Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium.
Just back from the Patriots locker room. Here are a few quick-hit thoughts: 1) Logan Mankins reports that he made it through the first practice Wednesday and felt good. "Didn't pass out or anything like that." Another step today as the team is in pads.; 2) Thought it was sort a neat inside football type of thing to learn that Ross Ventrone is playing his brother Ray Ventrone on the scout team this week. Ray is a top special teams player for the Browns; 3) Alge Crumpler, Gary Guyton and Kyle Arrington were a few other players answering questions.
Also, DL Myron Pryor said he didn't receive a Fed-Ex package from the NFL, which means he hasn't received any type of fine for the hit on Brett Favre. It was a legal hit.
Going to gather a few thoughts and will be back to chat in a few.
Mike, any Tyron McKenzie updates?
Saw McKenzie in the locker room today. He is still a member of the practice squad. McKenzie did not practice Wednesday.
Hey Mike - in your best fortune telling manner, do you foresee Randy realizing that the grass is not greener on the other side, taking less $, and coming back to the guys that he "misses" oh so much? Seems to me that he is regretting playing greedy hardball with the best organization the NFL has seen.
Paul, I lean toward a "no" in this scenario. The more I think about it, the more I think the Patriots are just moving on.
How do you think the Patriots are viewing the success the Raiders are having? Will they prefer a lower First round draft choice should the Raiders have a decent record, or would the Patriots prefer a top 5 pick they can trade for more lower round and future picks?
Lee, the higher the pick, the better, from the Patriots perspective. I think they feel like with a rookie salary cap, a top-5 pick would be extremely valuable given the new economic climate. Doesn't look like the pick will be top-5 at this point, though.
Hey Mike,What position on this team would you upgrade first if the 2011 draft was held today?
Still looking for that impact pass rusher, the guy that defenses have to game-plan for and fear. Tough to find those types.
Do you think that Taylor Price will contribute this year? Redshirting him? Is BB concerned he'd be exposed on the practice squad?
George, I see it more of a red-shirt year for Price, unless there is an injury.
Mike,Do you have any insight as to why the patriots offense seems to stumble out of the gate offensively. I've notice that in the last couple weeks the offense seems inept on their early drives (particularly their 1st posession) before hitting their stride in the second/thrid quarter. At this point in the season I don't think it should be taking that long for the offense to get warmed up and start clicking. As a result, they seem to find themselves down by a score early. What gives?
The first thing that I think is important when assessing opening drives is the importance of gathering information. A lot of times what you will see from the Patriots is that they are rotating players in and out of the game because they want to see how opponents are going to match up with certain groupings. Getting that initial information sets them up for the rest of the game. Within that, I think it's just execution. Last week, it was a penalty on Alge Crumpler that ended the first drive for illegal motion, which negated a third-down Danny Woodhead run.
Hey Mike! Love your work. I was one of the many disappointed when the Patriots selected Devin McCourty in the draft. Personally, I thought the pick was horrible. Now, I am absolutely eating my words. McCourty has shown great skill and ability as a rookie and he should only get better. Do you think he could become the next Ty Law or Tyrone Poole?
Could be better, Ben. He has Poole's speed and Law's physical style combined into one. Don't want to put him in Canton just yet -- hello Bill Parcells -- but it looks promising at this point.
Hi Mike, Been a Huge Fan of BJGE since 2008, always thought he was better than Maroney but with Maroney's "First round pick" status, he never got the oppotuntiy to show us what he is showing us now. If Fred Taylor gets healthy and is able see the field, do you see the Pats removing BJGE from the Starting role, or do they do the right thing and leave BJGE in his current role? He seems to get stronger as the game goes on as evident in the Minnesota Game last week. I'd hate to see him lose 5-10 carries a week from Taylor (he already gets "spelled" by Woodhead), so I don't think they need to change what is working, unless there is an injury.
I don't think Green-Ellis is going anywhere, Jeff. I envision the same type of rotation, with Taylor rotating into the mix later in games.
Hey Mike, so now that we "lead the NFL in wins" can we go eat a freakin snack, or what? haha
Good one, Jeff. Still a long way to go, though.
