Hey everybody. Thanks as always for dropping by. Let's tackle your questions for a bit.
Chris, What's the deal with BJGE? While I don't think we'll be as run-heavy as last week, it's concerning from a pass-protection standpoint that our two top backs are both sitting out. I'm a big supporter of giving Ridley some action (and let's see Shane V. while we're at it), but I think putting a rookie back in to block the front 7 of the boys is asking for trouble.
It will be interesting to see if BJGE42 practices today. A good sign that he walked through the locker room today. Like you said, a nine-toed Green-Ellis is probably more comforting picking up the blitz than a rookie. I can also see the Patriots emptying out the backfield more if he's limited Sunday.
Chris, why isn't anyone talking about the elephant in the room with the Cowboys' offense? That O-line has looked downright terrible for long stretches and only somewhat competent at its best, never dominant. Can the Pats win this defensive matchup in the trenches? and with that line, will we finally see some blitz packages? our best bet to keep the ball away from Witten, Bryant and Austin may be to hit Romo as early and often as possible...
I think the fact that the Patriots haven't been able to put consistent pressure on opposing QBs is the reason no one is focusing on the potential matchup advantage. I think you're more likely to see the Patriots continue to rush 4 and hope that's enough to get pressure. They'll probably commit a body or two to harassing Witten and ensuring he gets the Gates/Keller treatment.
Chris - it was great to see the running game make a return - i thought i was watching antoine smith last week!! do you think that was a one week thing or the patriots are making a more conscious effort to play "complementary football"
Particularly as it gets colder, good teams need quality running games. I think the Patriots will continue to strive for balance. That said, Dallas is very good against the run and if BJGE42 is dinged-up, I can see the Patriots leaning heavy on the passing game this week.
Is it fair to call this weeks opponent the San Diego Cowboys, or the Dallas Chargers? Both franchisees seem to be the same. Every offseason they get all hyped up and every season they disappoint. Both teams have a lot of talent but lack the mental toughness to beat the top teams. I feel SD has a better secondary, while Dallas has a better front seven. Other than that they seem to have the same issues year in and year out. Is this fair?
Absolutely. I think it's a fair comparison. I think this game plays out very similar to Patriots-Chargers. Not sure New England can contain Witten as much as Gates, but I also don't think the outside receivers -- as talented as they are -- can have a good of a day as the SD receivers did. I think last week gave this secondary some much-needed confidence.
Hey chris, i think that you guys get caught up with the number a little too much. Sure this defense hasn't played well, but there were instances where people were labeling them the worst defense in history! I mean...really the worst EVER?! That is a direct result of reading too much into the numbers, and the whole Pat's having "the worst defense in the league" just makes for a good story for the media. Anyways, what do you see us going for in the draft next year? I could see us targeting a safety in the 1st or 2nd...thoughts?
Next year's draft?! Let's cross that bridge when we get there (and, as always, let's assume this team will draft exactly what everyone least expects).<br><br>As for the "worst defense" idea, I'm guilty. I'm a numbers guy and there's just no way around it when a team gives up the most yardage in league history through four weeks. Were they better than the numbers suggested? Of course. But the bottom line is they gave up more yardage than any other team in that same span. I think they'll be much better moving forward, but you can't ignore how much yardage was given up.
Chris, we are getting pretty thin at the DT/DE position. My question is in two parts. Firstly, who, in your opinion, apart from Vince can step up? Secondly, is there a trade out there that could help?
The Patriots have played most of the season without Wright, so I'm not sure his move to IR is as daunting as it sounds on the surface. It's a tough loss no doubt, but let's also remember there's a lot of guys the team brought in with Carter, Ellis, Haynesworth, Anderson. I still think Pryor was a huge loss, but Kyle Love has been very good. If one of the PUP guys like Deadrick or Brace can be a depth guy, it's probably not as dire as it seems. I don't see a need for a move quite yet.
So am I ever gonna play?
JC, you're probably stuck waiting for an injury or some sort of opportunity to ramp up that snap count. Then you've gotta make the most of it when it happens. Injuries set you back, but the lack of snaps overall are concerning. Wish we could see more of practice to see what's going on there.
For those who haven't seen it yet, Mayo back at practice today. Hop <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4706377/mayo-a-surprise-return-to-practice" target="new">HERE</a> for more. Between him and Hernandez, Pats medical staff is amazing at fixing knees/MCLs this season.
Chris,The Pats haven't used the screen pass much this season at all. Do you see them pulling that out to help blunt the Cowboys' pass rush?
