With the Patriots new Super Bowl rings on display, the burning question in the mailbag this week was: what does 53-17-1 mean? For Ask PFW purposes, that would be 53 people who asked what it means, 17 years older I am than Andy (according to him, of course) and 1 person who thinks Brian should be spelled with a Y. (Check below for the real answer).
HOW DID FREE AGENT WR LATREZ HARRISON DO IN THE ROOKIE CAMP? WILL HE MAKE THE TEAM?
Give the man a prize, he's stumped our esteemed panel. OK, maybe it's no so esteemed, and since it's just me answering questions this week, it's not a panel, either. But all I can tell you about Latrez Harrison is that he's an undrafted free agent wide receiver out of Maryland. He was not at the Patriots mini-camp and I'm not sure if he took part in any other team's mini-camp either. I did find an old site listing potential rookie free agent destinations that had Harrison coming to New England, but that report was erroneous and he's not on the Patriots roster.
With Rohan Davey's recent success in Europe, do you think he will be looking to get out from behind Brady in the years to come and sign on with another team? If so do you think he's ready to be a starting QB on the NFL level?
Without seeing him play with and against NFL competition it's almost impossible to know for sure if Davey's ready to be a starter. My opinion is that he is not. NFL Europe is light years away from the NFL in terms of talent, speed, complexity of defense and pretty much every other aspect of the game. Davey had a terrific spring playing for Berlin but I think he must first prove capable of being the backup. Teams may express interest in him now based on his spring but my guess is they will wait to see what he does in the preseason games if/when he gets a chance to play early with and against some starters. That was how Brady first opened eyes back in 2001 when he took advantage of some reps with the first-stringers during the preseason.
Two questions: 1) Does Bill B. have 5 Super Bowl rings on his fingers in the picture with Pepper J.? 2=Patriots, 2=Giants, 1= ? 2) What does the 53-17-1 stand for on the side of this year's ring?
Ann Marie Marreiros
North Haven, Conn.
You're partially right about Bill's rings. He was wearing five but only four were actually Super Bowl champion rings. The fifth was his 1996 AFC Championship ring from the Patriots, who lost to Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXI. He was the assistant head coach/secondary coach on Bill Parcells' staff that year. You're second question takes the prize for the most asked question this week. (I guess the Ty Law/Mike Cloud people took the week off.) The numbers represent '53' players, '17' coaches and '1' owner.
Rohan Rules! I was wondering ... since Nomar Garciaparra is named after his father, Ramon, will Rohan name his kid Nahor? Oh yeah, you guys rule too!
Hey Asereht, this is precisely the kind of question that gets us in trouble for answering. You gotta come up with something better than this next week. My apologies to our hardcore fans, but this was just too stupid to ignore.
Hey Paul, I know this is another of those stupid questions, but how does the waiver system work?
New Canaan, Conn.
Compared to Theresa, you're question deserves a Pulitzer Prize, Frank. The waiver system is pretty simple: any team could put a claim in on any player on waivers. But unlike a normal free agent, who would be free to sign anywhere he wished, the team with the worst record gets precedence. For example, when backup quarterback Kurt Kittner was on waivers a few months ago, the Patriots and Bengals (among others) put claims in for him. Because the Bengals had a worse record last year than the Patriots, they won the claim.
Now, who's eligible for waivers as opposed to just being a plain old free agent? From the end of the NFL calendar year after the Super Bowl until the trading deadline (usually early October) of the following season, years accrued is the determining factor. Any player with less than four accrued seasons who gets released would be placed on waivers. Players with four or more seasons who get released would become unrestricted free agents. Between the trading deadline and the end of the season, all released players, regardless of experience, are placed on waivers.
I have a question regarding QB ratings. Do you know if playing inside vs. outside factors into the QB ratings? It seems a QB that plays at least 8 games in a dome, i.e. Manning, could easily have a better QB rating, more completions, TDs etc... (better the MVP chances) vs. a Brady or Favre for example who play outside at least 8 games in some awful weather conditions. Look at Brady's stats when he's played in Indy's dome. Also, what incentives do players receive in the playoffs, wild card, divisional, conference and Super Bowl, winners and losers?
Judy B.Worcester, Mass.
