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Ask PFW: Color me happy

Lots of Super Bowl talk in this week's mailbag. But the overriding question had to be what color uniforms will the Patriots wear and why.

I was wondering how many players the Pats put on IR this year and how many starters missed games to injury compared to the Eagles. A co-worker of mine mentioned to me that the Eagles had more injuries this year than the Pats. I thought for sure that he must be wrong, but couldn't find the answers I was looking for. So I've turned to the experts to try and help me out and put that punk in his place.
G. Hill
Lakeland, Fla.

I'm not sure about that expert stuff, but you may owe your co-worker an apology. At the very least, the teams have been hit equally hard by injuries. Both have place 11 players on injured reserve and the Eagles lost more games from starters than the Patriots, although the latter point is sort of a subjective look. The Eagles suffered injuries to starters Correll Buckhalter and N.D. Kalu in the preseason, starting guard Shawn Andrews in Week 1 and starting fullback Jon Ritchie in Week 3. The Patriots lost their share of key players as well, but Ty Law and Tyrone Poole, the two most notable, went down during the season. Tom Ashworth also wasn't place on IR until late October. Both teams lost other players who would surely have contributed like Ben Watson and Guss Scott, while key players like Richard Seymour and Terrell Owens missed important games but are still on the active roster. It's tough to compute how many actual man games each team lost to injury because both teams have players on IR that wouldn't likely have made the team in the first place. But in terms of key players, both teams suffered losses but it appears the Eagles lost more games.
Paul Perillo

Bryan, I know that the Eagles are the home team for the SB. I'm curious what determines this whereas the Pats had a better regular season record ( 14-2 vs. 13-3). Can you also explain what are any specific advantages at a neutral site if any?Dave

Patriots will be wearing their white jerseys in the big game? How was it determined that the Eagles are the home team? In '85, '01, '03 they wore their dark jerseys. Why was it that in '96, and this year they're considered the visiting team?
Wesley Grogan

What determines the home team for the Super Bowl? Does the home team get to pick its uniform?Ed Nelson

For whatever reason this was a very popular question over the last two weeks. We easily fielded about 50 of them in varying degrees. Does Vegas put out odds now for what uniform teams will wear?? Anyway, the league simply alternates which conference serves as home team each year. The Patriots were the home team in three of their SB appearances (1985, 2001, 2003) and the visitors twice (1996, 2004). The Eagles, as the home team, get to choose which uniforms they'll wear, which will be green. And Dave, I don't think there are any specific advantages at a neutral site. There are occasions, like in 2001, where a team could benefit depending on the style of play and the playing surface. The Rams certainly benefited from playing on the turf in New Orleans with their speed-oriented attack. But the Patriots won anyway, so it couldn't have been that important.
Paul Perillo

OK, ask PFW guys, you can come on out now … what do you think of Corey Dillon now? I remember very well how several of you overly pessimistic Pats fans were shocked that BB would even consider trading for Dillon. I believe that one of you said that you would never want a guy like that on our team. That he would be better off going to the Raiders with the other rejects and troublemakers. It's OK, don't be afraid, admit that he was a perfect fit for this team, and has probably done everything that was asked of him, while remaining a model teammate. I will admit that I had a few doubts in the back of my mind too, but I didn't completely dismiss him as a possibility either. Sometimes you guys need to open up your minds and give people a chance. You can be surprised.Greg Bradley

Well, Greg, that would be me. I was the one who didn't want Corey Dillon on the Patriots based on his past. But I never said he wouldn't be a major upgrade as a running back. I just said I'd rather have a lesser player on the team that I thought I could respect. I still feel that way. Dillon is a tremendous running back, but I've seen nothing to indicate to me that the reputation he came with was false. But it doesn't matter what I think or what you think. It only matters what the team thinks and obviously that has worked out well. But don't suggest that I'm afraid of anyone or to say anything. That's ridiculous.
Paul Perillo

So, Richard Seymour didn't play on Sunday against the Steelers. Is he going to be healthy enough to play the Eagles in the Super Bowl?Kevin Jones

Was Rodney Harrison OK after the game? He was dinged up several times and looked like he had trouble making it to the end zone on his fabulous INT for a TD. Does Seymour really have any chance to play in the SB? What do you think our toughest challenge will be in beating the Eagles? I know it is supposed to be a blowout, but remember how our "blowout" of Carolina turned out!Debbie Notinger
Nashua, N.H.

