Just back from the Patriots locker room. Jerod Mayo, Julian Edelman and Darius Butler among those drawing big media crowds. Also, linebacker Rob Ninkovich walked through and was in good spirits. He's avoided a serious knee injury.
I'm here in the Patriots' media workroom, going to get my stuff together, and we'll start up the chat in a few.
Last time the Pats played the jets Revis did a great job covering Moss. Do you see the Patriots going to Welker, Watson and Faulk more or just finding different ways to get Moss involved in the game?
Going back over my notes from that Patriots-Jets game, the offense was strictly in a three-receiver set for every play but one. They had Moss, Edelman and Galloway as their three receivers throughout. With Welker returning, that will be huge. I also think Moss will have more than four catches, which is what he had in the Sept. 20 meeting.
With TBC and Ninkovich out do you see Adalius Thomas moving into some of the sub packages? Do you think he will finally do what he does best for an entire game, rush the passer?
We're not sure that TBC and Ninkovich will be out. If they are, we do know it's only a short-term type situation. I do think Adalius Thomas would be part of sub packages if they can't play Sunday. He was on Sunday, playing the final 47 snaps of the game, almost exclusively off the right defensive edge in the nickel front.
If Sammy Morris is ready do they give him the majority of the snaps or do they stick with Maroney?
I don't think Morris would come back and in his first game get the majority of snaps, Evan. My sense is that he would be eased into the mix.
Hi Mike. Situation with Tane and Aiken sort of forced Stanback into the 3rd WR position,but how is Nunn doing? Nunn was a standout in the preseason, andhas been rumored to be promoted when Galloway was cut. He's still on the PS.Does being QB, wild-cut personal and also WR give Stanback a higher value when the promotion is considered?Also how is Slater doing?Slater, converted to WR again, has not seen the offensive field in a meaningful situation.
I talk to Nunn from time to time in the locker room and he's very likeable. The type of guy you root for. I think he'll be in the mix next training camp, but it's unlikely there will be another opening this year unless it's injury related. I think Stanback's experience -- he played receiver two years in the NFL prior -- was a factor more so than his versatility.
How do you see the Patriots finishing this season? What kind of regular season record? Playoffs? How deep? thank you!
I think 12-4 or 11-5 is within reason, Allie, assuming good health. I think they'll win the division and be a tough out in the playoffs.
Hey Mike, i have a feeling the team is going to rally around all the negative criticism coach Belichick has been taking all week and respond with an emotional performance, a lot like back in 07' when the pats beat the chargers after hearing all week about Spygate. Your thoughts?
I do think they'll respond favorably, Juan, and use the tough loss as a rallying point. Strip away the final four minutes, when they crumbled, there were a lot of good things to take from that game.
Mike: While everyone has been carping about the 4th-and-2 decision last Sunday, I thought the biggest difference in the game was the phantom pass-interference call on Darius Butler, the 31-yard play that set up the TD that pulled the Colts to within six points (34-28). The Colts might have scored on the drive anyway, but they received a big assist here by the men in stripes. It is an unfortunate irony after all the talk about the "Brady rules," especially since there is no one who seems to be more favored by officials than Peyton Manning. I don't want to suggest that the officials alone decided the outcome (the Patriots were still the authors of their own demise), but why has this call been so overlooked by fans and media alike?
I don't think any one call determined the game, Paul. At the same time, I'd agree that one looked like it shouldn't have been called. Probably the main reason it has been overlooked is that there were so many factors in the game to write about, starting with the unconventional fourth-and-2 decision. I think the uniqueness of the fourth-down decision sort of trumped everything in the immediate aftermath.
Any chance Vollmer could swing to the right side? It seems he entered the season as filling the swing tackle spot
That is an option that the Patriots have, John. My sense is that Light will initially be eased back as the third tackle.
Mike,Personally, did you think that Faulk made the catch on the 4th down and that we were robbed! I think it was very close and it we had it reviewed, it could have gone either ways
I couldn't tell pat2228. That is one of those calls that could go either way.