The passer ratings do not take weather conditions or any other external factors into account. They are computed the same for everyone and quarterbacks who play in warm weather cities clearly have an advantage in this department. So it's understandable for a dome quarterback like Manning to post better numbers than Brady, who plays many games in less-than-ideal conditions in Foxborough. It's one of the many reasons I believe the passer rating system is somewhat useless in determining a quarterback's worth. But I disagree with your notion that weather factors better a player's MVP chances. Brett Favre, the player you use as an example, won three straight MVPs in the '90s and the fact that he played so remarkably well in bad weather was a major reason for that. While Favre posted ratings in the 90s in each season, he never led the league in that category yet still won the awards.
As for incentives, I'm assuming you're asking about individual playoff shares for each player for each round and not about actual incentives a player might have in his particular contract. Since I don't have the 2003 numbers available right now, I'll give you the 2002 figures from the NFL Record & Fact Book: wild card: $17,000 for winners, $12,500 for losers; divisional round: $17,000 for winners and losers; conference championship: $35,000 for winners and losers; Super Bowl: $63,000 for winners, $35,000 for losers.
What is going on with Antowain Smith of the Patriots? Did any teams generate interest since he was released? I think the Patriots should have kept him. He was always there when the games were on the line and never fumbled the ball at critical times. What do you think?
East Haven, Conn.
I'm going to do my best balancing act here and ride the fence. I do agree that Antowain was a valuable member of the team's two Super Bowl winners. He ran hard and tough, especially in the postseason. And you're right, Sal, he almost never fumbled. But in terms of overall talent, it's tough to argue that Corey Dillon isn't a major upgrade. He gives the Patriots a major rushing threat and will force defenses to respect the Patriots ground game in a manner that Smith never could. And it seems the rest of the league agrees with the Patriots because Antowain hasn't generated much attention from other teams and remains unsigned as of today.
What made a poor situation in Cincy worst? Ans. The Cory Dillons and the Carl Pickens of the world. Do not be fooled into thinking he was hurt the whole time last year. Pouting yes, hurt no! Talk to the players that were there. Time will tell, Mr. Perillo, if New England has been duped. Good luck with Dillon … you will need it!
I see Mike Brown is now commuting from Columbus to Cincinnati these days. But if the Bengals owner talked to some of our loyal readers he'd be surprised to hear them laughing at the notion that I've been "duped" by Corey Dillon. Most of our readers think I've been much too hard on him. But as I said at the time, I'll treat him like anyone else and I finally got the chance to speak with him last weekend at mini-camp. He was a pleasure to talk to and his excitement to be in New England clearly showed. So that's what I wrote. I'm making no excuses for his behavior elsewhere. I'm simply commenting on the actions I've witnessed so far. Based on what Dillon has done and said thus far, the trade looks awfully good.
GREAT JOB FELLAS! THANKS FOR KEEPING THE "OFF" SEASON INTERESTING. ALL BUSINESSES OUGHT TO TAKE THE PATRIOTS TEAM FIRST APPROACH. THE MOST INTERESTING COMMENT WAS DILLON'S "GENIUS" PERSPECTIVE ON BEING IN NEW ENGLAND. WAS THER ANY PLEASANT SURPRISES IN CAMP SO FAR? TY'S WISE FOR SMOOTHING THINGS OUT. HE'LL PROBABLY BE THE NO. 1 GUY FOR INT'S FOR THE PATS, WHERE DOES HE STAND ALL TIME FOR STILL ACTIVE DBS FOR INT'S. HE'S GOING TO LOVE COLVIN'S RETURN AS MUCH AS ANYONE!
Lots of Connecticut questions this week … but only one from Mr. Jules! Since most of your post is more of a commentary than a question, I'll skip to the end to the part about where Ty stands on the interception list. Ty currently ranks seventh among active players with 35 interceptions. Rod Woodson is tops with 71 career picks, which ranks him third all-time. He's followed by Aeneas Williams (55), Patriot Terrell Buckley (47), Ray Buchanan (46), Troy Vincent (41) and Ashley Ambrose (39).
