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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Buying time at the bye

Injuries and second-half forecasts dominate the bye week questions.

Who would you say is the most popular/best player in the Patriots history? Fan-wise and in your opinion?
Columbia, S.C.

Obviously that's a very subjective question with no right or wrong answer, but if you're asking for one man's opinion, I'd go with former quarterback Steve Grogan. Grogan played 16 years for the Patriots (1975-90) and won over the fans heart with his gritty style and toughness. He may not have been the best play the team has ever had (although he was very good) but he would have to be considered at least one of the most popular.
Paul Perillo

I noticed in the game on Sunday that Michael Cloud was not playing and I want to know why? Second question: With the release of Kenyatta Jones because of an injury, that's what I heard, it seems kind of surprising that he would be cut after he was arrested. Does this arrest have anything to do with his release or was it really because of an injury?
Marblehead, Mass.

With three running backs available (Faulk, Smith and Cloud), Bill Belichick would almost never need that many in one game. In most cases, barring injuries to two, the third would be just wasting a roster spot. Antowain Smith was healthy after missing a couple of games with a shoulder injury so Belichick opted to dress him against Cleveland instead of Cloud, who was ineffective against the Giants and Miami.
I'm not sure where you got your information about Kenyatta Jones but he wasn't released just because he was injured. He had been working his way back and was ready to begin practicing at the time of his arrest. Jones felt like he was ready and the Patriots weren't sure, then he had his legal trouble, which is never a good thing in the Patriots organization. The two factors combined to lead to the end of Jones' time in New England.
Paul Perillo

I want to know what kind of an offense the Patriots run. The way they use their backs out of the backfield and use short crossing patterns across the middle resembles a West Coast offense but I know it's not.
Henry Cardaropoli
Greenfield, Mass.

You're right with your assessment of the Patriots offense in regards to the West Coast. It does indeed resemble the West Coast offense, but Belichick and Charlie Weis have said many times in the past that it is not. I'm not sure what word would characterize it best, but spread comes to mind. The keys are high-percentage passes that keep the third downs manageable spread around among several different receivers. I wish I could answer your question better than that, but I'm not exactly sure.
Paul Perillo

I watch Tom Brady every game this season and can't help but wonder about his ability to have series of "laserballs" right between the numbers and then he gets series of passes that go to the ground and above the head and so on. Why is it happening and is consistency something that comes with age in the league? Dmitriy Sokolovskiy
Newton, Mass.

Brady hasn't been quite as consistent as we're used to seeing him, but he's pretty solid nonetheless. His accuracy has been his calling card early in his career and perhaps that's been a tad off in the first half of the season, but he's also been asked to throw more passes down the field than in the past, and those passes aren't generally completed at as high a rate as the shorter one. Overall I think Brady has done a terrific job stretching the field with some nice deep passes and has been pretty effective. Consistency is one thing that normally comes with age, but I think Brady is already pretty consistent.
Paul Perillo

I just read your answer about Wilson & Samuel being the corners of the future. What is the possibility of converting Ty Law to safety? It seems like it would work because he has a nose for the ball, isn't intimidated by anybody & has proven that he can stop people. What are your thoughts?
Billerica, Mass.

I think Ty has several years left as a cornerback to be completely honest. He's enjoying one of the best seasons of his career and is showing no signs of slowing down – even while dealing with a pretty substantial ankle injury. Somewhere down the road he may be forced to make a transition to safety, like stalwarts like Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson did – but until then I see no reason to even talk about it until he shows signs of losing his cover skills as a corner.
Paul Perillo

I do not have much confidence in the Pats running game, be it Faulk, Smith or Cloud. Since Cloud wasn't injured but wasn't even suited up for the Browns game, I have to make the assumption that his performance in practices has not been very impressive. That brings me to the question ... Patrick Pass has shown some ability in his few carries and has looked very good returning kick-offs. What's up that he can't get a chance at RB and is only a backup to "Fred Who" at FB?
Steve Alpert
Norwell, Mass.