Mike, I know there were a lot of draft questions in earlier chats (mostly after the Jets lost when everyone had turned to speculating I think), and at the time there were a lot of supposed holes in the team. With the way the younger guys are stepping up now, Is there any hole that could be more pressing next season than OL? Light has been struggling and is in the last year of his contract, Neal has already almost retired once, Mankins may or may not be back and Koppen has struggled more than I can remember since he joined the team. I could easily see 3 of the 1st 6 picks (3rd round and above at the moment) be on the OL. Do you think the DE and OLB (and maybe RB) positions are still higher priorities?
Chris, a lot depends on the development of some of the younger linemen, like Rich Ohrnberger, Ryan Wendell etc. But yes, I do think that LT spot is one where you have to consider it strongly because Matt Light is toward the end of his career. Still see Light playing at a high level at this time, but you want to be prepared for the future, too.
Hi Mike, a few weeks ago Wes Welker addressed what he saw as a difference between this year's team and last year's, saying this one won't go in the tank when things go bad. As someone who spends a lot of time around the team, I'm curious as to your thoughts on the differences from last year as we pass the halfway point of the season.
Better locker room chemistry, for sure, Brad. They also rise up in critical situations in games. They are a more clutch team than '09.
Mike, do you think this game against Browns is a trap game and they are more focused on Steelers the following week?
I don't see it as a trap, Ric. Patriots players can just look at the Browns' win over the Saints as the first piece of evidence not to take them lightly. Players are buying it.
Hi Mike, Love the chat. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I was just wondering if Adalius Thomas ever signed with another team? I know there had been some noise earlier in the season with him going to the Jets. If he hasn't signed with a team, do you feel the rest of the league views Thomas as less of an impact player than he was billed to be?
Still unsigned Pete. And absolutely yes, the league obviously doesn't view him as an impact player any more.
Do you think Mankins will be Patriot next year? Gut feeling.
I'll say no, Jim.
Also, wouldn't be shocked if we see Mankins Sunday. Thought it might take him a week or two, but as part of a rotation, it's possible.
Hi Mike...Just saw that Myron Pryor will likely be fined for the hit against Favre that opened his chin. Does the NFL adjust depending on their salary? A $25K fine against Pryor will likely hurt him a lot more than someone earning more.
Pryor told me today that he has not received a Fed-Ex from the NFL at this point. So I'm thinking he's avoided a fine.
Mike, regarding the two QB sneaks at the goal line last week to run clock, is the assumption that Belichick purposefully told Brady not to score, and just to lay down at the line of scrimmage?
Correct Clay. They decided to bleed the clock there, knowing the Vikings didn't have their timeouts. Debatable strategy, but it worked.
hello Mike...is it the camera or did mankins lose some weight...he doesnt look as bulky
Mankins said he lost a bit, but joked today he's also more "lean."
Hey Mike. Great job with the blog. It seems like the Pats have had some tough games against teams with only 2 wins (SD, Minn). Do you think the Browns team that beat NO can show up again after the bye week, or was that a fluke? Also, after another misguided play from Gary Guyton (penalty on 2nd and 12), what do you think of increasing Dane Fletcher's playing time? Thanks!
Chris, I think Guyton is struggling a bit, but my question with Fletcher is whether he fully grasps the sub defense. Lot of things to digest with that. Fletcher's role at this point has been pretty straight-forward. As for the Browns, that win over the Saints was a good example of them rising up with some trick plays, but also New Orleans playing very poorly. You put those two things together and the same thing could happen this week if the Patriots don't come to play.
1) Who will lose their roster spot to Mankins, do you think?2) How do the Pats feel about the work of Mesko, to this point?3) What are the biggets hurdles in the schedule to a 15-1 season? :-)
Glasgow, first thought I had on Mankins and who would lose a spot is OT Mark LeVoir, Quinn Ojinnaka or Rich Ohrnberger. Been impressed with Mesko -- both as a punter and holder. Biggest hurdles to 15-1, I'd say start with Pittsburgh.
Mike,Always enjoy reading and now listening to you. Ia??m very surprised to see that R Brace made active roster last Sunday. Is he really that inconsistent or is there something else going on with him?
Brace is the 6th lineman right now Rick, so part of it is game-plan specific. Sometimes other needs on the roster trump the luxury of a 3-4 defense dressing six linemen. He is still inconsistent with his technique, but Sunday was a bright spot for him.
Hey Mike, Of the three tight ends Hernandez has definitely been spot lighted the most thus far and I was wondering if at somepoint you see Gronk taking more of a featured role in the passing game? Also wondering what kind of role Kevin Faulk has been playing in the locker room since his injury?