I would just like to say i really enjoy your column. just being blunt and to the point … i miss livin' in new england. i've been a fan since i've been an 'ankle bitter'. and i hope you can answer this detailed question. i've tried to find out but no luck... your my last chance: the 1968 boston patriots played in montgomrey, alabama. i believe it was against new york jets or pittsburg steelers. which team was it? and why? were they going to move or something?
Hey Roger, someone steal the shift key on you? Where's the capital letters???? And you might want to actually re-read the questions once or twice to fix the typos!!! Anyway, The Patriots played the Jets in 1968 in Birmingham, not Montgomery, and they lost a shootout, 47-31. A scheduling conflict at Fenway Park necessitated the move and Patriots officials felt playing in Alabama, where the Jets young star quarterback Joe Namath recently completed his stellar collegiate career, would generate interest.
How are you guys doing? I thought I would add that Bryan with a "Y" just for some laughs. Anyway I have been arguing with my boss about this and we have an all expense paid vacation on the line according to your answer, well really opinion. I work as a recruitment manager and the question centers around being a General Manager in charge of all personnel decisions? Would you rather have a team atmosphere of overachievers where all are considered equal like the Pats, or a team like the Redskins who really just collect talent? Also you could only pick one core strength that you would focus your personnel decisions on, would it be a high scoring offense, or a shut down defense?
Anthony "Bryan" Mallett
First, you need to let me know which side you're on and where the vacation will be. I could use some time off so you could hook me up with some tickets to say, Hawaii? But I can't really answer your question because it's kind of hypothetical. If you're asking would I rather have my team be the Patriots or the Redskins, that's a no-brainer – the Patriots. But what if I could have a more talented roster with the Patriots coaching staff? The Redskins are a bunch of mismatched parts. And a lot of their talent in the last couple of years has been aging to say the least. The Patriots were flat out better. But it's not just about playing together as a team … a lot of teams do that. You have to have talent and the right coaching. So to ask would I rather have a team of overachievers who are considered equal as opposed to a collection of talent, I guess I'd rather have Bill Belichick coaching the talent. As for the offense/defense debate, I'd take the defense every time.
Aloha from Patriot Nation, Far (Really Far) West Division! I've been a Pats fan since the mid-'70s and am loving their current success. Through the years, I wonder what you think are the most agonizing on-field Pats moments. My top three: 1. Darryl Stingley's paralytic injury at the hands of Jack Tatum during a preseason game against the Raiders. 2. The '76 playoff loss to Oakland, which happened as a result of a questionable "roughing the passer" penalty levied against the Pats near the end of the game, turning a sure Pats victory into a Raider victory. If memory serves, the Patriots thumped the Raiders earlier that year in Foxborough. The Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl that year – to me, the "tuck rule call" in '01 was sweet revenge. 3. The 46-10 Super Bowl blowout loss to the Bears. I was in college at the time, and remember cheering as the Pats scored first, on a FG, only to get razzed by everyone in the rec. room as they got pasted.
Not sure if you're reading all these answers Ravi, but I'm looking for a trip to Hawaii so an invite would be much appreciated!!!! And not to suck up but I love your post. Very interesting and I certainly agree with your memories. I'll add a few to the list. The Super Bowl XXXI loss to Green Bay, to me, was much more devastating than the one to Chicago. The Bears were clearly the class of the league so losing that game wasn't really a huge surprise, despite my youthful enthusiasm whipping me into a frenzy in the days leading to the game that convinced me that the Pats would "Berry the Bears!" But the Packers loss was truly a lost opportunity. The Patriots were every bit as good as Green Bay and could have won that game. Unfortunately, the Patriots allowed some uncharacteristic big plays that killed them. Two long TD passes plus the kickoff return … that was too much to overcome. I'd also add the 7-6 playoff loss at Pittsburgh in 1997. The Pats drove from inside their own 1 to near midfield when our friend Mike Vrabel stripped Bledsoe from behind to seal the win. Maybe two more first downs and Adam would surely have won that game. And I also have to add the playoff loss to Houston back in 1978. That team was loaded but was derailed by the whole Chuck Fairbanks mess and our Super Bowl plans ended before they even started. As a 10-year-old kid at the time, the disappointment of that loss stuck with me for a long time.