Mike,I believe that the lack of pass rush could very well cost us the season. Do you see us going for a heralded FA in the off season?
Going for a big-time free agent isn't always the answer, and my sense is that the Patriots will look to the draft first.
Mike,why is everyone making a big deal about home field advantage? I am sure if we win against Jets and sweep Miami, and take the one against Buffalo, we would be the AFC east champion. It would be nice to have a bye and play at home, but we have seen teams in the past who have won SB through the same route!
Especially recently, it has been proven that not getting the No. 1 seed isn't a fatal blow. At the same time, the chance to ensure home-field advantage throughout is something every team wants.
Mike,Brady played as well as any QB I have seen in the last 3-4 weeks. Is he if front running for the MVP?
I'd say he's behind Manning and Brees at this point.
Doing a great job here. My questions is slightly off topic. As a sports writer/journalist, how much effort it takes from your part to keep personal feelings away from work, considering that you are a Pats fan. Did you feel devastated when Colts came from behind and won? I am asking because your articles are very neutral and succinct. Unlike many other reporters, you dont take side and that I admire! Keep up the great work!
Thanks Maddy. It is not a great effort to keep personal feelings out of the work. The way I look at it, the job is to analyze the games the same way regardless of the result. Unlike a true columnist, who is expected to "move the needle" and generate discussion, my role is a bit different. I think it's good to have a mix of different writers. If all took the same style, it would be rather boring.
Hey Mike,I am tired of people second guessing BB. Wasn't he heralded as a hero when we went for 4th and 1 from our own 26 against Atlanta. It tells us how soon people forget! Your thoughts?
I think it's fair to debate the decision pats4ever. When it gets personal, or when it's compared to Grady Little/Pedro Martinez, is when I personally think it goes a bit too far. I think there are legitimate reasons on both sides of the decision and appreciate a good debate on the topic.
What are you predictions for this sunday's game? I personally feel that we will be charged up after the loss and Jets don't have all their personals! I see a 34-14 on charts. Your thoughts?
I'm picking the Patriots by 10. Final score: 20-10.
Mike,What's up Pats giving up huge margin in game against the Colts. Same thing happened in 06 AFC c'ship. Is Manning that good, or do we get cocky due the lead and blow it?
I don't think it was about getting cocky, but maybe human nature took over and they took a deep breath and lost their edge. Dean Pees said the defensive calls didn't change, which was interesting to me. I would also say "Yes, Manning is that good."
One thing I found interesting from Sunday's game was when Tully got injured, Rob Ninkovich, not Adalius Thomas came on to replace him, and Thomas only came on when Ninkovich got hurt. I thought this was telling in how far Thomas has fallen. Your thoughts?
That is a great observation, Andrew. The Patriots were in their nickel front, which meant the defensive ends were more pure pass rushers (Burgess/Banta-Cain/Ninkovich) than traditional ends like Warren/Green. Thomas was the fourth choice at end.
Mike,Who is right - Darrelle Revis or Randy Moss? Did Revis cover Moss one-one-one for most of the game?
I think everyone is right, Rick. Revis was in man coverage, but he's misleading people by making it sound like he never had safety help. I think Moss is right that there was safety help at times, but he's misleading people by making it sound like it was on every snap.
Hi Mike! Looking for a strong bounce back week for the Pats...my question is this: Do you think BB will use different looks to get Randy Moss some more room to operate (i.e. moving him in the slot) agains Revis. This matchup seems key for me, and do think having Wes back will help this a bit. Also, do you ever cover any Westwood/Holliston matchups back in the day? I always enjoyed those...go Wolverines!
Yes, good point Mike. Revis mentioned that he's noticed more of Moss in situations like that in recent weeks and I think it's a fair expectation to think we'll see it Sunday. Having Welker is also a huge factor that can't be overlooked. As for Westwood/Holliston on Thanksgiving, I think I covered that one back in the early 90s when I was still in high school and stringing games for the Middlesex News. I always enjoyed the Tri-Valley League games.
