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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: answering your queries

PFW answers fan questions on

First off, before we get started, anyone who isn't a PFW subscriber should log on to and subscribe or call 1-800-494-Pats, Operators are standing by. C'mon make the call. OK, now to the questions…

Hi guys, great job. I have two questions. Is it me, or does it seems like the entire league (some journalists included), just don't like New England, and give them very little props, if any? And, in NFL.COM They say that they rank the Titans higher than the Pats. The Pats beat them in Tennessee with a young rookie makeshift defense, and have the same record. Why can they get away with that?
Ed Lewis
Brockton, Mass.

Well, they can get away with it because it's their opinion and they can do what they want. Those power rankings are just for fun and so that people like you and me can debate them. The Patriots rushed for 161 yards against Tennessee, whose defense now ranks No. 1 in the league against the run. The Titans have been as impressive as any team in football since that loss and in the eyes of most, it seems, have earned a higher ranking than New England despite the outcome of the head-to-head meeting. I think it's safe to say that the experts feel that game was sort of an aberration for Tennessee and not the norm. Watching them pummel Miami Sunday, I'd say it's hard to argue with that. I'd probably rank them No. 1 ahead of Kansas City the way they've played of late. So don't feel slighted. The power rankings will have no bearing on playoff seeding.
Bryan Morry

Dear PFW writers: Hasn't Rodney Harrison already proven that he is better than Lawyer Milloy? Harrison has at least 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries and 97 tackles, while last year Milloy had 90-100 tackles, 0 interceptions and 0 fumble recoveries. What do you think about the signing and releasing of the safeties?
Scott Hunter
Groton, Conn.

Dear Scott Hunter: I certainly haven't seen enough of Milloy in Buffalo to know how he is playing. I do know that Harrison is playing better than Milloy played in New England last season. That has nothing to do with statistics, but rather my eyes. Harrison, incidentally, has just 81 tackles. Milloy was a great player when he was here and it hurt a lot of fans to see him go, but get used to that because moves like that one are becoming regular occurrences in the league.
Bryan Morry

According to Tom Jackson and the unpopularity of the Milloy move, is it true that a lot of the players, especially the veterans do not like or trust Coach Belichick?
Carl Nesse
North Dartmouth, Mass.

Carl, That is so yesterday. Since Jackson made those comments, the Patriots are 7-1 and have spoken in glowing terms about their coach. There may be some who don't like him like with any coach, but I doubt you'll find any who don't respect him. By the way, do you know PFW's Andy Hart? He's from Dartmouth and a big-time star athlete from there, he says.
Bryan Morry

I recently saw a question answered that said that Kevin Faulk is the team's best back. I believe that Antowain is the best back and if given the ball on a much higher dose, he can be one of the more productive backs in the league. When given the ball over 20 times last year, he ran for 129(vs. Buffalo) and 80 (vs. Detroit). Why don't we give Antowain a chance, and feed him the ball?
Weston, Conn.

I tend to agree that Antowain Smith would be better suited to be the lead back, but he has had ample opportunities to seize the job and just hasn't done it yet. I think as the cold weather moves in, Smith's power game could be important, but only if he is productive with his chances. I would have to say that to date, Kevin Faulk has been more productive and more versatile this season. I think the job is there for the taking, but he is not going to be handed it because he was productive two years ago. He needs to re-prove he can hammer away at defenses, find the holes and make yards after contact. Since he lacks game-breaking speed and is more of a plodding back, he needs to do those things to be successful.
Bryan Morry

Whether or not someone like Rosevelt Colvin is healthy in time(which I would doubt), do the rules allow a player on injured reserve to rejoin the team for the playoffs?
John Jasper
Freetown, Mass.


I am a little nervous about this week's game against Dallas. We have been winning but this team is a lot harder than most of the other teams we have played. Does it look to you like we have a sure shot? If so why?
Justin Z.
Boston, Mass.