You guys are the greatest. I can't even express how great you are. Look up great in a dictionary and your pictures are in it. You guys are so far past great it takes the light from great a year to hit you. Now can I get a question in? Who the hell are WILL and MIKE? I settled on Middle Linebacker for MIKE, and Weak Inside Linebacker for WILL, which makes no sense, since people talk about WILL and MIKE being on the field at the same time in a 4-3 scheme, and also, there is only one Inside guy in the 4-3, so the WILL would BE the MIKE. Is WILL just the Weakside linebacker? Is MIKE indeed the middle? Have WILL and MIKE always been there, or did they just start popping up in the last few years, instead of right, left, and middle in the 4-3? Thanks for helping out an addled geezer. Not that anybody else with my name could be considered a geezer of any sort.
Andy, Paul, Bryan
Shameless sucking up … I love it … even if we can't sign your name (this is a family website!). WILL and MIKE are the terms teams use to determine the linebackers, just like you thought. The MIKE is the middle linebacker while WILL is the weakside linebacker. In the 3-4, one of the inside linebackers serves as the MIKE while the other is the WILL, and in the 4-3 there's only one middle linebacker (MIKE) and the weakside guy is the WILL. So it makes sense both ways to have both on the field at the same time. The strong side linebacker is called SAM. In the Patriots 3-4 scheme, the other outside linebacker is called JACK.
Do you know if the Pats will receive any extra draft picks for last years loses of Lawyer and Ted if so when and what round will do you think they come in. You guy do a great job... Thanks for keeping me informed.
The Patriots won't get anything for losing Lawyer. He wasn't a free agent loss since the team decided to release him before his contract expired. They will likely receive a draft pick as compensation next year for losing Big Ted, but the NFL awards those picks so we won't know for sure until just before the 2005 draft.
If PFW had to make a Top 10 list of the people most responsible for the Patriots winning two Super Bowls in three years, who would place on the list and what order would you place them in? Here's my list:1. Bob Kraft2. Bill Belichick3. Tom Brady4. Adam Vinatieri5. Ty Law6. Richard Seymour7. Troy Brown8. Tedy Bruschi9. Willie McGinest10. (tie) Antowain Smith and Mike Vrabel
Another great topic for debate with no real right or wrong answers. But I'll give it a shot:
1. Bill Belichick – I honestly don't believe anyone else even comes close.
2. Romeo Crennel – He makes the complicated game plans seem easy.
3. Charlie Weis – Maximizes his talent as well as anyone.
4. Richard Seymour – This team has been led by its defense, and Seymour is the MVP in my opinion.
5. Ty Law – Big players come up big when it counts and Law certainly has.
6. Tom Brady – Ditto.
7. Adam Vinatieri – Two game-winning kicks … you could make an argument for him being higher.
8. Mike Vrabel – So many big plays that go unnoticed, like pressuring Warner into Law's game-changing INT against the Rams.
9. Troy Brown – Mr. Clutch.
10. Bob Kraft – He's the one who hired Belichick, so he must be on this list.
I seem to remember that Richard Seymour had a fairly limited role in his first season. Could you compare his rookie playing time & accomplishments to that of Ty Warren, because I think people would be a little relieved if they could see that Warren is following the same learning curve now as Seymour did then. Plus, it would be interesting to see how Marquise Hill is used this year as well.
Do all of you Brians in R.I. have a hard time remembering the facts? I know Bryan Morry does. Seymour started 10-of-13 regular season games as a rookie and 2-of-3 in the postseason. He would have played even more if he didn't open the season with an injury that limited his playing time throughout much of the first half. He finished with 44 tackles and three sacks, then added 11 tackles and another sack in the playoffs. Warren started only four of 16 games despite the abundance of injuries the Patriots defense suffered. He finished with 33 tackles and a sack. He came off the bench in all three postseason games and made just one tackle. So Warren's rookie year really doesn't stack up to Seymour's. But Seymour, after just three seasons, is one of the best defensive linemen in football so the fact that Warren wasn't as good as a rookie as Seymour was is no shame. Warren is going to be a big part of the Patriots defense in 2004 and he definitely improved as the season progressed.
How does moving Tully Banta-Cain to ILB sound to PFW? He seems to be cut from the same mold as Bruschi. Best RB-Curtis Martin (dry field), Mosi Tatupu (snow ice).