I'm not sure why people always seem to be fascinated with the unknown. Before Cloud was activated, Patriots fans were convinced we had the next Priest Holmes in our midst. After three games we've quickly written him off and are searching for the next solution to the ground game. But I personally don't think the running backs have been bad this season. Faulk has played well, Cloud had a nice game against Tennessee and Smith has even had his moments, although not as many as we'd like. Patrick Pass, who has yet to even take a single snap on offense this season, is not an upgrade over any of that group as a runner. He's a solid special teams player and does a decent job returning kicks. But I don't think he would be much of an alternative as a lead ball carrier.
Paul Perillo

Are there any updates on Rosevelt Colvin's health situation as he recovers from hip surgery?
Will Higgins
State College, Pa.

Hey Will, do you and Magnum get to see Joe Pa at any Nittany Lions games? Sorry.
It's still too early to know what kind of impact the injury will have on the remainder of his career, but Rosey is doing well in the early stages of his recovery. Belichick said last week that Colvin comes to the stadium about once a week but still has a hard time getting around much more than that.
Paul Perillo

I was hoping you could clear up something for me: A while ago, I read on here that the Pats would be wearing alternate silver jerseys at some point this season. I am just curious as to when that will be?
Zack Stambaugh
Youngstown, Ohio

The Patriots will wear the silver jerseys the week after the bye for their Sunday night, ESPN encounter with Bill Parcells and the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 16. Think we can add any more drama to that one!
Paul Perillo

I was wondering why the Patriots do not have a go-to wide receiver. I know that Brady spreads the ball around but when the game is close I think it is great to have a go to wide receiver. I think that Troy Brown can be that guy and he should get the ball more.
Patrick Pollum
Berea, Ohio

No offense Patrick, but it would seem to me that Troy Brown is exactly that. For the last two years he was a far and away the team leader in receptions and is still Brady's first option when things get tight. He might not be on pace for another 100-catch season, but when they need a catch most, Brown will be the target more often than not.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots defense is playing well this year and arguably is the reason for our success thus far. On paper, our "spread offense" sounds good but realistically it is not gaining the yards or scoring points. Are there any plans to change the offense, and are these problems a result of the scheme or the personnel?
Andrew Chea
Nassau, Bahamas

Good question, but more importantly, this is the bye week Andrew. We at PFW have some rare free time during the season and since you're in the Bahamas, how 'bout an invite for your trusty PFW scribes for a weekend retreat? No? Hey, I took a shot.
The offense has been a bit disappointing so far. They seem to move the ball well enough, but the points are coming. Sometimes it's problems in the red zone and other times penalties have really hurt. Whatever the reason, they haven't been as effective as we'd like. Like most teams, they certainly could use some more weapons from the personnel standpoint, but I'd like to see some more running plays called in the red zone. In 2001 when the Patriots seemed to maximize their offensive chances, Antowain was a great goal line runner and I'd like to see someone get the chance to do that in the second half.
Paul Perillo

It seems week after week our offense stalls on either 3rd down or red zone opportunities. I may just be assuming this but it seems to me that Belichick is getting upset with some of the offensive play calls made by Charlie Weis. For instance vs. the Dolphins, they ran two consecutive sweeps by Faulk for negative yards. Why the reluctance to open up the playbook?
Eric Jodoin
Auburn, N.H.

I can understand you're frustration with some play calls, Eric. I couldn't understand the runs late in regulation in Miami myself. But complaining that Charlie Weis doesn't open the playbook is like saying Stephen King has no imagination. Weis sometimes frustrates me with his propensity to trick the opponent rather than simply lining up and beating it. But his wide array of gadget plays is impressive and many have worked wonderfully in the past. I don't think Belichick has any problems with Weis' play calling and the Patriots problems certainly aren't a result of a lack of imagination.
Paul Perillo

No offense to Troy Brown or David Patten or even Deion Branch, but when, if at all, do you think the Pats will go after a big time receiver to help stabilize the pass offense?
Port Crane, N.Y.

