yes, I do expect them to come out of this draft with a RB. Not sure it necessarily has to be a big RB, but I'd be surprised if they don't tap into a pretty strong class.
To Jason and Mike (Boston)
Mike:Jason from NYC nailed it. The pats still can get no pass rush with their front 4 without help.... I dont know why Bill refuses to learn from other teams winning sb...He saw in 07 and last year...You need to get pressure with your front 4 and drop 7.... They will win 11 or 12 games and lose in a game where they don't touch the qb at all..Happened for years.
trent (columbus, oh)
Mike, two under-the-radar draft day trades that should be on the patriots radar:(1) Bryce Brown -- I remember hearing the rumor earlier in the offseason that he could be traded with mccoy/polk/sproles already there, and the chip kelly connection bears watching. Not as big as blount, but at 220 I think he is solid runner to pair with ridley on early downs. And would probably cost a 7th RD pick.(2) Mike Glennon--all this talk about the patriots looking to the draft to replace mallett when he leaves. Well there is also word that the new TB mgmt is not sold on Glennon and could draft 'their' guy of the future in the early rounds of the draft. They could then be looking to deal Glennon, and I think he would be a perfect fit as a backup in New England--he has the physical traits that BB (and Shiano) likes, and potential to develop, and would be cheap on the cap with 3 years left on his rookie deal. Plus I compare what it would cost (4th round pick?) for Glennon to what kind of backup QB we could select at pick #130, and I would say Glennon is a solid alternative.Keep these names stored in your back pocket come draft day.
Mike (11:44 AM)
Thanks for sharing those thoughts on both topics.
Kyle (Lubbock, Tx)
Mike, if the Patriots focus on defense early in the draft and then go for offense towards the end, who do you see as being a good mid-to-late round wideout? Why hasn't Eric Ward of Texas Tech been brought up, I know he is not the biggest of them all but he has the strength and vertical leap that can make him stand out.
Mike (11:45 AM)
Good stuff, Kyle. If you have a chance, check out this link as part of our "beyond the first round" series. This one is specific to WRs: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4761659/beyond-the-1st-round-wide-receiver-2
Mike (11:45 AM)
Going to take a few more before scooting out to catch up with Devin McCourty.
I noticed that you mentioned the @Green Bay and @San Diego as a tough spot in the schedule. But What jumped out to me immediately was the Jets game on Thursday after a road game in Buffalo. That seems to me to be a difficult week for the Pats.
Mike (11:46 AM)
It is, Greg, but consider that the Jets visit the Chargers on Oct. 5, host the Broncos Oct. 12, then come to New England Oct. 16.
Mike (11:47 AM)
Believe that is much tougher stretch for the Jets there.
CASEY GODDARD (SLEESBURG FLA.)
Do you think Richie Incognito would be a fall back option to sign after the draft or do you think cuz of the hernandez situation BB isn't looking at anymore bad case players to straighten out like they have the last 4 or 5 years.he is a good linesman and has a good toughguy attitude like mankins.
Mike (11:48 AM)
Casey, nothing would surprise me, especially since the Patriots' new o-line coach, Dave DeGugliemo coached Incognito. But if all things are equal, I'd say they'll prefer to go young there. Think draft.
Hey Mike, Which big safety would be best the best fit for the pats to draft? Gregory had the football intelligence but he didn't scare anyone coming across the middle.
Mike (11:48 AM)
Chris, Washington State's Deone Bucannon has been the safety I've targeted in that mold since the start of the process.
Any thoughts on the Pats using later round picks on 3 BC boys? Williams, Patchan, Pierre-Louis?
Mike (11:49 AM)
David, wouldn't be surprised if they also sign QB Chase Rettig as a priority free agent too. I like Williams as a power back type. Not as sure on the others, to be honest.
Josh (Long Island)
Hey Mike, I do not understand why everyone is so high on Blount. He had two good games last year, one of those being in the snow when nobody could tackle anybody. In the AFC Championship game when Denver knew they were going to run with him he got shut down. Your thoughts?
Mike (11:50 AM)
Josh, I wouldn't hold the AFC title game against him. Not much room there. Just lost the battle up front IMO. Couldn't block Knighton. I liked what Blount brought the team and I do think it's a loss, but it comes back to economics. Can't keep 'em all and some tough decisions have to be made.
Bob (San Diego)
Mike, looking at the Pats OL contracts and those that are expiring after this season, do you think the team will look to restock in this year's draft to at least get them into the system so they're ready to step in?
Mike (11:51 AM)
Bob, I think they'll come out of this draft with at least one highly-touted OL to add to the pipeline. Just trying to figure out who it might be.
Tyler(Oklahoma) [via mobile]
Carlos Hyde would be a real nice acquisition don't you think?
Mike (11:51 AM)
Let's end on this one, Tyler. Hyde has some good things going for him, but I like a few of the other backs a bit better, such as Washington's Bishop Sankey and BC's Andre Williams.
Mike (11:52 AM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Always enjoyable. We'll do it again next week.