I think Harrison is fine, well, as fine as any NFL player can be at this stage in the season. I'm sure he's banged up but I'd be shocked to see him unable to play come Sunday. As for Seymour, I think we'll learn more later in the week when we see if he's able to practice. My guess is that he'll suit and give it a go, although I'm not sure how effective he'll be. I agree about your assessment of the so-called "blowout." That's what everyone said last year and the Patriots won on the last play of the game. I think the biggest challenge against the Eagles will be for the offensive line – both in opening up the running game and in picking up the many Philadelphia blitzes. If the Pats O-line plays well, I believe they will win relatively easily.
Paul Perillo

My question has to do with coaching interviews. I know they were allowed during wild card week but are any allowed during the first Super Bowl week? Namely, can Romeo do more talking with the Cleveland management this week or is it still off-limits? Also, any word yet if Tedy Bruschi will be added to the Pro Bowl team as an injury replacement for Ray Lewis (who has a broken hand)?Evan Shu
Melrose, Mass.

Teams cannot talk to coaches during the first Super Bowl week. The only time a coach from a team that is still alive can speak is during the wild card week when Crennel interviewed with the Browns and 49ers. Other than that, it's off limits. As for Bruschi, I heard that's a distinct possibility. I haven't seen any offical word, but if Lewis doesn't go I would figure it would either be Tedy or San Diego's Donnie Edwards.
Paul Perillo

Thanks for the great column. It helps to keep us Pats fans abroad in the family. My question is what are the rules for qualifying for a Super Bowl ring. If the Pats went on to win would Poteat get one even though he's only played a couple of games? What about the players who have gone on IR or have been cut through the season? Does Troy Brown qualify for two as he plays on both side of the ball!Ray Towey

Generally, anyone who finishes the year with the team, whether it's on the active roster, practice squad or injured reserve, usually gets a ring. It's pretty much up to the team's discretion. I'd assume Poteat will get a ring but someone like Antwan Harris, who was here for two weeks but now gone, probably won't.
Paul Perillo

If T.O. does return do you see a significant change to in BB's and RC's defense? In the Colts game there wasn't a whole lost of special attention to Marvin Harrison. I am very confident in whatever's done but I feel that even if T.O. is back you won't see too much attention for he shouldn't be at 100 percent. What's your opinion on the matter?Brendan Hanna

I agree that whether or not TO plays doesn't really matter much. He won't likely be anywhere near full strength and will have a hard time making a big impact. But it TO plays the Patriots might pay a little extra attention to him. They didn't do that against the Colts because Indy has three guys that can hurt you while TO is really Philly's only big threat.
Paul Perillo

Despite the whole salary cap thing, do you think that Law will re-sign with NE even on the predication that he might have to convert to safety? I think Law, despite his need to feed his family, knows his best chance at Canton is with Belichick by his side. And speaking of that, do you think that everyone this year, although unspoken, is playing for the whole Patriots legacy right now? I won't even start a pre-cap/post-cap debate, but if they can do it again, the achievement will be pretty undeniable.David Issacson

I don't think Law will re-sign if he's asked to move to safety, nor do I think Law should be asked to move to safety. He was playing very well again at corner before he broke his foot. There's no reason to think he can't play well at that spot in the future. He's going to turn 31 in a week or so, not 41. As for where he'll play next season, that's tougher to say. Right now I think it will probably be elsewhere given his cap number, but the same could have been said last year. In terms of playing for a legacy, I'd say the players are definitely aware of it. But to say they're playing for it is a stretch. They play to win titles. If that makes them a dynasty or anything else, so be it.
Paul Perillo

