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January 20, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (11:59 AM)

Good afternoon and thanks for joining today's Patriots chat. While the Patriots season is over, the plan is to continue with our weekly Patriots chats on Thursdays (early afternoon, most often noon).

Mike Reiss
  (12:01 PM)

Let's plan on going until 1 p.m. One of the topics that I posted in our Patriots blog is the top needs for the team: 1. Defensive line; 2. Pass rusher; 3. Offensive line. I'd be curious what others would rank 1-2-3.

Mike Reiss
  (12:01 PM)

Those are my thoughts. I think this offseason will feature a heavy emphasis at the line of scrimmage. Power. Re-estabishing things up front. At least that's where I would start.

Michael C. (Westport, CT)

It looked to me like Tom Brady would not run no matter what, that he preferred taking a sack rather than possibly chance a leg injury by running. Several times he looked to have decent open space to run. Your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

Michael, I don't think the foot was much of a factor in that game. I think the bigger factor was the way the Jets played defense. Brady's early INT to Green-Ellis and Alge Crumpler's drop in the end zone were killer plays for the Patriots. If those go in the other direction, I am not sure we are having this discussion.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who do you think will play in Super Bowl XLV since the New England Patriots are out?

Mike Reiss
  (12:03 PM)

I'm rolling 6s, Chris, and picking both six seeds: Jets and Packers. And I like the Packers to win it.

Har Journalist (Vancouver, Canada)

Hi Mike after such a dissapointing game on Sunday I'm wondering if you think the Patriots beat themselves or was it more of what New York did? I think the Patriots got caught reading press clippings and lost focus. They didn't look like the best team in the NFL. What do you think Mike?My surprising AFC-NFC Championship picks:

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

It was a combination, Har, but in the end I think you have to give credit to the Jets. So if forced to choose one, that's the direction I would go.

John F (Walpole, Ma)

Who was the Special Teams player that the Pats took from the Bronco's practice squad and then IR'd? It would seem they thought highly of this guy and he will probably take someones job (Slater?).

Mike Reiss
  (12:05 PM)

Josh Barrett. Probably will take Brandon McGowan/Jarrad Page's job, assuming McGowan/Page are not back and he returns to full health.

Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, FL)

Mike with the Patriots having two first round picks in the first round of the NFL Draft do you see them making a play for Larry Fitzgerald or Chad Ochocinco. The Cardinals aren't winning anything any time soon so maybe Fitzgerald wants a change of scenery?

Mike Reiss
  (12:05 PM)

I don't see it, Anthony. I'd also say that Ochocinco wouldn't command a first-round pick at this stage, assuming the Bengals would trade him.

Bill W. (Spencer)

Whenever Coach Belichick loses a game or almost loses a game, he says "We were out-coached." Why doesn't Bob Kraft respond by insisting that Belichick hire some new, experienced coaches for DC and OC. Both of our current coaches performing those duties have failed -- and we all know it, without doubt. We need new approaches on defense and some fresh thinking on offense. It is hard for all of us fans to see things and not see the changes in the off-season by a man who is getting millions of dollars. This time a year ago we all knew we needed a pass rushing OLB -- with through the draft or free agency. Did it happen? No. So why is he being paid millions when he doesn't perform? There were things he could have done and we all know that!!!!

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

I think that's a bit harsh, Bill. I think the coordinator approach this year yielded some pretty good results, although not when it counted. Still, I'm not sure it would have been much different had their been other coordinators in there. I agree on the pass-rushing OLB. They invested in Tully Banta-Cain and I wonder if they feel they got what they wanted there.

David (Ireland)

Hey Mike, during the Jets game did it ever cross your mind to take out Brady and put in Hoyer? It wasn't Brady's poor performance that worried me so much as how disorientated he looked at times. For his own safety, i think I would have benched him. Your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

Never crossed my mind, David, and wouldn't have made that decision if I had the hoodie and headset on. I would've put my chips behind Brady, with the idea that one of the greatest competitors in sports would find a way to dig out of the funk.

Neil (North Branch, MI)

Mike, how much do you think the inexperience of the coaching staff (especially at the co-ordinators positions) is hurting the Patriots? Bill Belichick is a strong minded guy, I highly doubt the current staff would challenge him and push him as we all need to be from time to time.