Just saw Faulk walk through today, Sam. He's at all the meetings, for the most part, playing the role of captain. As for Gronkowski, I see him as a pure combination TE -- kept in to block as much as he's heading out to catch passes. Quite a few one-on-one battles with DE Ray Edwards last week, so his role as a blocker is just as important. I don't see that changing.
Do you see McCourty as a legitimate contender for the Defensive Rookie of the Year title even with the like of Suh, Eric Berry, and Nate Allen?
Ben, I think it's Suh in a runaway if the current pace holds, but McCourty will be in the discussion.
Hey Mike,Could you elaborate a little on who you think is going to be the Pats Defensive ROY? Right now, it seems like McCourty and Spikes are neck and neck (I give a slight edge to McCourty) but I think Deadrick and Cunningham are breathing right down their necks ... It's a real good problem to have considering the last three drafts or so.
Ryan, I think it's McCourty. He's played every snap but one and has been getting better each week. Spikes is still a 1st and 2nd down player in a more specialized role.
Hi Mike, any recent news on Crable?
Crable is playing in sub packages as a defensive end. It's a specialized role at this point, and if the Patriots have an injury at OLB to Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham or Tully Banta-Cain, we might start seeing him a bit more in the base defense.
Mike, I am not cheating on you or anything but currently on his chat, Chris Gasper called you short. Care to comment?
You double-dipping, Nate? Chris is a good friend and he is correct -- I'm from the Danny Woodhead School of Height.
Hey Mike, looking ahead at the remaining schedule do you see any more losses? If so, what games are you pegging as a loss?
Justin, it's cliche, but if the Patriots don't come to play they could lose any of their remaining games. Assuming they play to their capabilities, I think they will still have a tough time in Pittsburgh.
Hey Mike, we never hear about the coaching staff other than BB. Which positional coaches, if any, are generating buzz for doing a great job? Which ones look ready for the next level?
Patriots have a solid staff, Bunk. D-line coach Pepper Johnson and linebackers coach Matt Patricia are names to watch as rising coaches.
Mike, I remember hearing before that Edelman has spent time practicing with the RB's and he had lined up for a direct snap play but false started. Do you know if he continues to work with RB's on occasion? Also Any reason you can think of for him not having a very big role in the offense? He was the only real bright spot in that Ravens playoff game if I remember correctly.
Mike, not sure on Edelman practicing with the RBs. As for his limited role in the offense, I think a big part of it is the emergence of the TEs. The Patriots are more of a 2-TE offense now than a 3-WR offense, so the reps for the No. 4 receiver are limited.
Theoretically, if the Pats had another quarterback, say Peyton Manning, is this team any better? In your opinion, is Tom Brady the best QB in the league?
Eric, I'd go with Brady as the best in the league. I do think if Peyton Manning was here, the team would be excellent as well.
Hi Mike,Earlier this season Merriweather said he was "freelancing" and not really doing what the coaches were asking him to do. He's been seeing a lot more playing time recently. Do you think he has been more effective?
Excellent bounce-back from Meriweather the last few weeks from this view, although you still see some of the tackling issues where he goes for the big hit instead of the wrap-up. Still, I think it's on the uptick for him.
Hi Mike, Do you have stats on QB pressures for the Pats? I think that is more important than just sacks. Our defense seems to be getting plenty of pressure on opposing QB's. Are there any web-sites with those stats?
I'll check the ESPN database this week, Alvin, and see what I can dig up. Not sure it's available.
Will Butler ever start or get significant playing time again? Also moving forward who will they keep in the secondary ? Is this the last year for Whilte, and Wheatley? Why draft Wheatley he's always had that wrist issue with the plate that was installed since college
Jet, Butler is the top backup at left cornerback, so he's one play away from seeing significant time again. As for Wilhite -- looked like he had a tough game against the Vikings. Wouldn't be surprised if he and Wheatley are not here next year.
Should you have the opportunity, will you slip on Danny Woodhead's #39 jersey and go onto the field for a play? I would, except I know they'd be picking my pieces up off the field in an extended timeout. Not that you're 5'8" or anything!
Well done, Jon. Woodhead -- small stature, big heart, bigger skills. Have to appreciate what he does.
Mike, we all know professional athletes are a little superstitious. Do you know any of the pats players particular quirks?
Stephen Neal makes sure to eat at Taco Bell the night before each home game.
