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December 17, 12:00 PM ET
ESPNBoston chats Patriots-Bills

Buzzmaster
  (12:01 PM)

We've got Tedy!

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:02 PM)

Welcome. Let's chat.

jake (boston)

do u think moss quit during last weeks game and if yes why do u think that moss quit

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:02 PM)

Quit? No. Frustraded? Yes. You could see the look on his face that he was somewhat frustrated. I was a teammate with Randy for 2 years and he never quit while I was there.

Andrew C (Storrs, CT)

Hey Tedy. What was the hardest part about playing the Buffalo Bills the past couple of years (possible weather conditions excluded)?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:03 PM)

The most difficult thing was dealing with Marshawn Lynch. He runs very hard and is very difficult to tackle.

Harris (Weston)

Tedy, did you mind playing on special teams, especially when you were playing almost every down on defense?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:04 PM)

No, I didn't. I was taught in college that special teams plays are just as important as offense or defense. It was something I took pride in.

Brian (Boston)

Tedy, knowing Moss as well as you do, do you think he's taking these comments said in the media about him as motivation?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:04 PM)

I don't know how Randy's reacting to this criticism. An answer for everyone will be given on Sunday. We'll see how he responds.

Dave (Boston)

Tedy, this seems to be an odd year. lots of drama around the team. What do you think?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:05 PM)

You're right. There are more lockerroom issues this year than in years past. It seems like they need to find an identity on the field, but also in the lockerroom.

Bradley Bliss (Reading, Pennsylvania)

Tedy, do you as a great former defensive linebacker feel that the game has been skewed too much in favor of the offenses in the league? It seems that teams like the Colts thrive on the "new rules" over the last few years and live or die on the reality of getting ticky tack PI calls in their final few drives EACH GAME.

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:06 PM)

Yes, I think it's gotten out of control. When they implemented the rule of preventing defenders from being more aggressive at the line of scrimmage, that's when it really started to snow ball. Now it seems like you can't even put your hand on a defender when he's running down the field.

nick (central ma)

are pats more likely to try to shutdown the run or pass attack from the buffalo bills this weekend

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:07 PM)

I think they'll have to focus on the run first. Not only because of Lynch and Jackson, Ryan Fitzpatrick can also be a threat running the ball from his quarterback position.

tom (hackensack)

Moss versus TO...who you takin?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:08 PM)

I'm going to take Moss. As a former teammate, I know how hard Randy Moss works and I think he will respond to all of his criticism this week.

Jon Schaefer (Berkshire East)

Tedy, Its been a tough season for the Pats D, whats your prescription for a turnaround?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:08 PM)

Win on the road. They haven't done it all year. London doesn't count. They have to get this victory this week.

Stu (Newport, RI)

Tedy, during Troy Brown's best seasons, I got the impression that one of the reasons he was successful (aside from his tremendous work ethic and talent and toughness) was defenses didn't take him as seriously as some of the other top receivers in the game. Any chance that once people try to take Welker out of the game, they'll be able to do that, and really stall the one thing that's been working for the Pats offense this year?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:10 PM)

Teams have attempted to take Welker out of the game at times. It still didn't work. If they focus even more attention on Welker that means single coverage on Moss. No team wants that. They'd rather give up 15 to Welker than 50 to Moss.

jon (york)

Tedy, How do you see this game playing out? potential shootout with a Moss versus TO subplot?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:11 PM)

Moss and TO will definitely get their opportunities. Moss wants to respond to his frustration last week. TO sees a secondary that he can have success against. Having said that, the Buffalo Bills are last in the league stopping the run. The Patriots will try to exploit that weakness.

Brian (Iowa)

Hey Tedy, is it hard to be watching from the sidelines this year as the Pats make their push to the playoffs?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:11 PM)

It's a lot harder than I thought it would be. This retirement thing is new to me. I'm still getting used to it.

