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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Feb 27 - 02:00 PM | Thu Feb 29 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Best to Bruschi

Tedy Bruschi, defensive nicknames, Ty Law, Bethel Johnson and much more in this week's version of Ask PFW.

I'm sure this is the hot topic this week, but I'm going to ask anyway. I understand the Bruschi family asked for privacy, but is there an address we can mail get well cards or other wishes to him? Thanks.Tim McMahon

You can send cards to Gillette Stadium at 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough, MA 02035 and I'm sure they will get forwarded to Tedy.

Hey guys, Just a couple things... 1. Tedy - we're all praying for a swift recovery for you. It'd be great to see you back on the field in the pursuit of a 4th ring, but it's family first. Be Well and God Bless you and you family. 2. When a coordinator leaves a team, does he take his playbook with him or is it property of the team that he worked for. Would the Patriots still be able to use Charlie's plays or are they proprietary? I know there are many "basic" plays that all teams use, but when a wrinkle is put into one or a change in a formation is used to disguise it, does that type of info stay with the old team or go with the coordinator to his new job, never to be used by the old team again? Thanks and keep up the great work!Dana Lemoine

The playbooks stay put although I'm sure a coordinator has his own version of everything in his possession so that he can easily bring and install his offensive system at a new job. I've never asked that question, but I'm sure Charlie would have a copy of all the plays he's run as a coordinator.

I always like to tape Patriots games and watch them a second time. The first time around I am, like most fans, following the ball. The second time around I can focus on the play of individual players. I knew that the entire offensive line had a fine Super Bowl. But after watching the tape I couldn't believe how dominant a game Matt Light had. Do you agree? I think his health problems at the beginning of the season took more out of him this year than anyone really admitted. Also, I have a question: Do the Patriots give out their own individual awards each year? ie. MVP, best rookie, etc.? If so, I really hope Rodney Harrison gets the MVP. I'm not sure the secondary could have held together this year without him. I just love the way he and Bruschi play the game. Speaking of which, I can't conclude this note without sending my best wishes to our classy middle linebacker and his family. We're all behind you Teddy. Palidor
David Elchanan

Light played very well in the Super Bowl and made Jevon Kearse a virtual non-factor in the game. The Patriots do not give out awards that I know of, but Patriots Football Weekly does and they will be published in the March issue of the publication. Pick one up on newsstands on March 9 or better yet, call 1-800-494-PATS and subscribe.

First and most important, Best Wishes to Tedy and his family. I hope we can re-sign Andruzzi. What are the chances? I know they have been able to get guards cheap and coach them well. I know you have explained this before but, if Givens and/or Green get offers and the Pats don't match is the compensation based on where they were drafted (Givens - 7th rd. and Green 4th I think)? Or, is automatically a certain pick or is that negotiated? Thanks! THREE TIMES BABY!!
David Houlden

I think Joe will be back. With restricted free agents, a minimum tender offer brings the pick as you described above. A medium tender brings a first round pick while a high tender bring first and third round picks (as Curtis Martin did back in 1998).

PFW Staff, I'm sure your flooded this week but this is one case where too much is never enough. God Bless you Tedy Bruschi and all of you at the Patriots. Our hearts are with you.
Linus Kuplast

Dear Tedy, I hope you feel better soon. I am YOUR #1 FAN! Morgan (#1 Fan)
Morgan Maher

I don't have a question, I just needed a place to express my thoughts on Tedy Bruschi and his "mild stroke." Tedy, best wishes for you and your family. Get well. I try not to go with "athlete's as role models" overall, but to me, Tedy is as close as anyone. What does it say about a person when people who have never even met him are feeling like they were just punched in the gut with the news of his situation?Paul Calderone

With regards to the name of the Patriots' Defense. I think it's a travesty to segregate the tertiary aspects of the most historic "Teams" in NFL history by deciding to name one. It is time that we accept the Patriots Team for who they really are and rank them along side those great teams of the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. The one thing that really makes them stand out is their collaborative selfless efforts to win as a team! So in recognition of this they should be identified as ONE TEAM as we are ONE AMERICA. Recognize them as AMERICA'S TEAM. Save the segregate labels and just note that the Defense, Offense and Special Teams are D-NASTY or is that dYnasty.
Fraternally James M. Mitchell Chief, Patriot's Nation Fire Department

