Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat.
Just back from the locker room. Going to get a few things together and then we'll get started.
The most notable aspect to come out of the locker room today, in my view, was safety Patrick Chung speaking with reporters. I view that as a positive sign for the Patriots when it comes to his availability.
Let's chat until 1...
Hi Mike with the Patriots secondary getting decimated for the 3rd week in a row do you think the Patriots will finally make a roster move ie pickup somebody like Sharper to help out? Thanks Mike
Har, always appreciate you joining the chats. When do you come back to Boston? I don't think we'll see a Sharper-like move. I think you have to be careful on stuff like that, because it could stunt the development of younger players. When you go young, like the Patriots have at the position, you have to expect some growing pains.
I watch the Patriots D and see a team that isn't playing with much confidence or executing very well. Whther that's due to no OTA's, the new scheme or many new players. I don't think it's lack of talent. How about you?
Steve, I think it's a combination. But if forced to choose one, I'd say they have enough talent in the secondary, and it's simply playing better technique. Some of the penalties have hurt them. Up front, I'm not as certain about the talent and have been questioning myself, wondering if I've overrated some of the offseason acquisitions up front. Still a bit early to make that judgment.
Hi Mike, It looks as if the gamble at safety has not paid off and could prove very costly as the year progresses. While a lot has been made of the exits of Sanders, Merriweather and Paige, the release of Brandon McGowan went under the radar. I think he is still a free agent. He missed 2010 on IR but he started 11 games in 2009, had three forced fumbles and was a consistent performer. Importantly he has knowledge of the system. Would it be worth bringing him in to add a veteran presence? (Or are all players named Brandon banned from the roster)
Damian, I watched McGowan in the brief time he was here in training camp, and didn't think he was running well. I'm no scout, so we have to take that viewpoint for what it's worth, but I just didn't see a player who would help much.
It seems the best way to help this defense is to keep it off the field. We need more of running game. Lets see Ridley out there more and maybe Ridley and Green Ellis out there together pounding the ball. Anyway it would lead to a more balanced attack .
Pat, if I had one "constructive criticism" for offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien -- if he were open for an outside opinion from a media member -- it wouldn't necessarily be to run it more, but to sense the spot in games where the run could be the hammer for this team. For example, I had no issues with the approach against the Bills until it was 21-7. At that point, I questioned the approach of airing it out. I thought that was a point where maybe you try a Ridley and give your OL a chance to exert their strength/will on the opposition. Now, part of that is "hindsight is 20-20". I asked myself, "Would I have said that if Brady didn't throw the INT to Woodhead?" I did.
Hey Mike. Quick Sox comment because I think it might pertain to the Pats: at times while watching last night, it seemed like the Sox knew they were going to lose. Too many of them were looking around, hoping someone else would step up and bail them out. This year, it looks like too many Patriots do the same, waiting for someone else (aka Tom Brady) to bail them out of tough situations. So my question to you is, beyond Brady, Welker, Gronk and Wilfork, who do you see as leaders/playmakers in New England? I'm afraid it's a short list. Thanks!
Chris, let's make this a Sox-free zone. That really hurt. I asked myself, "Why would anyone read what I write about the Patriots after a demoralizing loss if I don't want to read anything on the Red Sox in this situation?" It hurts to think about...
...That being said, I do think the Patriots have players who can step up in those siuations. McCourty, Mayo, Chung, Mankins, Branch, Hernandez are a few others that come to mind.
Mike, which airline do you prefer?
JetBlue a personal favorite. WiFi on Delta appreciated too!
When will we see Ryan Mallett play in a game as the Quarterback for the New England Patriots?
Chris, I don't think we're close, unless we're talking about a blowout and some late-game snaps. Meanwhile, Brady's contract runs through 2014 so you figure the Patriots -- from a starting standpoint -- hope the answer is "never."
Hi Mike, just wanted to give you a shout out on your accurate call that the Patriots would lose one of the two games at either Buffalo or Oakland. The Raiders seem to match up well, but I say a Patriots victory is sealed if the D can contain Darren McFadden. What say you?