Seems like the offensive line did a good job against the Vikes, but I still feel that Light get's killed by the speed rushers. What can the Pats do when they face teams like the Jets, Giants, Colts,..to keep this season's momentum going?
Hi Wild Bill. I thought Light did a fine job against Jared Allen last week. If the Patriots are concerned, they can call on the "Crumpler Factor" and line TE Alge Crumpler on that side. He is a devastating blocker.
Mike, you posted on the blog last night that Darnell Jenkins was placed on injured reserve list and is strong candidate to return in 2011 training camp, does that mean Jenkins cannot play for the team again this season? Is the injured reserve practice list different than 53 man roster injured reserve?
Dennis, I checked with a personnel official on this, and he told me that means the player is done. Otherwise, teams would be abusing the rule.
Mike, a quick question on your snap breakdowns. First of all, thanks for doing them, its great insight into who/how the Pats were playing the opponent that day. But I've got a question in how you are classifying players. Why do Cunningham and TBC get listed as DE/OLB, while Ninkovich only gets listed as an OLB and Crable only gets a DE listing? I also noticed that you list Deaderick as DL in the breakdown but as a DE in the writeup. How are you determinging who is what? Is it per play? per usual usage?
Nate, I appreciate that you appreciate those snap counts. They take quite a bit of effort but it helps me understand the way players are being used. To answer the question, Cunningham and Banta-Cain are listed as OLB and DE because they are playing both roles -- OLB in the base 3-4 and DE in sub packages. Deaderick too, will play DE in the base and sometimes stay on as a rusher in the sub.
Does Mankins get any snaps this week?
Wouldn't shock me, Hoogie.
Hey Mike, can you give us an update on some of the injured guys? (Chung, Page, Taylor, Slater, Branch, etc.) Do you know who's close to returning and who is likely to miss a lot more time?
Chung, Slater and Branch were set to participate in today's full-pads practice. I think Chung and Branch play on Sunday -- just a hunch. Not sure on Slater.
I was very impressed by Logan Mankins press conference this week and his wish to be a Patriot. Any chance the Pats sign Logan before the end of the year.
Mankins himself said it will only happen at the end of the year, if a deal is to be struck. The focus now is on football.
Who is the biggest "surprise" on the roster, that might not have otherwise had a big a chance to "show what they have" were it not for the injuries to Boddin; T Warren; Faulk?
What would stop the Pats from Frachising Mankins? It seems like with all of the O-Line woes that teams are having, why not get something for him?
By the letter of the law, they certainly could. I just don't see them doing that to him. Maybe I'm letting emotions get in the way of the decision-making process, but it would surprise me.
I like how comforatable Brady seems to be with his O-line. Seems like this should just get better and better. Any thoughts about "the vibe" of the team as a whole? For me, it seems like they are having fun and working hard to win - a good combo.
Very strong vibe right now, and that's what winning will do. Deion Branch said it reminds him a bit of 03-04 when players were really buying what Bill Belichick was saying and momentum just starts to build and build. Belichick himself is clearly enjoying this, having the team in this position with the most "rookie starts" of any team in the NFL.
To follow up on Wild Bill, do you see Vollmer maybe matching up with Freeny this time around with the Colts the way he did last year when the two met and he handled him quite effectively?
I'd be surprised if that switch was made for that game, Sam. Mathis is pretty tough on the right side, too.
You put stopping Cribbs as one of the 3 keys to this Sunday's game, which I agree with on special teams. But when it comes to defense I put stopping Hillis as priority 1. Your thoughts?
Absolutely agree, Chris. I focused on Hillis in a second video update -- calling it the "matchup to watch for." Hillis leads the Browns in rushing yards and is second on the team in receptions. Limit him, and you limit a big part of the Browns' attack -- and "attack" is used loosely since the Browns rank 31st in the NFL in points scored.
Hi Mike, How is Dan Koppen looked at from a league and club perspective. Are the Pats happy with his performance? Would they look to upgrade the position next year in the draft? It seems like he is slipping.
I think he's been pretty solid this year, FlaSox, better than I anticipated. Still, this is a spot that could very well be upgraded in 2011. Koppen is closer to the end of his career than the beginning and you always have to think of the future.
Hey Mike,Do you think the patriots will be able to contend for the super bowl this year? I feel if they keep improving on both sides of the ball there going to be tough to beat. I really think this defenses first real test will be peyton manning. hes still carving teams up with no name receivers. What do you think?