Thanks James. As you all know, Andy Hart solicited nicknames for the defense in last week's Ask PFW. Here is what came in (sorry to omit the names): The Razor, Ninja Defense, The Royal Guard, All TEAM Defense, TRUE No Name Defense, Dirty Dozen Minus One, Prevalent Underdogs, Dynasty-Fense, Dynasty Defense, Nasty Defense, The Just get Er Done Defense, Gritty, Nothing Pretty Defense, Fort McHenry, Just Do It Defense, BAMN (By any means necessary) Defense, Minutemen Defense, Cutting Edge Defense, The Renaissance Men, Homeland Defense, Screamin' Schemers, 60-Minute Men, Rubber Band Defense, Wrecking Crew, New England Eastern Front Defense, No Stars All Stars and Sweatshirt Defense. You judge.

Where do we stand going into the March 1st deadline on the salary cap? I am very worried about a team like San Diego who has two number one draft picks going after David Givens, even if we tender him on the third level. At this point in his career he is worth a team like that to sacrifice one of those pick's (I know we get a number 3 too), for this guy. I believe it is not worth the picks. Jarvis Green is also a real steal if we do not tender him right. Do you think he will be tendered in the mid level?Bob Sulik

The Patriots are all right as far as the cap goes, especially considering only the top 51 salaries count at this time of year. If they have anything to do to get under, it shouldn't be anything major although I don't have the exact figures. I'm sure there are some Super Bowl incentives that kicked in and elevated some of the 2005 cap numbers, but that won't affect David Givens. I believe Givens will get a medium tender, which would bring a first round pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere and the Patriots choose not to match the offer. In your scenario, they would get a 1 and 3, which in all due respect to David, I have to think the Pats would take a 1 and 3 for Givens. He has developed into a nice receiver and he fits in perfectly here. He is tough, physical and has proven that he can make plays. I would like to see the team reach a long-term extension with him, but at what price? This becomes a difficult situation for a player of David's ilk. He was a seventh round pick, so he made very little money, relatively speaking, on his rookie deal and exclusive rights deal signed last year. He will have only one chance for a major score that could set him up for his future. Because of that, I expect him to play hardball. The medium tender will protect the Pats and act as a deterrent to teams. It also gives the Patriots the right to match any offer. If he signs the tender, he would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2005 season.

Do you see the Pats signing Samari Rolle? He's younger than Ty Law and would improve the secondary.
Travis Simpson

No. He's not that much younger than Law – 2 years. Law is 31 and Rolle will be 29 when the season starts and I assume he will command big money. I just assume keep Ty for one more year and then use his freed up $13 million in cap money to improve that position next year while also using a draft pick on a corner, if a good one is available, this year. Knowing that this might Law's last year in New England, I have to consider listening to trade offers because if you know you are going to lose the player but can get compensation in return, it's prudent to listen to reasonable offers. But Ty is still an excellent player that I would like to have on my team if I was a GM. So any offer would have to be enough to compensate for losing a Pro Bowl corner off my defense. Otherwise, I keep him, knowing I have a shut down corner for one more year even at his lofty price.

Some national media deified BB by saying, "he'll have this coordinator replacement all planned out and it will not be a problem" however, it doesn't seem that way. Why the delay with the offensive coordinator being named? Does it mean he doesn't have someone or that his choice went in another direction? Bethel he going to gain enough maturity and whatever else it takes to get the routes and system down so he can become a force??? Or is he really more of a Tony Simmons Jr???? Thanks
Ed Boyce

First, I would be surprised if Bill doesn't already have his offensive coordinator position worked out whether he will handle it or someone else on the current staff will. I think he announced the Eric Mangini move because Cleveland and Miami were courting Eric, but if Bill is going to handle the coordinator job in conjunction with Dante Scarnecchia and the rest of the staff, it's unlikely he would come out and announce that. He just doesn't do that. Now, as far as Bethel goes, he is better than Tony Simmons. His return ability alone makes him better than Simmons and he's probably made as many, if not more, big plays in the passing game as Simmons did in his brief stay. That said, right now I do think he needs to prove he is mature enough to play in what is a very demanding program. He hasn't done that yet. His game obviously needs more polish. He has proven he can catch the ball consistently, but he must become more reliable for Tom Brady to depend on him every week. He is certainly not a force, but he is a step above Simmons.

