I have 2 questions, sorry if its an inconvenience. I am from Canada and I was wondering if there is any chance that the Bills in Toronto experiment is the sign that that franchise might move to this side of the border one day, it'd be great to be able to go to Toronto watch the Pats beat the Bills. Is the Super Bowl ever going come to the Gillette Stadium one day?
I'm not really sure what the plans are for the Buffalo Bills in the future, but I'd love to see the Patriots play against them in Toronto one of these years. Ralph Wilson Stadium is the worst venue in football so to get a chance to check out Rogers Centre would be pretty cool. I'm just not sure if the league is ready to have a franchise in Canada on a full-time basis. As for the Super Bowl, I don't think we'll see it moved to a cold weather city in an outdoor stadium, and I don't believe it should. I know a lot of football purists say "that's the way the game is supposed to be played" but I don't really agree with that. I hate when the elements play such a big part in the outcome of a game. I'd rather see both sides have the ability to be at full strength and see who wins. Could you imagine a Super Bowl being played in conditions like the season finale at Buffalo when neither team could possibly move the ball on offense??? I'm sure the purists would love it, but aside from the novelty of watching the wind play tricks on the ball, it was a dreadfully boring game with little chance for scoring. I don't think Super Bowls should be decided that way.
Why is it that running backs never throw the ball away when they are going to be tackled for a big loss? There's no rule preventing them from doing it. It seems like on some pitch plays where the defense is going to tackle the RB for a loss, they should just throw it away. What's your take on this?
It's certainly possible but I would think the offense would be guilty of having an illegal man downfield pretty much every time. On running plays the linemen fire off the ball and go after linebackers to block, many times getting far enough past the line of scrimmage where a penalty would be called. Plus, it would be awfully difficult for a running back to decide on the spot whether he'd be better off avoiding a loss by throwing the ball away, and it also would be rather dangerous for someone not used to doing so to safely avoid an interception. It could happen but I don't think we'll see it very often.
What do you think about Ray Lewis lining up beside Jerod Mayo next year? Is he too expensive? Does he fit the system?Scott Macone
Lewis is a Hall of Fame player who would fit any system. He hasn't always loved being in a traditional 3-4 set, but players with his ability find ways to succeed no matter what. I would guess that Lewis would want to stay in Baltimore and will return for a reasonable price. At this stage in his career and with the Ravens obviously close to a championship, it would make sense for Lewis to want to continue being a part of that. But if the opportunity presents itself, Lewis would be the kind of veteran that Bill Belichick likes to plug into his defense. Stranger things have happened.
We need to see major improvement in the secondary for the Patriots – 50 touchdowns the last two yrs vs. 64 the prior four years before that (in which we won two championships) don't sit well. Who might be brought in from a trade or free agency? I don't think we can expect help in the draft.
Why don't you think we can expect help from the draft? There are always players at all positions that can help in the draft. The Patriots just need to find them. Last year they selected two corners in the first four rounds in Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite and both showed some promise, although Wheatley's was short-lived before his injury. With those two back and with a year under their belts, they should help out the group. I'd like to see Belichick target the secondary in the draft once again and give the unit an influx of young, fast players and hopefully we'll find the next Asante Samuel (a fourth-round pick by the way) and the improvement will be evident. I don't believe free agency is the way to go. The Patriots tried that route last year and struck out with Jason Webster, Fernando Bryant, Deltha O'Neal and to a lesser extent, Lewis Sanders. I'd rather go young and develop the kids in the system. Of course if there's a big-name splash to be made (Nnamdi Asomugha, DeAngelo Hall) then I'd be interested, but I don't see big bucks flying out of Foxborough this offseason.
I've heard a bunch about exclusive rights free agents and but I was wondering what are the rules for signing these guys? Plus who are the Pats exclusive rights free agents this year and do you see most of them at least coming back for training camp?
An exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) means exactly that – the team has exclusive rights to that player. This happens with players with less than three accrued NFL seasons whose contracts expire. So if a player signs a one-year deal as a rookie and makes the team, he would become an ERFA at the end of the season. If the team tenders him an offer (the minimum for a second-year player) the player has no choice but to take it. If the team doesn't make a tender offer, then the player would become a true free agent. Ray Ventrone is currently an ERFA and he'll most certainly be back for training camp.
What are your thoughts on DeAngelo Hall becoming a Patriot? I believe that if we got an inside linebacker, with Adalius Thomas coming back, the LB position would be secure, at least until the next draft if not longer. I think this would then allow us to concentrate on the secondary. What are your thoughts?
The Patriots were interested in Hall last season after the Raiders let him go so I wouldn't be surprised to see them kick the tires again if he's on the market. There have been reports out of Washington that Hall is set to re-sign with the Redskins, though, so that might not materialize. I do think they need some depth at linebacker, both inside and out, and really need to focus on the secondary for the draft. Like I said earlier, I'd like to see a couple of corners taken early and hopefully the young guys can develop quickly and fix what was a problem area for the team last season.
I am a huge Pats fan from Amsterdam, where once Adam Vinatieri (and Super Bowl QB Kurt Warner) played for the Amsterdam Admirals. I hope I am lucky enough to get some tickets for the Wembley game this year. If I have the opportunity to choose which sideline I want to be on (Pats side of course) would that be the North or South part of Wembley? And, do teams have something to say about whether they want to play in Wembley? The Buccaneers will now lose one home-field advantage by playing there.
I'm obviously not familiar with Wembley Stadium so I don't know which side the teams will be on. I can tell you that Tampa Bay, as you mentioned, will be the home team so if you could determine which side, north or south, the home team sits you'd be able to figure it out. The NFL wants to play a game in London every year and teams are somewhat forced into going. Otherwise no one would want to give up a home game on their own volition. The Bucs had little choice but if Roger Goodell gets his way I would guess that every team would play at least once in Europe at some point. Good luck securing tickets – hope to see you over there.