Mike Reiss
  (12:10 PM)

I see the point, Neil, but I just don't see this as a huge issue. I believe QBs coach Bill O'Brien and LBs coach Matt Patricia/DL coach Pepper Johnson are really good coaches. I don't see removing them, and putting someone else in there producing significantly different results.

MarkJ (Japan)

Are pass rushers prerequisite for good D?

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

When you're 32nd in the league on third down, I think that's a sign that your pass rush needs help. That's when you know teams are throwing and you still can't get off the field. Is it absolutely necessary? Probably not. But to me it's a huge need for the Patriots.

Hoogie (Lexington)

I think BB has to go with Dl and OL. This is where he has built depth over the years, and the Pats were lacking depth this season, at those positions. How does Ty Warren's return effect the picks?

Mike Reiss
  (12:12 PM)

Agree Hoogie. Warren is scheduled to earn $3.1 million, so that is something to monitor from a cost/value perspective. I don't think his presence affects potential draft picks. Warren is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

Justin (Kentucky)

1. D-Line 2. Pass rusher 3. Wide Receiver

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

Interesting thought on the receiver, Justin. That's a pretty stocked depth chart. Who goes? Branch, Welker, Tate, Edelman or Price?

Jared (lowes, delaware)

Mike, any update on Gostkowski and whether he will be back and ready to go come training camp next year ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

Everything is on course with Gostkowski, Jared.

Win (CT)

Mike,I understand that the NFL Draft will happen this year no matter what. However, if there is a lockout, what happens to next year's draft? There would be no new rankings to set an order... would they just not have a draft? Thanks for the chat!

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Not sure on this one, Win. Would probably be some form of lottery to determine the picks in 2012 if there is no 2011 football season. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Dan (Bangor ME)

Patriot needs 1=Pass Rush 2=Offensive Line 3=Defensive Line

Dave R (Cambridge, MA)

Mike, why didn't the Pats feed BJGE the rock to soften up the D and take some pressure off Brady? I thought going in he'd be a big part of the game plan, and as much as I love Woodhead I thought The Firm was a better matchup (and he'd really come on in recent weeks). I'm still not able to look at the box score from that game, but I'm pretty sure he was effective when he got chances...

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

One of the head-scratchers, Dave. I think Woodhead had 58 snaps and Green-Ellis 19. Could have been tied to pass protection and Woodhead being a better pass protector, but this is a good question.

Randy Moss (Foxboro, MA)

Don't mind me...just working out in the area until the CBA is resolved...then I'll sign with the Pats.

Mike Reiss
  (12:15 PM)

I'm still wondering if they'd take you back, Randy. Just not sure.

Greg (Charlottesville, VA)

I feel like this team is doomed until they get the front seven closer to the level of the super bowl years. We need a Seymour and a McGinest. How do we get those guys either in the draft or Free Agency? It doesn't seem like there are enough of those McGinest type guys for the number of teams that run a 3-4.

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

I agree Greg. I think this offseason needs to be about reclaiming that attitude on defense. Power. Beef. Muscle. When I look at the last three playoff losses, one of the common threads I see is that the opposition is winning the battle at the line. You can find those players in the draft. It's a matter of identifying the right ones.

Ken (Indy)

1. Pass Rusher 2. OL 3a. DL 3b. RB

Dave (Londonderry)

Mike - I agree with 1. DL (preferably someone who can also rush the passer), 2. A russing OLB (preferably one who can set the edge against the run). For 3. they could use OL help at all positions, but could also use a RB and another DB. I think it really depends on who's available, as they should go for quality over need. I could even se a second OLB or DL in this slot.

Steve (Boston)

Mike, anything other than a Pass Rushing presence with the 1st round pick(s) - either at DE or OLB would be a HUGE mistake for us unless addressed via Free Agency. The absolute lack of a pass rush was a problem all year and finally caught up to us in the playoffs

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

I hear you, Steve, but I do think it would be smart to leave some wiggle room. If you don't think there is a player worthy of the pick, it doesn't make sense to jam the player into the pick to fill the need. Usually when that happens, you're back in the same spot the next year, looking to fill that same need. So it still has to be the right player, but all things being equal, I agree 100 percent.