Scott Bromfield (Portland Maine)

are the pats a contender to go all the way?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:12 PM)

If they win the division, and they still have to work to get that goal accomplished, they have a chance. Once you get into the postseason, you never know what can happen.

jason hoskins (dayton)

wes never fumbles, is he super strong or is it ball carrying technique?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:13 PM)

Don't jinx him like that Jason. I think it is his strength. It is underestimated.

Chuck (Vail, CO)

Tedy, thanks for talking with us. You are my favorite Pat of all time! All the attention has been on Moss this week, how much is it Tom Brady is hurting more than they are letting on. He is missing passes he normally would make in years past.

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:14 PM)

Thanks Chuck. You're right about Tom. He's been taking some big hits this year. We all know about his finger and his shoulder and he took a big shot to the ribs in Miami. He's one of the toughest guys in the lockerroom. He's trying to lead by example that even though you're hurt, you still need to be there for your team.

Garry (Boston)

What do you see the Pats doing in the future to improve their pass rushing?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:15 PM)

Well, the routes they can go is free agency or the draft. I thought they took a huge step backwards getting rid of Seymour. But you're right, in the future, this situation will need to be addressed.

Biff (Seattle)

Tedy, how vital has the absence of McDaniels been this year to the Pats O? We seem very one-dimensional this year, save for the balanced attack last week. Thanks

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:16 PM)

I think it's been huge. Josh has a creative offensive mind. Whenever you lose a coach like that, it's going to hurt. He's one of the main reasons why Denver has been successful this year.

_bb (Hungary)

Hi Tedy! Should anyone really expect Moss to bounce back with a strong performance in a windy, snowy Buffalo against a pretty good secondary and passrush? This match will be about pounding the ball and quick, short passes, no?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:17 PM)

You may be absolutely right. I haven't seen the forecast, but you have to anticipate that it's not going to be sunny. That's why I also mentioned pounding the ball against that 32nd ranked rushing defense of the Bills. Although we'd all like to see Randy Moss go off on Sunday, that may not happen for another week, due to it being Buffalo.

Dave C (Boston)

Tedy, sometimes it feels like the defensive scheme used to be more complicated back in 01 and 03 -- more confusion for the other team's QB to try to decode. Do you agree, and if so why the newfound simplicity?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:19 PM)

I agree, especially last week. Players and coaches have stated that scaling things down for this defense has made them more effective. If that's what works, go with it. But in the future, to have success against top rated teams, you need to do more than have one man coverage and one zone coverage.

Matty (LA)

Teddy B!!!! You are the greatest! You ever think about lacing them up again for out beloved Pats??? Do you think the Colts/Saints can pull the unthinkable??

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:20 PM)

I think they can. The question is do they want to? Can they handle the pressure? Because I know once you get to 15-0, it's like a big monkey on your back. If you finish 16-0, there's no turning back. There's a lot of pressure involved in attempting to go 19-0.

chip (ct)

How big a loss was trading Vrabel, especially in the lockerroom? If he had to do it again, do you think BB would still trade him?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:21 PM)

Good question. Mike Vrabel was a big piece to that championship puzzle. To me, having him on the team in any capacity is a plus.

Pete (Groveland, FL)

Tedy, I feel the problem with the defense is more about lacking a defensive leader like you, Vrabel or Harrison than it is missing Seymour. True or False?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:22 PM)

It's both. With young players, they some times can be more worried about getting their assignment correct than the big picture. The big picture is being a leader, getting everybody on the same page. This is what they'll learn as they gain experience.

jason hoskins (dayton)

teddy, do you think the road record would be better if fred taylor didnt go down? any word on if he's gonna play next year?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:23 PM)

Fred Taylor would definitley help the running game. I don't know what his effect would have been on some of those games they lost. One thing I do know is that he has a good chance of playing this Sunday in Buffalo. That's going to help.

