Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. The auto update is on, and we'll hold for a few minutes before letting it rip.
Chatting with you today from London. Arrived early this morning. Was on a flight with some Patriots fans. Always impressed with how well they travel, and very excited to be in this environment once again. Looking forward to meeting many of the Patriots fans here.
What's on your mind?
Hi Mike,Have you noticed if Bill Belichick is any different when doing his press conferences in London? Is he on better behavior or is he the same warm, loquacious guy in foreign land too?
Prem, the Patriots are actually still back home as we chat. They are leaving later today.
Mike, it was encouraging to hear from Hernandez about improving yourself. Reminded me about the philosophy of how we are going to run our own offense, try to stop us. Is Hernandez comments a reflection of what coaches discussed during this week's film session?
I'm not 100 percent certain on that, but I think it hits on something that it seems both of us agree with Vikram. There is a balance between being a "game-plan" offense and simply attacking in an area where you say to the opposition, "We know you're good, but we're good too, so try to stop us." Sometimes I think the Patriots don't lean as strongly as they could in the second category.
Hi Mike, Welcome to London. While I appreciate that BB see's this as a buisness trip, do you feel that the Franchise is missing a chance to connect with its UK fan base as it will only be here for two/ three days. I do feel that BB see's this as an inconvenience rather than a team bonding moral enchancing opportunity.
Yes, there is an opportunity that isn't being fully maximized, but the Patriots will still do their fair share of connecting. They are scheduled to be part of a fanfest on Saturday. It's not as much much as the Rams have done. In the end, Bill Belichick is paid to win games and he feels this puts his club in the best position to do so. I can't really argue with that.
Mike.. We came almost mid of season.. We have now 8 games once we come from bye week. out of which 4 will be division games.My question is how the strategy will be with respect to coaches, considering our 4-3 score, it will be wise to concentrate more for divison games. I know BB maintains 1 game at a time and all but i think we should have a plan how to sneak in for post seson games. Since after long time i believe we no more can say we will be in playoff spot.. I am more furous because Jets has more 8 easy games when compared to PATS and Miami a surprise factor, we dont know also what they look like until we face them.. And we will be facing them 2 times this 8 games..
Clark, Belichick often says that a division game almost counts 1.5 times. So I think if you look at the rest of the schedule, those AFC East games rank at the top because of the tie-breaker possibilities and the fact that the division winner automatically gets into the playoffs, whic his every team's goal.
Hey Mike. I was wondering if you think Shane Vereen's performance on Sunday will net him more carries against the Rams, especially with Bolden continuing to be out. I know it depends on the gameplan, but do you think we'll see a lot of #34 out there?
Matt, I do think we'll see more of Vereen this week. He had 17 snaps last week, which was behind Ridley (32) and Vereen (31). He is ready to go again, with a rising confidence.
Mike,It must be frustrating for the 'home' team in these fixtures. The UK fans will not fill a stadium for one team so you end up with a mixture of support, so no real home advantage (unless you are the Pats and then you would!).Why would a Franchise agree to come over here? Is there a financial incentive involved?
One follow-up here, Redcoat. Big financial potential rewards here. Many owners view this as an untapped market and they want to establish some "brand loyalty" with their team. Lot of business value in that.
Mike, do you remember when patriots arrived in London in 2009? I am curious to know if there was difference in their thought process than now.
Same schedule as 2009 is being used this year.
I'd like to see the Patriots start out running the ball and screen passes against the Rams and then stick with it. They have some great edge rushers in Long and Quinn and have some beef up the middle but I think a steady dose of Ridley and Vereen will open the field. It'll also keep Long and Quinn honest on the edge which can only help Brady find his receivers. All too often I feel the Patriots move the ball in the beginning of a game and then get away from what's worked. If Ridley's tearing up the D, keep giving him the ball. If it's Vereen -- do the same.
Eric, I think they run right at Long and Quinn and see what they can generate. I could envision Ridley getting going in this one. Going to want to establish some balance, unlike Seattle when they trended more heavily to the pass.
