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 4 p.m. ET!
Mike (3:59 PM)
Good afternoon from MetLife Stadium. We'll get started in about 5 minutes.
Mike (4:05 PM)
How is everyone doing today. Nice drive out with colleague Lee Schechter today to East Rutherford. Ready to wrap up this preseason. What's on your mind?
Preston (Neoga, IL)
What was your initial reaction to the Mankins trade? How surprised/shocked were you? Big picture, one has to assume this was about the money, so does our chances of resigning Revis at the end of the year significantly improve? Love your work, thanks for keeping us informed and up to date.
Mike (4:06 PM)
I was shocked Preston. Mankins is still playing at a high level and it's not like they're tight to the salary cap. Didn't see it coming at all. But with a chance to get one year ahead of a situation that could have been tough after the season, I see the reasoning behind it from a management perspective. It hit the players hard, as one would expect.
Mike, Do you see the Patriots keeping 8 or possibly 9 OL on the 47 man game day roster to continue adding an extra blocker on the line?
Mike (4:07 PM)
Tim, it's 46 players on game day and I think they'll stick with the 7 if everyone is healthy. That's why it is crucial to have players who can back up multiple spots in the 6/7 spots.
Hi Mike, there is so much excitement and anticipation about the defense. I am anxious to see if Dominique Easley accelerates this year. Do you think this will be a learning year as he is a rookie and also coming of an ACL?
Mike (4:09 PM)
Thanks for the nice words Frank. I expect immediate contributions from Easley, or "E" as players call him. He can get after it. Unlike a position such as middle linebacker, which plays such a big role in the passing and running games, I see Easley's position as a lot easier to make a quick impact. To simplify it, I think D-line coach Brendan Daly pats him on the backside and says, "Go get the quarterback, son." And Easley, once he gets his legs under him and if he stays healthy, can be dynamic in that area.
Give us a surprise player making the roster and a surprise cut. I'm going with LaFell being cut, and Finch making it. I see LaFell behind Dobson, Tompkins, and even Wright, who is a tight end, but has similar qualities.
Mike (4:12 PM)
Ben, I'm keeping my eyes on Stevan Ridley -- not from a cut perspective as much as a player I think could have some value to another team and envisioning that the Patriots could potentially receive some value in return. A lot of things have to happen for that to go down, but it wouldn't shock me, given the depth at RB and everything we saw in the last two days with Mankins. No one is untouchable. As for a possible surprise player to make it, guard Chris Barker could be a possibility. With the trade of Mankins, it thins personnel and Barker was running as the third-unit LG if we look at preseason offensive line groupings.
Leslie (Portsmouth, NH)
Mike, Projecting Tim Wright's incorporation into the system and his transition to a new offensive playbook and role, when do you expect him to start contributing? Do you think week 1 is realistic? Or is it more like week 3 after he's had a month to fully assimilate. Thanks for your work and insights!
Mike (4:13 PM)
Leslie, I watched three games of Tim Wright from last season -- Week 3 vs. New England, Week 10 vs. Miami and Week 15 vs. San Francisco. He is a quick study, as evidenced by his presence in the Buccaneers' hurry-up offense. I thought that was significant. The Patriots' coaching staff generally does a very nice job incorporating new players into the mix, easing them in initially and gradually building up their workload. I'd expect the same with Wright.
Ganesh Swaminathan (Boston)
Hi Mike, I am not too stunned or upset with the Mankins trade as I felt last season that his play dropped a bit. How confident are you with the replacements in the left guard? Are you a fan of the move/trade and the the player we acquired from TB? Thanks
Mike (4:16 PM)
Ganesh, it was nice to meet you Monday night. You were one of the fans who got to see Mankins on stage at the Patriots Premiere event with Tom Brady, Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, a snapshot of four "foundation-type" players who signify what the Patriots are, in many ways, all about. Then 24 hours later, Mankins was traded. That contrast really contributed to my surprise at the trade. As for Mankins' play, I think it was still at a high level. He was throwing guys around at times vs. Philadelphia in the preseason. I think the Patriots would have been happy to have him on their line this year -- just not necessarily at that price/cap figure (and with the option to get a pick/player back in return).