I think so, Joel. You look around the NFL and say "why not?"
What defensive alignment do you expect the Pats to be in the majority of the game Sunday? 3-4 or Nickel. Can we expect to see Butler on the field 10-15 plays?
I think it will be a base defense initially, but I'm expecting a lot of mixing and matching. The Browns will probably shuffle players in and out of the game -- it's always a mental chess match when going up against a Mangini-coached team. Lot of matchups.
Who got the black jerseys this week?
CB Tony Carter, OL Steve Maneri, OL Thomas Austin, S Ross Ventrone
Hey Mike, do you view the AFC East and AFC North playing each other this season as a positive for the Patriots? It seems like a great measuring stick, but looking to post-season (here's hoping) it's also difficult to beat the same team twice.
Andy, the first thought I have is "physical" -- teams in the AFC North play a black-and-blue style. I think so much changes from the start of the year to the playoffs, that I wouldn't put much stock in the play-them-again theory.
Hi Mike - any word on when Chung will be back in game condition? I thought they really missed him last week, and it'd be great to see him on Watson this week, given Watson's steady production this year.
I think he'll play this week, Matt. But Sanders and Meriweather seemed like they stepped in and did a solid job in his absence.
Hey Mike, do you think the patriots have a better chance at beating the Steelers or the Colts? Also would either game be a bigger boost for the players in terms of a win?
I'd say better on the Colts, because it's at home.
Mike, you stated you see Suh winning defensive rookie of the year, who do you see winnig offensive rookie of the year?
First thought: Sam Bradford.
Mike - what do you think about Tom Brady's future as a news reporter after his appearance at Mangini's press conference?
:) Brady can do whatever he wants.
If I'm not mistaken, this isn't the first time this year Hernandez has missed practice for non injury reasons. I've only ever seen vets do this. Any reason why #85 is getting special treatment?
Not sure, Nate, but he's played a lot of snaps. Could be tied to that.
Mike do you think deion could influence logan about his contract situation since he did the same thing & saw what the return was on his decision to leave?
Don't think so, Steve. Every player handles their business differently, and I think that's a line that probably wouldn't be crossed among those two players.
Mike, whats u take on the PATS strategy of bleeding the clock at the end of the vikings game last weekend with TBs two QB sneaks?
I am more conservative on stuff like that. I would have tried to score on second down.
I realize this is no longer a Patriots related issue but the story about Moss and the catering service disgusts me. For a guy who is so sensative about his own rep he sure can dish it out; I'm glad Brady doesn't need to massge his ego and we don't need to defend him anymore. Ever any indication that he was such a JERK in the New England locker room?
ECF, Moss' behavior at the Patriots Charitable Foundation Kickoff Gala was not professional. That is one that comes to mind.
Mike, be honest....how many boxes of Dots did you consume?
I sort of wish I could have that one back, Andrew. I went heavy on the Dots, because there are only like six of them in those little boxes. I do like Kit Kats. Twix good too.
Mike, Any news on Branch? How bad is that Hammy? He looked really hobbled lsst week. Couldn't accelerate at all. This causes concern doesn't it?
Sarah, Branch only played 24 snaps last week. We don't get to see much of practice, so it's hard to tell at this point.
hey mike are there any new pictures on those walls yet? the hit on favre by myron should go up.
From what I understand, new pics are up. Quite a few of them from this 6-1 start.
Hate to rain on the parade, but the Pats are getting freakin' lucky a lot of the time on offense. Brady's "play" to Tate was 100% fortuitious, not talent. It can't last, can it? The offense has to improve or this squad would be, what, 2 - 5, which is about where everyone thought they'd be anyway. What happens when the luck runs out?
Remember the David Patten play from '01 (I believe), when he was knocked out along the sideline in Buffalo, lost the ball, but part of his body was out of bounds and the Patriots got it back. Every team gets those breaks from time to time. You can't count on them, but they do tend to even out over time.
Hey Mike, I hope you are well. Is there anyone outside of the normal group of guys that has caught your attention? McCourty is playing good ball. Woodhead has been a great pick up. Brandon Tate is doing well on kick offs. Just wanted your opinion.
That was a big play by Myron Pryor last week on Favre. I think he deserves a little tip of the cap for a strong one-on-one rush against a very strong LG in Steve Hutchinson. I'd also point out Jermaine Cunningham. Doing a nice job at OLB as he learns the position on the fly.
