ESPNBoston chats Patriots-Ravens
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPNBoston.com will host a chat to take your questions on the New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens game this weekend.
Former Patriot Tedy Bruschi (noon ET) and blogger Mike Reiss (12:30 ET) will be on hand to take your queries.
Send your questions now and join the chat Friday starting at noon ET!
Buzzmaster (12:02 PM)
We're getting Tedy!
Tedy Bruschi (12:05 PM)
Hey everybody how are you doing? Big game this week? Let's talk!
kyle (newport ri)
When does this NE defense start getting credit? I have been impressed with the secondary!
Tedy Bruschi (12:06 PM)
If they want some notoriety, this is the week to get it. If they outplay the Ravens defense, next week the talk will be all about them.
Paulie (Manhattan Beach, CA)
If Wilfork is sidelined for the Ravens contest as appears likely, will Belichek commit extra people to stop the run?
Tedy Bruschi (12:07 PM)
I don't think Coach Belichick will gameplan due to the loss of one player. Although he's a big loss, I'm wondering if an injury, trade, retirement will finally effect this defense. I wonder if this is finally the breaking point. We'll see on Sunday.
Jullian (B Town Baby)
Is this the hardest game on the Pats schedule?
Tedy Bruschi (12:08 PM)
Up to this point in the season, this is the toughest game by far. The Jets are tough, but the Ravens are considered the best team right now. But they have to play the Colts and a big rematch with the Jets Nov. 22.
Hayden White (BALTIMORE)
If Wes Welker and Randy Moss are out this weekend and do not play, do you see Tom Brady having any success on Sunday. Joey Galloway has not panned out to be a reliable option for the Patriots as age has probably caught up with him
Tedy Bruschi (12:09 PM)
If both of those guys don't play, they're in trouble. Welker was close last week. I think he'll participate in this game and that will be great for Tom Brady.
Jason (Burlington Vt)
Tedy, what's your favorite day of the work week as a player besides Sunday?
Tedy Bruschi (12:10 PM)
Friday. Friday was when all of the gameplanning is in and practice isn't as physical as Wednesday and Thursday and the attitude is light in practice. You really walk away from Friday feeling good about what you accomplished during the week and ready to go for Sunday.
hey tedy.. i feel as if tom brady hasnt been getting enough time in the pocket because of the line... do you feel like thats been an issue for him coming of this injury
Tedy Bruschi (12:11 PM)
I think there were definite issues in the Jet game. They were obvious. I think they made improvements last week against Atlanta. But this week, they'll see some of the same things from the Jets game. We'll see if they can make some adjustments from the game two weeks ago.
Tedy, how do you see the Brady/Galloway relationship playing out? Seems like there isn't much trust there.
Tedy Bruschi (12:12 PM)
Right now, I don't like it. I don't like it because it's not like Galloway is relatively new. He was here for mini camp and training camp. He should be further along than he is now.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
What do you think the Pats' strategy will be on defense? Flacco has been playing well and all their running backs can do different things.
Tedy Bruschi (12:13 PM)
Hmmmm. That's a good question. Who do you stop? This Ravens offense can do it all. As a LB the first thing they need to do is stop the run. If you win on first and second down and get them in 3rd and long, you have a chance to get them off the field.
Nathan (Los Angeles)
Hey Tedy...I was wondering why we don't dial up more blitzes with our defense? Is it a personnel thing or more of a philosophy belief?
Tedy Bruschi (12:14 PM)
I think it's personnel right now. They have some young guys in the defensive front and they're wanting them to get their feet wet before they unleash all of the exotic blitzes. In a Bill Belichick defense, there are a tremendous amount of adjustments that need to be made. These young kids are just getting used to the base defense and as the season goes along, these kids will adjust.
Jeremy Levenson (Worcester MA)
i know you twittered earlier about jerod mayo being back in practice today. do you have any idea when he might be back?
Tedy Bruschi (12:15 PM)
Jeremy, I don't even have a Twitter account right now. Don't believe what you read, buddy.
Jullian (B Town Baby)
Teddy now that Mayo is hurt and there's a huge hole in the LB position you think there's a chance you'll come back? Please say yes!!