A recent ESPN article detailed the cuts that the Titans were making to get under the cap. The exact quote was: "The moves are part of the team's efforts to get below the NFL's salary cap by the league's March 2 deadline. The Titans entered the offseason $27 million over the cap." Is this implying that they played the season $27 million OVER the cap? If this is the case, what's to prevent a team from paying outlandish salaries for 11 months of the year, and "renegotiating"/cutting players in Feb?Greg Mowery

When you hear that a team is X dollars over the cap, it means that if the new league year started today, that team would be that much over the cap and would immediately have to cut players to get in compliance. The new league year starts March 2 so the Titans were $27 million over the 2005 cap, which doesn't take effect until March 2. It has nothing to do with the 2004 season. They take all the players on the roster and look at what they are scheduled to make in 2005 and determine that they need to pare salary to get in compliance by the deadline. Currently, teams are still operating under the 2004 league year. So really, the Titans are over the projected cap for 2005, which hasn't started yet in terms of the NFL fiscal year. They have not violated the cap.

Dear PFW In Progress, I am concerned about the idea of Belichick being head coach and offensive coordinator at the same time. Of course I have confidence in him, but at the same time it would be better for him to focus on one facet of coaching. He should hire an offensive coordinator and just play a heavy role in the offensive until he has confidence in his new coach. In regards to players, I think it would be a real shame to lose Givens or any other of the free agents on the team. How can they be so far apart on salary? On another note, I would appreciate if the staff would stop making rude comments about Rhode Islanders. I am a Rhody true and blue and don't appreciate it!Korean Joe

I agree Joe. Those guys should stop commenting on Rhody. I'm Rhode Island born and Rhode Island bred and they're just spewing ignorance. Now, as far as Belichick goes, I think ideally, it is best to have a full-time coordinator in place, but not just for the sake of satisfying the masses. If there is no one Belichick is comfortable with in that role, then he should handle it himself with the help of his staff. He has done it before and knows what it entails. Again, I don't think it's ideal, but neither is hiring someone just for the sake of filling the vacancy. In terms of contracts, this happens all the time. The Patriots operate under a disciplined financial umbrella. They set a value for a player and then let the player take it or leave it. It's why I laugh when people say New England underpays. What does that mean? Are they forcing players to sign their name on the line? Should they pay more just because other teams do? Should they pay a huge signing bonus to a player based on emotion or because the player is a fan favorite? Their way isn't always the best for a player's ego or for the fans that might be emotionally attached, but it's their way and while it doesn't always work, it's worked pretty well for them so far. Don't you think?

What is the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agency?
Theodore Spate

An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with his old club having no rights to the player. With a restricted free agent, as long as the old club makes a restricted free agent tender offer, it has what is called a right of first refusal, or simply the right to match any offer the player may receive on the open market. There also is a defined period that ends in mid-April during which the player can sign an offer sheet with another team. Then his old club can either match the offer sheet or receive designated draft pick compensation in return. If the team gives a low tender, the compensation is the equivalent of the player's original draft round. A medium tenders brings a first round pick in return while a high tender forces a team to surrender first and third round picks.

Hey I was just wondering who the 19 free agents were this year!? Thanks!DJ Brockelbank

Rabih Abdulla (UFA), Joe Andruzzi (UFA), Je'Rod Cherry (UFA), Don Davis (UFA), Kevin Kasper (UFA), Adrian Klemm (UFA), Jim Miller (UFA), Patrick Pass (UFA), David Patten (UFA), Adam Vinatieri (UFA), Tom Ashworth (RFA), David Givens (RFA), Brandon Gorin (RFA), Jarvis Green (RFA), Earthwind Moreland (RFA), Stephen Neal (RFA), Ethan Kelley (ERFA), Gene Mruczkowski (ERFA) and Guss Scott (ERFA).