Hi Mike...I haven't heard anything about Bellicheck's contract in several years. When does it expire? Also, do you know how long he plans to coach for?
Dave, wish I had the answer on this one. My guess is that Belichick coaches as long as Brady is the quarterback.
Hey Mike,You think Logan saw what happened with randy moss and decided to report early.
I don't think so, Joel. Don't believe Moss had much to do with Mankins' decision-making process.
I love the pod cast both you and Tedy do! Any chance of you both doing it at an outside location that fans can go to or a sports bar?
That would be great, Mark. Not sure we could pull it off, though, but will check on it.
Just want to add one thing -- Talking with Tedy is like going to a Football 101 class each week. Learned a great deal from just watching one quarter of Saints-Browns game with him. Feel much more informed about good OLB play. Scott Fujita, the Browns OLB, was a case study of how to take on blockers correctly from that spot.
Do you think Tate can develop into a legit deep threat?Also, What do you think has happened to Hernandez lately?dropped balls, fewer throws his way, could Brady be losing confidence in him? Or do you think opposing defenses are paying him more attention?whats your take?
Andy, I can see Tate continuing to grow and becoming more of a deep threat, sure. As for Hernandez, I think he'll be fine. Don't see any lack of confidence there. Just a concentration issue on those overtime drops vs. Baltimore.
Hey Mike, through the first 7 games we've seen a revolving door going on defense with a lot of different players getting some playing time. Do you see this trend continuing or do you think things will be a bit more "set" heading into the 2nd half of the season?
Andy, I'll say it will continue. Part of it is that the defense is playing so many snaps each week -- a result of third-down defense struggles (32nd in NFL) at times -- so the more players the better because it keeps people fresh.
Why do you think Warren has had such a limited role the last few games? the Wilfork - Deaderick - Warren front we saw looked great!
Conservation for the entire season is the first thought that comes to mind. Managing veteran players at that stage of their careers is important. They'll need him for the long haul.
Every once in a while you post a section with every player and when there contract expires, could you send an update one out. I think with all the changes it would be good to see
Good one, Mark. Will get on that one tomorrow/Saturday.
Hi Mike, I wanted to get your take on the following: Any chance Bill O'Brien calls a few play action passes where they actually get Brady out of the pocket, it seems like the pocket is almost always cluttered every time he drops back to pass.
Brian, the play-action to Gronkowski in S.D. at the goal-line was pretty, but you're right, I can't think of too many plays where he's rolling out. Not sure that is a Brady speciality, but something to watch for.
Hi Mike. It seems like no one is giving the offensive line enough credit for Sunday's win. With all the drama of the side stories with this win they have been an after thought. After having their worst game of the year against San Diego they had their best game allowing zero sacks and paving the way for a hundred yard rusher. Against that defensive line it was a great performance that hasn't been talked enough about this week.
Good one, Dave. That was a strong game for the big guys up front, and I'd add the TEs in there as well.
Don't you think Mankins, because of his experience and conditioning, will be able to start right away on Sunday?
I don't think you start him, Conrad, but initially begin with a rotation.
Why do you think Randy was no longer a fit with the patriots? And will the Titans benefit from picking him up
Will, I like the pickup for Tennessee, both for on-field and off-field reasons. On the field, it looks like a good fit for him -- running team with big-play capability in play-action. Off the field, it's a smaller media market with fewer distraction possibilities.
do you think that Logan mankins will get the contract that he deserves? and does him coming back help them become more of a super bowl team
I do think Mankins will get a solid contract after the season, just not sure it will be here in New England. Absolutely feel that Mankins' arrival makes the Patriots better. I compare it to a baseball team picking up a stud player at the trade deadline to bolster themselves for the stretch run.
Mike, I love the blog, thank goodness for my ESPN Boston Itouch app so when I am here in Cleveland, I get to keep up with my great friend, Bill Belichick. I took care of Drew Brees last week IN New Orleans, I have 2 weeks to prepare for the now #1 in power rankings New England Pats I am at home and luckily, the Pats still have Bill O'Brien calling some of the most predictible plays. Is my defense going to have another great game against a great quarterback??
Eric, hope all is well with Julie and the kids. Thanks for taking the time to pop on to the chat. You know your defense will play hard and throw a lot of different looks at Tom Brady. Your team is outmanned by New England, so you'll have to scrap, but I wouldn't put anything past you guys. I expect a lower-scoring game. Sorry, but I'm picking the Patriots, 20-17.