Mike, how much of a role do you think Patrick Chung will play this season?
Mike (4:17 PM)
I'm curious to see if he makes the team, Justin. I'd say it looks good for him right now. They used him as more of an early-down safety in the last preseason game, taking him off in sub. He also contributed on special teams. That could be reflective of what we see in the regular season if he's still here.
Everyone has the idea that Mallett might be trade bait again, but what if after a lights out game tonight someone comes calling for Garoppolo? What would happen if a team like the Rams came with a first round pick offer?
Mike (4:18 PM)
Steve, I think the Patriots would probably take the 1 for Garoppolo.
Mike (4:18 PM)
That's an immediate return on an investment. And I say that with the belief that Tom Brady can (and will) play at a high level into his 40s.
Mike - there is no way they just traded Logan out of no where. I think they approached him about a restructure, probably on several occasions, and he declined each time - which is kind of what he said. So in fairness, he knew this was coming and put himself in this position to some degree. No difference to Vince, except Vince was comfortable here and wanted to ride it out - right?
Mike (4:20 PM)
Mike, the trade might have come out of nowhere, but as I later learned, the contract discussions (albeit brief) between the sides weren't new. I think Mankins knew there was always a possibility something like this could happen.
Tim (Concord NH)
Will the loss of Mankins have a negative impact on Tom Brady's focus?
Mike (4:21 PM)
Tim, Tom Brady is the consummate professional. I feel confident saying this won't affect his focus at all. I would imagine his emotions are similar to what they were when Wes Welker signed in Denver -- disappointment.
Pat (New York, NY)
Mike, if Garoppolo has a great game tonight -- say 3 TDs, 1 INT, 300 yrds -- do you think there is a chance that the Patriots would release Ryan Mallet to make room for a skill position player that could make an impact this season?
Mike (4:22 PM)
Pat, I wouldn't rule it out. My hunch would be that they see more value in keeping him because of the importance of the position.
Monte Pearson (Burlington)
The Wright trade makes me think the Patriots are concerned with Gronk staying healthy. Given his many surgeries, is Gronk more likely than other tight ends to suffer an injury this season?
Mike (4:23 PM)
Monte, I really don't think it has anything to do with Gronkowski because they are entirely different tight ends. It's almost like two different positions, really. As for Gronkowski's injury vulnerability, I don't think anything in the past will dictate what happens in the future.
Ben (Concord, MA)
please tell me Joe Vellano wont be playing big snaps again this year Mike. I watched him last year and sure he was a fine situational player but Denver's O-line dominated him both times last year.
Mike (4:24 PM)
Ben, Vellano would be a backup this year if he makes the club, although that could change based on other players' health or a specific game-plan.
What have you been hearing as far players being "p*ssed?" In line with the reports that have come out? And in your experience how much of an impact does that have on a football team's psyche?
Mike (4:30 PM)
Jake, this is part of football that really interests me because you're talking about the locker-room dynamic and the human element of things. We can discuss Mankins' play slipping a bit (he was still very good), salary cap figures, young players in the pipeline etc., but at the end of the day we're all people and have emotions. Mankins was a pillar in that locker room and a leader among his fellow linemen. You take him out of that mix, and of course players are going to have emotions. These aren't robots. I had one player tell me that Tuesday's practice was almost like a funeral in the sense that it felt like a brother was lost. Now, that's obviously extreme because life and death should never be compared to football, but there was some raw emotion in there. If you're a player, you can't help but feel like you're a little bit of a number in that situation, and if it could happen to him, it could happen to you too. Those emotions were fresh on Tuesday, but I think what happens is that over time it subsides a bit and the players band together. In a way, it can be a little bit of a reminder that all the players have is each other in that room (coaches/management are on the other side of the line) and they can actually become closer because of it. I think the team will be fine, but like anything else, it takes some time to digest it and accept it when something like that happens. Very similar to Lawyer Milloy in 2003 and we remember how that season turned out.
Eric (In Transiton)
Hey Mike. Sad to see Mankins go. I wonder if Belichick has crossed the line with this trade. Competition can bring out the best in us, but no one performs their best if they constantly feel unsettled. I do see the value in this trade. I do. But team continuity is very important as well.