I think the Patriots definitely have a shot. First off, they have been playing good football and are 7-2. So they are a decent team. They also are playing at home at night in November against a warm-weather team. But Dallas is definitely a team that can make you nervous. They are ranked atop almost every defensive category in the league and their offense is playing mostly mistake-free football (Redskins game notwithstanding). That is a formula the Patriots have utilized often under Bill Belichick. My guess is a low-scoring defensive game where field position will play a big role. It could go either way. These look like two solid teams. The Patriots have an edge at quarterback – a pretty important position – but Dallas has a defensive edge.
Bryan Morry

I am just curious to find out at what time was it officially announced that David Patten was being put on IR? This might help resolve a dispute in our fantasy league, which has strict deadlines on when a player might be put on Injured Reserve. Thanks
Jawad Akhtar
Kansas City, Mo.

Patten was placed on IR on Friday, Nov. 7. I don't know the exact time, but it was sometime in the morning before lunch that the press release was sent out by the team's media relations office.
By Bryan Morry'

Derry, N.H.

No. Recent published reports had him living in Walpole with Kenyatta Jones, but not playing football.
Bryan Morry

The Patriots were lucky that the penalties called against them in Denver did not lead to a defeat. Although their celebrations after a good play have not hurt them (yet), how much do the coaches do to keep the players focused on the game and not their individual accomplishments? Point: the Jets probably lost the game to the Giants as Moss celebrated his catch, which cost them precious seconds off the clock, in turn with the kickers routine, made them have to hurry the kick. That piece of video should be shown to the Patriots players every week to remind them their antics could cost a game.
Bruce Wadleigh
New London, Conn.

Bruce, since I only saw the highlights of that Jets game, I can't comment with any accuracy on what happened in it. I do know that Belichick often shows bits of film to his players regarding anything out of the ordinary that could lead to a loss. He doesn't use only football stuff. I remember a couple of years ago, he showed the players a clip of Sam Cassell, I believe, of the Houston Rockets at that time. Cassell made some bonehead play at the end of a game that cost the Rockets. He covers all of that, I can assure you, but it's an emotional game and you just can't control everybody. Things happen out there. I think the Patriots have a respectful group of players for the most part and don't get overzealous, but that doesn't mean they won't ever do something dumb.
Bryan Morry

You keep saying Cloud has had trouble in the last 2 games he played! How many carries did he have in those 2 games? He still is averaging over 5 yards per carry! The best of the backs.There is a kicker at Northeastern named Grogan. Any relation to Steve?

Harry Briggs
Marlboro, Mass.

After his 7 carry, 73-yard effort against the Titans, Mike Cloud carried 14 times for 31 yards in his next two games. I don't think anyone is saying the guy can't play. It's just that he missed a lot of time and while he entered with a bang, there was no way he was going to maintain a 10 yards per carry average. But he didn't even average 3 yards per carry in the next two games. My guess is that Cloud will have another chance to run this year. He's just behind Faulk and Smith on the depth chart.
Bryan Morry

Do you think the patriots would be doing better or the same if we still had Lawyer Milloy?
Plymouth, Mass.

Tim, that's like asking if the Patriots would have won the Super Bowl if Drew Bledsoe never got hurt. Who knows? I find it hard to believe they would be any better than 7-2, that's for sure. But the Patriots have received excellent play from the safety spots.
Bryan Morry

What is the status of Stephen Neal? Has he started practicing with the team yet?
Travis Simpson
Waltham, Vt.

Neal is now on injured reserve and out for the season.
Bryan Morry

I have two questions. One, why did the Pats release Larry Centers? Also, when Patten went on IR, was that because of the injury he got against the Jets in Week 3?
Moosup, Conn.

