What is the probability, now that Jonas Gray is gone, that the Patriots pick up a RB like Montee Ball who would do well in a committee role and could be an early down back to cycle with Blount?
I actually do think that there is a good chance the Patriots might look at bringing in a veteran running back moving forward. After Week 1 veterans' salaries are no longer guaranteed, so commitments are less significant. I'm not sure that Ball is the guy, though. A name I've been keeping an eye on is former Giants and Colts back Ahmad Bradshaw. The veteran has had his injury issues the last couple years, but when healthy he seems like an interesting committee option as well. New England will get LeGarrette Blount back from suspension after Week 1, but I also doubt that the running back depth chart we see now will be the one that plays out the entire season. Keep an eye on a potential veteran addition as the team showed clear interest in that possibility when it reportedly contacted Fred Jackson after the veteran was cut in Buffalo.
Who is the starting RB for the season opener?
With Blount sidelined to a one-game league suspension, this is an interesting question. The most logical answer would seem to be veteran Brandon Bolden. The core special teams contributor has filled in as both a lead back and passing back at rare times in the past. He seems to be highly respected and trusted by both Tom Brady and the coaching staff. Though Bolden has only four career starts and never more than two in any of his three previous seasons, I think he could get the nod and have a significant role in the offense on opening night against the Steelers. Of course with the Patriots being a very game-plan team, there is a chance that one of the passing backs (James White, Dion Lewis or Travaris Cadet) could get the start in spread states. Still, even in that scenario, I see Bolden getting his share of touches in the battle with Pittsburgh.
Hey Gentlemen. Great job as always covering THE BEST team in the NFL. 1. I noticed that they are marking the 50-yard line with gold numerals this year. Why? It looks stupid. 2. Paul, Andy or Erik-What is your most memorable moment covering the Patriots?
The NFL is celebrating all year the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl that will occur this coming February in San Francisco. That's Super Bowl 50, not the traditional Super Bowl L. As part of that plan the league is painting all the midfield lines and the 50 markers gold to celebrate the golden anniversary of the biggest game in all of sports. It definitely looks a little different than what we are used to, but it "pops" on TV and doesn't really bother me. The league logo, or shield, as well as many other aspects of game presentation will be gold as well. Get used to it. As for my biggest memory, it would probably be Adam Vinatieri's kick in the snow to send the Snow Bowl game into overtime in January 2002. Of course I couldn't even really see the kick through the heavy snow, but the overall atmosphere and importance of that legendary play was pretty cool. There have been a lot of memorable moments – good and bad – along the way through the Bill Belichick era, but that kick will always stand out to me.
Hello, big fan of your show and Pats supporter from Germany, so excuse my bad English.
1) When players are listed on IR, if they get healthy while the season plays out are
they able to take part in team practice? Specifically thinking about TE AJ Derby, as I think he has a lot of potential, as he only played TE for one year in college. He might be the replacement of Scott Chandler once his contract expires.
2) Do you see the Patriots trade for any WR before the opener against PIT? Even though I don't see any other team ready to trade away a valuable WR. In this case, I really thought from last season, that the Pats would likely move TE Tim Wright back to WR. So I can still not understand cutting him.
If a player goes on injured reserve he cannot practice with the team, although he is allowed to attend meetings and those types of off-field learning opportunities. The player works to rehab physically while getting plenty of chances to mentally learn the playbook and the overall way things work with his team. That said, each team does now have one IR slot with a designation to return, meaning the player can come off of IR after eight weeks. While I was also surprised when the team cut ties with Wright, he's since been traded once again from the Bucs. He seems to have a hard time finding a home for his skills. I find that both interesting and somewhat confusing. The wide receiver depth chart is a bit thin in New England while the team waits for Brandon LaFell to return from PUP after six weeks, but I don't see a trade at this point, certainly not prior to Thursday's opener. Remember, the trio of passing backs, especially Cadet, can also help out at the receiver position. The roster isn't as stacked as some might prefer, but the overall group of offensive weapons and pass catchers is probably more than good enough for now.
You guys are the best, your roster projections were pretty darn good. My question relates to our offense as a whole for the season. Obviously everyone is concerned with LaFell on PUP and now Wayne is gone which basically leaves us with the mighty mouses (Jules and Dola')... Judging by the Jonas Gray cut, I would say our plan is to incorporate a lot of spread or even pony formations. Coupled with Gronk and Scott Chandler I can see mismatches everywhere; many passes probably won't travel past 7 yards except for down the seams. How do you guys see the offense shaping up since we kept 3 third down backs? It surely can't be for depth, which means we're planning to pass a lot, correct? Something slightly north of 60/40 is my guess...