Thanks Captain. I like the Patriots in this game. I would have picked the Raiders had the Patriots beaten the Bills, but here is why I like New England. I view this game as one in which the logo needs to be defended. The Patriots have been called a finesse team. The defense is under media siege. I believe the players are better than they've shown and that they will rally around this to beat the Raiders. As long as the OL can protect, I like the Patriots to put up 30-plus points in this game, and I don't see the Raiders keeping pace.
HI Mike,Three comments. First, BB's decision to let Jarrad Page go to Philly looks even worse now. Does he have that much faith in Barrett and Brown?Second, heard that Wilfork left the locker room without speaking to the media after the game. Seems to me he should be the defacto defensive leader. Who is holding the defense accountable in the locker room?Lastly, saw a blurb on NESN.com that said Pats players thought Spikes tipped the Brown end zone PI pass, therefore the penalty should have been dropped. Can you confirm the tip?
Mike, three good ones: 1. Page could have helped. Not sure what happened there, but figure it was economic-based. Page didn't break the bank in Philly, so it's a bit of a head-scratcher from here; 2. That is true on Wilfork. It speaks for itself. I don't think that means Wilfork isn't holding his mates accountable for the unit's play, I just think it reflects Wilfork not standing up and answering questions on behalf of his teammates as a leader. I see those as two different issues; 3. On the Sergio Brown play, I'm not sure if the ball was tipped and Brown himself couldn't have been sure because he was 35-40 yards down the field. I think you just have to put that on the player and say 'better technique is needed there regardless of the tip or not.' There was no reason to play it that way.
Mike, I couldn't believe the Bills game. It felt as though the players and the coaches were very complacent. We threw the ball 45 times and ran 26 times! Why can't we have a more balanced attacking approach? I understand it may have been hard running against the Bills front 4 but what happened to situational football? Three scores up....run the clock down...protect the ball!
SamB, I think you make two points, and it's the second one I agree with. I don't think you go into a game and say 'We have to throw it 30 times and run it 30 times.' Anyone could strike a balance like that, but it probably wouldn't be effective. So to me, it's more of a feel of WHEN to run, and that's the point made that I like. I believe there are times when the Patriots could benefit from taking the air out of the ball and letting those big guys pound away a bit.
Mike, why was D Gronk cut in your opinion? Which injured players will be back this week most likely?
Just don't think he was healthy, Kyle, and they needed the roster spot because of a run of injuries. Thinking Chung and Dowling are back this week.
Hi Mike: The Bills game has really turned my head around 180' on this team, that was the worst defensive preformance I can ever remember out of a Pats team. How does this get fixed in stride? Would going back to a 3/4 help? Jeez Mike you think we could maybe sweet talk the Falcons to give back Sanders, or beg Tedy to put the pads back on...The need to tight up and find a leader on that defense is beyound huge!
Corky, my thought is to be careful about reading too much into one game. It was ugly, no doubt. But so much changes in this league from week to week and I think the best approach is to stay as close to that even keel as possible. Would I be shocked if the Patriots bounce back with a solid win Sunday? Not at all. This team is still very good, and one loss doesn't change that. I like the idea of going back to the 3-4 against the Raiders' rushing attack. Don't see Sanders coming back.
Win or lose this is Bill's team and the results on the field are a product of poor drafts and weak free agent pick-ups. The team's flaws on defense can be traced to poor evaluations on Wheatley, Butler, Merriweather, Brace, McKenzie, Adalius Thomas, Shawn Crable and Derrick Burgess amongst others. With the inevitable injuries in football you can't make so many poor decisions on starters and potential starters and put a consistently good product on the field. Some of the depth players have done pretty well; Pryor, Fletcher, Ninkovitch, Guyton and Arrington but these guys shouldn't be on the field for a preponderance of snaps. Moss was a nice rental player for a couple of years but the team's inability to find consistent, productive wide receivers in the draft has lead to a string of failed Free Agent WR acquisitions. And if you are going to draft RB's in the 2nd and 3rd round can you act like you care about the running game? Bill needs some help with his grocery list because he seems to be having trouble in the produce section. As a fan you feel like a fool complaining about this team given the results over the last 10 years. But some of the failings seem so obvious and frustratingly redundant.