Geez Jason, I'm glad you meant no offense to the Pats receiving corps. You basically just said they're OK but can they get someone really good. I'm not sure this coaching staff feels one big-time receiver is a necessity. The way the offense spreads the ball around, they'd rather have three or four guys capable of leading the team in any given week.
Paul Perillo

When Ted Washington and Ted Johnson are able to come back how much more of an impact do you think they will have with a defense that is already playing with so much heart and intensity?
Chris Moaratty
Newmarket, N.H.

It's pretty simple: the more good players you have available the better you'll be. When the Teds return, the Patriots defense should only improve. They might not immediately jump back into their full-time roles, but they will help this unit get better.
Paul Perillo

I was just wondering have any Pats ever won a regular season MVP award? I know Ty Law won a Pro Bowl MVP a few years back, but anybody else?
Brooklyn, N.Y.

No Patriots player has ever won the MVP in the past. You were right about Ty Law, who won the MVP at the 1999 Pro Bowl (following the 1998 season) after intercepting a pair of passes.
Paul Perillo

I thought the Milloy move would be a disaster prior to the season opener, but after 8 weeks the SS position has not been a problem. If this holds true for the remainder of the season, will Wilson remain at SS or do we shop the draft for 2004?
Mike Daniewicz
Edison, N.J.

I think Wilson will stay at safety as long as Law and Poole are around to play corner. If Law's cap number proves to high for the Pats next year and he's let go, then I think Wilson will return to his normal cornerback position. I believe Wilson and Asante Samuel will eventually wind up playing corner together and hopefully for years to come, but right now Wilson's talents are best served as a safety. I don't think the Patriots will draft a safety next year.
Paul Perillo

I'm glad the Patriots showed their class when they released Kenyatta Jones for trying to burn his roommate. I'm glad the Patriots get rid of the classless. Your opinions on that issue?
Troy, N.H.

I couldn't agree more. In fact, a few years back when Baltimore won the Super Bowl (2000) with Ray Lewis, I made a comment that drew laughs on our radio show "PFW in Progress" on radio (shameless plug there). I said that I'd rather not win the Super Bowl than do so with guys like Ray Lewis, who at the time was embroiled serious legal problems stemming from a murder in Atlanta the year before. I meant it then and I mean it now. It's not that hard to act like a human being, and throwing hot water on someone certainly doesn't qualify. The Pats were right to send him packing.
Paul Perillo

With Corey Dillon asking out of Cincinnati I would think the Pats would be in great position to grab him considering the amount of early picks they have next year. Have you guys heard any rumblings about this? Dillon is having a bad year, but plays on a bad team. With our developing young line, he could be the monster running back the Pats have missed for years.
Matt Donovan
New York, N.Y.

I don't think there's any chance of Dillon ever becoming a Patriot. He has a long list of past indiscretions and he just doesn't strike me as the high character, team guy Belichick likes to surround himself with. I realize the Patriots have some draft picks to work with, but I'd rather see them take a running back with one than package them to get the talented but troubled Dillon.
Paul Perillo

Why have coaches almost abandoned the use of the fullback as runner? When runners dominated the game, in the 1970s, the fullback was usually the primary ball carrier, with the halfback being the kind of fellow who today is a third down back – a speed merchant who would burn a defense that pinched in with its linebackers. With regard to your comment on Ron Dayne, I think he might be a great fullback. Starting closer to the line of scrimmage, he would hit the line faster, and with his size and strength, he could be the kind of presence that Jim Nance and Sam Cunningham were. His style reminds me very much of Nance.
Ken Howes
Oak Lawn, Ill.

I think the NFL is a much faster game today than it was in the 1970s. Fullbacks like Cunningham were certainly special players and my guess is they would still be effective today. But I'm not sure a plodding guy like Ron Dayne could be effective at his size in any role. He's just too slow. Whether it be at fullback or halfback, he would still need to get through holes with some quickness and Dayne seems unwilling to get himself into good enough shape to do that. Now I don't know Dayne personally so I'm making these observations from afar. But I think the days of fullbacks being major ball carriers are a thing of the past.
Paul Perillo

What is going on with the Patriots running game. They continue to use Faulk and Smith when Cloud is a better back. Do they want to establish a dominant running game?
Al Ragas Jr.
Chesapeake, Va.