Brendan (Boston)

With the D-line as banged up as it is, what impact does that have on the linebackers and how they approach the game?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:24 PM)

It makes their job more difficult. You want your best D-linemen in there as a LB to help keep the offensive line at bay. The double teams that Wilfork and Warren demand greatly helps a LB at their job. With Wilfork banged up now, LBs might have more confrontations with offensive guards during the game.

Tom (madison wi)

Can one missing link in a defence ie (troy P) cause a defence to do what we have seen happen to the steelers this year in the 4th Quarter?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:25 PM)

I don't think it's just one person. If your entire defensive unit is based on one person, then you've got problems. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that have bigger problems than Troy Polamalu.

jason hoskins (dayton)

ted, do these saints remind you at all of the 07 pats? early season blowouts and then the games getting closer each week as season comes down to the playoffs. is the pressure unbearable? do you see parallels btwn brees and brady? both Big 10 guys, both super accurate....etc

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:26 PM)

The pressure is going to be there, but I think as the year goes on defenses start to get better. They have more film to watch on your offense, so they know what to expect.

Dennis (CA)

Looking ahead a little. If the pats happen to wrap up the division before the last week and no shot at the 2 seed, does a banged up Brady get rested?

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:27 PM)

If that scenario plays itself out, then they definitely will rest Tom and maybe other players.

Eric Demetriades (Washington, DC)

Who would you like to see matched up against the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs? (If we make the playoffs...)

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:28 PM)

Definitely not Denver. They have concepts that give the Patriots D difficulties. The Patriots have always had success against Jacksonville. They would be a favorable matchup for the Pats.

Greg (Amherst, MA)

What no one is talking about is the lack of depth at WR. Last week, our only option was to go to Welker and as great as that is, there needs to be more options down the field besides Moss. Is Aiken going to play this week? He looked like he was developing a lot better chemistry with Brady

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:29 PM)

They've been trying everyone out at that third WR spot. Going down the stretch, look for Watson to do some things.

Tedy Bruschi
  (12:29 PM)

Great chat again this week. Let's all say a prayer for Chris Henry and his family.

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

I'll keep it rolling here from Gillette Stadium. Want to pass along a few nuggets from what is happening down here.

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

The Patriots are practicing inside the Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m. Second straight day they are working outside, as Bill Belichick prepares them for the elements in Buffalo.

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

Media members had access to the locker room from 11:10-11:55. Sam Aiken, Shawn Springs, Chris Hanson and practice squad QB Jeff Rowe drew large media crowds. Rowe, a 2007 fifth-round draft choice of the Bengals, shared thoughts on the death of Chris Henry. Very sad.

Mike Reiss
  (12:33 PM)

The plan will be to chat until 1 p.m., when I head out to practice.

Butter (Chelmsford)

Mike, at what point did Sanders beat out McGowan on the depth chart? McGowan was arguably the team's defensive MVP the first 4 weeks of the season. What happened to him? Is this a permament move?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

The change just took place last Sunday against the Panthers. Sanders made his first start since Week 1. I think McGowan was starting to miss too many assignments -- the Saints and Dolphins games weren't his best -- and Sanders brings a steady, communicative presence back there to help settle things. Not sure it's permanent, but I'd expect it to be that way Sunday in Buffalo.

Patrick (Wakefield, MA)

Hey guys - Any indication that Moss is playing hurt, and might have been for some time now. He hasn't gone up for jump-ball type throws with much aggression, and he carries his arm like he's dealing with a shoulder/back injury of some kind.Also - get ready for Thomas to move down 95 and join Rex in the next incarnation of the Border War next season. It makes too much sense to NOT happen once he's cut from the Patriots.

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

No real indication other than what we see -- Moss doesn't seem to go up for jump balls with much aggression. I don't notice anything from watching him in the locker room. As for Thomas, I agree. Seems like the likely destination, unless there is a trade instead of a release.