My guess is that since Centers was hurt and going to be out for a while, they wanted to use his roster spot without placing him on injured reserve. They reached an injury settlement with him and there all kinds of rules about re-signing a player who a team has settled with, but this way, the Patriots could re-sign Centers in time for the playoffs if they make it and choose to go that route. I don't have any informed answer beyond that as I am not privy to their personnel decision rationale. Patten's injury, unless he suffered another that I am unaware of, did occur in the Jets game.
Bryan Morry

OK, tell me it's my turn to get a question answered. How can you say that Kevin Faulk is the best back we have? Don't get me wrong, I'm very pro Faulk, but I'm sorry, he's not the back that Smith can be. You look at Smith's numbers in 2001, what was it like 1200 yards? Of course he's not doing that now because it's a more pass happy offense that we're running now. Fun to watch, but quite maddening at times. Smith was so solid between the tackles, and outside, how can he be expendable after this season? Yes Faulk is the better guy for screens and such, and I know he's probably the fastest of our halfbacks, but has everybody else forgotten that Kevin Faulk WAS the starter, and he fumbled his way out of that job?
Aurora, Colo.

It is your turn Mike. OK, as I said earlier, I think Smith is better suited to be the lead back. But he hasn't been the runner he was in 2001 when he gained 1,157 yards. He is not playing a full-time role because Faulk has been more productive this year with his opportunities. I think the Patriots would prefer to play Smith, but he has to win the job and hasn't done that yet. He may before it's all over, but he has to give the coaches reason to take Faulk off the field and put him in. Also, the offense is not nearly as pass happy as it was in 2002. Through nine games they ran it 260 times and threw it 297 times. In 2001, they ran 473 times and threw 482 times. That's not a huge difference ratio-wise, but don't forget that Brady was an inexperienced quarterback then and the coach's tried to manage the offense with that in mind.
Bryan Morry

I was just wondering if the Patriots win the Super Bowl this season, do people on the practice squad and injured reserve get rings? Also what is Bethel Johnson's time in the 40?
Steven Velez
Coral Springs, Fla.

Yes and, according to Bethel, 4.27.
Bryan Morry

Kevin Doherty
Stoughton, Mass.

Kevin, unfortunately, they have to make these tough decisions. Ty Law's salary of $6.7 million and bonus hit of $2.7 million next year will be far and away greater than the average of the top five cornerbacks in the NFL, just as it was above that average this year. The Patriots have to assess the cost against how replaceable the player is. This year, they felt they had to keep Law despite his high salary. Next year, they will reassess that. You just can't pay unlimited amounts because he is a great player. You have to live within the cap and field a whole team without having to depend on 12 rookie free agents that are on the roster because a handful of guys take up your whole cap. I hope they can find a way to keep Ty Law even if he refuses to reduce his salary, which he most certainly will do. I think he is very valuable, but sometimes it comes down to money and value and someone gets paid big bucks to make that choice (Bill Belichick) and puts his job on the line when he makes them. Successive poor choices on his part could cost him football games, which as we all know in his business, means his job. That's why when he says that he does what's best for his football team, I believe him. What other motivation would he have? He's done OK with those so far so he probably deserves some slack in that category. He hit with the sixth pick in the draft despite being criticzed for the Seymour selection. He won a Super Bowl after staying with Brady over Bledsoe in 2001. The team hasn't missed Lawyer Milloy this year. I can't think of one of these hot-button issues that have blown up in his face. If there is one, send it in.
Bryan Morry

It appears the Bill Belichick has finally talked to Charlie about his terrible play calls. They are now going down the field and spreading out the defenses. Is this rocket science or has Charlie gone into early retirement. I have never seen a guy makes so many stupid play calls. What a difference it makes in Brady's performance!
Jeff Dubiel
Coatesville, Pa.