Tedy Bruschi (12:16 PM)
Jullian, when I retired, I cut the cord, man. They are thin at LB. Keep your eyes open for a Junior Seau signing.
Assuming Welker plays, is his value as Brady's check-down option enough to push the Pats past the Ravens?
Tedy Bruschi (12:17 PM)
Welker playing is a huge plus. But more has to be done. Wes and Tom aren't going to win the game all by themselves. But on those blitzes the Ravens pump at you, you need a WR with Welker's ability to recognize the blitz. Tom trusts him. He is a blitz beater.
nick (springfield, ma)
are you impressed with our rookies? i really like chung, butler and brace...do you see them getting big time minutes on the field?
Tedy Bruschi (12:18 PM)
There are two rookies that I'm most impressed with. Darius Butler and Sebastian Volmer. Butler has tremendous athletic ability. He's going to be a CB that Pats fans are going to like to watch play for years to come. Volmer is the next star in line for the OL, right behind Matt Light and Logan Mankins. Look for the coaches to work these two players in all year.
Right now our pass-catching tight ends (Watson and Baker)are catching most everything that is being thrown their way. How do we get them more involved?
Tedy Bruschi (12:20 PM)
I don't think it's a question of the offense getting them more involved. I think it's a point of Tom Brady having more confidence in them. The plays will be run. Tom will throw the ball to the guys that will make plays for him. It hasn't been the TEs in the past. But with Baker and Watson's big year so far, I think Tom will start to think that if Wes and Moss aren't open, I have these TEs that I am confident in.
Double R (So Cal)
I love the fact everyone is talking about and picking the Ravens (just like they were doing with the Falcons). Do players get extra motivation from reading and hearing this?
Tedy Bruschi (12:21 PM)
If you've been watching live NFL Live this week, I've been picking the Pats every time. I know in that Patriot lockerroom, there isn't much motivation when fans and media outlets pick the Ravens. They're just focusing on doing their job this weekend and getting the win.
Hey Tedy, considering the Ravens have one of the toughest run defenses in the NFL, do you think the Pats will try to primarily pass the ball, or will they try a balanced attack like they did last week against Atlanta?
Tedy Bruschi (12:23 PM)
The Patriots can't be one dimensional. They just can't. The Ravens defense will throw every blitz at you if you pass 50 times like they did earlier in the year. The Patriots must be balanced. They have to keep the Ravens honest. And with Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney, you could break one during the game.
Tom Jutras (Ohio)
Tedy, What do you forsee is the biggest challenge on Sunday? The always tough Ravens D or the surprising Ravens Offense?
Tedy Bruschi (12:24 PM)
I think the bigger test will be the Patriots defense against the Ravens D. I am confident that the Patriots offense will be ready because of Rex Ryan and the Jets defense. The Ravens offense is the best the Patriots have faced all year. Joe Flacco is legit. That's the matchup I'll be watching.
Nick Karalekas (Riverside RI)
Tedy, how do you think the Pats defense is doing this year?
Tedy Bruschi (12:25 PM)
They're 6th in the league in scoring defense and they haven't allowed a team to get over 300 yards on them. That's all you could ask on them at this point in the season.
Had you heard anything new on Moss's back and if he will be good to go on Sunday, and if he does will he be able to perform at his acustomed level or will he be just a decoy?
Tedy Bruschi (12:26 PM)
If Randy Moss plays, he plays to win. It's not in his mentality to be a decoy. I think his back is one of those nagging injuries that may hamper him the entire season. Over the years that I played with Randy, I learned one thing: he's a fierce competitor and he'll do whatever it takes to help this team win.
Do you think the performance by Fred Taylor last week locked him in as the feature back in the offense? Or will they still use 2 or 3 at a time?
Tedy Bruschi (12:28 PM)
They're going to use 2-3 backs every game. If they try to feature Fred Taylor, I don't know if his body will last the entire season. He's a RB in his 12th year and a lot of those hits can take their toll. I want Fred Taylor to be there fresh in December and January. That's when I want to see him get 30 carries.