Kevin (Williamstown ma)

If the Pats don't have Vince Wilfork lining up Sunday due to his foot issue. Do you expect the Pats to compensate with a 4-3 defense?

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

I think depth on the line becomes an issue with the choice to go 4-3. My hunch is that they stay 3-4.

Maddy (RI)

Hey Mike,You seem to have a pretty good instinct when it comes to Pats winning/losing a game. You correctly predicted that we will go down to Jets in week 2 as well as Miami two weeks ago. There were several who predicted it wrongly. Seeing your great record, do you think we will make it to the playoffs? If yes, do you see us going all the way?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

I think you give me too much credit Maddy. I also picked them to beat the Colts and Saints. As for the Patriots and the playoffs, I will say "yes". Although the team isn't building the momentum I know it wants, I look at guys like Tom Brady and Wes Welker, and the leadership and toughness they show, and I wouldn't count them out. As for what they can do in the playoffs, anything can happen. Let's say it's Pats at Indy in the divisional round -- 60 minutes ... their best football ... it could happen.

Alex P. Keaton (Los Angeles)

Hi Mike. The Pats playcalling has been predictable this year and I miss the days when Weis/Mcdaniels would dial up a trick play or two to kepe the D honest. Since the Pats have 2 college QBs at WR this year (Edelman and Stanbeck) do you think we would ever see some form of wildcat or option play with them?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

I have seen some trickery this year, such as Julian Edelman motioning in to take a snap against the Jets (fumble) and the flea-flicker against Tennessee. I do think the idea of a Wildcat or option play is in the cards at some point.

pats fan (RI)

Mike, do you think Adalius Thomas has played his last game as a Pat?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

I am probably in the minority on this one, pats fan, but I don't think Thomas has played his last game as a Patriot. I think this can be salvaged down the stretch. I also have a theory that might signify the fresh start which would benefit both sides. Initially, I would flip it and make Thomas a third-down player only. Instead of his current role -- first and second down only -- I'd unleash him in a pass-rushing role and see what happens. Maybe it provides a spark.

G-Slice (Needham)

Thanks for your hard work here Mike. What has happened to Gary Guyton this year? He started off strong and seemed to have great instincts, but has lost playing time to 40-year old Juniur Seau. Is he a victim of a sophmore slump?

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Guyton has been one of the constants on defense in my view. I know he rotated a bit with Seau last week, but I don't think that is an indication things aren't going well with him. I think it's a way of getting Seau involved. Guyton still played a lot.

Chris W. (Connecticut)

Hey Mike. Three specific questions: does Adalius Thomas play this week (coach's decision)? Does Randy Moss play this week (receiver's decision)? Does Laurence Maroney gain 100 this week?Thanks, Mike. Stay warm up there.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

I can't answer the Thomas question, because I don't get to see practice and how he's responded this week. That is information I don't have at this point. As for Moss, I think he responds positively. I don't see Maroney with 100 this week. I see all the backs combining for 175-200.

jann hull (chicago)

why did moss miss practice

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

Moss got a veteran's day off Wednesday. Just a way of keeping him fresh.

dynasty2k (RI)

Mike, love the blog!Do you think that people should accept the fact that Moss is not a Brandon Marshall or Andre Johnson type receiver? They are atleast 15-20 lbs heavier than Moss and can break a tackle/chase down intercepted plays much easier than Randy because of their physical ability. I think Moss' forte is his speed and leaping ability and its not practical to expect him to be a physical receiver. Your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

Sure, that sounds right. Although I haven't heard too many people say that they want Moss to be more like Marshall or Johnson.

pats fan (RI)

Mike,I remember that when we were playing 4-3, IMO, we were generating more pass rush than now. Mike Wright has a good production at that point. So why don't we move to 4-3 untile we find a legitimate pass rushing OLB? I might be wrong on this, hence soliciting your opinion.

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

It is something to consider, but the problem I see with something like that is that you are altering your entire scheme for one purpose (pass rush) and you might spring a leak somewhere else (run defense). I think the Patriots' run fits are best out of the 3-4.