(Exept Welker)Our wide recievers always seem covered to me,do you agree? Why have'nt we developed some who can get open or at least get double covered?
Steve, it's been a little bit of a drought on the WR development. Not including Julian Edelman, because the book isn't fully written on him yet, they haven't really hit on a draft pick there since 2002 (Deion Branch and David Givens). I think part of it is just talent evaluation -- you pick Bethel Johnson in 2003 and hope it's a Mike Wallace type hit but it doesn't pan out. In 2006, it was Chad Jackson over Greg Jennings. Ouch. In 2009, it was Brandon Tate over Mike Wallace. Double ouch. No team is perfect. I think they can pick better players, and that we can also make the point that the demands at the position are greater in the team's attack.
Hi Mike,Hope you're not too tired!Some trade talk about Lions and Lloyd today. I can't see it but to be fair its another WR that hasn't yet panned out for us.What do you think..just rumours?PS: try the fish and chips!!!
Peter, I thought the Jets game was Lloyd's worst this season, but I think it's way too early to say it hasn't panned out. Just last week at this time, I was writing how it's fun to watch him work the sideline with some of the catches he makes. Let's not bury him yet. They need that outside receiver to come through and Lloyd is their best shot.
Hi, Mike. It seems to me that the Pats secondary and defensive struggles in general started around the same time they switched to the 4-3 defense. Maybe that's it, maybe it's not. But the 3-4 worked so well for years, getting them 3 Super Bowl titles. If they line up 3 DLs and 4 LBs, maybe the Pats can defend against the shorter passes better, and allowing the DBs to concentrate on the longer passes instead of both the long and the short passes. Thoughts?
Chris, I think don't think it's entirely related, the idea that the 4-3 has led to them playing different coverages. Also, the way the Patriots play, the front changes from snap to snap based on the versatility of players like Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Jermaine Cunningham, We've see some 3-4 looks this season. I know Eric Mangini, the ESPN analyst, likes the idea of the switch to the 3-4. I don't see how it makes them any better against the pass.
What do you use for advanced statistics? Most of the free sites do not have great statistics, so I was wondering if there was anything you use to get more in depth stats such as 3 and outs forced by defense, etc.
Nathan, ESPN has a Stats & Information department that provides us with every possible stat each week. Want to know the Patriots' record when Wes Welker weats Cheerios for breakfast? ESPN probably has it. As for the other advanced stat sites, I use them sparingly. I tabulate some stuff on my own, but I think those stats often lack the context we're really looking for.
Hi Mike, Is Coach Fisher using a little gamesmanship having Amendola practicing just a couple of weeks after hurting his shoulder? I was watching that game when he went down, and his subsequent walk to the locker room, and figured he was done for the year. Or is this a case of Amendola trying to prove how tough he is to his potential new team? I think he replaces Welker next year, we?ll see though. Thanks, keep up the great work, and don?t take any guff from the Brits. 1776!
James, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that there isn't a chance Amendola plays this weekend, and then will have the bye to recover even more. That would be gamesmanship at a whole new level if Fisher had Amendola travel to London just for kicks. There has to be a feeling that this is a benefit to him in some form, and my sense is that it's to get him ready for the Rams' first game after the bye, barring any setbacks.
Hey Mike, I've been thinking about different things we might start to see this defense do. I know it sounds obvious, but I think they need to put an emphasis on getting their best players on the field. If they're in nickel, I think the best players to put in their front would be Wilfork, Mayo, Spikes, Hightower, Ninkovich, and Jones. You could have Wilfork as the only one with his hand on the ground and everyone else walking around pre-snap. I imagine Belichick could cook up a lot of creative pressure schemes and cause confusion, and it could still be strong against the run with capable DBs like Arrington and Chung who have shown the willingness to go in and make a tackle. What do you think? Is this a package they might go with? Any chance of success?
Could envision this plan unfolding this week vs. the Rams, whose offense line is one of the NFL's weakest right now. Amoeba defense returns, perhaps.