We really don't know too much about TBC right now, but from what I've seen I'd disagree with you. I think he's more of an edge pass rusher than a potential ILB stuffing the run. I'm somewhat intrigued by his speed and athleticism and would like to see him during training camp to get more of a read on his style. As for your running back picks, I'll take Martin as the Patriots all-time best and Antowain Smith as the best bad weather guy. His performances in the playoffs were outstanding.
The question in last weeks PFW about red zone offense made me wonder, do you think the drafting of P.K. Sam will help in the red zone? We haven't had a big receiver (besides Stokes) who can go up over a defender and make the grab, and that has hurt us.
While I personally think this whole "tall wide receiver for the red zone" thing is a bit overrated, Sam does have good size and has shown great hands through the mini-camps. When Christian Fauria was catching all those TD passes in 2002, I don't remember people complaining that he wasn't tall enough. But last year the Pats struggled a bit from the red zone so suddenly the need for a taller receiver cropped up. Judging from mini-camp, I think Daniel Graham could be that guy. He's 6-3, same as Sam, and showed great leaping ability on some high passes Brady threw his way in 7-on-7 drills. Maybe this is the year Graham breaks out and grabs 8-10 TDs. But my personal feeling is that the addition of Corey Dillon will have the biggest impact on the red zone offense. Teams will no longer be able to completely ignore the run with Dillon in the backfield.
Will Brandon Gorin, Tully Banta-Cain, or Patrick Pass be anywhere near a starting job with a good pre-season? One more question, With all of the extra CBs, is a trade for Aaron Beasley likely?
I doubt any of your above trio will start this season, but if I had to pick one by process of elimination I'd go with Pass. Since fullback isn't the team's deepest position, maybe Pass can emerge with a strong camp. Banta-Cain could see some time on defense if he shows progress. Gorin will likely be in a fight to keep his backup role with Light and Ashworth likely holding onto their starting jobs. And I don't see Aaron Beasley coming here after a disappointing season with the Jets last year.
Where would you rank Tony Simmons as a Patriot receiver?
I'd have to put Simmons near the bottom, somewhere between Hart Lee(s) Dykes and Kevin Lee. There weren't too many guys with his physical skills who simply couldn't play.
Hey guys! this is my first question though I have been a regular reader for two years. Everyone seems to be critical of Ben Watson being drafted but isn't he a good fit for this offense? Brady excels in the quick release short passing game. Watson is quick and reportedly has good hands. I can see him lining up on a passing down, bumping a DL or OLB to slow down their pass rush and then releasing quickly for a 5- or 8-yard pickup. If Bledsoe, who tended to hold the ball too long, were still here Watson might not be a good fit. But with Brady should he not be a good fit ( if he's got the hands)?
Fredericton, New Brunswick
First, I haven't heard many people criticizing Benjamin Watson. Some have wondered why the Pats took a tight end in the first round when they already have two. But I haven't seen much in the way of criticism toward Watson. He does seem to be a good fit for the offense with the speed, size and power to become a factor in the passing game. As for your final comment, Bledsoe holding the ball "too long" didn't seem to hurt Ben Coates' career, and Coates played in exactly the style people are hoping Watson will in the future.
Best Pats running back: Sam Cunningham? Ever heard of Jim Nance?
What can I say, John? That was Andy's opinion, and no matter how wrong it was I can't criticize him for making it known. I've heard of Jim Nance, although I never actually saw him play. But I'd have to go with Curtis Martin, who in just three years ranks fourth on the team's all-time rushing list. If he stayed there'd be no debating this issue but I'll still take him any day.
Hi Paul. Have the Patriots ever had an player voted MVP in the Pro Bowl or MVP of the league during the regular season or voted as Rookie player Of The Year (I think RB John Stephens was but I am not sure)...I would also like to know is how many teams beside the Patriots won the Super Bowl 2 out of 3 seasons and what was that teams record in the fourth season following the second super bowl triumph? I think the Patriots will go 11-5 this year-win the division in a tiebreaker with Miami and into the playoffs but the Super Bowl again might be a long stretch with Indianapolis and Denver in my opinion the top teams to beat in the AFC this year although I love my Patriots and hope they can get by those guys which I feel are by far the biggest threats to dethrone our beloved Patriots as AFC champs!