I think it's fair, munchkin. Some of the personnel decisions deserve the scrutiny. One point on the RBs, you don't want to put them on the field before they're ready from a pass-protection standpoint. Nothing more important than protecting Brady. As for the personnel stuff, I wonder a bit if Bill Belichick gets challenged enough. For example, when he is thinking about releasing James Sanders, does someone stand up and say, "Bill, I know you might think he's worth $2.8m, but if we lose Chung, we're awfully thin there." That would be my question.
Mike, do you think that the Pats reliance on the passing game is healthy? Put another way, if the Pats get up on teams like they did last week in Buffalo and continue to be a pass first offense, can they win? They were up 21 and they played like they were 0-0. I can understand continuing to do what you do to be successful, but sometimes this team is so efficient on offense that the defense plays more than they should have to. This team loses the time of possession battle more times than not, and as good as the offense is the pass first mentality means that they don't grind out games. Time of possession seems to be less of a priority since the days of Clock Killin' Corey Dillon.
I think it's a good topic, Liam, and ties into the idea of that "feel" on when to turn to the running game.
In retrospect the Sanders trade looks like a big mistake. Wouldn't everyone feel a lot better with a Chung / Sanders combination, giving the youngsters another year of prep? Sanders is barely playing for the Falcons. Do you think the Pats consider admitting an error by trading a 5th (say) to get Sanders back? He knows the schemes, has practiced them. Seems like the Falcons would seriously consider a deal like that. Seems worth it for the Pats with their D really hurting them. BB tries to look forward, not back; shouldn't he be humble and cut his losses even if it looks bad?
DJ, don't see the Patriots trading Sanders back to New England. They like him there.
Mike,First- You do an amazing job when the total body of your work speaks for itself. Yet, I must bring up a criticism.The sample size is small (3 games). However, one could argue (at least statistically) that this is amongst the worst defense in Patriots history. While I respect your professionalism and political correctness, even Tedy Bruschi admitted this is the worst defense in the NFL. You have also in an insightful manner brought up its shortcomings but please Mike--you are not on a political podium. When a team crosses to such depths in defensive performance, it is time to get a bit animated and opinionated with stronger adjectives. Defense is in a complete disaster. Editorialize with confidence whether it is the personell, scheme and take Belichick to task in a direct manner. Tactfully addressing the draft is ok--but conversely point out the specific defects of current players. Thanks
Thanks David. I actually feel like I've been pretty strong. Almost too strong.
One of my personal beliefs is not getting caught in the highs and lows of an NFL season. I learned it from a little-known CB in my first few years covering the Patriots, Steve Lofton. I remember him telling me that he learned it from Dom Capers in Carolina, and it really crystallized in my mind. I've never forgotten it. I thought I wrote strongly about the defense and personnel this week. Not sure if you've seen those pieces or not (after-game piece on this being on Bill Belichick to fix) and mailbag (citing personnel breakdowns).
No need to panic regarding the defense. Even though the DBs are getting roasted in man coverage, it's great practice for them. The corners have most times been in position to make a play, they're just not getting their head turned around and locating the ball quickly enough...With several more game day opportunities to work on it they'll be much better for it, give up less yards and create more turnovers, by season's end.It also allows them to save their more complex coverage schemes for the playoffs. I think a battle hardened 10-6 Pats team with no first round bye has a better chance of making it to the superbowl, than a 14-2 team that has pulled out all the stops during the regular season giving opposing teams more than enough film to effectively game plan against them during the playoffs.
That's an optimistic view, JB. I wouldn't go that far myself. Bill Belichick said this year that you start to know what you have around the fourth week of the season. If that's true, I'd be more concerned than this. While I think the defense will get better, the jury remains out as to whether it will be good enough when it counts.
Mike, tell me that Moss doesn't catch that ball for the touchdown? Could you imagine the offense with Welker, Moss and the 2 tight-ends on the fields? unstoppable
Was something wrong with BJGE in Buffalo? The Pats hardly ran the ball, and used Ridley and Edelmen just as much as Green-Elis.
We'll double you up there, Pete. We've both seen Moss drop a few balls. as for BJGE, he wasn't hurt. Just couldn't get it going. It happens.
Why ,why, why keep passing when you are up 21 to zip. Pretty lame game plan that Sunday.
The key to me, Dave, is if we said that BEFORE the pick to Woodhead. I think it's easy to say that after the result, and harder before. I happen to agree with you, but think it's important to be fair here and asking whether we felt that way before the game turned. In other words, would we be having this discussion if the Patriots scored on that drive to go up 28-7?