Channeling my inner Bill O'Brien, I'll kindly remind you that the Patriots are a game plan offense and much of their success comes on in-game adjustments to what the defense presents. If Dallas truly brings the kitchen sink as players have suggested, I can certainly see the screen game getting more activity.
Hi Chris. With all the talk of LeBron looking for an NFL tryout, which Celtics and Red Sox player would you like to see line up for the Patriots? Personally I'd like to see Big Papi rushing off the edge. He would terrify the opposition quarterback.
I love this question and I might totally steal the idea for a blog post. I would love to see Rondo anywhere on the field -- QB, WR, DB -- I think he'd be real run to watch. KG rushing off the edge would be a blast to watch, too; he'd lead the league in passes knocked down... As for the Red Sox, they might be too busy playing Madden 12 (zing!)
What have we seen in terms of McCourty's leadership this year? Have not heard alot about it since he was named captain.
Even McCourty described his leadership style as more "by example" than vocal at the start of the season. He's one of those young players that clearly works hard and, maybe like Mayo before him, the Patriots probably like him growing in that leadership role (becoming more vocal down the road). Fun to see him go to the podium Thursday as a defensive captain.
What would be the Patriots equivalent for the recent nuclear implosion of the Red Sox?
The 2009 season? No, I'm not even sure we can make a comparison, right? The Red Sox collapse was epic and involved so much turmoil. It'd be like the Patriots going 8-1, then losing seven straight and missing the playoffs while key guys hit the Five Guys and Gamestop at Patriot Place during a gameday.
Will we see Solder at 3TE this week to help on Ware?
With Welch back down to practice squad, it will be interesting to see how they line up on the edges. I'd guess it'd be more on the Gronks & Hernandez to aid that process.
Is is just me or should we give OCHO a chance to become the new player he wants to be. So many people are down on him without eve considering the fact everything is new. What is your prediction of his future in NE. I say bright.. What says thou?
I was on the "give him time" bandwagon. Well, it's Week 5. The Patriots have played nine (NINE!?) games including preseason. We gotta start seeing more. The fact that Matthew Slater played more offensive snaps in Oakland is rather crazy. I'm not saying he won't come around, it'd just be good for his own mental sanity to put a good game together before the bye.
I am making you my Fantasy team GM for today - TE do we start Hernandez or Finley (sort of like the choice between lobster and lobster)
Go Hernandez. Dallas pass defense isn't anything to write home about and Hernandez will be eager to atone for dropping that TD pass against the Jets.
Hi Chris, I looked up the last 4 games the Cowboys have played. It looks to me like the Patriots should be able to run on the Cowboys. The stats don't say that but I think teams just went with the pass and didn't bother with the run.
Bold game plan given the 'Boys are tops in the league in rushing yards allowed. But I can see your point. Maybe teams are avoiding the run a little too much. Again, balance will aid that cause for New England.
Who is this #90 that Mike Reiss is tweeting about being at practice today?
Looks like DT Marcus Harrison, who had a workout yesterday. Poor Phillip Adams came back for a cup of coffee, but that's a good sign about the health of the defensive backs.
With the recent rumors about players like Llyod, Wayne, Mathis on trading block, do you see Patriots trading for Mathis? and if so, what could be good compensation?
In-season trades are just so rare because of how difficult it can be to get those new players caught up. I mean, we're sitting here talking about Chad Ochocinco struggling after 2 months in the system. Makes it hard for me to imagine any such deals.
Don't you think it seems nuts to play Mayo with the Bye coming up. Give him the rest?
Just because he's back at practice doesn't even mean he's necessarily practicing. It might just be good to have him start the process of getting back in game shape and ramp up after the bye. I agree, no sense in rushing him back to action with the schedule the way it is.
What's it going to take to get Taylor Price on the field? I'm guessing that, like Ocho, the Pats brass views him as a niche player, but I'm wondering... what's his niche? Is it (lack of) opportunity that's holding him back, or do you think there is a feeling that he is (still!) not ready?
An inability to contribute in the kicking game is probably working against him. The team seems more content to trot out Vereen as a returner. If Price can't contribute on special teams it's going to be very hard for him to get offensive opportunities, as the Patriots are more apt to carry a Ross Ventrone because he can play on four special teams units.
How's the weather looking for Sunday?
Weather.com says mostly cloud, high of 64. A nice little fall day. Not the 80 degrees and sunshine of last week, but looks like the rain won't linger.