Jim (New Hampshire)

Hello Mike. Nice job this year - thanks! When was the last time a 34 year-old quarterback won a Superbowl (is our window closing fast?)? Overall, I'm disappointed in the urgency and effort last Sunday.

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

I think it's fair to look at it and have some uneasiness that a soon-to-be 34-year-old QB is having foot surgery and closer to the end of his career than the beginning. It's harder to recover as you get older. But I still think we're looking at another 5-plus years of solid Brady play, assuming good health. I'm jogging my memory and thinking of the 2002 Buccaneers -- with Brad Johnson, if I recall -- as a possible answer to the question. Not sure I hit it, but that's my initial thought.

Dave C. (Cambridge)

Mike, like everyone else, I'm having a tough time accepting another early playoff exit. However, the Pats really are in a better position than they were even last year. They went from old to young and still managed to go 14-2. However, what mindset needs to be taught to these youngsters to prepare them for playoff success?

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Tedy Bruschi talked about it, Dave, and his belief is that it takes a different mentality in the playoffs. I'm more of the belief that it's simply execution. Brady doesn't throw that pick and Crumpler doesn't drop that end-zone pass, are we even talking about this? Those are two veterans who have been there before.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

When will the pain go away?

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Hang in there, Kyle. Can't hit the fast-forward button on stuff like this. It takes time.

Rob (New York)

Hi Mike - I just wanted to say that with the season now in the books, I would have to cast my vote for rookie of the year for Mike Rodak. What a superb rookie year - and a promising career ahead. He's got All-pro level talent but has the hustle and determination of a practice squader fighting for a roster spot!

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

Love it, Rob. I'm hopeful we can keep Mike around, but something tells me that's going to be hard to do. What a blast working with him. Reminds me of how old I am a little too much, though!

Chuck (Taunton)

Why do people have the Pats taking a RB in a high round in mock drafts? I see RB as a position we'll need more depth at, not a position that we need to upgrade at. BGJE rushed for 1000, didn't put the ball on the ground, and always gained yards. Woodhead was great too. On the other hand, there's going to be a lot of turnover on the OL in the next few years, and there's some room for upgrade at DE/OLB. I would think that high round picks would be much better used in these areas than at RB.

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

Chuck, I think analysts like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay look at the value of players available there and think that's a good spot at that position. They have a better feel for the depth of certain positions and how it falls. That being said, I'm of the belief that if you can fill other needs first -- pass rusher, D-line, O-line -- you have to go there if all things are equal.

Chris (charlottesville, Va)

All in all a season we can be pleased with. With the significant development of many young players and another draft that should add a even deeper talent pool to the team, the Pats look set for the long haul. I was wondering Mike do you see the team going with our younger recievers price/tate/edelman more next season or sticking with welker/branch who at times this year struggled to get seperation?

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Good one, Chris. I thought the offense looked great for most of the second half of the season, before the crash in the playoffs. I'd say it's still Welker/Branch, but perhaps with some more Price/Tate/Edelman/Someone else mixed in a bit more than they were this year. I thought Edelman was one of the bright spots against the Jets. In retrospect, maybe they should have got him the ball more.

munchkin (glenwood springs, co)

Mike, there is great depth along the defensive line in this year's draft. Further, there seem to be several highly ranked hybrid players that fit Belichick's height/weight ratio. Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Missouri's Aldon Smith get mentioned often as prospects that would fit into the Patriot's scheme. I was looking at d'backs and Ras-I Dowling out of Virginia caught my eye. At 6-1 and 200 lbs with good coverage skills, strength in run support and solid special teams play he looks like a solid prospective pick at 33. What are the odds Belichick goes that route after the disappointing progress of Darius Butler? Further, from what I have read so far this is not a great draft for Offensive Line prospects but there could be some sneaky good running backs available at the end of the second round and into the third.