Mike, why are you suddenly calling special teams plays "fourth down" this season--special teams players ones "who contribute on fourth down"? In the first place, not all special team plays are fourth down: kickoffs, for example. And also, with the Pats being a team that keeps the offense on the field on 4th down more often than most, not all fourth down plays involve special teams. It makes it very confusing if we want to talk about "fourth down efficiency" or the like.
Hadn't thought about it like that, Matt. Let's make a correction and just call it special teams.
With Devin McCourty's struggles this year and the sudden emergence of Jason McCourty in TEN (2 INT, 1 Sack, 1 FF, 3 PD) in the first 3 games, is it too much of a stretch to suggest that they are pulling the old bait and switch?
Mike, stop sitting on the fence. Seymour trade - 2 yrs later - would you do it?
No, wouldn't have done it.
Thought it contributed to the disappointing '09 season. Locker room never recovered, and Wilfork had a tough time because he was upset his own contract wasn't taken care of.
Mike, perfect example of your "offensive feel" comment -- Pats driving with less than 3m in left in first half, deep in Buffalo territory. Already in FG range. O'Brien still calls pass after pass and we end up with TB's first pick on the throw to Woodhead. Perfect time and part of the field to line up and pound it. Would kill the clock and help ensure Pats get some points
That's what I'm saying, MikeW. But to balance it off, don't you think it's fair to ask the question, "Would we be having this discussion if they scored on that drive throwing the ball?" I happen to agree with you. At the same time, I do think that needs to be part of the discussion.
What happened to Devin McCourty?
Mickey, he's hit a rough patch here. Technique has gotten away from him a bit. Liked this quote from Jerod Mayo on McCourty today: "I'm sure he has no problem with confidence. We talk about things all the time. Just like if I'm out there struggling, or if he's out there struggling, anyone, you just keep saying, 'chip at the rock, chip at the rock, and eventually it will break.' Just continue to work. He's a hard worker. I have no doubt with Devin."
Ok old topic re-emerged - Bill B not naming a D Coordinator? Lingering impact? Can you convince Teddy to come back as DC? Knows the system, players, is firey as hell, said this D embarassed him on ESPN, and he can light the candle for them!
Eric, I like the idea of bringing in some new ideas. Sort of like I felt in 2008 when Dom Capers was here, but that never materialized as I thought it would.
How's Aaron Hernandez recovering? When can we expect him back?
Jeff, Hernandez did not practice Wednesday. My sense is that we might be another week or so away.
Pat's preach "Situational Football". All phases. So why have play selection decisions (run/pass) been so critical at the end of the half last week and in the start of the 3rd Qtr when we turned the ball over on the INT off Woodhead and 3 and Out begining the 3rd QTR. Need to run clock and help the D. Not hurt it. This was decisive in the final outcome. Who is making the play calls there? BB, Off Coord, Brady???
Chin, that is offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien making the play-call, and then Tom Brady adjusting based on the defensive look.
Eric Mangini suggested that one possible reason why the D is struggling is because the coaching staff haven't been working with the 4-3 for very long. He claimed that once Coach Belichick and his staff have had time to tinker with the current system a little bit, results would improve. Would you buy that, Mike?
Dan, I buy it to a degree. In a normal offseason, they would have installed this in May/June, seen how it looked in training camp, tried it out in the preseason and then decided if they wanted to carry it into the season. That process was pushed back a bit this year. Don't think it's the only reason for the struggles, but a factor.
Mike, you said you wouldn't do the Seymour trade but isn't Nate Solder a great contribution especially if you keep in mind the likeliness we lose Seymour to free agency given the amount of money he's getting in Oakland?
Greg, Solder is a solid pick, no doubt. They made the most with the pick, even though it was lower (17) than I'm sure they hoped it would be. I think you have to factor in all the elements -- playing odds that the Raiders' pick could have been top 5, and also that the Patriots had to wait two years for Solder. A few other things: I think Seymour was a better player when playing for a contract than after he got one, so I understand why the team might have been reluctant to give him big bucks a second time. On losing Seymour, this is what I would have done (with the benefit of hindsight) -- Tried to get Wilfork done earlier, then used the tag on Seymour in '10. So I could have kept two of my best defensive players together at least two more years.