What do you think about free agent Mushin Muhammad? I think adding a big wide receiver like him to our corps of receivers would be huge. Patten and Brown have been good, but I think a receiver like Mushin Muhammad would be a great addition. We need a big physical guy like him. He would be a great weapon for Brady, to have along with Branch and Givens. I think having him would really help open up opportunities for the other receivers.
Anthony Rufo

There is no question New England could use a receiver of Muhammad's combination of size and skill, but they don't likely have the financial wiggle room to sign him given that he would command a substantial contract and decent signing bonus. Given their need to deal with Tom Brady and Richard Seymour in the near future, I'm not sure how much bonus money the Patriots will have to pay out this year. He would look good in a Patriots uniform, but the bet here is that he is a Panther when all is said and done.

Gentlemen, First of all, thanks for your great columns all year round! While it's great to feast on PFW's additional smorgasbord of opinion and analysis in the regular season, in the offseason you provide that morsel of sustenance in the wilderness that tastes better than a 10-course meal in times of plenty. Right, that said, I have a question about salary cap and the Law, to include but not limited to Ty Law. Specifically, with so many Pats willing to take one or another form of financial hit (from restructuring to just plain playing for less than market value,) are the Pats opening themselves up to some kind of antitrust or other union action? Since there's so much copying in the league, the argument could go, players who put a premium on winning will take a financial hit to play for the Pats (or the Eagles, or the Colts, or whoever.) Therefore, they drive down the high-end or even intermediary salary structure. Then the poor working man (the players, who are only millionaires) would be getting the shaft from the rich capitalist (the owners, who are billionaires.) Isn't this just a very high stakes version of union-busting, from the union point of view? And if so, is there anything the NFLPA could, or would, do about it? I just don't want anyone messing with my Threepeat. This would be the next logical threat, after the Rules Committee whining of last season - since nobody can beat us on the freaking football field. Go NFL Europe allocates! Thanks!Dan Halberstein

Dan, I don't think that's an issue. The Patriots have not violated any provision of the CBA and the union would have no justifiable or legal reason for targeting the Patriots. New England simply operates within the rules of the system the way it was collectively bargained. The team doesn't force any player to restructure a contract, or in some rare cases, take an actual pay cut. The other option may be to be released, but that's the system.

Has anyone found out any information about Corey Dillon's injury? My second question concerns delay of game or is this legal? A player runs towards the end zone with the ball in play. There is a minute or two or three left in the half or 4th quarter. The player with the ball (either offense or defense) stops at the 2- or 3-yard line because no one is chasing him and the closest player of the other team is over 40 yards away. The player with the ball is on the team leading. Can he just stand there at the goal and not cross over until time runs out or until an opposing player chases him down?Arthur Port

I don't know what Dillon's injury is. I know it was reported somewhere as a groin, which I was told was not true. But I don't know if it or it isn't. On your other item, it's not really realistic, but as long as the ball is in play, the player could stop at the 2-yard line and wait as long as he could until an opposing player approached him. That would only be a few seconds even if the opposing player were 50 yards away. It certainly wouldn't be long enough to run out the clock, but it also wouldn't be a penalty.

Hey guys, I've been a Pats fan for 31 years and only lived in New England for the first of those 31 seasons. My family moved to Ft. Worth when I was 7 and the local kids tried to convert me to being a Cowboys fan. I wouldn't have it. My parents are from Pittsburgh so my Dad and brother were Steelers fans and as tempting as it may have been to jump on that bandwagon during their glory days, I did not abandon my Pats. I moved to Tucson, Washington DC and now live in Houston and through all those moves I never changed my team. I just saw an ESPN classic of the very first Pats game I ever watched in Nov of 1974 where the Pats blew a lead and lost to Buffalo 29-28 on a last second John Smith blocked field goal attempt. That was the start to 27 years of fan frustration, but it has all paid off now. Thank you Bill, Tom, Adam and the entire Patriots organization. It was worth the wait.
Perry Baker

I'm sure they appreciate the thanks.