Mike Reiss
  (12:28 PM)

Munchkin, let's scrap the talk about the prototype this year when it comes to outside linebackers. I think the only prototype needs to be this: Can he get to the passer? I wouldn't care if he was 6-6 and 265, 6-3 and 250, or 6-1 and 235. If he shows a Clay Matthews-like burst, and he projects to have value on third down while checking out off the field, take the plunge. ...

Mike Reiss
  (12:29 PM)

... This is one area where I think Bill Belichick can be challenged more. As for the CB, I'd be surprised at that if all things were equal. Just think the focus needs to be closer to where the ball is snapped.

Bob (Mansfield)

Mike, i feel like the Pats really lucked out this year. their defense while young really grew up during the season. i think by adding some top tier talent along the d line as well as a quality pass rusher will make them even better. but what about the offense? to me there are just as many question marks there. o-line could be depleted if they cant keep Mankins & Light or Neal retires. RB, while a surprise this season has no real home run threat. WR? what did they do against the Jets? Tate didnt deliver like we all had hoped he would. Do you see them drafting another WR that could stretch the field or do they give him another year? this team needs to improve if they hope to break this one

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

Could be big changes on the offensive line, Bob, so that's the area I would start. I think TEs are pretty much set. WRs, I put in the moderate need category. RBs, I think they could add another but I'd focus on a blue-chipper on the line if all things were equal.

Chaucer1340 (Canterbury, England)

Mike, there is a bit of the nasty to Mankins and the O line needs a few more of his like to silence the big mouth of a Bart Scott. I'd like first for NE to get a few D lineman with that attitude and at least one more O lineman who pushes back. Those are my priorities, what are yours?

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

I'm with you, Chaucer.

ReDrew (Wyoming)

Thanks Mike. Lots of questions need to be answered on the offensive line. Light is a FA, Mankins as well. Neal and Kaczur coming off DL. The center of the line getting blown up by playoff teams year after year. SeaBass is the only given for next year. Can you put your Swami cap on and tell us how you see the O line transforming itself for next year

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

I don't think Stephen Neal is back. I think we could also be heading down the path of another holdout with Mankins. Kaczur ($3.4 million?) is also a question coming off back surgery. So I think adding another Mankins type with one of those first three picks would be a great way to go. I envision it this way without Mankins: Light/1st-round pick/Koppen/?????/Vollmer. That ???? could be Connolly or another player in the pipeline.

Borg (S Fla)

Evaluating the Defense: Belichick believes in scheme over one-on-one matchups, yet his 3-4 groupings fail to pressure the QB. Looking at the last 3 playoff opponents, they have been able to pressure Brady with often no more than 4 DL. I'm seeing physicality trump scheme. At some some point, a pass rusher needs to win the one on one battle, like Seymour was able to. Two years without Seymour, two years that the DL underperformed in the playoffs...Can this point be argued?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

I don't think anyone could say that Seymour wouldn't have helped the line in 2009 in the last year of his contract.

scarpy (DC)

Hey Mike, what's your take on this supposed video of the Pats tripping a gunner in Jets-like fashion? Is it at all damning, or is it too grainy to tell anything useful in your view? Any word if the league is looking into it?

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

I didn't see it as very conclusive.


Mike, thanks for update on available draft choices. I see the Pats needs as: (1) 1-DE, (2) 1-OT, (3) 2-OLB, (4) 1-OG (5) 1-CB, (6) 1-FS. The first 3 are self-evident. I also hope the Pats trade D Butler and B Meriweather. Even if they do not trade them, we still need upgrades at those positions.

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Thanks Rick.

Matt (ATL)

Mike - Wouldn't Kaczur and Neal been a big help on Sunday? I don't see Shaun Ellis having as big of a game with Nick in there. Nothin against Connolly, he is great for depth, but he got abused.

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Connolly had a tough day, no doubt about it Matt. Neal/Kaczur might have performed better, but that's why it's so important for teams to build depth.