Mike, tell me with a straight face that Jermaine Cunningham couldn't have given us more over the past couple games than Shaun Ellis or your boy Andre Carter. The D-ends have been absolutely invisible.
Can't tell you that, Dave, because I don't believe it. Cutting and pasting the "defensive snaps" blog entry from last week which includes some of my thoughts on that. http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4704247/defensive-snaps-no-safety-net
P.S. -- When did Carter become my boy?
Does McClain's comment about the Patriots being a 'finesse' team act as bulletin board material for the Pats this week?
Yes, Vinny, I believe it does. I view this as a "defend the logo" game.
Mike, do you think the Oakland field will be an issue? Saw they are sodding over the infield...I don't want any of our skill guys slipping or pulling anything!
They are preparing for it to be soft.
is gronk your favorite guy to interview? i mean, not for football knowledge but as an enjoyable conversation?
Doug, he's a fun guy, no doubt. But I wouldn't put him at the top of the list. Would need some time to think about that one.
why does Stevan Ridley look so good everytime he touches the ball, do you see him the same way? i'm thinking he could end up a STAR and maybe our number 1 back by the end of the yr
It's been a small sample, Tim, just 13 snaps this season. I liked what he did in Buffalo (7 carries, 44 yards if I remember off the top of my head), and think that will earn him more time this week.
Hello Mike, If Taylor price is healthy when do the pats realize that he deserves chance over Chad have been in the system for couple of years with limited opportunities to be active on the game day??
I think that's coming, Raj. The issue is space on the 46-man game-day roster. But since they are down a TE, I could envision that being the case this week -- activating all 6 WRs and splitting up some snaps between Ochocinco/Price.
Mike:Is it possible BB overthinks positions like the safety spot? He's put so much of the draft in to the secondary, then cuts depth at safety. We cut some draft picks from the 2011 class already and two selections haven't even hit the field. I know they are injured or ill, but that's part of my point. The reason Vareen slipped is because he is injury prone. At what point do we say BB's drafting skills are slipping? What is your take?
Karl, I think it's fair to be critical of the drafting. I have long said that it matches up favorably with the rest of the league, but the lack of attention to the pass rush is notable from this perspective.
The Patriots made a big mistake letting Sander and Meriweather go but I, like most people, figured that Belichick made a good shrewd move (based on his past history). Now, I think that if they released one they would be fine at safety but releasing both exposed the inexperience at the safety position - especially if/when Chung misses time. Belichick always gets credit for thinking three moves ahead ahead but he gambled and lost with this move. Just having Meriweather or Sanders over Ideghibo would be a significant upgrade at the position.
Eric, I didn't have a problem on Meriweather but questioned the Sanders' move. Didn't make sense to me at the time.
Hi Mike, I think that the fears fans have are a little over the top, but in the same way, our hopes may have been a tad high. I still think we are a playoff team, but do you think Belichick needs to trade up and get a major playmaker on defense (no specific position) in the draft, and abort the recent strategy of getting alot of players, but in the end cutting at least 50% within 4 years of drafting them?
Kelsey, I think the Patriots are still a top team and will be in the playoffs. But are they built to win in the playoffs? Based on what we've seen so far, I'd say no.
Mike, do you think that Ocho's refusal to man up and face the music from the media post-game and this week will affect how he is viewed in this locker room. I know no one would say it publicly, but no one in there can be very happy with either his performance on the field or boorish behavior off the field this week.
Don't see it being a factor, Jason. I don't think players look at it that way with Ochocinco. He's sort of in a no-win situation -- talk and he becomes a big story and it's about Ochocinco, don't talk and now he's not manning up.
Shane Vereen? Not healthy?
Healthy, just needs more time to master pass protection, as nothing is more important than protecting Brady.
But don't you think we are a finesse team... we dont have a smashmouth running back like an AP or a Emmit Smith type... we rely on guys that are about the same size as high school kids in our offense... and on defense we don't have a hit the hole run stopper we rely on short passes and YAC and rely on secondary more than anything
Dave, I can see where someone would view them as finesse, but I look at Logan Mankins throwing guys around, the defense stopping the Chargers on fourth-and-goal from the 1, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis lowering his shoulder for a 16-yard TD run to close out the Chargers and don't think finesse. Just think it's a convenient stereotype. These guys are physical when given the chance.
