With Eric Mangini's initial success, it's likely that other organizations will look to the Patriots in the future for coaching talent. Because in the NFL, if it works, everyone wants to do it. With that said, over the next couple years, what coaches currently working for the Patriots do you see as potential targets for other teams?
I think you're right to assume that teams will look at New England more in the future for coaches. Mangini has done well, as has Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator in Oakland even though the Raiders stink. Romeo Crennel hasn't exactly lit the world on fire but he inherited a major rebuilding job and perhaps some improvement is on the horizon there. As for potential candidates off the current staff, most of them a pretty young. Wide receivers coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are very bright young football minds that have the potential to be head coaches someday. I don't think either is ready now, but perhaps in a few years someone might call looking for them.
Where's Eugene Wilson? I checked various injury lists, and Wilson's name shows up nowhere. Also, with 10 regular season INTs, and a postseason INT (plus a defensive TD), are the Patriots planning on re-signing Asante Samuel? Or is there someone in free agency that could come in that would be at the level of Samuel. Or maybe someone in the draft that might fall to the Patriots in the late first round. Remember they have been very lucky with players falling like Vince Wilfolk, Chad Jackson, Laurence Maroney, etc.
First, Wilson is on injured reserve so he can't come back this season. If you look on Patriots.com under the team heading and look at the player index under the roster, he's listed with all the other players on IR. As for Samuel, his strong season is going to make it difficult for the Patriots to re-sign him. Even if New England's wants to keep him, he's likely to make sure he hits the open market. If that happens, someone will likely make him an offer he can't refuse. That doesn't mean the Patriots won't re-sign him. They could even opt to put the franchise tag on him, which would restrict his mobility greatly. If they can't keep him, there are some names like Buffalo's Nate Clements that would represent an upgrade via free agency, but it would obviously be pretty tough to get a high-priced player like him as well. Other than him, St. Louis' Travis Fisher is about the next-best option and he's nothing special. The draft is more of a crapshoot – and with the exception of Wilfork I would disagree with your notion of players falling. Wilfork clearly dropped farther than anticipated, but Maroney was considered a late-first-round pick and Jackson was considered late first to early second. That's where both went.
With Asante Samuels' interception on Jan 7, he tied a Patriots record with 11 interceptions in one season, including the playoffs. Who held that record prior to Sunday, and during what season?
The record only includes the regular season and that belongs to Ron Hall, who picked off 11 passes for the Patriots in 1964. The playoffs are not included in those records.
Do you think that the Patriots should try to pick up a receiver from free agency or from the draft? I would pose the same question about the defense. The defensive line is very good, but I feel that the secondary and maybe the ILB could use some new blood. Again, should the Patriots take their first round pick on a defensive player or a receiver?Eric Merklein
If the Patriots are looking for help at wide receiver they're probably better looking to the draft. Drew Bennett and Kevin Curtis are two of the "bigger" names set to become available and neither would be an upgrade over what the Patriots already have. There are several receivers that could be available in the draft, although I don't think they should take one in the first round. I'd rather see them look for defensive help with at least one of the two first rounders with cornerback and linebacker at the top of the list. Cornerback might be a bigger priority in the draft because of the aforementioned lack of quality available at that position. But there may be some linebacker available that could help like Lance Briggs and Adalius Thomas. Cato June is small for the Patriots system but he can make some plays and Bill Belichick might find ways to utilize his skills.
Is the league taking any actions against the Titans for low block on Rodney Harrison and will he play again this year?Frank Parrinello
The league reviewed Bobby Wade's block on Rodney and declared it legal. The block itself was without a doubt legal since he hit him from the front and not the blind side. The only question was whether or not it was within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, which would have made it a crack back block and thus been a penalty. The league deemed it was not and replays seemed to back up that ruling. Since Harrison wasn't placed on IR yet, I guess that means he would have a shot at returning but I would considered it an outside shot given the reports about his knee.
I was wondering if Junior Seau would be ready for the Super Bowl if we made it. I have seen players come back from broken arms before in 4-6 weeks, but I have heard no mention of the thought of him playing.
Seau is out for the season because he was placed on injured reserve. Once that happens a player cannot return.
You know the whole game I heard how well the Chargers secondary was covering the Patriots receivers, but if you look at the stats, which secondary had the better game? Did the Chargers even have another wide receiver besides Parker playing in the game, because if so I didn't hear his name once.