What's your take with all those similar backs?
The Patriots have been a pass-first offense for the most part for the long time. The basic system has been virtually unchanged since 2000. Overall it's a game-plan system designed to target weaknesses of a defense and maximize matchup advantages. So I think the Patriots will continue to pass a lot and pass early. That may include some new looks based on the depth at passing back and changes elsewhere on the offensive depth chart. Maybe Cadet is more a receiver than a running back, spending time on the field with the likes of White and Lewis. There are a lot of options and potential personnel packages at Josh McDaniels' disposal. It will be fun to watch how he puts it all together with a new twist, much the way it has been historically through various other personnel changes over the years.
Do you guys have the opportunity to interview Bill Belichick? All interviews I have ever watched with leave me laughing and wondering at what point if some reporters will just give up. Given you guys are the favorite Patriots analysts along with Mike Reiss does he afford you all better answers? If so, who has managed to get a straight answer from him and so do you keep a running score as to who has gotten the most?
We are at every press conference that Belichick gives, which for the most part makes up the bulk of all interviews that the coach does. Sure they can be frustrating at times. The media is looking to collect information and Belichick isn't looking to give much up. But you have to make the most of it. We also get chances in other situations to talk to the coach. That could be a one-on-one interview outside the press conference setting. It might also be in what are called TV production meetings before a preseason broadcast. Belichick can be much more informative and have a different tone in such situations. We do often take note of who from the PFW staff gets the best answers out of Belichick. That's usually me.
Please explain how Injured Reserve and PUP works. Is there a maximum number of players allowed on each? Do they collect their contracted $$? Is there a time limit on IR/PUP? Are those players entitled to a championship ring? Who decides if that player meets the threshold of injury? What is the difference between IR and PUP? Love your publication. Thank you.
There is no limit on either IR or PUP, although both lists include players that are paid and count towards a team's salary cap. So the only real limitation is the team's financial situation. Players on IR/PUP are generally given championship rings, although that's up to the team's discretion. Injury situations are handled by the team doctor and medical staff. The difference between IR and PUP is that a player must fail his physical at the start of training camp in order to be eligible for PUP and cannot practice from that point forward, although a player can return from PUP after six weeks. IR players can be hurt at any time, but once on the list they are not eligible to return. The lone exception to that is a single IR slot with a designation to return after eight weeks.
Wes Welker needs to come back, let Edelman heal for 6 to 8 games. Edelman going into the playoffs healthy makes sense. Let Harper return punts and kickoffs. Would love to have Wes in the slot, Gronk at TE and Randy Moss wide out. That would challenge any defense. Both Randy and Wes had Josh as off coord. Brady could benefit by those 2 on a 1-yr. contract.
If the year was 2007 or 2008 or even 2009 I might agree with your plan. Otherwise, I think it's living in the past and not a legitimate option. Moss was done a few years ago and has been out of the game. Welker is damaged goods with his long concussion history and would replicate the skills that Edelman and Amendola bring to the table. Welker is out of the game right now for a reason, as teams clearly fear his healthy status and don't think he's a viable guy to turn to. Harper may get his chances in the return game, but Edelman should be good to go on opening night and, at this point, is a better option for Brady than Welker. Moss and Welker were great to watch once upon a time and put up huge production. But that was then and this is now.
Hey Fellas: Thanks for continuing to give us Pats fans something interesting to read every week. My question is about the CB position and specifically the decision to cut Dax Swanson and hold on to Logan Ryan. I thought Swanson showed up really well in what I believe was the 3rd preseason game in the 2nd half. He was targeted on a few downfield passes and competed very well on them - I believe two pass breakups. Watching the Patriots in the last few years, I have felt that defending the deep pass was one of their biggest liabilities. For example, in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl (with their best defense in years) neither Logan Ryan nor Kyle Arrington could compete on Russell Wilson's deep throws, and it was only when Malcolm Butler was on the field that some of those passes were shut down (Kearse's fluke catch excepted). For that reason, I was sad to see Swanson cut.