Two players that I think are real diamonds in the rough for the Patriots are Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain and Cornerback Randall Gay. Given the lack of depth at Corner and the age at Linebacker, do you see these two players becoming, if not stars, at least David Givens level strong contributors for the Pats in the next couple of seasons?Dave Fletcher

Well, Gay was a strong contributor already and should improve significantly between year one and year two. It's difficult to compare him to Givens, who made a huge jump between his first and second seasons, but Gay had a better rookie year than Givens did, at least as far as playing time. But he also was forced into action more so than Givens. As far as Tully goes, I've always been intrigued by him. I think he has a lot of ability and could step in eventually at outside linebacker when one of the current OLBs moves on or retires. He's had two years to learn and should start to push for more time this year if he remains on an upward track.

I am a huge Arkansas Razorback fan and I was wondering if you can see Cedric Cobbs getting much more playing time next season, or if he may be traded and get more play time somewhere else. Thanks
Jacob Milner

This is a big offseason for Cedric who has to improve in the passing game -- in protection, as a route-runner and catching the ball. But I expect that he will do those things to a large degree. It will also be a big preseason for him. I expect Corey Dillon to see very little exhibition action this summer, which means Cedric should get a lot of carries against the other team's starters. He has to prove he can step in for Dillon either in the case of an injury or when Dillon's contract expires. Dillon has just one year left and will be the starting running back heading into 2005. Cobbs will not be traded this year.

I assume the Patriots will open the NFL's 2005 regular season or Monday Night Football at Home against a top team. The most likely opponents in my opinion are the Colts, Chargers and Jets in that order. However, would the NFL want the same Patriots vs. Colts opener two years in a row?

I believe the Pats will open up on Thursday night at home, which means they will play either the Colts again or possibly San Diego or a division game. Miami could be an interesting matchup despite their woeful 2004 record because Saban vs. Belichick would provide an interesting storyline. While I think they will give the Pats a home game to open up, I guess there is a remote chance that the league could send them on the road for a Thursday night opener at Pittsburgh in an AFC Championship rematch.

I heard the Pats signed former Ravens QB Chris Redman. Is he expected to replace Rohan Davey as the 2nd string QB?
Nathan Graf

I think he will compete with Ro for that job. I wouldn't say I expect him to replace Davey, although he has starting experience and will be given every opportunity to replace him.

Is there any chance that the Patriots will sign the Steelers free agent linebacker Kendrell Bell?
Keith Sherman

Sure there is a chance. I don't think it's a huge chance, but he has excelled in a 3-4 defense and his injury history might affect is contract demand. Perhaps his old Georgia teammate Richard Seymour would recruit him to listen to New England's overtures if they existed. He's a terrific player when healthy, but he's had trouble staying healthy at times during his career. But he has experience playing inside in a 3-4 and New England could use a fresh face there at the right price.

Thanks for a great season. We are a bunch of expat New Englanders here in Bangalore who follow New England sports with same zeal as when we were living in the NE area. About 5 months back we were watching Red Sox/ Yankees ALCS and start of game 4 with a bunch of expats from NY/NJ area and one of them said that it would be cool if Yankees blow out Red Sox (Pats were meeting Jets over that weekend) and Jets blow out Patriots over the weekend. All of us in NE group felt so low at that point, we did not know how to respond while the other group was laughing and taunting us.... well now 5 months later to see PATS and SOX win it we are living a dream. Thanks for a great season again !!!
Raghu Nandan

Thank you for reading Ask PFW.

Since you seem to believe Belichick may be his own offensive coordinator, how effective do you think he can be? He took on the role for a short time with the Browns, how successful was he there despite the mediocrity of the team? He generally is hailed as a defensive mastermind with a special emphasis on linebackers, so calling plays might be interesting. But then again, with thirty years of NFL experience I'm sure he knows a thing or two about offense.
Ben B.

Bill is a well rounded coach who knows plenty about offense. As I said earlier, I don't think it's an ideal situation to have the HC also serve as the OC, but if there is no one he is comfortable with filling the void, then he should by all means handle it himself while delegating some other responsibilities. He has worked with the quarterbacks at length during his Patriots career and has had plenty of input on the offensive plans. I think if he does take over as the OC that it will only be until he finds the man he wants in the position.