Could the chemistry of the offensive line be negatively impacted by Makins' return? They're playing great right now...
I don't see it, Gregg. Those guys really respect and like Mankins. And I'm not sure if you saw the comments, but Mankins and Dan Connolly are close friends with each other.
Hi Mike, how do you see Ben Watson's impact in this game?Go Pats
Watson leads the Browns with 30 catches, Tony. I could see him with a solid day in this game, threatening the defense down the middle of the field.
Is it safe to say that Tully Banta-Cain has been "passed" by Jermaine Cunningham as the edge rushing LB?
Jim, prior to last week's game, I might have said yes. But Banta-Cain played a strong second half. It was his best game in weeks.
Has Gronkowski's role been more as a blocker than a receiver thus far? He has not been targeted much except for the red zone TDs.
I see it about 50-50 JimG, but maybe my eyes are deceiving me. Maybe I can check into with the coaches and get a better feel.
Oh man, I didn't even see the clock. We're already 11 minutes into overtime. Let's go for another 5.
I know the Pats lead the league in "dropped passes" but I really think Brady has not been very sharp on many of those drops. Seems like many throws are low. Your thoughts? He needs to pick it up if we are to go deep in the playoffs.
Fair point on those throws, Ken. Some have been off the mark, not the trademark accuracy we've grown accustomed to seeing. At the same time, that throw to Hernandez last week on the long gainer was a beauty. Don't think we have to worry much about Brady in the long run.
If BB has a defensive "philosophy" that includes taking away what the opponent's offense does best, what should we look for in this game?...I'm not certain what the Browns do "best".
Peyton Hillis is a good place to start -- a big, tough RB who is a factor in the run game and as a pass-catcher.
Do you think the Tracy White acquisition was just a one-for-one swap for Pierre Woods? They are LBs who shine on special teams but won't see the field on defense unless special circumstances exist.
I'd go along with that Jim. Adds more speed.
Hi, Mike. I've noticed a ton more football jargin on the blogs this season -- sub packages, "X" receivers, bubble screens, "Mike" linebackers, etc... I love the detail, but I think most of us fans could use a crash course. How about some blog entries to explain this stuff, or including some good links? Thanks!
Bunk, that's when we call on Professor Bruschi to help us out. It does no good to use the terms if we can't explain what they are in layman's terms. I am still learning in many ways, too, so I'm going to keep that in mind.
Mike, I have a question about using Hernandez as the deep Hail Mary player. Wouldn't Gronk be better seeing how he's a redwood tree out there? Gronk has 5 inches on hernandez, I would think that would be as valuable. I was always under the impression Gronk had great hands too, seems like the perfect guy for the job.
Interesting thought Jan. Don't think you could go wrong with either one. Aaron Hernandez took over that role from Randy Moss last week.
Bruschi is doing a great job at ESPN, but I see him as a future coach of some sort. Do you have any inside information about his desire to coach. Would the Pats be interested and if so, in what capacity? It would be great if BB coached the next 10 years or so and Teddy took over after BB retires.
Adam, don't see coaching in Bruschi's future. Time commitment and family considerations.
how good is Brandon Spikes? in the draft, i recall one person saying he couldnt get off his blocks, clearly that was incorrect. Now you have some websites saying he is reason Mayo has so many tackles. Will he always be just a run stuffer?
I think he can be more than a run stuffer, PR. The arrow is pointing up on Spikes. Just needs more time.
Mike - do the Patriots have more than the league average in undrafted free agents on their rosters? It seems like they are getting contributions from many right now.
Believe they are No. 2 behind Tampa.
Hey Mike! ...Is Woodhead going to replace Faulk and is Mankins starting next week?
Woodhead is basically the new Faulk, Michael, so I see that continuing. As for Mankins, I wouldn't be surprised if we see him this week.
You know that wasn't really Eric Mangini right?
Let's end on this one, Phil. I was just joking on that Eric Mangini question in the chat. Role playing sometimes adds a different twist to the chats which can be fun. I thought I'd add the personal touch with his wife's name just to be funny -- not my strong suit, I know.
Appreciate the great topics. The role of Julian Edelman was one that I saw multiple times. I might expound on that one in the blog a bit more. Thanks to all and have a great rest of the week. We'll catch up next week.