I'm not sure what you're basing your evaluations on. Cloud made a terrific debut but has done very little else in his other appearances – both here and in Kansas City. Faulk is this team's best back and he'll get the majority of the work. The Patriots won't be dominating anyone on the ground, but Faulk gives them at least an option.
Paul Perillo

Is there any update on Ted Johnson's injury? And do you think that the Pats really need him for our pretty stout "D"?
Jim Smith
Tucson, Ariz.

Ted is recovering nicely and is hoping to return sometime in mid-to-late-November. My guess is Nov. 23 at Houston. He joined the team on the last two road trips, which is generally a sign that he's nearing a return. As for the second part of your question, absolutely. Belichick needs all the quality players he can get and Johnson certainly is a quality football player.
Paul Perillo

Who are the Pats going to keep in the backfield after this season? Faulk is due up for a new deal and Cloud will as well.
Travis Simpson
Waltham, Vt.

It's way too early to accurately make these projections, but a lack of knowledge never stops us, right? Here's my guess: Faulk stays while Cloud and Smith go. That would mean a running back would have to be added – either through the draft or in free agency. My guess would be one of the two first rounders will be a running back, making Cloud and Smith expendable. Faulk should stick around based on his quality play the past year-and-a-half.
Paul Perillo

Aloha from Pats headquarters in Honolulu! As the Pats are keeping 4 QBs on the roster, even though Kingsbury isn't active, do you think they will make a long-term commitment to Tom Brady? With the days of true franchise players long gone with free agency, I think Brady has the leadership and field generalship that fit perfectly with the Pats offensive style. Do you see Brady as our next Steve Grogan and going beyond his 2006 contract?
Honolulu, Ha.

Another thoughtful Ask PFW reader offering us a nice bye-week location to recharge our batteries. I'll be sure to let Andy and Bryan know we're headed to Hawaii next week. As for Brady, I don't think you'll need to worry about his long-term future with the team. His extension he signed last season will have him here for the foreseeable future (as Belichick likes to say) and the only way that would change would be for him to perform poorly. As long as he keeps playing well, he'll be the Patriots quarterback. You can't get more long term than that.
Paul Perillo

Going into the bye week, who are any of the injured players that look to return after the bye week?
Tim Bartlett
Grinnell, Iowa

I'm not sure any of the guys who have been out an extended period of time will make it back on the field for the Dallas game, but some should be back soon thereafter. Ted Washington and Ted Johnson are getting closer but still hadn't practiced heading into the bye so I believe the Houston game might be a better target date for a return. Richard Seymour missed the Denver game but I think he'll be fine for Dallas.
Paul Perillo

I was pretty impressed with Tully Banta-Cain's play on special teams at Denver. With his great speed do you think he'll see some time in the pass rushing packages this year?
Mahwah, N.J.

I, too, was impressed with Banta-Cain's performance on special teams at Denver. He has great athleticism and that showed when he was covering kicks. But after missing much of the first half of the season with a groin injury it would be difficult for him to become much of a factor on defense. He could get a few snaps as a situational pass rusher if needed, but I think his role will be on special teams.
Paul Perillo

Could someone please e-mail the current Patriots draft picks in hand for the 2004 draft? I especially want to know from which teams any picks are from in addition to our normal 7 picks.
Steve Martin
North Amity, Maine

Assuming you've heard every Steve Martin joke there is, I'll get right to your answer, the Patriots currently have 10 picks in the 2004 draft. The breakdown is as follows: two in the first round (their own and Baltimore's), two in the second round (their own and Miami's), one in the third, two in the fourth (their own and New Orleans'), and one each in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
Paul Perillo

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