Who are your top 5 ranked teams so far?
Tedy Bruschi (12:30 PM)
I don't want to order them, but the best right now are the Ravens, NY Giants, New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, and the New York Jets. I can't put the Patriots in the top 5 right now because they have a loss. There are 7 undefeated teams out there. These 5 teams are undefeated. I think the Patriots are right up there with these teams. This week is a huge test for them to reprove that they are one of the best in the league.
Tedy Bruschi (12:30 PM)
Tedy Bruschi (12:31 PM)
Thanks for the great questions everybody. I'm so pumped for the Pats game this weekend. It's a great weekend for games. I'm going to be going from room to room to watch every possible game that I can.
Buzzmaster (12:32 PM)
Next up is Mike Reiss!
Mike Reiss (12:32 PM)
Thanks Tedy. So this is what Eric Alexander feels like?
Mike Reiss (12:33 PM)
Tough act to follow, but it's been great working with you. The plan here for me is to go until 1:05 p.m. There will be a 2-3 minute delay around 12:40 p.m. for a quick radio spot on The Herd.
Mike Reiss (12:34 PM)
Was at practice today and left with the feeling that Wes Welker has a better chance of playing this week. I think Moss will play. Don't think we'll see Mayo. On a hunch, I think Wilfork will play.
Tedy, where's Ron Brace?? Why Terdell Sands and not Ron Brace at the NT position with Wilfork out??
Mike Reiss (12:35 PM)
Hi Danny. I know this one is for Tedy, but I'll jump in here. Brace struggled with his technique in the second quarter of the Jets game. I think he has to win the confidence of the coaching staff back a bit.
Does the fact that Pyror subbed for Wilfork against Atlanta together with the subsequent signing of Sands indicate some level of dissatisfaction or concern with Brace' readiness or abillity to contribute?
Mike Reiss (12:36 PM)
Gerry, I'd say Pryor and Brace are two different types of players. Pryor is more of a penetrator. Brace is more of a nose. But I do think the signing of Sands ties into Brace a bit. Since that one series against the Jets, when the Patriots were gashed a bit up the middle on consecutive plays, we haven't seen Brace.
I recently heard that coach BB say that the communication from the coaches to the defense was much better than last year. Can you elaborate what that means? Is this due to the new headset in the helmets or the players on the field. Thanks!
Mike Reiss (12:37 PM)
I think what he was referring to Vin was the on-field communication. An example would be the communication before the snap among defensive backs. Sounded to me like his comments got taken a bit out of whack. I wasn't there that day, but that was my view from afar.
Yesss, I'm listening to the Herd. He's live from Atlanta. Do you think the Pats should try to pick apart the weaker secondary of the Ravens?
Mike Reiss (12:38 PM)
Adam, the Ravens surrendered 421 passing yards to the Chargers. To me, that signals that there is an opportunity to make plays on this pass defense. The key will be: 1) Can the Patriots hold up at the line of scrimmage; 2) Is the timing and rhythm there between Brady and his receivers.
Mike, Being around the team a lot, do you see any similaties between Reche Caldwell washing out a couple years back and the Galloway situation this year? I know Joey is far more accomplished career wise, but is there a similiar inability to 'see' what Tom sees on the field?
Mike Reiss (12:40 PM)
That's an intresting comparison, Nate. I remember Brady talking up Caldwell. It could be revisionist history, but I don't remember it being a case where Caldwell wasn't in the right place, or out of sync that much with Brady. I just thought he wasn't as physically gifted. I think Galloway still has the physical gifts, but he's not yet on the same page with Brady.
Lane (Kukuihaele, Hi)
True or False. The Pats won't try to run at all if the opposing team can't generate a pass rush to get to Brady
Mike Reiss (12:41 PM)
I'll go with false Lane. I think they realized last week how important the running game is, in part because it takes pressure off the defense. The Patriots have the second highest discrepancy in time of possession in the NFL. They are controlling the ball.
Jullian (B Town Baby)
Why is Brady missing the mark so much this year. Do you think since his injury he's not as comfortable in the pocket?
Mike Reiss (12:41 PM)
I'd agree with that Jullian.