Hi Wayne. The Patriots have had a player voted MVP of the Pro Bowl: Ty Law was co-MVP on the 1999 Pro Bowl. No Patriot has ever been named NFL MVP but three have earned the distinction of Offensive Rookie of the Year and all were running backs: John Stephens (1988), Leonard Russell (1991) and Curtis Martin (1995). Also, Mike Haynes was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1976. Bill Parcells (1994) and Bill Belichick (2003) were named NFL Coach of the Year as well. There have been eight teams that have either won two straight Super Bowls or two out of three – Green Bay (1966-67), Miami (1972-73), Pittsburgh (1974-75), Pittsburgh (1978-79), San Francisco (1988-89), Dallas (1992-93), Dallas (1993 and '95) and Denver (1997-98). All but the second Dallas entry actually repeated as champions so it's not quite the same as the Patriots current situation. The 1996 Cowboys went 10-6, won the NFC East to earn the No. 3 seed and lost to Carolina in the divisional playoffs.
I'm hoping third time's the charm for having one of my questions posted. I have a feeling that this year's defense will be one of the best we've ever seen! Vince Wilfork is going to be quite the catch at 21 and will be better than Ted Washington. 6-6, 300-pound Marquise Hill will be quite an addition at defensive end and along with such names as Seymour, McGinest and Bailey. Don't forget Bruschi and Phifer just to name a few along with added depth to the secondary. I believe our talent and coaching will make for quite a formidable D this year. Also not as a knock to the outstanding job our O-line did this year but wouldn't it be nice to see a 350-360 pound Jonathan Ogden type of tackle who mauls opposing lineman look great in a Pats uniform either through the draft of free agency someday?
Since Medford is a GBL city Bob, I decided to throw you a bone and add your post. But you really don't include much of a question. So, sure, I would love to see a Jonathan Ogden type tackle playing on the Patriots offensive line. The guy's an All-Pro and any team would love to have a franchise left tackle to build around up front. Other than that, the rest of your post is more of an editorial, although I would have to disagree with you saying Wilfork will be better than Ted Washington. Big Ted is arguably the best player to ever play his position so saying a rookie will be better is asking an awful lot. Other than that, I pretty much agree with everything else you wrote.
I have a silly picky question. Why doesn't the NFL make a delay of game on a punt able to be declined. Meaning, teams looking for 5 more yards and better punting position often just let the clock run out and get their 5 yards. Shouldn't the opposition get the advantage when the punting team commits a penalty - they should be able to decline the penalty and make them punt from their current spot without the 5-yard buffer. Or, better yet, they should tack on 5 yards from where the receiving team gets the ball. That would seem more fair.
What a great idea … in fact … the NFL already thought of that. You ARE allowed to decline such a penalty on a punt so it's up to the defense to decide whether or not to push the punting team back 5 yards. But I don't like your second "suggestion." That would allow the defense to wait and see the outcome of the next play before deciding whether or not to accept the penalty. What if the punt returner fumbles the ball? Does that team still get to keep possession and move up 5 yards? That wouldn't seem to make much sense.
OK Paul, I have a question about something that bugs me a lot and then some questions that I put merely to try and get this posted. First - When some players are signed they include their pay and signing bonus in the press release and when others (i.e. T. Buckley) they do not. Why do they withhold that information on some and not others? Has the team reached the deal but nothing has been inked? Or is it just to allow time for clever bookkeeping? Some of us fans that are trying to keep track of our cap space (I know I need to get a more productive hobby) view it as a real pain in the butt. P.S. You think Bryan with a Y is bad, my parents named me Steven but got cute and spelled it with a PH. I have been called Stefan every first day of school of my life.
Steve not Stephen
That's rough, Steve … I feel your pain. Try going through middle school with the initials PP. Anyway, the Patriots do not disclose some contract info. And hide others. They do not publish any contract info (i.e. terms, salary, incentives). Anytime you read signing bonus or salary information it comes from a reporter who somehow got the info. From another source, such as an agent. So the Patriots did not "withhold" Buckley's contract info. They withhold all the contract info.