The Pats DBs seem to regress year after year. Their pass defense is futile. They draft and bring in new players every year with no noticed improvement. Coaching schemes and communication is a major part of successful play in the back of the defense. These players must have some kind of talent or the Pats would not have them on the field. Seeing that nothing has improved year after year with DB play, I have to believe it is coaching. Three years ago the Texans had one of the worse defenses in the NFL (yes worse than the Pats). They brought in an outside DC and they are now a top ten defense. TIME FOR THE PATS TO WAKE UP and bring in an outside the organization DC to turn the back end of the defense around. Just tired of watching mediocre QBs look like elite QBs against the Pats secondary
David, your frustration is shared by many, which is evidenced by some of the emails and tweets received here. I think it could be a great move, but I find it hard to believe BB will pull the trigger. I don't see Robert Kraft getting involved either.
What has happened to Brady's ability, or should I say inability, to accurately throw the long ball? Years ago he was one of the best, but I can't remember the last time that he hit a receiver in stride on the hands to complete a bomb.
Gabriel, I thought he had a nice to Gronkowski in the Buffalo game. Give him time and he think he's just as good as anyone.
The other part is the weapons he's throwing to. Moss created unique separation. Everyone else, not so much.
How much worse can this Patriots secondary get? I would even dare to say it's worse than last year's! Given there have been injuries but honestly it hasn't been much better even with Chung and Gregory. The way I look at it is there are two possibilities left. One is to trade for an elite cornerback and/or safety to try to fix this thing. The other is to give up on the season and hope we can pick up someone in next year's draft/Free agency because honestly, we're not going anywhere as far as playoffs are concerned with the secondary we have now.
Carl, I just don't see too many elite CBs out there. The time to do that was the offseason and credit the Falcons for swinging the deal for Asante Samuel. The thing you could do is commit to Devin McCourty at safety full-time, and then play Dennard and Dowling and bank on that youth blossoming into promise, with Arrington in the slot.
In Bill I trust, but he is causing me to develop a heart condition this year. Taking a loss to the Jets would have been brutal. I know we have lost to some really good teams, but it just feels we are not playing up to our potential. We have great weapons on offense and defensively we have upgraded so where is the hold up? Is it a maturity thing, guys not fully understanding the game plan or does our strategy stink? Again I don't want to get too negative but wondering what you guys think of this teams potential and have we lived up to it so far this season? Seems like we are making a lot more mental mistakes than we have in the past.
I agree with that Alison, and that includes the coaching staff (e.g. 10 men on the field on the Jets' first TD run). The lack of a finishing kick, and how they're getting outscored in the fourth quarter, in part reflects the struggles to close out games. My view is that they have it in them -- we saw it vs. Buffalo -- but they need to prove they can do it consistently. That's what we're waiting to see.
Welcome to London, Mike! A couple of weeks ago you answered the question about Brady identifying the "mike" prior to the snap. With respect, I would like to offer a correction. Brady is not identifying the "mike" or middle lineback per se he is identifying what he considers the middle of the defense. This could be the middle linebacker (in terms of position) but it could also be a OLB or a safety. I belive its for the benefit of the offensive line for blocking schemes. Enjoy our city, sorry about the weather!
Michael, I am already enjoying it. Thanks much. Yes, Brady is setting the middle point of the defense so the OL can carry out their blocking assignment.
TB12 needs 2 step up in the 4th and kill the clock instead of the 3 and outs
Jay, that was a real bad drive on the Lloyd offensive PI, Brady's near INT and then the didn't-have-a-chance long bomb. Have to be better than that, and he was on the next two drives. It's in there. Just have to bring it out of him and his teammates more consistently.
Hey Mike, I know there has been a lot of talk about this being a business trip, but I also know that the players are really looking forward to the bi-week. Is there any chance that the Pats are looking past a Rams team? The way the love to throw the ball and how poorly we have been defending it lately has me nervous.
I don't see it, Sean. The Patriots, with all due respect to them, haven't earned the right to overlook anyone.
Hi Mike...Do you think that the problems in the secondary have more to do with football intelligence than talent?