Mike (Chicopee)

Mike, it seems like Vollmer has become a key part of the OL. if the teams had to redraft, would he be a first round pick?

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

Saw an interesting article by Don Banks of SI.com earlier this week on the exact topic. He had Vollmer eighth overall in a re-draft. Fun to look at it that way.

madmax32 (RI)

Mike,Lack of pass rush has been a problem for Pats for a while now. Keeping that in mind, do you think that we might trade up in the draft for a OLB/DE? Or do we have to hope for some production (?) from the likes of Shawn Crable, if and when he is healthy?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

I'm expecting the Patriots to make a concerted effort to improve their pass rush, whether it's trading up, signing a free agent, or trading for someone. I'm not sure what it will end up being -- it's hard to project at this point -- but the results just haven't been good enough to this point and relying on someone like Crable seems too dangerous to me.

Chris (Orlando)

Mike, I think a lot of fans would say that this season hasn't turned out the way they thought it would, myself included. I honestly thought we'd found a 3rd receiver in Galloway, that the D was going to be better with Mayo a year older and the DBs better. The pass rush was never great, but the thought was that the DBs being better would offset that. Obviously, these things are not the case. With the high pics the Pats have next year in the draft, which of these weeknesses should be addressed first? I'm leaning toward the pass rush myself, but I could make a case for the 3rd WR (unless they're hoping Tate can bounce back).

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

Sort of staying with the same theme, Chris, I'd say pass rush and front seven. I most always start defense first.

Brian (Oxford, CT)

I see you've got Tom Brady listed with 7 penalties, co-leading the team. Those are obviously delay of game penalties. But why would those be assessed against the quarterback? The center's the one not actually snapping the ball to start the play. (And if the play's a direct snap to Edelman running in motion in front of Brady, it certainly wouldn't make sense to penalize the QB there, either.) But refs always single out the QB as the guilty party. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

This is an interesting one, Brian. In Brady's case, I think it's six delay of game penalties and one intentional grounding. I'd have to check with the officiating wing to get the actual explanation on why the delays are on the QB, but my guess is that it's because he is the one signaling when to snap it.

_bb (Hungary)

What do you think of Adams being activated while Brace was a healthy scratch? Also what about Wheatley, it looks like he is not even trusted as a returner any more!?

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

Nick Caserio, the director of player personnel, noted that part of the decision was that Adams could play nose and end in the 3-4. My sense is that the Patriots felt that total package -- the versatility at both spots -- was more valuable to them in a backup role than Brace, who might be viewed at this point as a one-position guy. That was my interpretation of his remarks.

Mike Reiss
  (12:54 PM)

As for Wheatley, he's obviously down the depth chart, at No. 5 for corners now. Special teams is part of the consideraton too. That's why someone like Kyle Arrington is active over him.

Joe (Rutland, Vermont)

It has been said that Coach Belichick has not been using Adalius Thomas in a way that he could "thrive." In what way would he be able to "thrive," and why wouldn't coach Belichick use him in a way where he would be more effective?

Mike Reiss
  (12:56 PM)

I wrote something along those lines, Joe, in the weekly Patriots mailbag on ESPNBoston.com. I'd like to see Thomas rush a bit more. He is a first- and second-down player at this point. I see an explosive pass rush like he had in New Orleans, sacking Drew Brees, and my feeling is that he could help their pass rush. I also think the fact Thomas was used at ILB early in his career must be factored into any analysis of his New England tenure.

Len (Naples,Fl.)

BB preaches the need for improvement for players and coaches. I suspect his "win"percentage on challenges is among the lowest in the league. Do you think he is looking at that?