Alexander (New Jersey)

Hi Mike,It was infuriating to watch the Jets win last weekend, but what was even more infuriating was each time the Pats went into a hurry-up offense (except for the last Pats TD drive), the Jets defense decided to go into phantom injury mode. Not to make excuses, but this trend of faking injuries just seems to be getting more and more obvious and blatant. Bart Scott's acting in the 3rd quarter and smiling on the sideline made me disgusted. Though I don't think it affected the outcome, I do think it can affect the rhythm of the team that uses the no-huddle. Do you think the league should take some type of action against this blatant lack of sportsmanship and form of cheating? Maybe not allow a player to come back into the game until after a series is over, or take away a time out? Your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

That's on the game officials, Alexander, if they think it's violating the spirit of the rules. I think the league should focus on fewer rules, not more, so I'd leave it the way it is.

Clay Defayette NY [via mobile]

Is New England's starting runnning back for next season on the current roster?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

I think it's Green-Ellis, with Woodhead the third-down option. They should add some more behind them, but I think on the first day of training camp, we will see Green-Ellis getting the first handoff from Tom Brady.

Clay Defayette NY [via mobile]

What are the chances Benjarvis GE gets resigned and if not, will Bill most likely look for his replacement through the draft or free agency?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Green-Ellis projects as either a restricted or exclusive rights free agent, depending on the rules of the new CBA. I fully expect him back.

Jon (Middletown)

Mike, Regarding Mel Kiper's mock draft - I don't think you go RB in the first round. Shoring up both lines and the pass rush seem like the most sound options. I think people should brace themselves for another early round DB. I like the tandem of McCourty and Bodden, but I think there's a big drop off after that, and you really need 3 starting quality CB's. Not to mention McGowan and Page will be free agents. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:39 PM)

Butler had a tough year. I didn't see that coming. I really thought he'd take that next step and that was one of the things I was wrong about. Don't think they want to go CB again, but can't say it would shock me if they did.

Joe (Salem, Ma)

Mike, going into the draft, where do you see the Patriots most likely going with their two frist round picks? A DE/RB combo? Or maybe trading up for an explosive WR like Julio Jones or AJ Green? I'm not sure what the bigger need is.

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

I'd go DE, G, OLB with my top three if all things were equal. I want more power/blue-chip talent up front, and I'm looking for that disruptive Clay Matthews-type pass rusher.

John (Mass)

Mike, are there any rules that require a player who gets voted into the pro bowl to attend? I can understand opting out of a player is injured but to not go when your fans voted you in irritates the hell out of me if your perfectly fine.

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

I'm not sure about the rules, John, but I hear what you are saying. It seems like something a player should almost feel obligated to do to support the league which allows him to make a living.

Joseph King (Andover)

Mike, can you give us your assessment of the state of the roster for next year? With the successful development of so many young players over the past two years and the productive performance of some players deep on the depth chart because of injuries this season, I wonder how many roster spots are realistically available for draft picks and undrafted free agents? Thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

That's a huge part of this offseason. You have six picks in the first 92, but do you really make six picks? I'd say 4-5 for the Patriots. It doesn't make sense to pick a player if you don't think you have a spot for him.

Sean (Hudson)

Mike, upgrading the pass rush has to be Pats top priority, right?

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Count me in.

Ben (Needham)

Hey Mike,As I pack up my clothes to move back to NYC for semester II of college, I'm dreading facing all of my Jet fan dorm-mates. As for the Patriots, I think their biggest need comes in the pass rush area. A durable, high motor guy like J.J. Watt or Ryan Kerrigan would fit in well with the system. Also, tell me if I'm crazy, but I think we need to draft ANY defensive player - so long as they have exceptional vocal leadership skills. We obviously lacked passion on both sides of the ball, but as the saying goes, "defense wins championships", and ours was not good enough to do that this year. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Good luck with semester II Ben. Maybe you'll catch a break this weekend with a Steelers win which will quiet the Jets crowd a bit for you. I like the focus on defense in the front seven. I think vocal leadership skills would be good, but I think there needs to be more than that.


I believe the Patriots have been losing the battle in the trenchesthe last 3 playoff games and this is where the work needs to be done.They need a pash rusher or two DESPERATELY.My other big concern is the offensive line. Where is the weak point in your opinion? The pressure seems to be coming up the middle so Koppen and a guard would seem to be the problem.It is frustrating that all the experts praise the offensive line all season and when the playoffs come they look horrible.Time to intergrate new players.