Mike (4:32 PM)
Eric, I think they'll ultimately be OK. But your thought is what some around the league (players, agents, scouts) have asked over the years, "You wonder, is this the time it catches up to him?" To Belichick's credit, it hasn't. Remarkable coaching run here by him.
Don (Marlboro, Ma)
Mike Are you really being realistic to think Tom Brady will play at a "High Level" into his 40's ? Who has ever done that ? I don't think you are being realistic !!
Mike (4:33 PM)
Don, I'm not going to be the one who bets against Tom Brady. Call me a homer. That's one guy I feel most comfortable putting all my chips into his corner.
mik(ca) [via mobile]
What the point of tight end who can't block, you might as well keep la fell on the field who has similar size and more speed?
Mike (4:35 PM)
I watched three games of Wright's film and I would counter the prevailing opinion that he can't block. I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw in that area, while also factoring in it was his first year at the position. Long arms, can latch, and gives top effort. It's not where he'll make his money -- catching the football and running sharp routes is his thing -- but I would caution anyone from calling Tim Wright a no-block TE. Not accurate IMO.
Mike, of the following, who is on this team after the final cuts: Chung, Wilson, Ebner
Mike (4:36 PM)
Definitely Ebner. That's a lock. Not so certain on Chung and/or Wilson. Could see those going either way.
Dominic (Broomfield, CO)
Hey Mike, intrigued by the addition of Wright. Impressive rookie year, especially in that environment. Creates some scheme possibilities I imagine. More than anything tho, we've missed skill people who can win one on one situations when the pass protection slips, or things otherwise aren't going smoothly. Wright seems like he might be able to add a bit of that.
Mike (4:38 PM)
He will add that, Dominic, if he plays like he did last year. I'm going to make a dangerous comparison here, but I want to share it because I think there is some merit to it. When the Patriots traded for Wes Welker in 2007 (2nd and 7th round pick), many felt they overpaid for a former undrafted free agent who was just a "slot guy." Welker was not yet established. The Patriots were ahead of the curve on him. I'm not saying Wright is Welker, but I think there are some parallels between the situations in terms of the Patriots getting a good-looking player before many know about him.
Hi Mike, Mankins, Kelly, Smith & Anderson were all considered high character, good locker room types. Any concern that letting go of people like that will leave a leadership void in the locker room?
Mike (4:38 PM)
The only one out of that group where I think it could be a factor is Mankins. But there are still a lot of leaders in that room.
Uncle Vic (Revere)
Hi Mike, I felt Mankins would be cut/traded based on his salary and play last season (see my twitter post on 6-25). With that being said Wendell probably didn't make Logan's job any easier. Is it Connolly at Center, Kline at LG and Cannon at RG against Miami?
Mike (4:41 PM)
Nice prediction, Uncle Vic. I actually think they would have kept Mankins, and not cut him, if they weren't in position to acquire the assets they did (fourth-round pick and Wright). But the salary and cap figure made him vulnerable to the possibility they would shop him and they found a package that worked. I've been a little underwhelmed with Cannon at RG, but let's see how it looks tonight, assuming he plays a bit there. Cannon has not played guard this preseason.
Do you see Ridley getting cut, or being held onto for "trade bait"?
Mike (4:45 PM)
My thought on Ridley is that the Patriots are deep at RB, and Ridley could have some value to another team that trumps the value the Patriots feel he has for them. What the Patriots value at RB is pass protection, third-down skills, contributions on fourth down, among other things, and that's why I think they're positioned to turn more to Shane Vereen and James White this year. Let's see how it turns out. I think Ridley is a good player (albeit a bit of a one-trick pony in terms of what the Patriots value at the position) and I didn't mean to create any waves by not including him on the final 53-man roster. I just wouldn't be surprised if he's running for someone else this year, given those aforementioned dynamics in play. After what unfolded with Mankins, would we all agree that anything is really possible?
