Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 30, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Chris Forsberg

Chris Forsberg
  (12:00 PM)

Good afternoon everyone, thanks for dropping by. Let's tackle your Patriots questions for a bit.

Ravi (Cambridge, MA)

Hey Chris, why hasn't Jermaine Cunningham gotten more of a look? Shaun Ellis has been invisible so far this season.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:02 PM)

You gotta think the Patriots will get Cunningham more snaps this week, particularly if they flirt with more 3-4 looks. The fact that he could play 600 snaps last year and barely get on the field this year is a head-scratcher. I'll give Ellis a small break as he's admitted since he got here he's not where he wants to be physically (and he's on the injury report this week). But the defensive line as a whole (and the rush ends) absolutely have to pick up their game moving forward.

Ty Law (My Yacht)

How long before I get a call from Belichick?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:03 PM)

You're probably safe on the TV side. Unless you wanna give safety a whirl.

Ed (Work)

What do you make of all these roughing the passer/unnecessary roughness penalties? Some of them seem pretty borderline.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:04 PM)

It's gotta be frustrating for the Patriots. They're already not getting to the QB on a consistent basis and, when they do, they're getting $15,000 fines like they're speeding tickets. Clearly the league has an emphasis on protecting the QB, but guys like Andre Carter swear the wallet hits won't stop them from doing what they do.

Noah (Jacksonville)

I dont get all of these "The sky is falling" Pats fans, yeah the D looked really bad and I know it might get better (but not that much better) when we get Chung/Haynesworth/Dowling back. But the fact of the matter is that we played a pretty good team this week and barely lost and Brady had, by his standards, a really bad game with 4 picks. I think it is pretty fair to say that we will lose any game a QB has 4 picks and I think if he only throws 3 we probably win that game. So I like the odds of Brady not having anymore of those terrible games this season and that being enough to win.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:06 PM)

No doubt. Any time you throw four picks and have a chance to win the game, it's impressive. I agree that no one should get too low after one loss. The yardage being given up by the defense is concerning, but the first two weeks they were making key red zone stops. If they get back to that, we can excuse the eyesore numbers opposing QBs are putting up.

KTP (Cubelandia)

Chris - If Ochocinco has another bad game do we see a change made? If it is not working within the next two weeks I see him cut.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:08 PM)

Love the location, KTP. I don't know how much of a change you can make. His snaps were up last week because the Patriots went with more 3-receiver sets. I don't think limiting those snaps will do any good. Right now, I think he needs a decent little game and see if he can build off that. One 6-catch, 100-yard effort and all of a sudden you're not overthinking it on the field.

chris (illinois)

do you think the patriots switch to a predominantly man-coverage scheme from a zone-coverage scheme is mostly responsible for devin mccourty's early season struggles?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:10 PM)

It's part of his struggles, no doubt. But he's also had some tough assignments and he's just not performing at the same level quite yet. Almost like Ochocinco, one interception and all of a sudden the cornerback isn't thinking about all those balls being caught in his direction.

Jason A (New York, NY)

Any chance we start seeing more Stevan Ridley? Feels like the Pats need to develop a run game to hold leads and he looks like the best of the RBs.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:12 PM)

Clearly the Patriots have long-term plans of integrating the two rookie backs, especially how early they were taken. I think they like what they see from Ridley, but I don't think it's a reflection of BJGE or Woodhead playing poorly (though they haven't quite got on track yet, either; with Pats focusing heavy on passing game).

Daniel (District Heights, MD)

Hey Chris. I'm curious to know your thoughts on Chad. Should he not work out over the next few games, do you think that Taylor Price or Slater will get a larger role in the offense?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:13 PM)

Well, Price has his own health issues to overcome and get on the field. It's nice to see Slater get more receiver reps, but I'm not sure he's the one you want on the field in Ocho-like reps.

Joe Mama (Joe Mama's House)

Any positive news or buzz about Shane Vereen lately? I had such high hopes....