Mike,Does the performance of Vollmer makes Light expendable next season. I believe he if going to earn 4 million and change for 2010.
It sets up a situation where Light might be asked to restructure. If the Patriots are ready to turn the position over to Vollmer, I can't imagine they'd keep a backup at that salary cap charge.
Mike,Given the success of the hurry-up offense in Indy, do you think Rex Ryan will do something similar this Sunday or is Sanchez not ready for such a task? It was frustrating when we clearly didn't have the right personnel on the field and couldnt get the right guys out there.
I see Ryan going the other way, Vinny, and testing the Patriots' depleted defensive line in the run game. Don't think Sanchez is up to the task to play a Colts-like style.
Hi Mike. In the past Belichick has put players on the inactive list if they don't have a role that week. Junior Seau has not played in two games. If he doesn't have a role in the game plan, shouldn't he be inactive?
It's an interesting point, David. While it might have appeared that Seau didn't have a role, he actually was an important piece to the puzzle as a top backup for Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton. The Patriots played a 4-2-5 nickel for most of the game and kept Mayo and Guyton on the field. If one of those players went down, Seau would have been in. It's part of what makes formulating the 45-man game so difficult. You have to account for backups and other factors.
Mike,Is James Sanders' playing time a factor of his performance or his injury, or both? I see him on the field on special teams, but the big nickel with Chung/Meriweather/McGowan has been one of our most effective formations. Whats up with Sanders?
I think Sanders is a case where his injury initially led to the change. Then his replacement played exceptionally well and so it made the change more permanent. The interesting part to consider is if the change would have happened if Sanders had not been injured, because it seemed like McGowan was really coming on. Seems to me that Sanders' confidence is down a bit now.
Mike,I feel like Darius Butler gives up a lot of big plays. I remember seeing him give up two big catches (one TD) to Antonio Bryant a few weeks ago, and his pass interference call vs. the colts was very unfortunate (and questionable, in my opinion). It seems that people are saying he's playing at a very high level, but I'm not sure if I agree. I think the kid has potential, but right now he hasn't impressed me.
I can see where you are coming from Paul. My thought, though, is that no corner is going to win all those matchups. Butler obviously still has room to improve but the arrow is definitely pointing up for him.
HI Mike, great blog. How do you see Stanback's role in the coming weeks, with Edelman still banged up you expect him to be more of a over the middle guy or does he have the speed to go deep?
I have a couple of thoughts on Stanback, Andreas. The first is that he could help the red-zone offense in a change-of-pace type form, maybe running a Wildcat like formation. From a receiver perspective, I see him similar to Aiken. Could step in as a No. 3 option, but probably more of a fourth receiver.
Mike - do you think the Patriots secondary has reaaly improved. When it comes to crunch time, they can't stop my grandmothers yahtzee club. Defense doesn't generate enough pressure. Don't tell me about injuries. That is a fact of life in the NFL.
I do think it has improved Neil, even with the disappointing result last Sunday. Not saying it's the best secondary in the NFL but I think the coverage is much better than 2008. I don't think that says much, though, because it could really only go in one direction after the Deltha O'Neal/Ellis Hobbs 1-2 corner combo.
Injury updates Please, how did Edelman come back so fast,will morris play this week,why so many d-lineman on the practice squad. Thanks
Edelman was right around the right timeframe. I'd predict -- and it's only my hunch, not based on inside information -- that Morris comes back this week. As for d-linemen on the practice squad, the injuries to Green and Warren make it tougher to practice. Need the bodies.
Hey Mike, I feel like Vollmer will get a starting spot at right tackle when light returns. What are your thoughts? Kaczur was getting abused by mathis last sunday.
I would be careful to judge on one performance, Ed. My sense is that Vollmer will keep the job and Light will be the third tackle initially. They'll monitor it from there.
Mike, can you discuss the playcalling at the end of the Colts' game? The Patriots had two chances to get two yards and everyone I was with knew the plays were either going to Welker or Faulk. It seems the Colts did too. They played both of the players close and didn't let them make the plays. I know they can move the chains but how about having faith in some in of the other players.