Wayne, I don't think it's black and white. But if forced to pick one, I'd lean toward talent/development.
Mike, your post regarding Steven Jackson reminded me that Wilfork, while still playing at a high level, is no spring chicken. Considering that the rest of the defense is relatively young, do the Pats look to draft an eventual replacement in 2013, or does big Vince still have a lot of good years left, and should Belichick devote more high draft picks to the secondary? Thanks!
Thanks Adam. I also liked that blog post from colleague Field Yates. I think Wilfork is still playing at a high level, but that's a premium position. You're always looking to fill it.
Mike, you mentioned McCourty at safety full-time. Do you think he is better off there than at CB?
Chris, it all comes down to what Patrick Chung we're going to get. If it's the Chung we saw this season, I'd leave McCourty at safety and pair him with Steve Gregory. But if we get the more impactful Chung in his return from injury, then I like McCourty at CB.
hey mike - did you ever watch that gronk special? :)
Throw the penalty flag on me Charles. We blogged it last week but I have yet to watch it. Been a grind. Maybe over the bye.
Mike my question pertains to the Patriots lack of blitzing. I understand BB isn't a big proponent but with the issues the secondary has had giving up the big play I think it might make sense as a way to force the Qb to get rid of the ball quicker. The quicker the ball is released the less time the WRs have to get down the field. Does this make sense?
Eric, count me among those who would call for more pressure. I like that approach. Always have. I wouldn't be surprised if we see it this week. Just because you blitz doesn't mean you get there, but I like the idea of trying to dictate a little more on D with pressure. The four-man rush is inconsistent.
Mike,What are your feelings about the Off play calling this year? I feel like Josh is unsure what to do in certain situations ( 4th quarter ), he seems to be all over the place late in games .
Up and down, RJ. Some very good (Tennessee, Buffalo, Denver). Some not so good (Arizona, Baltimore, Seattle). I think McDaniels is a very good offensive coordinator, but sometimes I think a more straight-forward approach would help the offense.
Mike, will you get to do any sightseeing while in London? I know like the Pats you?re also on a business trip, but I hope you're able to get out and enjoy the city a bit too.
Mike, I am going to carve out a little time to experience it. One thing I'd like to see is Churchill's World War II underground command post.
Mike, you look a little presidential in your ability to sidestep that previous question about McCourty. I think what we're all wondering, is whether or not McCourty PLAYS better at safety vs cb. We understand the cost/benefit part of it with regards to Chung, but in your professional opinion, does McCourty play better at safety or CB?
Graham, I think he plays better at CB, and it's a more valuable position in my view. But in this case, with the safety spot leaking all over the place, the value shifts to safety this year. But in the big picture, I like McCourty better at CB.
Mike, I can understand the fans clamoring for more blitz packages. However, haven't we learned anything from watching Belichick coach this team over the past 12 seasons? Bill always plays it safe versus perceived sub par or younger QB's. He saves the creative packages for when it really counts, superior QB's and playoffs.
Joe, the first thought I had was BB throwing the kitchen sink at the Bills a few years ago and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. So I don't think it's just the superior QBs and playoff games. But I do agree on the point of BB playing the safe route, or "playing the percentages," per se. It seems to be part of his core philosophy.
Mike, what is your honest opinion on Matt Patricia? I don't want to go on a rip fest on the guy, as i think he is smart, but i'm just not sure he is up for being a d-coordinator. I heard the conference call on Monday some reporters exposed him on his ability explain some decision. Thoughts?
Jared, I wouldn't read too much into that conference call. Matt Patricia has his talking points on those conference calls and he's not going to deviate from it. In my view, it's the way Bill Belichick wants it, and Patricia is falling into line. That doesn't mean we can't ask the questions that many followers probably would if they had the chance, "How come this defense can't turn the corner and what the heck is wrong with the secondary?" Patricia has the answers, he just doesn't want to share them. I say this tongue in cheek, he learned that from the class Bill Belichick teaches -- "Say a lot, but say nothing at all 101."