Chris Forsberg
  (12:14 PM)

The hamstring injury really set him back in camp and I think Ridley simply leapfrogged him. Now he's stuck down on the depth chart and he's going to have to prove in practice that 1) he's healthy and 2) deserves those reps. Again, in the long run I think we'll see both Ridley and Vereen carve out roles.

Jason (New York)

There's a lot of stuff flying around about Ochocinco. What's your honest assessment of his ability to still make plays and be a part of the offense?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:16 PM)

He's 33 and the numbers have shown a decline in recent years. Not sure he's a 90-catch, 1,200-yard guy any more (in any offense), but he can still be a huge asset. For what amounts to a No. 2 or 3 receiver, he can still be very effective opposite Branch & Welker. Teams are still committing multiple bodies to him at times. He's just got to get over this mental hurdle.

Jean (New York City)

Hey Chris, I find it hard to believe that out of all the veterans we have on our D line that no one has stepped up as a vocal leader. After reading that Wilfork had nothing to say after the Bills loss, I was pretty disappointed. Do you think we see Mayo or Wilfork step it up as the figure head?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:17 PM)

Slightly disappointing to see Wilfork the first one out of the locker room in Buffalo; I'll give him a slight break considering how that game ended and his penalty. That said, with all the veterans up front, that group needs to start producing more in the pass rush. A good chance to assert themselves this week, particularly in terms of stopping the run (which they did fairly well in Buffalo; even if Jackson still had a high yards-per-carry mark).

Nate (Winston-Salem, NC)

With so much emphasis being put on the D-Line and Secondary, what about the linebacking unit? What is it that's seemingly slowing a player like Mayo down? He just doesn't seem to be attacking the ball in the way we've seen the last few seasons.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:20 PM)

I'm not as down on Mayo as some this season; I think he's been pretty solid. But I think the Patriots need more from guys like Guyton and Spikes. As a unit, the linebackers haven't quite met expectations.

Jeff D (N Attleboro)

Hi Chris, When discussing the Seymour trade, I always hear people say if we kept Seymour we couldn't have kept Wilfork. I don't buy this argument. There are plenty of teams with more than one highly paid player on D. What makes the Pats so different?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:22 PM)

I'm still learning the NFL cap (far more daunting than the NBA model), but I agree, there's no reason they couldn't have had both. The key was that the Patriots needed to take care of Wilfork early as not to have a situation where they couldn't franchise him or Seymour. Ultimately it seems they decided to trade Seymour to ensure not losing him for nothing in return. I think they got good value -- even if the pick was probably pegged as higher than No. 17. Heck, maybe the Patriots still end up with Solder at a loftier spot.

stu (baltimore)

what happened to all the blitzing we did in the pre season ? we have never put pressure on with 3 or 4 rushing

Chris Forsberg
  (12:24 PM)

I think the inexperience at safety and the corner struggles have forced the Patriots to rarely send extra bodies (not that they typically bring extra pressure). I think they need to be more comfortable with the secondary before they start sending more linebackers. Case in point: Mayo blitzes empty backfield on Buffalo's winning drive and the Bills hit 38-yard reception to set up winning FG when no one makes the tackle.

Jean (New York)

Hey Chris, what are your thoughts on bringing in a defensive coordinator. I am by no means one of the fans who thinks the world is ending due to the defense but I think another perspective wouldn't hurt. My fear is that no one challenges bill. I trust the multiple Superbowl couch but no one is perfect.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:26 PM)

I agree, an extra voice and an extra mind is always a good thing. That said, the Patriots might not have a "defensive coordinator" by title, but they have guys that do similar roles (Matt Patricia).

Kyle (toronto)

did Tom Brady smash a mirror while crossing a black cats path under a ladder before last game? So many of those picks were just awful bounces

Chris Forsberg
  (12:27 PM)

No doubt. But some were also passes that were not placed in ideal locations. Bad bounces are part of the game.