Bill Belichick (Foxboro, MA)
Hey Mike,I am a little tired of everyone questioning every move I make. If you reverse this trade it tells the story. Say that I have a player going into his second season who just caught 54 balls and 5 touchdowns. I take said player and trade him to another team for an aging yet pro bowl caliber guard and a 4th rounder. I would get lambasted for that move. This is the best move for both short (we get a contributor and cap space) and long term (solves a looming issue down the road). Sure some guys might be sad but I am into building a mentally tough football team. If this throws them off then we weren't going to win a super bowl anyway. Thanks,
Mike (4:46 PM)
Bill, I am so flattered that you took the time to join the chat on game-day. Means a lot. Thanks for spreading the word to the good folks who joined us.
Mike (4:46 PM)
(Editor's note: That is not really Bill Belichick, but it is fun to play along.)
Mike, Does the Mankins trade mean that Dan Connolly's roster spot is safe?
Mike (4:48 PM)
Peter, I wish I had the sure-fire answer to you. One line of thinking is that if you take Mankins out of the equation, and include the fact there is a new line coach, you're only contributing to more change if you move on from Connolly. That would seem to tilt the scales in favor of Connolly sticking. I think he's earned it based on his play, but I'm not the one making those decisions.
Jason D (NYC)
Mike, since we are big on accountability in this chat, I would like to point out a point I made in a prior chat that Will Smith was a bad signing and would not make an impact as the type of pass rusher we need to get off the field on third down, and you disagreed. I know your comments recently were that Smith was not cut out for 3-4 but I don't buy it. The Patriots were playing vanilla fronts in the preseason and if they thought Smith had what it took to get the QB, they would have kept him and put him in position to succeed in the regular season. Now, I am still very concerned about getting to the QB on third down. I do not that any improvements have been made besides potentially better pass coverage and either Easley or Hightower (or both) as pass rush aces. Any other thoughts here?
Mike (4:49 PM)
Nice call by you, Jason. I thought Smith was worth a look. Didn't work out. Expect to see more rushing from Hightower this year. Maybe that's the answer.
Richard, NC [via mobile]
Is it me or did Bill feel Logan was starting the downside of his career? I've heard that he gave up the 3rd most sacks by a guard last season.
Mike (4:51 PM)
Richard, Mankins wasn't playing at the same level he was in the past, but I look at it this way: If he was willing to cut his salary a bit, he'd be starting on this line. So I don't think it's fair to bash the player and say, "He isn't here because he's no longer a good player." More than anything, it's that his play wasn't aligned with his salary/cap charge in the team's view. The economics are the driver in this.
Tom (Iowa) [via mobile]
What do you expect to see out of Garroplo tonight, Mike?
Mike (4:52 PM)
Tom, more of the same is the first thought: Poise, leadership, good decisions, accuracy. He's looked like the real deal through three games. He wants to finish strong.
Artic Amber (New Foundland)
I thought the 3-4 defense was a dinosaur defense? What changed?
Mike (4:53 PM)
Artic, I think what you're seeing is that they are teaching out of the 3-4 base, but we'll see a lot different stuff during the season -- 4-3, 3-4, over fronts, under fronts, exotic fronts. Most teams don't show anything in the preseason and the Patriots are no different.
Scott (Columbus, IN)
Hi Mr. Reiss. Can you please comment at all on the timing of the Mankins trade? I realize that finances played a significant role here, but why did this happen now? With a new o-line coach, a lack of definition (and quality depth?) along the line, and the opener coming in 10 days, this doesn't seem to be a great time to shake things up... I respect a team that looks to the future, however, in my opinion, we have to win this thing now.
Mike (4:55 PM)
Scott, one thing I've learned is that things happen fast in the NFL, and often unexpectedly. In this case, if you don't act quickly on the trade, the other team moves on. So you have to be prepared to strike it and move quickly with authority. Tampa might not have been prepared to deal last week, or vice versa. It's an ever-evolving picture in this league.
Tylwr(Oklahoma) [via mobile]
Roy finch gonna make the 53 man roster? Or will he be a practice squad player?
Mike (4:56 PM)
I'd say practice squad. Don't see him sneaking on to the 53 at this point.
Matt (Bristol CT)
Is there even the remotest of remote chances that Tim Wright knocks Brandon LaFell off the roster?
Mike (4:57 PM)
Matt, would be very surprised after Bill Belichick already declared that Brandon LaFell would have a role on the same, maybe a big one. They are two different types of players, even though their physical makeup is somewhat similar.