Why Branch in field , he was brought in case of Hernandez injury. Now he is back and can we scheme adding another TE (we have so many).. My question is if he is targeted 1 or 2 times with 50% catch rate.. It seems to liability..
Let's see what happens with Julian Edelman now that he's back, and how that affects Branch. I could see a game-day inactive possibility for Branch.
Just wanted to hear your piece on the final play of the Pats vs Jets game. On a couple media outlets I have heard how the hit by Cunningham on Sanchez could have been called for playing on the ground and in effect erased the fumble. What do you think?
John, I didn't see the play that way. If I was a Jets follower, I'd be more upset at the rookie receiver who dropped a pass that could have won his team the game. This wasn't about officiating. It was about execution.
Mike - as a Jet fan begrudgingly admiring the Pats it looks like the schedule and mediocrity of the division will allow Coach Belichick the opportunity to tweak and experiment with the team throughout the regualr season. Do you think 10 wins will be enough for the Pats to take the East?
Yes, Harry, I think that will be enough. Thanks for crossing over enemy lines here. We're a welcoming bunch here. And you have to feel good about the way the team has rebounded from those back to back losses to the 49ers and Texans.
Hi Mike - Thanks for doing the defensive snap analysis. You caught me! I used C. Jones on all snaps. With Ninko playing at an impressive level as well as Cunningham. I should probably rotate them in more into the pass rush to keep Jones fresh. Thanks for the analysis!
LOL, Matt. Any chance we could see a little Jake Bequette this week? Wouldn't be surprised with Trevor Scott likely down with injury.
Mike, do you see any chance that NE takes advantage of having an ex Ram on the Practice squad? Is it possible that Salas has any insight that may help our defense prepare this week?
Nick, I think they could ask Greg Salas some questions on personnel, but that's a real, real, real small slice of the overall puzzle. My general feeling is that you want to be careful on that stuff and going overboard. It's still about execution on the field.
Mike.. My prediction is 11-5, for season 2012. Whats yoour take ?
Clark, I said 13-3 at the start of the year. I am going to stick with it, even though you figure they'll stumble again at some point.
I just don't like switching off a prediction.
Mike, the holes in the Patriots zone defense last week were so big it was not even funny. I know they're missing guys in the secondary, but do you think they need a change in defensive philosophy?
Kevin, I'm not going to pretend to have all the defensive answers, but I have thought this for a while now. I just feel like the game has changed and I like the more pressure-based approach. Force the oppostion into bad decisions. There are different ways to do it, but if I had my choice, I think a Texans turnaround like what we saw with Wade Phillips going there over the last few years would be a great coup for the Patriots. Tweak it and bring more pressure.
Mike, Thanks for taking time this week, I know you have a lot to do and see in London. My question is, I think the AFC is so weak we can easily make the playoffs, and contend for the AFC, but do you think the personnel we have currently can improve enough to beat the best in the NFC? The sky has not fallen, but there is lots of room from improvements
Here's the thing, it's one game against that NFC team. They might be the better team, but are they better on that day? I'd argue the 2007 Patriots were a better team than the 2007 Giants. But on that day...
As bad as things are in New England are the Pats the 2nd best team in the AFC?
Frank, and if I'm following you, the No. 1 team (Texans) had been blown out at home two Sundays ago by the Packers.
Let's go for another 5...
Hi Mike, Welcome to England. I'm really excited for my first ever Patriots game. I'm saving up to get to Gillette Stadium but Wembley will have to do for now. Is Shiancoe eligible to play on Sunday? Also do you expect Chung and/or Gregory to be fit to play against the Rams? Thanks
Connor, I'm quite excited to be here. Thanks. Shiancoe still has to be removed from the injured reserve/designated to return list to be eligible, but that's a paperwork deal and could happen with the snap of the fingers. He is not eligible to return until after this week's game, per the NFL's rules.
Hi Mike, There aren?t too many natural playing surfaces left in the NFL. Who do you think the grass field favors on Sunday? Thanks and keep up the great work.