I didn't watch the broadcast of the game so I'm not sure which comments you're referring to. But I think the Chargers secondary actually did do a solid job of covering the Patriots receivers for most of the day. The exceptions would be the last drive of the first half and the big play at the end from Tom Brady to Reche Caldwell that won the game. Brady threw for 280 yards but he needed 51 pass attempts do to it. By comparison, Philip Rivers threw for 230, 50 yards less, but attempted only 32 passes. Wouldn't it be fair to assume had he attempted 19 more passes that he would have thrown for at least 50 more yards? So comparing the performances of the secondaries based on yardage gained by the receivers isn't entirely accurate. Plus, you know Eric Parker's name after that game solely because he dropped about 112 passes (OK, maybe it was more like four, but it seemed like 112). And Vincent Jackson wasn't much better. Between his drops and the touchdown where he inexplicably failed to get his foot in bounds he cost the Chargers several big plays. I'd say the Patriots receivers played much better the Chargers but I wouldn't necessarily say the same about the secondaries.
Do you think the Patriot defense will try to blitz Manning and keep him under pressure all game or will they try to contain Joseph Addai and force Manning to beat them in the air? Also do you expect to see the same sort of offense as we did earlier this year against the Colts, were it was more of a running offense and try to wear down the Colts defense or will Brady try more of an air attack?Ken Turner
I think the defense part is much easier to answer and that will never be to force Peyton Manning to beat them through the air. The Patriots couldn't care less if Indy wants to hand the ball to Addai 25 times because they know he won't beat them. But if Manning has time to throw, he'll do some damage through the air. The Patriots will try to get some pressure on him and also try to mix up their coverages against him to cause some confusion. On offense, I'd expect the Patriots to try to run the ball but also to have Brady spread the Colts weak secondary out to keep them off balance. New England really should have a lot of success on offense against Indy's suspect defense, the last couple of weeks notwithstanding.
So many big plays that some others go untalked about, like Watson ripping the INT at the goal-line and the perfect third down defended pass by Samuel to give Brady that last drive. My question is about Samuel. On the last pass to Parker that gave SD the final FG attempt, it looked like Samuel came up limp (probably why Parker was so open), just wondering if anyone spoke any injury concern, we'll certainly need him next week.Michael Lafrance
I spoke with Samuel after the game and he made no mention of anything physical that was bothering him. Obviously the Patriots don't talk much about their injuries but he never went to get any treatment after the game and was walking without any hint of a limp. That doesn't mean he didn't get hurt but I would assume he'd be ready to go against Indy.
That was a close one. Remember last year when it felt that the Patriots were the dominant team but the Patriots beat themselves against Denver (with perhaps a little help from the refs)? Sunday felt like the opposite. It was great to finally get a little help just when we needed it – so much for the conspiracy theory. The Patriots played a great game, but honestly it looked like the Chargers were the slightly dominant team except for a few dumb/unlucky plays and penalties were they beat themselves. Thanks Chargers.
Wow, Len, be careful. The unruly mob will throw you off Patriots.com from comments like those. To be honest, I can't really argue with most of what you said. The Chargers really did beat themselves with a slew of dropped passes, punts, interceptions … in fact I think I saw Marty Schottenheimer drop his clipboard on the sideline at one point. The difference in the game was the Patriots experience and mental toughness allowed them to survive against a talented but inexperienced team that failed to come through in crunch time. Give the Patriots credit for overcoming what seemed like insurmountable odds.
First let me just say I think you guys do a great job. I love the no BS answers you guys give. I have heard the rumor that Tedy Bruschi may retire this year. Although this is a sad thought, Tedy hasn't been the dynamic playmaker he once was. Do you think that Coach Belichick and Scott Pioli will look to the draft for the inside linebacker position or free agency? What is the free agency market look like at the linebacker position for next year?Pete Fontaine
I've heard the same rumors about Bruschi that you have but nothing has come from his camp that I'm aware of. Russ Francis made a comment on a local talk show last week that Bruschi will be hanging them up after the season. Whether that's true or not, the Patriots need some help at linebacker and they should look to both the draft and free agency to find it. I wrote earlier about some potential free agents that could be available but I'd like to see Belichick also draft a young athlete that the team can rely on for the next several years while the likes of Bruschi and others retire.
I would like to comment on the play of Asante Samuel. Even looking past his 11 interceptions on the year, I think Samuel has been absolutely shutting down one side of the field over the last few weeks. The progress he has made in all aspects of his game is remarkable. He is not typically looked at as a shutdown corner, but his recent play, especially against the Jets and Chargers in the playoffs, suggests that he may become just that. What are your thoughts on his play and the chances of re-signing him?