With respect to Ryan, I thought he was great in his rookie year, but since then he seems to be following the young cornerback curse of the Patriots, which afflicted Darius Butler and Devin McCourty after solid (or better) 1st years with the team at the position. To me, Ryan didn't seem to play very well in the preseason, even in the 2nd halves of games against the other teams' backups. Is there something I am missing, where he is actually much better than I think, or do you think this is BB wanting to give a high draft pick one more year to grow into something, before cutting bait?
I am not the biggest fan of Ryan's abilities. I never have been. I thought people overrated his rookie season because he simply caught the ball that was thrown right to him. I thought he was targeted by opposing passers last year and again this summer. That said, Swanson is pretty unproven himself. He's shown a feisty, competitive streak the last two summers. He did make a few plays this preseason against lesser competition, but I'm not sure he's the answer any more than Ryan is. I think the Patriots secondary will live and die this season at cornerback primarily with Malcolm Butler, Tarell Brown and Bradley Fletcher. The more Ryan plays the more I think it will be a bad sign for the others. As for why he is still around, I think it's a case of his youth, lack of depth elsewhere and a last chance to see what he can do. If his production doesn't start trending in the other direction, though, he may not be around too long.
Hello Patriot Nation. People are projecting a prolific Patriot offense that will score a lot of points to compensate for questionable defensive secondary. But am I the only one looking objectively and realistically at the offense? Our running back committee looks weak other than an above average back in Blount. With Lafell going on PUP list our receiving corps looks very poor, maybe it will get better once Edelman recovers but still, what receiver on our roster is going to scare other teams? Gronk is our only legit weapon and then there is NOBODY else. Couple this with weak offensive line and I don't care how bad Brady wants to seek revenge on the NFL for Deflategate, he just doesn't have the weapons around him to unleash his venom. How did BB and player personnel management allow this to happen? Our WRs and offensive talent looks as bad as it did in 2006 with Gabriel and Caldwell.
Hello Negative Jeff! This is the most pessimistic look at the offense that I've seen in a long time. Comparing Gronk, Edelman and Co. to the 2006 is borderline laughable. There may be some growing pains early on and the interior offensive line uncertainty is a concern. The Patriots have one of the best quarterbacks in the game, the best tight end in football and a 100-catch-type receiver. The line includes two very good tackles. That's a lot more than most teams have to work with and a good start to a very productive offense. Chances are one of the running backs takes the opportunity with the passing back role and runs with it. The offensive line will likely come together at some point to be good enough. Mix in the complementary contributions of Amendola and Scott Chandler with the eventual return of LaFell and I think the predictions of a potentially potent offense are right on the mark.
Hi there, loyal follower of Ask PFW from The Netherlands and I've got the following question: what about signing Henry Hynoski? To me he's pretty much like Develin who we recently lost to injury and seems to be an upgrade over former Patriot Eric Kettani. Although FB is not a pivotal position in today's NFL game, Develin has shown that the FB position can be an important factor on quite a few plays for the Patriots. Next to the fact that I love seeing FBs demolish defenders, I would also hate to lose the options an FB gives Brady´s offense. Thanks for all your insights and keep up the good work!
I'm not sure Hynoski is in the Patriots plans. I certainly think he's a better option than Kettani, but I don't think the former Navy back was ever really an option. Develin's value was as much in his special teams contributions and off-field leadership as it was on the offense. Hard to fill that void with a newcomer off the scrap heap. There have been reports that the team is considering adding rookie former Bucs seventh-round pick Joey Iosefa. More likely, at this point, is that Develin's role in the offense gets filled out in some combination of players, including tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. I love Develin's play and role as much as anyone, but I'm not sure it's enough to go out and bring in another fullback to fill the physical void on the depth chart.
In your opinion, do you think that Kraft will go to court in order to get his million dollars back, and also the first-round draft pick and the one in the 4th round?? I mention this because a Judge has already ruled that the NFL messed up. I would think it might be worth the try.
Any chance, in light of the reversal of Tom Brady's suspension - that the Patriots now contest their fine and the loss of the first round pick?
My feeling is that it's doubtful the team will pursue its money and draft picks, as at this point that would require a lawsuit against the NFL. That seems unlikely but not impossible. But don't take my word for it, here's what Jonathan Kraft had to say on 98.5 the Sports Hub prior to New England's final preseason game about possibly going after what was lost in what was now an even more questionable punishment: "I would never say never to anything, but as we sit here today, it's not our intention and we're really excited to get going with this season. That's the way I would answer that."