I didn't have a problem with the fourth-down play-call, although my feeling is that if the Patriots knew it was a two-down situation, they should have run it on third down. That would be better situational football. Easier to say it after the fact, of course.
Mike - with the outstanding safety play we've seen this year from McGowan and Merriweather, why aren't we seeing more pressure D to put away opponents once the Pats have built a lead? It seems like Belichick is allowing teams to hang around by going to a "prevent"/"Cover-2/3" defense once the lead is built and the opposing teams have been able to capitalize.
Dan, I think we've seen more pressure D at times, but not in the Colts game. Tough to blitz Manning.
Hi Mike, did you get that sense that any players were actually shocked with the decision immediately after the game, despite what they might say now? Any notable names you would put in to that category?
No, I didn't get the sense that players were shocked at the call. The sense I got was that they were shocked at how a game they controlled for the most part slipped away so suddenly.
so, would bill do it again, given the same sort of circumstances?
Yes, yes, yes. No doubt about it. No second guessing. I really believe he felt it was an easy decision. What probably bothered him more was the situational football struggles they had.
Hi Mike, After reading Bruschi's comment's earlier in the week about Belicheck's call Sunday, do you think it has demoralized the defense at all? Also, what are the odds that Rex Ryan is crying again come sunday evening?
Here is a comment from Jerod Mayo today in the locker room: "I have the ultimate respect for Tedy and everything he's done for this organization but he's not in this locker room at this point in time so he doesn't know the feeling that this defense or this team has. We still have our confidence, we still have our swagger and we're gonna go out Sunday and show the media I guess."
Do you expect Edelman to play a more significant role this week than last? Did he see limited time last week because he's still recovering from his injury?
I expect more time for Edelman, Al, who was in for five snaps. I think because he was a game-time decision, the coaching staff was more comfortable going with Stanback, who had practiced all week.
What do you think the chance is that Fred Taylor returns for the stretch run? I am getting really concerned that we aren't hearing anything at all about him. Also, I think Maroney has been doing a good job but will never be a number one back in the NFL. Who can we hope to get in this year's draft? I want to run people over!!!
My sense on Taylor was that the Saints game would be a breaking point. If he's not close at that point -- and I believe he's still on course -- then he wouldn't be back.
Do you remember when Brady used to drop back and you knew he was going to throw a completion? Has his completion percentage dropped substantially since 2006 and 2007 or is it just an illusion? Also, did he used to throw longer passes on average in 2006 2007 or am I just mis-remembering things? I think Brady is back, but I think the strategies have changed.
Let's look at the numbers, Bryan. Brady completed 61.8 percent in 2006, 68.9 in 2007, and is at 66.2 percent through nine games this year.
Any updates on Warren?
I'll be headed out to practice shortly and will post to our Patriots blog on Warren.
hey mike, love the work you do!with the DL depleted this past week and with R. Brace only getting two snaps, do you think that is an indictment against him not meeting expectations or a matter of scheme and matchup? thanks
Brace's two snaps came in the goal-line package. I think he is still earning the trust of the coaching staff. This could be a big week for him. The Patriots need to match the physical challenge of a power running team and Brace is one of their bigger linemen.
Going to take a few more here and then clear the way for Tedy...
Mike should we expect to see Springs in the lineup vs Edwards?
I'd project Springs will be back in the lineup, Chris. The tough part for him is that they now need Wheatley on kickoff returns, so that will be something to keep an eye on.
Mike ....does it surprise you that statisical analysis seems to have made great strides into baseball but the Neanderthals in football continue to ignore things like probability and worship at the alter of conventional wisdom?
Let's end on this one, Don. Very interesting topic. I am not surprised because I think baseball is an easier game to follow and understand.
Let's turn the floor over to Tedy. Thanks to everyone for chatting. We'll do it again next Thursday.
Another big week everybody. New York Jets coming to town. Let's talk.