When was the last time the Patriots beat the Green Bay Packers?Don Lewis

The Patriots last defeated Green Bay on Oct. 2, 1994, edging the Packers 17-16 at Foxboro Stadium. After Brett Favre led a late-game rally by Green Bay, Drew Bledsoe marched the Patriots 45 yards in the final minute before Matt Bahr booted a game-winning 33-yard field goal as time expired.
Paul Perillo

Two questions: 1) I have all the respect in the world that Romeo and Charlie have done as coordinators. They deserve to be head coached? But why doesn't Dante Scarnecchia get the same respect? Here is a guy who has taken a line consisting mostly of UFA's and late round picks and molded them into a great group. Can you give me your take on why Dante doesn't light the fire of another organization enough to become a head coach? 2) Is there ever a freeze on when people can sign players off your practice squad?Scott Houde

I think Dante gets loads of respect around football. Belichick talks about him in glowing terms quite often. While I haven't spoken to Dante about this specifically, I don't believe he's interested in becoming a coordinator and maybe that's why his name doesn't get brought up much for openings. He does a great job as a position coach and Belichick relies on him heavily. As for the practice squad, during the season there is no freeze on when players can and can't be signed. If the Patriots want to sign a 53rd player for the Super Bowl they could look to another team's practice squad for a candidate if they wished.
Paul Perillo

With Romeo still being under contract what compensation will Cleveland have to give New England?
Steven Mckeigan

Since Crennel is getting a promotion from Cleveland, the Patriots are not entitled to any compensation from the Browns.
Paul Perillo

With the Pats having become a power running and downfield play-action oriented offense, does that increase Rohan Davey's chances of becoming a suitable backup to Brady? 2. What is Tyrone Poole's contract situation for next year? 3. Tell me what you think about this statement. Especially if Law does not return next year, the Patriots No. 1 priority in the draft will be getting a safety in the first round, not a CB. I understand there are a few good ones available and safeties USUALLY aren't drafted until after the 20th pick. That would allow him to learn from Harrison for a few years before taking over for him and Wilson's eventual switch back to CB would provide quality depth and flexibility, both on the field and in the depth chart. AND safeties are more cap-friendly than CBs. Just seems like a Belichick move to me.Joel Lindgren

Lot's to chew one there, Joe. First, the only thing that will make Davey more suitable as Brady's backup will be his performance. If Davey plays well, regardless of the system he's playing in, he'll stick around. Otherwise, Belichick will look for a replacement. In my opinion, Davey hasn't demonstrated that he can throw the ball accurately enough on a consistent basis to run any system. It's not like the Patriots only need Brady to hit the long passes now that Dillon is here. The quarterback needs to be efficient and Davey hasn't been during his preseason stints. We'll see how that develops in the future.

Second, Poole's contract has two years remaining. He's set to earn $1.5 million in base salary per season in 2005 and 2006. Given the success of Asante Samuel and Randall Gay, perhaps Belichick will let Poole go and give the starting job to one of the youngsters. But that's pure speculation.

Finally, I disagree about your draft plans. Corners are much tougher to come by than safeties. That's why corners cost more on the cap. Belichick will take whichever players he feels offer the best value, but if given his choice, I'd assume he'd take a corner over a safety early in the draft. Plus, don't forget about rookie Guss Scott, who was lost for the year during training camp. He should give the team another option at safety next season.
Paul Perillo

You guys on the broadcast have not learned a thing about this team... YOU SAY WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO GLOAT-- THE PATRIOTS DON'T GLOAT, they keep their eye on the next game... one game at a time... if they win it all, THEN the gloating can start... One of the biggest reasons this team is successful is because they stay focused, UNLIKE you guys.Ken Jones