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

Absolutely, Len. I don't have the challenge stats in front of me, but I'm sure he has looked at that area, how the team decides to challenge (e.g. someone upstairs in the booth), and what they could do differently.

alex (rome,ny)

Mike,Mock drafts has already begun! McShay thinks we need a DE/OLB and he propsed Ricky Sapp. What do you think? I know we need the rush but we also need a good RB as well

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

I like the position of need, Alex, but don't know enough about Sapp. I'll defer to Todd, the pride of Swampscott, Mass.

Evan (Boston)

The announcers of the Panthers game mentioned after Burgess registered a sack that he could be playing better which would really help the team. Did you get the sense that Burgess was playing better? I was impressed with his move on the sack, knocking the defenders hands down then going around him.

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

He didn't play that much in that game, Evan, only about 15 snaps as the third-string edge rusher in sub packages. So it was a small body of work.

Sal (Dedham)

Mike, in your opinion what can the Patriots do to make their offense less predictable?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

I thought they took a step in the right direction last week, Sal, by getting the TEs more involved and using their personnel a bit differently (e.g. Kevin Faulk running behind a lead-blocking fullback). I asked Faulk the last time he ran behind a lead-blocking fullback and he said high school. I think minor tweaks like that can go a long way.

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Getting ready to head out to practice. Will take a few more...

GlasgowPat (Scotland)

Why has there been such a division between the various supporters/detrractors of Moss' performance on Sunday. Is access to the coaches tape the best way to view performances? Do we really get a false view of things on the TV copy? I mean, Carter, Rice, the press, saw Moss 'loaf', now Hoge and others are saying he didn't. So which is true? Is it all subjective?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

Great question. I think coaches' tape is the best judge. At the same time, I think the "eye test" can't completely be dismissed. I do think when you are evaluating effort, that is quite subjective.

Frazier (Philly)

Hey guys, Please answer, I've been trying to get this answered all season. Which Patriots from their Super Bowl years (2001-2004) do you see having a good chance to make the NFL Hall of Fame? My prediction is Brady and Vinatieri are locks and then Law and Harrison have an outside shot. Thanks

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Brady, for sure. I like Vinatieri as well, although there is a certain bias against kickers (just 1 currently in the Hall of Fame). Law has a shot. Don't think Harrison will get in.

njpats (NJ)

Mike,How come we don't draft any players who have an immediate impact on the team? We rather take players and develop them over years to show any promise (read Merriweather). It a little difficult to see players like Orakpo, Matthews Jr, Laurinitis, Maulaluga among other contribute immediately (few were passed over by us) where as Chung is still a special teams player. Apart from Mayo, I really haven't seen an impact player drafted for a while!

Mike Reiss
  (1:03 PM)

Good question, njpats. I think we've seen some of this year's rookies have an immediate impact (Edelman, Pryor, Vollmer). In general, though, I've felt that the Patriots' system probably makes it a bit tougher for the rookies to emerge. The team seems to bring them along slower than some other organizations.

Bharat (RI)

Hi Mike, love your work.In retrospect, do you think that Pats should have drafted Michael Oher in the 23rd pick? He seems very much like Vollmer and can play both sides. He would have been our future tackle for ages!

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

I think Oher is a classic case of a player who went to the right team because his skills fit the system perfectly. I think Oher would have struggled in the Patriots' system.

Franklin (Medfield, MA)

Hello Mike. Miss having you in Metrowest. My question is whether you think the Pats made a mistake not re-signing Wilfork this offseason, hen it appears that it will cost big dollars to retain him. Any why would Vince give the Pats a "hometown discount so to speak,when he took all the risk this year by playing hurt and switching positions, etc. He is the eptiome of the "Patriot Way". What are your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Let's end on this one, back to my roots in the MetroWest region of Massacshusetts. I covered my fair share of high school sporting events in Franklin. Yes, I do think it was a mistake. Negotiations are always two-way streets, and it's difficult to know what both sides are willing to do. But Wilfork is the type of guy I would have been particularly aggressive with to re-sign.

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

Thanks to everyone for participating. Running off to practice ...