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

I think you nailed it Frank. The one common thread I see from the three playoff losses since 2007 is that the Patriots aren't winning the battle up front, particularly on the interior.

mark (concord, nh)

I agree that WR and RB aren't big needs. Pass rush is critical though. It is early, but it looks like at 17 either Aldon Smith or Justin Houston will be available. Then, use a third to move up from 28 to grab JJ Watt. The second round will likely be chock full of OL's. Maybe a ball hawking Safety later in second or third? What do you think? Lastly, do you think Light could move inside to guard if they took a tackle (even a rt. and moved Vollmer over)?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

The thing about moving Light to guard is that you are going to be paying him left-tackle rates. I think if Light is back, he'll play tackle and the rookie they draft would slide into guard initially until he's ready to kick out to tackle. Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. I agree.

John B (Plattsburgh, NY)

Mike, I really bellieve that the Pats will use the draft to beef up the offensive and defensive line. Do you think that BB will use free agency to pick another running back such as Mcgahee or Ricky Williams so as to support Green-Ellis and Woodhead? Also, who do you see out there in FA who might add to the running game?

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

I like the idea of Ricky Williams. The only other thought is to go young and that player might add a bit more value on special teams.

DFWPatsFan (Arlington TX)

Hi Mike, I have a concern regarding the playoffs. The most important stat is the 0-3 playoff record from 2007. Judging Brady's performance against the Jets, will he be considered as a "choker" or is this just a speed bump? What will the offseason concerns be?

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

Brady has not played well in the last three playoff games. But choker? I wouldn't go that far. He made some critical mistakes against the Jets, but that game could have swung the other way if 2-3 plays went differently. That context is important in my book when thinking if a player is a "choker". I think you also have to give credit to the other team in those games. They are good, too.

Jamesa (Ottawa)

Yo Mike, why isn't anyone talking about the trenches - 3rd postseason game in a row that the OLine was dominated and the DLine was neutralized - maybe time to fix that area, what do you think?????

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

Sensing a theme here. I agree.

MIKE (S. Boston)

Mike: To what extent do you think the bye week effected the Patriots performance on Sunday?

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

I've heard the theory that it didn't help them because they lost their edge. I don't buy it, though. I think it just comes down to making the play in the critical situation. Brady doesn't make that bad decision on the Green-Ellis pick and Crumpler catches that ball, I think the question could have been "How did the bye week help them get that win?" Just didn't think it was a huge factor.

Ken (CT)

Mike, Did the Pats see enough positive play out of Arrington and Butler that they may cut Bodden and take the cap hit now, in the "unlimited" cap year and save his cap space for other players?

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

I think they like Bodden and want him back, assuming good health.

Ken (CT)

Mike, We have heard that there is no free agency or trades allowed if there is no new cba. Does the "no trade" part of this include the trading of draft picks on draft day?

Mike Reiss
  (12:53 PM)

Can still trade on draft day, Ken, as I understand it.

trader75 (witon, ct)

Hey Mike,While I agree the Pats are in serious need of a pass rush, I wonder how the Jets (on some plays) managed to give Brady over eight seconds to throw the ball yet keep everyone tightly covered leading to an incomplete pass. When the Pats give opposing QBs that much time they get picked apart especially on third down. My question is whether the coverage problem is the scheme or the players executing the scheme. The Jets played zone just like the Pats, but they kept everyone covered with or without pressure on Brady.

Mike Reiss
  (12:54 PM)

Great question. Don't have the answer but think it's a worthy topic to explore. Jets certainly had the better talent and scheme on Jan. 16.

Jan (Auburn)

Mike,This is what I want to see the pats do with their top 3 picks. Center, guard, defensive end/olb. I don't care what order. They need to resign mankins, then with those picks, the offensive line shouldn't crumble against good pressure defenses like it has the past three post season losses. Koppen gets pushed around to much and is older, we need a replacement. Neal will retire and I'm not sold on conolly or Wendell, IF we could pick up a mankins caliber guard in the draft. I don't worry about defensive line as much with the returns of wright, brace and warren, and the other first year guys making "the big jump" from year one to year two.

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

Thanks Jan.

Jet (Boston)

Hey, do you think TBC makes the team next year? Also who stays and who goes in the secondary Whitle, Butler, Carter, Arrington etc. Does Morris come back he still has some value?