Tedy what happened in the last 4 minutes with our defense? Did the Colts solve the defensive ridicule, or were our guys fatigued?
I thought the Pats went to more of a softer zone coverages. The defensive play calling got a little less aggressive. I don't want to say that they're fatigued. I know as a player that's something I never want to be called and that was tired.
Tedy, when all of the players keep reiterating they are now focusing on the Jets (refusing to talk about the Colts game), is this something Belichick and the other coaches inform the players to tell the media or something learned as you become a part of the Patriot's organization?
That's something you learn and Bill Belichick leads by example. He doesn't dwell on past games, he only focuses on the next opponent. That's what winners do. On Monday and Tuesday, you can still rehash the game in your mind, but when Wednesday comes around, you have to move on.
Tedy, I have to disagree with your criticism of Belicheck. I think he made the right call. The referee's blew the spot. Do you think our defense would have been able to stop Manning with the ball at his 30 with 2 minutes plus one time out?
It's OK to disagree with me Dave. Everyone has their opinions. But I'm a former defensive player and I would have liked the opportunity to win the game with the game on the line. That's how you're supposed to feel if you're a champion. I would have liked to see if that young defense had what it took to stop Manning.
Do you think rex ryan and the Jets Defense will come out with some different looks to compensate for their injury plauged D? Should the Pats expect a much different Defense than the first time we played them?
Yes I do. Rex Ryan has a creative defensive mind. He'll tweak his blitzes so they don't look the same as last time.
How do you feel about Jerod Mayo, is he really the next great LB for the patriots, or just a good LB.?
I think he has the potential to be great. He's done everything so far that a good LB does. The big plays is what's next in his progression as a player. The INT for a touchdown, a game-changing sack. He'll take that next step soon.
Teddy, who on this defense is willing to go up to Belichick and tell them to trust them that they can stop Manning in those final two minutes? Furthermore, in week two, the Jets were doing a lot of talking and the defense failed to stop their rookie QB.Where is the attitude? Where is the heart?
The strongest voice and personality is Vince Wilfork. I think he would be the one to do that.
Tedy, thanks for all your analysis, love it!Don't you think the Defense did have a "chance" to win the game?Just keep Peyton from scoring a TD. Hold him to a FG, after the 4th isn't converted. It's all on the D. Right? I'm confused. Sure you'd like your D to have the cushion of 60 yards or whatever after the punt, but in this case, it was Peyton vs the D. And Peyton won.
I agree with you Matt. Peyton did have some success in the fourth quarter, but the defense also caused some turnovers earlier in the game. In 2007, the defense made a huge play to stay undefeated. Just because Peyton had some success in the previous drives doesn't mean that he'd do it again. I am a former defensive player. I always want the chance to stop someone to win the game. You have to have that attitude.
And thanks for reading my analysis.
Prediction for this week against the Jets?
The Patriots get back on track. They're the best in the NFL in doing that. They win by a touchdown.
My immediate thought when the Pats failed to convert on 4th and 2 was to let the Colts score the touchdown on the first play, make it a one point game and get the ball back in Brady's hands with time on the clock and the chance to win with a field goal. As a former defensive player, its probably not what you want to hear, but any thoughts?
I was thinking that too, especially when they tackled Addai on the 1 yard line. When I was with them in training camp, the situation was practiced where you let the offensive player score. At that point, I think they just thought they'd try to stop them.
In the first meeteing, the jets had success running ball right at us, with Jerod Mayo back do you think we will have more success in those situations?
I definitely think so. The Jets have defined themselves the past several weeks as a running football team. The Patriots know this. They know their No. 1 priority must be stopping the run. Last year, Mayo had a 20+ tackle game against the Jets. I expect him to do the same.
Teddy, while our secondary has done a servicable job this year, it seems year in and year out the Patriots as an organization opts to fill the cornerback position "by committee," as opposed to investing big dollars into someone who we can depend on for the long term. Do you agree with the way the organization has handled the cornerback position?