I think it would be difficult for a cornerback to have a much better year than Asante Samuel had for the Patriots. Especially lately he's been absolutely at the top of his game. And it goes well beyond the interceptions. He's been ready for whatever the opposition has thrown his way and he's come through. For these reasons I believe it will be very difficult to re-sign him because I feel someone will recognize this and make him a huge offer. As I stated earlier, the Patriots could franchise him but that often leads to animosity from the player and sometimes that's not a great situation. This one will be very interesting to watch after the playoffs.
I really hate asking this question since we are just one win away from the Super Bowl, but with Seattle's loss and the trading of Deion Branch, what selection do we have in April's draft?
Now that the Seahawks have lost the Patriots other first-round pick will be No. 24. If the Patriots beat Indy they'll pick either 31st or 32nd depending on whether or not they win the Super Bowl. If they lose, it would depend on the outcome of some of the other games but it could fall no lower than 27.
When we will see Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney in the same backfield at the same time? I cannot believe that Bill has not at least experimented with this in practice. I keep thinking this is the week they roll it out in a game. I would think there would be a lot of wrinkles that could be schemed with them in the game at the same time. Dillon lead blocks, fake pitch one way and pitch the other, all kinds of motion combinations. Is there a good reason this hasn't happened yet?
We joke about this all the time but really it makes sense that Belichick hasn't tried it because they both play the same position. You say you could have Dillon be the lead blocker, but have you ever seen him serve as the lead blocker? Maybe that's not something he's particularly good at. I've never seen him do it. He's a terrific blocker when it comes to blitz pickup, but that's not the same thing. So while it might seem like a great way to keep a defense guessing, maybe their skill sets don't make it easy to have them on the field together. I'm not saying this is the reason, but it could be.
I take my hat off to Scott Pioli's decision to stay put. A guy who has loyalty and wants to finish something he started? Is there any place for that in the NFL? Secondly, one small point about the Chargers game. When Brady threw the TD pass to Caldwell we all knew they were going to go for two. I immediately said, "Don't do the direct snap to Faulk." And then they come out and line up and I see Faulk next to Brady. I couldn't believe it. I have never played a snap of football at any level, and although I watch every Pats game, I didn't spend an entire week going through game film looking at tendencies. But if I knew exactly what they were going to do, how in the world did Schottenheimer not know? Maybe the Pats coaches thought doing the obvious would fool them, and they were right.
We all thought they would run the direct snap to Faulk and everyone in the press box was saying it at the snap. But you know what, the Chargers obviously knew it was coming too because they had a linebacker right in the hole that Faulk went to. The problem was, the Patriots blocked him and Faulk stopped, stepped back and went through a different hole. Most plays are about execution and not surprise. That was one of them. The Chargers were in good position to stop the play but didn't because Faulk followed his blocks and found another way into the end zone.
First off, I'd like to congratulate the team on pulling out a victory in a game that easily could have been a blowout for the Chargers. The Pats did a great job of hanging in there and taking the opportunities as they came. When Brady threw that third INT, I thought it was over. Is that fumble that Troy Brown forced up there with Vinatieri's kick to win the Snow Bowl against Oakland for the greatest Patriots playoff moment, or what? Also, on a less positive note, I have to say how disappointing I have found Benjamin Watson's season. He has all the athletic ability in the world, and he started the season with the chance to become the biggest offensive weapon on the team due to that ability and his experience with the offense. In the most important game of the Patriots season on Sunday, he didn't make his first catch until the fourth quarter if I am not mistaken. Do you think he'll ever evolve into the dominant player that so many people were expecting him to be?
First, in terms of pivotal plays there's no question that Troy's strip is as important as any play in Patriots playoff history. Without it there's a very good chance the Patriots would have lost. But I can't put that on par with Adam's kick or several other Patriots plays simply because it was made possible by a bad play by the opponent. If Marlon McCree didn't lose the ball then Troy's play would have simply been a tackle. Adam had to make the kick. If a Patriot had intercepted that ball, he would have fallen to the ground. As for Watson, I think it depends on what your expectations were coming into the season. I know a lot of people had him in the Pro Bowl. I wasn't one of those and therefore I actually think he had a solid season. Unfortunately he missed some games due to injury and that's been a concern for him, but in terms of production I can't ask for much more than he gave us – 49 catches for 643 yards and three touchdowns. If he can stay healthy and play 16 games, he can be a 60-catch guy and that's pretty solid. I don't look at him as a dominating player the way some others do. I just don't see the skills catching the ball that I see with some of the top tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates (Gates' poor showing Sunday notwithstanding).