Chow Box (NYC)
Love the ChatsMike....you have repeated that the Pats are deep at RB.....I don't see it, especially since Belichick is afraid to run Ridley
Mike (4:58 PM)
I think they feel they are deep at RB. I respect the disagreement. I am probably higher on Bolden as a running back than others.
Any update on Stork?
Mike (4:59 PM)
Nate, I keep looking for him on the field here at MetLife but not seeing him yet. Maybe by the end of the chat will have more for you.
Mike (4:59 PM)
Let's keep this going a bit longer...
Stephen J (Florida )
Mike is it true that Tim Wright has put on 15 lbs since becoming a TE and is at 235
Mike (5:03 PM)
Have that on my list of questions to ask Bill Belichick after the game. Think it is very important. Wouldn't surprise me. In scouting lingo, though, I would say he's closer to a "light load of poles." Not a big trunk there. But 235 with that quickness would be a solid combination and notable.
Dominic (Broomfield, CO)
Interesting topic on the 5 best OL vs best combo on the field. When Cannon was drafted I instantly thought awesome G for the following year. Then rolled my eyes at Bill's insistence he likes him at tackle. Well, guess he was serious. But you got to get him some reps and put him in there, unless his tools really don't transfer. Right?
Mike (5:04 PM)
The topic that Dominic is referring to is this: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4766982/on-o-line-best-5-or-best-combination
Mike (5:05 PM)
Let's see if Cannon plays guard tonight. When I watch him, I see a player who is much more comfortable and effective at tackle. Would be another good question for Bill Belichick after the game tonight.
Jim (Columbia Md)
Mike, Does Tim Wright have a Greg Salas type year this year? Any predictions?
Mike (5:05 PM)
Jim, that hurts a bit. Still ribbing me on my Salas-for-61 prediction? As you should ...
Mike (5:06 PM)
Salas is still kicking around and looks like he'll make the Jets this year. Don't think he can get to 61 with Geno throwing it to him, but a man can always dream, right?
Hey Mike, in regards to the Ridley comments, what would you say is a fair trade from a team that desperately needs a North-to-South style RB?
Mike (5:07 PM)
Mid-round pick, maybe? Then you have to ask the question, "Is the pick more valuable than the player's contributions -- on the field and in the locker room -- for the role we envision?"
Jenny from the Block (Brooklyn)
Yo Mikey....will Collins ever be allowed to attack the passer or is resigned to be a coverage superstar
Mike (5:08 PM)
Mikey ... takes me back to the elementary school days when I was dominating in four-square...when Collins has rushed in the preseason/training camp, it's looked good. I think we'll see some of it this year. Maybe not off the edge, but up the middle from his off-the-line position.
Mike (5:09 PM)
(Bunch of players getting some conditioning/stretching work in on the field...not seeing Bryan Stork)
Basil (enemy territory)
I'm sure Mankins is well respected amongst the team and coaching staff...I wonder if his trade is more of a reflection on the future? Meaning, Mankins has been there for 10 years under Dante's schemes and teachings. Maybe, he was having a hard time making the switch to Dave DeGuglielmo? And, being so respected by the team, causing a riff in the younger guys to accept the new coach? Thoughts? Thanks.
Mike (5:10 PM)
Basil, I think the transition to a new coach has been a challenge for some players, probably more so than many of us realize. Perhaps there is something there, but at this point, it would just be speculation.
Zimbabwe Jones (Harare, Zimbabwe)
Mike, I have been wondering about Sebastian Vollmer. I know he has been considered one of the best RT's in the game for awhile, and suffered a nasty injury last season (I remember I can hear his screaming in pain on television when it happened). I read your article about studying O-line combinations and noticed his name was absent from the "dress rehearsal game". Is that due to a precautionary thing? Can we expect Vollmer to be back to form this season? Will he, in your view, be a full time player this season?
Mike (5:10 PM)
He has been resting a foot injury that week.
Mike (5:11 PM)
Let's take a few more...
All this talk about Wright being the new "Hernandez" seems ridiculous to me. Don't you think it'll take a while for him to adjust to the complicated system and haven't the Pats moved on from that style of offense?