Gone are the shutdown corners of Ty Law and Asante Samuel. The organization has tried to replace them ever since, through the draft. A few years ago, they drafted Merriweather, but he's a safety. The last couple of years, they've drafted two guys in Johnathan Wilhite and Darius Butler. I think those guys could be the answer. They've steadily gotten better.
One more thing Paul, I think it was a mistake to let Asante Samuel go.
Tedy, would you agree the depleted D-line is our biggest concern - even healthy, we seem to generate zero pass rush. This concerns me as we move towards the playoffs.
That's a great observation Biff. I said earlier in the year that possibly the Richard Seymour trade could effect this team in November and December. I think we would all love to see Seymour in a Patriots uniform now, especially with injuries to Warren and Green.
Tedy, How do you think Burgess did as a pass rusher in the Colts game?
He's been showing up a little bit, but I don't think he's had the impact that coaches thought he might have. Everyone is still waiting for his breakout game.
The way Sanchez have been playing lately, looks like this will be a big week for BB to exploit this rookie. Kleenex aside, I really feel the pats will rebound big on this one. I for one believe theres a lot of good things that can be taken from that loss against Indy. I just cant get over the fact that the Mannings have been making late 4th quarter comebacks against the pats a habit.
I agree too, but they won't lean on Sanchez too much. They're going to try and pound the ball all day. If the Patriots stop that then they can pressure Sanchez with whatever blitz hey want to lose.
And everyone, let's not forget about Braylon Edwards. He's a big play threat that must be accounted for.
Tedy, it seems like the Patriots linebackers hardly pull in interceptions anymore, unlike earlier in the decade. Is this likely due to the inexperience of some of the younger backers, or maybe a change in the defensive play calling, or something else?
I think there's a progression that comes with LBs in this defense. There are so many adjustments in the Patriot defensive scheme. It takes a year or two to get comfortable in it. I think Mayo and Guyton are still getting comfortable. Once they feel like they've established themselves, then those interceptions will come.
They should be used to it by now. The big plays should be coming soon. I hope.
Hey Tedy, Huge fan and a fellow Arizona alum. Two quick questions...1)Does Arizona get it done vs Oregon this weekend? 2)Do you think the Patriots defense needs to blitz more and take more chances on defense?
First of all, bear down! And the Cats will get it done this weekend. It's their time to go to the Rose Bowl. And you didn't see a lot of blitzing last week, because that's not what you do against Peyton Manning. I think they get back to sprinkling in some all out blitzes this week against Sanchez.
Tedy, do you think the Defense can use the "snub" they had layed on them Sunday nught, as a springboard to proving to Coach B. that they can be trusted the rest of the way? Also, do you think Bill also saw that as a possibility? Say if they kick it, the Colts still come back and win, the Defense loses confisence...this way, they never had the confidence to lose, and can use it as motivation...just a thought
I wouldn't put it past coach Belichick to consider that. If I were still playing, I would use last week as motivation. You want to be considered capable enough to get the job done when the game is on the line. These young players on defense still must prove that. I would have loved for them to have had that chance last week.
Tedy, defensive set question. The Pats have played more 4-3 and nickel and dime, and less 3-4 this year. Are they still doing it from a two-gap philosophy?
When the Patriots play 3-4, it's still based in the two-gap philosophy. But when they come out in their nickel and 4-3 packages, they're trying to get more penetration into the backfield. The 3-4 concepts will never change with the Patriot defense. Two-gapping is a part of their philosophy.
Any news on how Fred Taylor or Sammy Morris are rehabbing. Are we gonna see either of them soon?
That I'm not sure of Nick. They both have some serious injuries. The Patriots might hold them back just to make a stronger push in December and January.
Tedy, do you think we can beat the Saints?
Yes I do. I think the Patriots get back on track this week, setting up a primetime, Monday night matchup against the Saints. I think they will have strong motivation to try and knock off another undefeated team.
I know it was an emotional loss last week everybody and we all had our opinions on what the Patriots should have done. But this week is about moving on to the New York Jets. It's a key AFC East battle and I know the Patriots will bounce back. See everybody next week.