Hey Mike, let's get right into it, what's the story with Welker? Schfter is reporting that he is present at the start of practice today but I saw your comments that his knee is still swelling and he may be scoped?
Mike Reiss (12:43 PM)
Jim, those comments I made were in a mailbag and I thought I was very careful to say the following: It was a hunch that he might be dealing with some swelling, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had to have the knee cleaned out -- maybe around the bye -- to return to full health (this season). I made it clear that I was speculating, as it was in a mailbag forum, where opinions are shared. I'd hate to think those comments were taken as anything else, because I thought I made it clear I did not have any information on that situation.
Art Dwight (Alexandria, VA)
Mike, what are your thoughts on the Pats "secrecy" strategy regarding injuries. I understand the strategic reason for it, but it's rough on the fan base (which worries a lot!) and I think especially unfair to players who get severely criticized even when they are playing hurt (like Maroney last year). Thoughts?
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
I understand it, Art, but I'd vote for full disclosure. The Patriots aren't the only team that does it that way.
Reiss you think the pats defense can slow down running game without mayo and wilfork
Mike Reiss (12:44 PM)
I do, Mike. One of the underrated parts of this defense through three games has been the gap discipline of the big guys up front. They are very fundamentally sound.
hey mike, do you think we see brandon tate soon if galloway continues to struggle?
Mike Reiss (12:45 PM)
I'm not sure on Tate's progress from his knee injury, Alex.
Mike, when Mayo is back and healthy, do you see the Pats playing more 3-4 with him and Guyton in the middle, or do you see them sticking more with the 4-3 with all their depth on the D Line? How do you think Guyton has played over the past few weeks? Great work so far this year, love reading you're work.
Mike Reiss (12:46 PM)
The Patriots have only played three snaps in the 3-4 since Mayo went out. I would think that number would spike a bit with Mayo back, but the 4-3 has produced some good results too. They'd probably be a bit more flexible than they currently are.
Hey Mike, Your buddy, Chris Gasper reported that Mayo and Wilfork were at practice today, any updates on their official status?
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
Chris Gasper is a good man. I don't think we'll see Mayo. He'll probably be doubtful on the official report. Wilfork, I think he'll be questionable. We'll find out at 4.
Mike Reiss (12:47 PM)
Quick break to go on The Herd.
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
I'm back. Questions from The Herd: Red zone offense and Wes Welker.
at 6' 8" isn't Sands better suited to play 3-4 end?
Mike Reiss (12:51 PM)
He's been working at nose and 3-technique in the four-man line. In a 3-4, I could see him at end.
Nick (Worcester, MA)
I think disclosing injuries is just plain dumb in the NFL, why would you have a player disclosing an injury that could potentially be targeted by the opposing team? Not only is it a disadvantage in that sense, it's also potentially threatening to the player's careers to divugle on injury status, especially when the injury isn't enough to keep said player out of the game.
Mike Reiss (12:52 PM)
Fair point Nick.
Bill (Fort Collins, CO)
Hey Mike, Congrats on the new gig at ESPNBoston! How big of a dropoff do you think there is between McDaniels to O'Brien with the offensive play calling?
Mike Reiss (12:53 PM)
I think it's only natural that there would be a little bit of a dropoff, similar to what we saw in 2005 when McDaniels took over for Weis. I think the gap will close over time, though. O'Brien is a good coach.
Mike what role do you see Edleman taking if WW comes back and is healthy?
Mike Reiss (12:54 PM)
I think Edelman could be the third receiver in certain weeks. He might not have the straight line speed that Galloway does, but I think this is more about being in the right spot/making the right read than speed at this point. Edelman seems to do that pretty well.
What do you think of the way Gary Guyton is performing so far?
Mike Reiss (12:55 PM)
Very impressive. 17 tackles the last 2 weeks. Hasn't missed a snap. Will only make the Patriots defense better in the long run.
jonathan Ritter (south dartmouth)
when will we see the wildcat with no 11?
Mike Reiss (12:56 PM)
I was thinking that this could be the week for something tricky with Edelman. Not sure it will be the Wildcat, but in a close game in which the teams know each other pretty well, it might be time to tap into the element of surprise.