Matty-Boy, are you a former Braintree Wamp? Used to have some good battles with the Wamps in my Framingham Flyers days. I don't see a decisive advantage one way or the other, but if forced to choose, I'll say Patriots. The Rams have more team speed.
Thanks Mike,I appreciate your comments on Lloyd but I think that when Brady doesn't connect with a receiver early and often in their time with the Patriots then it never seems to work.I agree we need a Lloyd but I'm not sure LLoyd is the answer. Perhaps we could pull off a mid-season trade of LLoyd for Fitzgerald and get a steal like your co-traveller last night!! (no not really)
Fitzgerald would be a dream. I think it's too early to write off Lloyd. I still think he helps this team. I still believe he already has.
Mike - " just feel like the game has changed and I like the more pressure-based approach. Force the oppostion into bad decisions." those are your words ---- if bad decisions are what matters, the Patriots are 2nd in the NFL in turnovers...they force bad decisions.
Charles, my hope would be that they could force them without giving up so many yards/big plays to the likes of Russell Wilson and Mark Sanchez.
Mike, Josh Boyer went from Bryant to the South Dakota School of Mining, never higher than a position coach. What did Bill Belichick see in him to hire him to coach the Patriots? He seems more qualified for high school than the pros.
Gus, Belichick probably saw a lot of himself. It's not like Wesleyan is a big-time football factory. Boyer lives the football. He's been coached by Belichick. I say this with respect to Boyer -- he's like a Belichick Jr. in that regard. I don't think the school you previously coached for has anything to do with it. It's what you do when you get there and Boyer has proven to Belichick that he is a valuable asset as an assistant. I go back to when Leigh Bodden was here in 2009 on a one-year deal. He played lights-out football. Devin McCourty made the Pro Bowl in 2010. I just think it's easy to look at poor play and point the finger at a coach or his resume. Just as it's easy to look at good play and praise a coach (which sometimes happens too often). I could be way off, but Boyer would be an easy scapegoat. I think the issue is deeper than that.
Without Amendola, do the Rams have any big-play receiving threats? (Pardon my unfamiliarity with St. Louis)
Chris Givens, Brandon Gibson and Austin Pettis are names to remember at WR, Matt. Not a "who's who" type of group. You'd like to think the Patriots could handle them, but based on what we've seen so far, what confidence can you really have at this point? They have to go prove it.
With five minutes left in the Jets game and the Patriots with the ball and up by three points. The Patriots failed to make a first down. They were hurt by Brandon Lloyds's offensive pass interference penalty. Do you feel that the pattern of the Patriots not being able to get first downs and control the ball and the clock with the lead and at the end of games is their number one problem on offense so far this season?
Absolutely David. I would also mention that Tom Brady almost threw the game away on the next play. That's two of your most experienced offensive players right there. Sloppy. Have to be better than that in the fourth quarter. They have shown flashes so we know it's in them. They just have to do it more consistently.
Hey Mike, I know the Patriots don't usually trade at the deadline, but is there any hope or any chance that they try and trade for a proven corner back or safety?
Joey, I don't see teams giving players away at that position. The safety spot, in general, is pretty weak around the NFL. CB is also a premium position. So I'd say it's unlikely. I think the biggest hope has to be improvement from within.
Hi Mike: Any chance the Pats coaches are merely average and its all Brady?
Paul, I think the coaching has been more up and down this year than in the past. That said, I'd take Bill Belichick as my head coach if I was starting a team from scratch right now.
The Pats look gassed in the fourth period. They simply are losing the one on one match-ups. No huddle fatigue?
Let's end on this one, Ara. They do run a lot of plays and I think that is something they have to look at very closely as to a possible reason for their fourth-quarter struggles. There might be something there. I'm not sure that's the reason that Brandon Lloyd commits an undisciplined pass interference penalty on that fourth-quarter drive last week, but I am not overlooking it.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. We'll do it again next Thursday. As for Tedy Bruschi's regular chats on Monday, we're going to postpone his day-after chat next week because of the bye/travel back from London.