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

Certainly this secondary didn't play will against the Bills but I thought the Patriots pass rush wasn't as good as it needed to be and it took a step backward. Do you think that the Patriots have the personnel to improve in the area of rushing the passer? I know it has only been three games but aren't we asking the same question every year?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:29 PM)

Andre Carter swore yesterday the Patriots are winning the 1-on-1 battles and are close to putting it together on the pass rush. I just don't see it yet. The sack per pass attempt average shows the Pats are getting to the QB even less frequently than last year when everyone was in a lather about the lack of pressure.

Jean (New york)

Are all of Big Als injuries really injuries or can part of it be some our fears coming to fruition?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:30 PM)

Back injuries are tricky. Ask Sebastian Vollmer. Big guys and bad backs, just don't mix. I don't think it's anything to be overly concerned about... yet.

grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)

I really want to see a lot more of Ridley with each game that goes by. I noticed when Woodhead missed his block in Week 2, Ridley was in on the next snap and he's shown his size can be an asset in pass protection. BJGE has sure hands, maybe he is your goal line back, though he's underimpressed this year. Predict how many touches Ridley gets this week?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:31 PM)

Let's got with 8 touches for Ridley; Still not an overwhelming amount, but a good change-of-pace back. Green-Ellis has thrived on short yardage, so no need to mess with what's worked there. Need to see more to know how Ridley will do in blitz pickup.

Spinkos (Toronto)

I went to the game in Buffalo. It looked like Branch could never get open. Is he now just too old/slow? If so, what role can he play in the offense?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:33 PM)

The week before he was Brady's favorite target, catching 8 passes for 129 yards. It's one week. Let's wait until it's a pattern.

Coach Belichick (Film Room)

Everyone needs to calm down. Remember than I am a secret genius? I do. At the end of the season I'll have the league stranded on McCourty Peninsula (there's no escape).

Chris Forsberg
  (12:33 PM)

Early leader in the question of the day category. McCourty Peninsula. That's gold.

Chris (Maine)

Do you think Oakland's win over the Jets will carry over momentum vs the pats?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:35 PM)

It can't hurt. But in the same way, I think the Patriots loss adds a little fuel to their fire.

Matt (Somerville)

Chris, do the Pats defensive backs ever try to bump receivers off their routes at the line of scrimage anymore? It seems like we're always seeing receivers get a running start and go streaking down the field, our guys trailing 4-5 yards behind.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:36 PM)

They're trying, that's part of the problem. Some of the jams, just aren't working. Or even if they do, guys are hurting their thumbs in the process. McCourty even said that, at the end of the day, it all comes down to technique with DBs. They need to be more crisp on things like jams to aid their own cause.

Matt G. (not Gutierrez) (Boston)

Hi Chris - any chance we see some creative looks with Edelman at his Kent State position as QB in a trick play anytime? I think they tried this once, a while ago, but it didn't work out. There must be one or two plays for him in that giant playbook, right?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:37 PM)

Pats got him a couple carries last week. The old philosophy that he's the type of player that makes things happen with the ball in his hands. That said, I'd rather see him find a way to be a productive slot receiver when he's out there with the likes of Branch, Welker, Ocho, and Gronkowski next to him. There should be room to thrive.

MarkJ (Japan)

Chris, I am not sure that the coaching scheme of BB is still effective. I am kind of reminded the final coaching years of Bill Parcells. Is BB still be a dependable?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:39 PM)

One loss!? Let's come in off the bridge. The defense needs some help. If the Patriots are still on pace to give up a league-record amount of yardage in Week 8, let's all freak out.

Nate (Winston-Salem, NC)

Chris, Do you think that if the Patriots continue to struggle with the secondary at the safety position that we could see a guy like Dowling, when healthy, slid into a safety role? I believe Arrington and Bodden can hold their own at CB and McCourty is just that 1 INT away from getting his groove back, but I think Dowling being on the bigger side could make an impact at the safety position. Provide that 1-2 punch along with Chung.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:40 PM)

No, my guess is they want to let a guy like Barrett settle in at that safety spot. Same deal, he's got good size and potential. Arrington thrived in that nickel role last week, but I would be interested to see if he's ready to jump back to being a starter on the outside. Both Bodden and McCourty have clearly been up and down (and more so the latter).