First of all, we don't play so we don't need to be focused. Second, if you think the Patriots themselves don't gloat, then you must not listen to many of the quotes coming out of the locker room. Bruschi making fun of the Colts after the game was certainly gloating, and there was another game to be played just a week later. Harrison mocking Freddie Mitchell was another example. The Patriots are grown men and they can do and say whatever they want. None of that has any impact on the field come Sunday. Like Belichick says, the team that will win will be the one that executes better come Sunday.
Paul Perillo

In the papers it was said Harrison's interception was a record for the distance. Is this a playoff record or are the regular season records kept separate? Bob Sousa returned one at Fenway Park for 104 yards.
Don Kierce

Harrison's record did indeed break a Patriots postseason record, which was previously held by Ty Law for his 47-yard return in the Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams. The regular season record, according to the Pats media guide, is held by Jimmy Hitchcock, who returned one 100 yards against Miami in 1997. In fact, no one named Bob Sousa ever played for the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

The Pats have 11 players on IR. Any besides Law, Poole and Watson that in your esteemed wisdom have a chance of making the 53-man roster next year? Also, what happened to Dana Stubblefield? He was put on the IR in August if I recall, but has not been listed on that report for some time. And is Tully Banta-Cain hurt? I haven't seen him in the playoff games. Seems Colvin has now become the No. 1 linebacker sub.Otis Hill

In addition to the three you mentioned, I think Guss Scott will surely be back next year among those currently on IR. Tom Ashworth also should return, along with Rodney Bailey and Dan Klecko. Dana Stubblefield agreed to an injury settlement with the Patriots so he no longer is officially on IR with the team and is not part of the club in any way. Colvin definitely remains the top sub at outside LB, as he has been all season. Banta-Cain plays mostly on special teams while getting a few chances here and there on defense.
Paul Perillo

With all the offseason attention on the CB and LB positions, I was wondering what changes might happen with the Patriots stable of running backs before next season. Obviously Corey Dillon will be back as the starter, but how many of the supporting crew (Faulk, Pass, Abdullah, et al.) do you think will be back for next season? Are they under contract? Faulk has done very well this year, but he's had butterfingers often enough in the past that I wouldn't be totally surprised if he's replaced.Andrew G.
Lancaster, Pa.

I personally would be shocked if Faulk wasn't back. He's an integral part of the team's offense and does so many different things well it's hard to justify getting rid of him. And fumbling hasn't really been a major problem for him in a couple of years. Plus his contract runs through the 2009 season. I think Pass and Cobbs also will be back while Abdullah will likely be let go.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that the pats will go after a quarterback in the draft and/or trade for one during the offseason? If they do go after one in the draft, who do you think they have a chance at? If they go after a free agent or try and trade for one, who do you think they would go after. Cause they obviously need a (couple of) new backup(s) for Brady. Do you agree/disagree?Brian Beauparlant

I don't think they'll draft a quarterback but it's certainly a possibility in the later rounds. They've already signed a free agent – former Raven Chris Redman – who will be in camp battling for the backup job with Davey next summer. If Redman is recovered from his shoulder surgery, I'd expect him to beat out Davey as the top backup and then I don't see the position as one of need at all. If Redman can't do that, then I'd like to see Belichick look for someone better than Davey.
Paul Perillo

In the colts game a couple weeks ago, Corey Dillon dived with the ball for the goal line and appeared to cross the outside of it. I thought I heard once on a Monday night game that the goal line runs continuous and as long as the ball crosses this imaginary line it is considered a touchdown. What are the rules on this?Sparky

Sparky? As in Anderson? What kind of name is Sparky? Anyway, that play with Dillon should have been ruled a touchdown. The official said Dillon stepped out of bounds before he made his dive, which was not the case. He crossed the goal line at the pylon before landing out of bounds, which should have given him the TD. If he had crossed outside the pylon, however, it would not have been a touchdown because he would have been ruled out of bounds. According to the rule book, the ball has to touch or cross the goal line in order for a play to be ruled a touchdown.
Paul Perillo

I have never played organized football so this might be an easy answer to those that have but how does a situational player know when it's time for him to go in for a certain play? How does Russ Hochstein know to go in for 1 play when he is sitting at the end of the bench?Scott Enright