Am I still hosting the chat if Big Al get a pick six ? :)
Ha. He has to dress for the game first!
Hi Mike, why put a long 6 minute drive when you are loosing by 7 with 9 minute remaining on the clock? The same thing happen against the Jets last season.
That wasn't the intention, but when Ochocinco drops the ball, it makes life harder.
Hey mike do you see me getting my starting gig back...... the pass rush has been weak thus far and I have worked with spikes for years with us both healthy again I think we can work well together at LB and DE/OLB
Jermaine, I wouldn't be surprised at a return to the 3-4 this week, and that would mean good things for you if it happens. I think it's time to get you back into the mix.
How much longer are the Pats going to tolerate Ocoho's lack of production?
Big D, I think it could be revisited at the bye week. The one thing that could lead them to hold on to him is that they paid him a 4.5m signing bonus. That's a lot of money to just give away and admit you made a mistake. That's why it makes sense to me that they keep working at it.
Let's go for another 5...
You have to admit, if Ocho goes out and has a big game this Sunday, over 100 and 2 TDs, people will be making him out to be the best WR in the NFL all the sudden, a must-add in fantasy football, and the Pats offense would be deemed unstoppable.
That's how quickly things can change. I just try to look at what we've seen to this point. The connection between Brady and Ochocinco isn't as far along as I thought it would be. It looks to me, going back to the preseason, that Ochocinco physically isn't the player he once was.
hey mike, are the patriots going to sign a fullback or bring in a te as a fb?Lousaka Polite?
Nick, I think that Polite workout was more for keeping the emergency lists fresh or thinking ahead to a specific game-plan in the weeks ahead. I don't see it right now.
What's your take on Jerod Mayo? We keep hearing about what a great player he is yet I see a guy that misses tackles, gets beaten in coverage and racks up tackles 10-15 yards down the field.
Joe, I like Mayo as a player. Don't think he's been as good as advertised this season, though.
Mike, everyone keeps talking about needing to run the ball once we get a lead. However, in my opinion the best way to win is to keep scoring points. You play to win the game and in order to do that you do what works best which in the buffalo game was passing. If we started to run the ball it may not have been effective and could have led to three and outs and to me that sounds like taking your foot off of the pedal. Does no one remember the 2006 AFC championship game? The offense should try to score every drive not try to end the game as quickly as possible.
Thanks for offering up the other side, Frank. Still think you have to try it at times.
Gosh, Reiss -- awful answer on Ocho. One thing you can be positive is that BB earned his economics degree and fully understands Sunk Cost. The 4.5 is GONE. It's all about wins now.
Disagree Hoss. The same reason they cut Sanders because they didn't want to pay $2.8m for a player they felt wasn't worth it, I think there is a feeling that when you invest that much, you give it more time before you end the experiment.
Everyone's heard about the fight between me and Timmy K, what people really want to know is, who would win between you and Chris Forsberg? I say Chris, he'll drop the people's elbow on you and you'll tap out!
I come up short in the tale of the tape, but I'm Welker fiesty. Don't count me out. Was pretty good back in the day coming off the top rope with the Superfly Snuka to close things out.
Hypothetically-speaking: the Pats did not give chad a bonus. Which week would he be/have been cut?
I think Galloway is a good one to revisit on this. He played a few games, then was inactive for a few weeks before getting cut, if I recall. Would say same thing here. I'm not saying they wouldn't cut him, just think he might get a little more time to try to turn it all around.
I picture you more with a parrot, a la Koko B. Ware, Mike....
That hurts, Brian.
Um, you can't "tap" from the people's elbow... it's a move that you'd use to pin your opponent, and I say Reiss would smoke Gaspar
Appreciate the vote of confidence, Ralph. I consider myself a tactician in the Blue Blazer mold.
Mike now that the Sox have taken all the heat off of the Patriots what changes do you expect from the Patriots this week?
Let's end on this one, Charles. I think we'll see a much better effort. The Patriots are better than they've shown. I believe that. Look for a more inspired performance. I like this matchup for them, as long as they can pass protect.
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Colleague Chris Forsberg will chat at 1 p.m. tomorrow on ESPNBoston.com.