Jason (New York)

Any update on Aaron Hernandez? There seem to be tons of conflicting reports.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:42 PM)

He's been in the locker room, answered some questions, and seems to be moving fine. Alas, he hasn't practiced this week. Seems like he's still got a ways to go if he hasn't been on the practice field yet.

T. Francona (Boston, MA)

I obviously have a lot more free time on my hands now so I was thinkin, what do you think was more bizarre the Pats losing the way they did to the Giants in Superbowl XLII? Or my team failing to make the playoffs after everything that happened 2 nights ago?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:43 PM)

In one game anything can happen -- including a crazy helmet catch. So to fumble away a season over the course of a month is far more bizarre. Maybe you'll have time to take Coach Belichick's calls now that you've got all that free time.

Marc (Malden, MA)

Why didn't the Pats bring back Crennel and Weiss when they had the chance?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:45 PM)

Listen, I'm king of the "putting the band back together" ideas, but those things rarely work out.

Jack (Boston)

Hey Chris, awesome job on the pats blog, always loved your celtics stuff; you're the best two sports star since Bo Jackson. I was wondering, who do you think would win in a tag team wrestling bout with you and fellow Celtics-blogger Greg Payne in one corner against Reiss and Rodak in the other?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:48 PM)

Flattery will always get your question answered. I'll go with Reiss & Rodak (I'm guessing the kid would be ruthless in a steel cage) and that leads to me suffering a Jackson-like career-ending hip injury.

Courtney (Hopkinton, NH)

Do you see the Pats making any moves before the trade deadline on Oct 18? How about any current free agents? Thanks.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:49 PM)

Trades just seem so rare in the NFL. I don't think there's any area where this team feels like it can't fix itself with minor moves.

Jason (New York)

Scary game in Oakland. Darren McFadden is running great and Oakland seems to have some big-play guys. What's the game plan?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:50 PM)

Load up on the run, force Jason Campbell to beat you and have confidence that your secondary won't worry about how it's been battered the first three weeks. Offensively, let's see better balance. Doesn't have to be a 50/50 split, but help your defense out and use the running game to put together a 10-minute drive at some point.

Nick (Ohio)

The Pats lost a game in which they threw 4 INTS (1 bounced into a guys hands in our red zone, 1 hit off a guys helmet and is returned for a TD and 1 is a TD if thrown a foot further), gave up a TD on a questionable 50 yd pass interference call and didn't have final chance to tie the game due to tackling a guy at the 1 yd line instead of letting him score.Step away from the ledge.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:51 PM)

::Nods::

Zach (Bsoton)

Cape McCourty has a better ring to it than McCourty Peninsula.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:52 PM)

I'm open to all island-like suggestions.

David (North Attleboro)

How different are Bill Belichick's press conference's from Doc Rivers's?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:52 PM)

It is what it is.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:54 PM)

Doc's media background is a great luxury for covering that team. You appreciate both. I also understand that, hey, it's not like Rivers is worried about giving up too much of a game plan. Hoops just ain't the same scheming wise as football.

Nate (Philly Pa)

I live in eagles country, Andy Reid's make Bill's look like a motivational speaking seminar. So it could be worse.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:54 PM)

But Reid talks about injuries right? I seem to remember him being pretty forthcoming about the status of guys after a game here.

Mike (Home)

Your photo makes you look like a young Mo Rocca.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:55 PM)

That's a popular opinion. Also popular: Your photo makes you look like a nerd. There's worse to be called.

Ben (Cambridge)

You think there'll be a NBA season?

Chris Forsberg
  (12:56 PM)

I've always sort of felt like it would come back in February. But I can also see things getting real nasty and the NBA making a rash decision to cancel the season. Get comfortable.

Chris Forsberg
  (12:57 PM)

Alright, let's wrap it up there. Thanks to everyone for hanging out. Enjoy Sunday's game. See you next week for our usual lunch date.