C'mon Jeff. There have been play calls that I disagreed with too and some of them have worked. But neither you nor I plan all week for these situations. We don't study the opponent's tendencies and put our life into these calls. Now that doesn't mean they are all good play calls, but the team is 7-2. I assume you think that's in spite of Charlie, which I think is ridiculous. I will then use the Grady Little analogy that his critics believe the players won 95 games this year and Grady lost 67. That's silly. How come you don't send in a question that asks what a great call it was to send Troy Brown over the middle where he would attract the safety and leave Deion Branch open deep? Was that the way it was drawn up? I have no idea. I don't know what Charlie saw the Denver safety do on film over the first two months of the season. There have been a handful of play calls I didn't like. The other few hundred have been OK I guess. When they work, we tend to credit the players and when they don't we yell at Charlie. I too get caught up in that sometimes until rational thinking takes over. I'd say that Charlie has done a solid job with an offense that isn't loaded with firepower. They have good talent across the board, but no great talent. The running game doesn't scare anybody, yet they're 7-2. Ease up Jeff.
Bryan Morry

Hey guys. Quite a wild ride the Patriots are on, eh? I just wanted to correct an error in an older PFW question dealing with salary cap compliance. The question dealt with what action the league would take if a team was over the cap. If a team exceeds the salary cap at any time, the NFL can waive players from the team, starting with those earning the lowest salaries, until the team's payroll has fallen under the cap. In addition, the NFL may fine a team up to $1 million per day for exceeding the cap.
Sharon, Mass.

That sounds good. I've done some checking and I think that we are talking about scenarios that never come into play. However, the league would not approve a contract that would put a team over the cap. So if I have $1 million in room, I cannot go sign a player to a one-year, $1.1 million contract because the league will void the contract. However, a team can go over if it has made a mistake in the wording in a contract. For example, a player could have a clause that voids his 2004 season if he runs for 1,000 yards and is on the roster on the last day of the league year (which is at the end of February). Well, if the last part of that was omitted and it just said that it would be voided when the player reaches 1,000 yards, then any prorated signing bonus would immediately accelerate to the current year because as soon as he reached 1,000 yards, the 2004 year would be gone and bonus money cannot be prorated over a year that doesn't exist. If that prorated bonus money exceeds the cap room available this year, the team would be over and could be fined. It would then get a week to correct the problem, but my understanding is that the league would not start cutting players even if they could do that.
Bryan Morry

Are the Patriots obligated to pay the remaining yearly salary (not including any guaranteed bonus) on players such as Colvin and Patten when they are placed on injured reserve?
Woburn, Mass.


A rulebook question for you: In the Pats/Denver game, Ty Law was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, resulting in 1st down on the Pats 1-yard line. John Madden's explanation while showing the replay was that "the ball was in the air" while Ty was in contact with the receiver.Now my question: Is this correct even if within the "5 yard chuck zone?" (Line of scrimmage was the 5-yard line and contact just short of goal line).One more please: Could Pats have challenged the Brady fumble awarded to Broncos? Replay showed Brady had clear possession and obviously down by contact.

BT Scrivner
San Antonio, Texas

Madden is correct in question one. You can bump the receiver within the first 5 yards, but of the ball is in the air, you are interfering with the receiver's right to the football. If you are going to bump the receiver down there, it's probably safer to do it in press coverage at the line to avoid that possibility.
As far as question two, I don't think that's reviewable. I've never seen a challenge to determine who recovered a fumble. I've only seen reviews to see if it was a fumble and where the spot of the ball might be, but not the actual recovery. My guess is that it is not reviewable because there are no cameras at the bottom of those scrums. I'll try to do some more research into this to get a more definitive answer, but I don't believe they could challenge that. Once the ref blows the whistle and points, the play is over. So even if something happened in the pile after that, it wouldn't matter. That official blew the call, no doubt, but that would be a tough one to review regularly even if the Brady recovery was cut and dried on tape.
Bryan Morry

Hi, I will get to the point. When Safety Lawyer Milloy was released the Bills or another team pursuing him tried to talk to him before he was actually officially released and that this was not allowed by the NFL and the Patriots would get a Pretty high pick down the road. Have you heard anything about this recently?
Tom Daley
Westwood, Mass.

I checked with the league and no action has been taken. However, the Patriots would not get any picks if a team was found guilty of tampering. The guilty party could lose picks, but they would disappear and not be awarded to another club.
Bryan Morry

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