Mike Reiss
  (12:56 PM)

Banta-Cain is due $2.3 million if I recall. Seemed like the coaching staff didn't view him favorably at the end of the year, starting Eric Moore over him in the playoff game. Moore was signed Dec. 3. That's probably not a good sign for Banta-Cain. Think all those corners will be back competing for jobs. Morris, not as certain about.

monte (palestine, tx)

hey mike, my biggest concern with the pats was olb and de but after the jets game should i be more worried about the wr position it seemed like they just couldnt get any seperation from the jets cornerbacks?

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

I think it can be dangerous to read too much into one game, Monte. I thought those WRs looked pretty good during the regular season.

Sam Downing (kennebunk)

MikeI'd go DE/pass rusher, OL, receiver.and I'd trade Wes. he's good trade bait and Julian is ready

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

I'd personally keep Wes Welker, but you know Edelman gives you leverage if things break down in contract talks.

MikeW (Col Springs)

Any lingering issues from Spikes' suspension? Totally surprised how little he played on Sunday. Wondering if he could have made a difference in first half.

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

I was surprised, too. Patriots stuck with Gary Guyton there. Didn't think Spikes would have tilted things much more in the Patriots' direction, though. Guyton didn't stand out to me as a major problem in the game.

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Let's go for another 5 here...

logan (texas)

can the pats be a top 10 defense next year if they get a outside linebacker that can rush the passer?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

I think it's reasonable. Wilfork, McCourty and Mayo are players to build around. I think any team would love to have them. Put a few others around them -- particularly a big pass rusher and another sturdy DL, and I like that unit.

Eric (orlando)

Mike I must say I have to disagree with your evaluation of the WR position. You know the NFL is a copycat league and after watching how the Jets disrupted the timing of the offense via chipping and clogging the middle you have to assume other teams are going to do the same. With that being said I don't see the Pats as having a WR that can stretch the field (length and width) to combat this approach. I agree using a 1st rd pick on this is a stretch but what about a 2nd-3rd on a player like Torrey Smith from Maryland. 4.3 speed tallish at 6 ft and from all reports a foobtall junkie and great kid. I think the Pats need to find someone whether it be internall or not that can threaten the defense on all levels.

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

I can see the Patriots asking the question "Do we have too many of the same types of receivers?" I still wouldn't put the position ahead of OLB/DE, DE or OL.

Arjuna (Derry, NH)

Mike, you mention Mayo, Wilfork, and McCourty as the Patriots core defensive players that is a solid foundation. What about Patrick Chung? Before he had the leg injury, he was having a great season. I think he is poised to have a big year next year, barring injury. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

I'm still waiting to see that next step, Arjuna. He went from 20 percent play time as a rookie to the plus-70 percent range this year, so that tells me the coaching staff has some more confidence in him.

Norm (Pa)

Mike love the chats and need them now that our season is over! I see the Patriots as a dominant team going into next season and seasons to come after, but for us to win the big games in the playoffs I think we are missing two key ingrediants. 1) A true threat on every down at pass rusher. 2) A running back that is a threat to break the big one and pound the line of scrimmage each rush (a la Dillion). I think we can get these players this offseason, do you agree!!!

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

Agree with No. 1. I do think Green-Ellis pounds the line of scrimmage very well. The Patriots still need to bring in another runner -- depth there is important -- but I think they could be solid with a Green-Ellis/Woodhead/draft pick or free agent combination.

JoEY (Fl)

Why wasn't aaron hernandez used more in the playoff loss to the jets he is the X factor and could have provided for matchup problems? Is there a reason?

Mike Reiss
  (1:05 PM)

I think it was 24 out of almost 80 snaps for Hernandez. That's a head scratcher. At one point, it looked like Brady was talking to him on the way back to the sideline and I read into that, thinking that Brady needed him to be in a different spot. So it could have been tied to that, but that's reading into a lot.

Keith (Enfield, CT)

NNAMDI ASOMUGHA!!! end of discussion

Mike Reiss
  (1:08 PM)

I think the whole free-agent market is going to be on hold because of the uncertain CBA. Don't see the Patriots going the Asomugha route regardless. I view the issues closer to the football as more pressing.