Chris,In the Friday score predictions posted by Reiss half the guys predict the Pats scoring less than 30 and some have the Cowboys winning. The Pats have scored over 30 for like 90 straight games and Brady hasn't lost at home in the regular season since Nixon was in office. Why do some many analysts want to reach for the "I told you so prediction" instead of making the educated prediction?
I'll admit it's tough. Sometimes you pick the Patriots at home so many times you feel like you're just making the easy pick. That said, it's hard to argue with the numbers. 30+ points in 13 straight games; Brady has won like 30 in a row at home. Just a hard combo to beat. But bad games happen and steaks start over. I just can't pick the Cowboys this week, just don't see it.
Can you give us a 10-day forecast.
I know. I know. But I was curious myself. I promise I won't be checking the doppler later in the chat.
What's your gut feeling on activating Faulk, Brace, and Deaderick from the PUP next week? Do you think we see Vereen hit the IR to make room for Faulk?
How quickly Faulk is activated could certainly be tied to health and where Green-Ellis and Woodhead are at that point. The lack of depth on the DL could open doors for Brace and Deadrick. I'll be very interested to see where both are at.
Chris, both Brandon Lloyd and Reggie Wayne are on the trading block. We need to get one of those guys, give up a 3rd rounder and cut Ocho. What do you think?
Again, what makes anyone think either of those guys could come in and grasp the system quicker than Ocho has. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I think the most cost efficient route is to hang in there with Ocho.
With the NBA season in jeopardy, what do you have planned after football season? We're in for a long, depressing winter if the season gets canceled (of course we'll have a Super Bowl ring to gloat).
Daunting thought. I've just assumed the NBA will come back in January or February. But sometimes you get the feeling that it might just not happen, which would be an absolute shame. I feel terrible for the Garden workers and area restaurants losing out because of this. And I'm ashamed of the NBA players and owners that are destroying a product that made such gains last year. I understand fixing some issues will make the product stronger in the long-term, but stunned the sides haven't been able to figure out at least some of these issues.
Just wanted to let Mitch (Boston) know about a little known sport called Hockey where the hometown team happens to be the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
No hockey talk until February, sorry. It's the rule.
I need a good twitter name Chris, any ideas?
Lock up your full name while you can. There's some tech dude in Brazil who locked up ChrisForsberg and it bugs me more than it should. Usually it's just me and a racecar driver named Chris Forsberg battling for screen names. Now this guys muddying it all up. If all else fails, go with @BoringArtClass and Tweet your teacher.
Thoughts on the Brandon Meriweather release after seeing him in Chicago?
Still a little surprising given that Chicago's defense isn't exactly the 1985 Bears. But the Patriots know that when you're giving up big passing yardage, sometimes you gotta make some moves.
Hey Chris, when do you think the dolphins get their first win? Is it wrong to be routing for them to go 0-16 so the '72 dolphins can finally stop celebrating?
Mercury Morris is too busy worrying about how he'd ever explain the 2011 Lions moving into his neighborhood to worry about his old team going 0-16.
Maybe the NBA should shed some of those unprofitable teams. The games too watered down!!!
Not to work in too much NBA talk here, but I agree. Let's wipe out four teams and the product instantly becomes more competitive.
Are Pats a top 5 NFL team right now
Absolutely. Yes, they've got strides to make on defense, but the offense is clearly good enough to mask that.
Bill O'brien is doing some good things as the offensive coordinator this year and we've had some good ones in the past. Who has been the best of the bunch in hindsight? (Weis, McDaniels etc...)
I think it's safe to say having the likes of Brady have made each of them look pretty good. It's an interesting question, though.
Chris! Are you on the Tim Tebow hype train?
Aaron Hernandez made a heck of a pitch Thursday. He'd know better than most of us.
Are you with me when saying you hope Luck doesn't go to Miami? Who would want the most hyped QB since Manning in your division. We can't hope to get lucky and have the Dolphins move to another division too!
Made me chuckle at the idea of Miami getting the boot from the AFC East. But is there really any sure thing in the draft. I'm not a huge college football guy, but I'm always stunned how surefire people make it sound with Luck.
I'm in the best shape of my life I swear! I am better than Ocho anytime. I don't need no playbook, I just go deep. Chris can you convince Bill that I can help win a Super Bowl!?
There was a kid in full Moss costume on the sideline pregame last week with a sign that read, "Call me Bill." People still love him.
If welker stays on pace for his record setting WR stats, does he get MVP consideration? Has a WR ever been MVP?
You'd have to think so, right? Although Brady's stats would be ridiculous as well. Imagine the payday for Welker if that happened.
Let's cut it off there. You guys rock. Thanks so much for the questions. Let's do it again next week.