Joseph (Athens, GA)
Mike, I do not think the Ravens secondary is getting enough credit. When teams can only rush for 50 yards against you, it is only logical they will resort to the pass. I think the red zone defense of the Ravens is much more telling than giving up one big game to arguably one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the league.
Mike Reiss (12:58 PM)
Interesting point, Joseph. I still think the Ravens have some vulnerability against the pass. The Chargers put up 421 passing yards (81-yard catch and run by Sproles and 45-yard jump ball to Floyd were two biggies), and my feeling is that the Patriots probably saw that and will look to exploit it in similar ways.
What's the deal with Slater? His arm injury looked nasty but then he was back practicing quickly, yet has not played. Can this guy be an effective returner until Tate comes around (#1 all time NCAA returner)
Mike Reiss (12:59 PM)
Slater played last week, but his special teams duties were limited (punt return). If he's ready to expand his role, we might see a roster move. I wonder if they can keep someone like Bret Lockett, because you only have so many roster spots.
Mike - I think the Patriots secondary has improved dramatically this year. Both, due to development of their young players and their off season acquisions. Does this secondary have the chance to be as good as it was with Milloy, Law, etc a few years ago?
Mike Reiss (1:00 PM)
I agree JC, although I still want to see more. I had someone from another team tell me this week that what makes the secondary so effective is that they are disciplined and make you fit the ball into tight spots. I thought they struggled a bit in zone coverage against the Jets, but seemed to rebound against the Falcons. This will be a good test.
Mike - can you be more specific than you have in the past about Nunn stepping in and why that may be too much to expect from him? Is it the complicated playbook, his skills or something else? We have plenty of other rookies contributing...
Mike Reiss (1:01 PM)
Dan, I think it's more skill-based. He did some nice things in the preseason, but that is much different than the regular season, when there is more game-planning and adjusting on the fly. I think to expect him to fill in for Galloway is a huge leap.
Juan Rodriguez (Cicero, Illinois)
hey mike, this is how i see the game panning out, i think the ravens will be stout against the run game. To counter that i think the patriots will come out in multiple receiver packages, dink and dunk to subsitute for the absent run game, and then try to beat the ravens deep with moss on the outside and tight end seems. your thoughts?
Mike Reiss (1:02 PM)
I like the thought, Juan. The chance to get the ball to playmakers like Welker, Moss, Galloway, Edelman, Maroney in space would be ideal. Those quick screens can be similar to runs.
Jullian (B Town Baby)
Is Adalius Thomas worth all the money we spent on him a couple years back? Can he step up and become a leader?
Mike Reiss (1:04 PM)
I don't think we've seen the game-changing plays from Thomas, and so there is a perception that he isn't worth the investment. But I had someone who knows a lot more about football tell me this week that Thomas has been a key member of the defense this year, as his ability to set the edge has made the Patriots very tough to run on. He's also played more off the line based on some of the personnel shortage at inside linebacker. So that versatility, and doing some of the things that don't show up on the stat sheet, have been important.
What is it going to take for Edelman to return punts and kickoffs? Faulk is in slow motion when he returns, why do they stick with him there?
Mike Reiss (1:05 PM)
I think we'll see him back there this week. Ravens punter Sam Koch is one of the best in the NFL.
should i start baltimores defense over green bays defense in my fantasy league??
Mike Reiss (1:06 PM)
That's a tough one, Zane. Green Bay vs. Minnesota, or Baltimore vs. New England. I'd take Green Bay vs. Favre. He's usually good for a pick-six, right?
How bad is Moss's back and if he plays how effective will he be?
Mike Reiss (1:07 PM)
Let's end on this one, Jerome. I saw Moss out at practice today and he was joking around as players stretched. He seemed to be in great spirits. I think he'll play and be effective.
Mike Reiss (1:07 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. We're trying to make Thursday at noon the standard time for Patriots chats. When that doesn't work, we'll mix it around like we did this week.
Mike Reiss (1:07 PM)
Have a great day, and enjoy the weekend.