It's really pretty simple, Scott. If a guy is a situational player, then he knows which situations he might be used in. Hochstein served as an extra tight end in running situations last week. So on a third-and-one, Hochstein knows he better be ready to go in the game. Same for every other player, really. You have to be aware of the situation at all times.
Paul Perillo

Not to disrespect Kevin Kasper but I was wondering why the Bill & Co. didn't re-sign J.J. Stokes when they were looking for another receiver? He knew the system and by all reports had a good training camp.Brian Love
Quispamsis, New Brunswick

My guess would be they really weren't looking for just a receiver when they signed Kasper. They wanted a guy who could return kicks, play of special teams and play receiver. Stokes can't do those things, and truth be told he never really did much as a receiver, either. I think Kasper is the more versatile player, and we all know Belichick's looks for that from the bottom half of the roster.
Paul Perillo

Why is it that it seems we're reading more and more about how individual players from Philly are very dangerous? They were 13 and what? It would be good to report, and make the other team (Philly) feel nervous too, the challenge Philly has in just controlling the game never-mind trying to even score. I think there is a linebacker on the Philly team waiting for Brady. (I'm a dummy, but I think Graham "cracker" will be prepared for that if the coach decides: IBWT). Thanks guys. I know the answer; we're all in the same boat.
Gary Andre

Wow. Not really sure how to respond to that one. First, Philly was indeed 13-3 (not 13 and what, as you said). A whole one game better than the 14-2 Patriots. Plus, the Eagles rested all of their starters and lost their last two games. So this is no pushover opponent. But more importantly, the local media already knows the Patriots and what they can do. What some people aren't as familiar with is the opponent. That's why every week the stories are all about players on the other team and how they can be effective. And I doubt that Philly would be shaking in their boots after reading a newspaper story about the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

USA pro-football salaries website shows that Brandon Gorin got a $6,000,000.00 signing bonus in 2003. Does not seem right, as he was not a starter for San Diego and a free agent, practice squad. Did he get that bonus?
Paul Donoghue

Gorin didn't actually receive that bonus. It was more of a loophole incentive the Patriots used in order to better handle their salary cap situation at the time. To be honest, I don't know of all the details but I can assure you that Gorin did not get $6 million to spend the year on the practice squad.
Paul Perillo

I am die-hard fan and have been for some time, trying to get a copy of the proposed logo the Patriots once tried to get the fans to support at a halftime of one of their games in the early 80s - are you aware of this and know what logo looks like? I was watching the game as a little kid and remember it being kind of close to their current design. Even a description would be great - I have been to many websites and emailed some 'experts' and they would love a copy or a photo if it existed. If you can help that would be great.
Dave Bergeron
Cambridge, Mass.

I do remember the game you're talking about when fans voted on whether or not to change logos … and I remember them being rather similar. The game took place on Sept. 23, 1979, in a 27-21 win over San Diego. At halftime, they made the announcement of the contest and had the logos painted on the Schaefer Stadium turf and the crowd applause was to select the winner. The old Pat Patriot was an overwhelming winner – in fact the crowd started yelling "we want the old one" when it was time for those wanting the new one to cheer. Unfortunately, I have no idea where to go about getting photos of this, but I will keep checking and update you if I find out anything.
Paul Perillo

Prior to this team have any other teams won the Super Bowl – Boston teams – was the first Super Bowl for the current Patriots the first ever in franchise history? When did the franchise start and is this another Red Sox story and don't say 87 years. I was a long time Boston sports fan and I can't remember in the sixties if the patriots even had a team then. Help an old man remember.David Kendall

No problem, Dave. The Patriots have been in existence since 1960. They were known as the Boston Patriots until 1971 when they moved to Foxborough and became the New England Patriots. Their Super Bowl title in 2001 was the first ever for the franchise. No long suffering franchise history like the Red Sox, but still pretty good.
Paul Perillo

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