Mike (5:12 PM)
Ricky, it will surely take some time. I think the comparisons to Hernandez should be kept in context -- it's more in terms of his "fit" in the offense as a "move" type TE.
Hardy (Los Angeles)
Mike, THinking about heading to the San Diego game this season. If the Pat's stay out here after playing Green Bay would they have any open practices? Or is that just available during the preseason?
Mike (5:13 PM)
No open practices, Hardy. That would be just a preseason/training-camp type of thing.
Matt (Chapel Hill)
Time will tell whether the Mankins trade was everything from a huge mistake to a steal for the Pats. I would not claim to know. What I do know is that the Pats stay on top year after year in a way few teams have ever matched. One of the keys is disciplined management of the salary cap. Every salary has a direct effect on the overall team structure. Whether their assessment was right or wrong, Mankins did not justify his cap hit in their assessment. You either follow your system or you do not and I give Kraft and BB kudos for being so disciplined, as much as I hate to see Logan go. The results have earned them the benefit of the doubt. Another way to look at would be to assume both Mankins and Wright were free agents and could be signed to their present contracts. Wright would be a no-brainer for any team, Mankins, not so much. And of course there is the draft pick. Emotionally, I hate the trade. Intellectually, I love it.
Mike (5:13 PM)
That captures a lot of the varied emotions Matt. Well done.
Simple Tim (Main St)
Which NFC opponent should the Pats fear the most....Frozen Tundra?
Mike (5:14 PM)
Tough game, Nov. 30, at Lambeau. I think that's the toughest NFC game on the schedule. But I wouldn't fear anyone. Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL.
Alex (Newburyport, MA) [via mobile]
Mike, I don't get all these people hating on LaFell. The guy has come in and shown nothing but improvement each day; even getting praise from Brady and Bill. Meanwhile, Dobson still gets lauded and hasn't even played a preseason snap yet. LaFell is staying. Can you at least admit that? And that he is ahead of Dobson at this point!?
Mike (5:14 PM)
LaFell will be on the team. But he has a different skill set from Dobson. If Dobson is healthy, I'd expect him to play in 2-WR sets over LaFell.
What do you expect Mankins to say in his first comments after the trade? Business is business or the fury of a thousand burning suns?
Mike (5:16 PM)
Doug, I really don't know, but I'm anxious to find out. I believe his media introduction should be tonight in Tampa. He was expected to arrive late Wednesday.
Mike, what are you expecting out of Dobson tonight?
Mike (5:18 PM)
Doug, I think the biggest thing is to just get him acclimated to game speed. I wouldn't set the bar too high for him in terms of catches, yards etc. It's another chance to take a step forward in the process.
Glossy Eye (P Town)
Congrats on being voted #1 sports reporter in NE....well deserved. How about a Brady TD prediction for the year...I'm going with 46
Mike (5:20 PM)
Thanks Glossy Eye. That is flattering but I don't always feel that way myself. On Brady's TDs, let me put some thought into it. I don't want to dig myself a Salas-makes-61-catches type of hole that I can't live down three years later :)
Dakota (Mount Vernon, IL)
kenbrell over dobson take it or leave it?
Mike (5:21 PM)
I still think it will be Dobson in the end because of the higher ceiling. But based on what we've seen so far this preseason, Thompkins gets the nod right now (Dobson's injury has something to do with that).
who assumes the leadership role on the offensive line, solder?
Mike (5:22 PM)
Matt, Vollmer is the one who stands out as the best possibility to maybe assume that role.
Mike (5:22 PM)
Solder's personality is a bit more reserved.
Gary M. (East Hanover, NJ)
Mike, How concerned are you about the Mankins trade's effect on the locker room dynamic? The Seymour trade in 2009 preceded one of the most frustrating coaching years for Coach Belichick. ThanksGary
Mike (5:24 PM)
Let's end on this one, Gary, because it's the topic that carried us through the chat. I think they will be OK and have a better locker-room dynamic this year than they did in 2009. I think it's fair to be concerned about it to a degree, but I think they'll be OK.
Mike (5:25 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Fun to do it here from the stadium and look forward to continuing it throughout the season. Enjoy the game tonight.