Brandon Tate (Foxboro)

Wow mike did I even have ten catches this season I am sorry to ask but why were you so wrong about me being a playmaker.

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

Don't be so hard on yourself Brandon. Two returns for TDs shows you are a playmaker. You had teams kicking away from you all season. The 65-yard TD was also good. Obviously still have some development as a WR.

Richard seymour (oakland)

how bad of a trade was it letting me go for a pick 2 years down the line that turned out to be pick 18?

Mike Reiss
  (1:12 PM)

In retrospect, probably would have been better keeping you, Big Sey, even if you walked as a free agent in 2010.

Max (CA)

1.Pass Rusher 2.Big Back w/hands 3.O-linepats won super bowls with RB's who could hit the hole between he tackles and take screens and swings on the edges. Dillon and A. smith could do this, with Dillon's athleticism leading to bigger gains. Woodhead is fine as a change of pace back, but it allows teams to keep more DB's on the field and negates the advantage of spreading the field, as the Jets showed.

Mike Reiss
  (1:12 PM)

Thanks Max.

Dennis (WPB, FL)

Mike, please tell me the Darius Bulter project will come to end by the start of next season. I understand he is a great person, but he simply cannot defend big receivers and cost the Patriots on big plays during the Jets game. Bodden, McCourtney along with Arrington and possible a drafted sleeper late would be ideal. Maroney project finally ended and the Butler one needs to while Brady still has good years left.

Mike Reiss
  (1:13 PM)

He really struggled this year, Dennis. If it continues in that direction, I think he's going to have trouble getting on to the field.

Richie (Los Angeles)

Mike,Watching this years playoffs just reinforces to me the craziness of going to a 18 game season. As a huge fan I would love more football but with the injuries you see on all the playoff teams I have to wonder what would playoff teams look like after playing 18 games. There would be nobody left and the quality of the playoffs would suffer. Do you think the league will realize this and back off the 18 game idea?

Mike Reiss
  (1:14 PM)

I think they're headed to 18, Richie, regardless. I wish they weren't.

Robert Kraft (Foxboro)

I just wanted to say thank you son for running such a cupcake chat today with nothing negative about our organization.

Mike Reiss
  (1:16 PM)

Voice heard, Robert.

Zac (Millis Mass)

Its time BB hired an offensive and defensive coordinator.

Mike Reiss
  (1:17 PM)

I like Belichick running the defense. I viewed Bill O'Brien as the coordinator without the title. So I don't think anything would change there by simply giving O'Brien the title.

Jason D (NYC)

Mike, the lack of passion and fire on Sunday was evident all day and I just dont get it. Its very hard to give all the credit to the Jets given how poorly we played and how flatlined our emotion seemed. Its tough to swallow for the fanbase.

Mike Reiss
  (1:19 PM)

In situations like those I think it takes someone special to step up and make a play. Pats had a chance at 14-11 -- big TD and then the Sammy Morris 2-point conversion. The place was hopping. Then the defense bombed on the long Cotchery catch-and-run. Bad defense. So in the end, I focus more on the execution than the passion/fire.

John (Martin, TN)

Has Nikovich earned a chance as a pass rusher?

Mike Reiss
  (1:19 PM)

I think so, John.

Derek (Dallas, TX)

Mike, since the season is over, does that mean you can chat with us longer???

Mike Reiss
  (1:20 PM)

Let's end on this one, Derek. It's possible we could extend the chats out a little bit. The one thing I want to make sure is that I have time to do all the homework. I've got to catch up on a lot of prospects in the draft, so I feel like I have some value to offer in these chats; I don't just want to come on here without knowing the subject matter. Been on a pretty aggressive six-month ride here with the sole focus the 2010 Patriots team. Now it takes a little time to shift those gears.

Mike Reiss
  (1:21 PM)

So let's revisit in the coming weeks. We'll keep the Thursday chats going. Based on the number of questions that came in, I have no doubt we'll be able to keep things rolling.

Mike Reiss
  (1:21 PM)

Appreciate everyone joining the chat and we'll do it again next Thursday.