Is it just me or did Rodney Harrison's postseason get completely overlooked? In 3 games he had 4 INTs, 2 of them game clinchers, 1 returned for a TD to break open the Steelers game. He was a menace all over the field in every game. He was keeping together a "patchwork," if you will, secondary. I think he made a run of one of the best defensive jobs in the HISTORY of the NFL postseason, and that deserves some recognition. And just a quick question on 2005...where do you see the Patriots going after Dillon; he played injured a lot this year, and seems to only have maybe 2 more years left of steam in his legs. Is Cobbs the man or will the Patriots look elsewhere?Jamie Sinnott

It's not possible for Rodney to get enough credit for his play this year and in the postseason in particular. He had a remarkable season capped by a marvelous postseason. I don't think he was overlooked, but might not have been given enough praise. I thought he was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX. We should know more about the running back situation this summer when we get a better look at Cobbs. He could very well be Dillon's eventual replacement, but we haven't seen enough of him yet to make that determination.

Bethel Johnson seems like a playmaker when he is on the field. Do you expect him to get some more playing time at wide receiver next season?Marco Madison

I sort of answered this already, but I expected him to get more playing time this season and it looked to me like he got less. I have no expectations for Bethel as a receiver heading into next season. I don't think he proved to be a guy that can be counted upon. He'll get the chance to show that again this summer. As of now, no, I don't expect him to get more playing time unless the Patriots allow Patten, Givens and Brown to walk without making any significant moves to replace them. Then Johnson would have to step up.

They talk about the Pats playing a 3-4 with the D-Lineman playing a 2 gap. What does that mean? How does it fundamentally differ from the D-lines responsibility in a 4-3 setup? Thanks, and great work!
Dan Isenbarger

Typically, most of the 4-3 defenses played use a one-gap responsibility, which means the defenders are responsible for defending one of the eight gaps on the line of scrimmage with either a safety being the eighth defender or one member of the front seven, typically a nose tackle, defending two gaps. In the Patriots 3-4 defense, the front three attempt to defend six gaps while the inside linebackers also have some two-gap responsibilities. The linemen play head up on the center and tackles while defending both sides of the offensive lineman as opposed to penetrating a single gap at the snap. I'm no football coach and I don't play one on TV, but I believe the goal is to defend the gaps with as few defenders as possible so that the secondary can play with two deep safeties all the time rather than using a safety in run support and being more vulnerable in the back of the secondary. It's a physical, stout defense that requires the defenders to play with tremendous strength and leverage with almost perfect technique and quick, strong hands. My impression is that it's tougher to play than your basic 4-3 gap penetrating scheme.

In my personal opinion I think that Gay could potentially become the next Ty Law. I am not saying it will be next year but I think in time he could be just as good as Ty. I love Ty he is my sports hero (and no disrespect to him) but I think that Gay doing as good as he did will probably be as good as Ty in future years. I don't know that's my opinion. My question is what do you think will happen to Gay and do you think he has the skills to one day be the next Ty Law? Even still then just to be sure, I think the Patriots should use one of their 1st or 2nd picks on a corner because there are a lot of good corners in the draft this year such as Antrel Rolle (Miami), Justin Miller (Clemson), Adam Jones (West Virginia) etc...
Michael Hobbs

I don't think Gay is the next Ty Law or anything close and that's no disrespect to the kid who came in as an undrafted rookie and played very well under tough circumstances. Ty is a bigger corner who plays a very physical brand of football for his position. I don't see Gay as that type. He is more of a smaller, faster corner. But what most impressed me about Gay this season was his tackling. I thought he was excellent in run force and at limiting yards after the catch, one of T.O.'s Super Bowl plays notwithstanding. He's not afraid to make a tackle and did a good job in the open field, which allowed the coaches to leave him alone on an island at times with the confidence that he wouldn't a miss a tackle that would turn a 5-yard pass into a 55-yard touchdown. I think the Pats should look long and hard at the corners available in the draft. But Ty Law is a four-time Pro Bowler. Gay has a long way to go to be compared to Ty.

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