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Ask PFW: Galloway stuggles

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Patriots wide receiver Joey Galloway.

The disconnect between Brady and Galloway is becoming more disappointing each week. I realize it will take Tom some time to return to '07 form; so not all of the blame can be put on Galloway. If you've got a very good QB and a poor WR, I think it's reasonable to think you'll have issues. If you have a very good WR and a poor QB, you will have issues. When you have a very good QB and a very good WR, it seems to me that things should be clicking for both of them by now after having gone through mini-camps, training camp, preseason and now three weeks of practices in the regular season. Is Galloway just not picking up the playbook? Is he just not comfortable with Tom? They're clearly not on the same page and however the media wants to spin it Tom was clearly frustrated with Galloway on Sunday. What are your thoughts on this issue?
Shane Holmes

What would the salary cap implications be if we cut an obvious bust in Joey Galloway who is just not getting the job done? Would it be a steep hit? With the open roster spot we could bring Terrence Nunn in to replace him. Also is there room to bring in an experienced player like Willie McGinest/Junior Seau/Derrick Brooks to help out? Hopefully we can salvage the season and perhaps get a wild card spot in the playoffs. I doubt now we will win the division.
Bob Stuart

Well aren't you just full of all hope and cheer, Bob. Somehow a 2-1 record with 13 games to go eliminates the Patriots from division title contention. Wow, that's something. Anyway, Galloway will earn just under $1.8 million in 2009 and as a vested veteran who was on the active roster to start the season his salary is now guaranteed. So, it would cost the Patriots about $1.8 million against the cap if they let him go. Nunn would be an option for a promotion but as a rookie who was out of football last year I'm not sure what could be reasonably expected of him. I was a huge Nunn fan during camp but most of his work in the preseason came in the second half with less-than-NFL-caliber personnel on the field. I'm not sure how he's developing in terms of knowing the offense in his time on the practice squad but I wouldn't think Nunn is capable of offering much to the offense at the current time. As for the linebackers – put me in the it's-time-to-move-on camp. Those three players all enjoyed terrific NFL careers but I'd rather continue developing young players with the hope of having a solid unit by season's end. The results haven't been too bad so far and that's with Jerod Mayo out. But the Patriots have the cap space to make such a move.
Paul Perillo

Do you think we'll start to see a youth movement on offense over the course of the next couple of games (i.e. Sebastian Vollmer, Julian Edelman, Terrence Nunn, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and others) the way Bill Belichick has gone with the defense in the offseason?Josh (Not McDaniels) in Denver

Are you sure you're not Josh McDaniels? Only the Broncos coach would want to see these untested players out there instead of the proven talent that has produced for the Patriots offense in recent years. Vollmer is a fine prospect and he's getting some reps as an extra tight end and tackle at times, but he's not currently better than Matt Light or Nick Kaczur. He may be by season's end, but not yet. Edelman will likely keep getting time in the slot as long as Wes Welker remains out, but the rookie is having a hard time being where he's supposed to be, which seems to be a problem for a lot of the receivers right now. The running game was outstanding with Fred Taylor against Atlanta so I don't see any pressing need for Green-Ellis. I just don't see these kinds of drastic measures being necessary on offense. Once Tom Brady gets back in the groove, the offense will not be a problem.
Paul Perillo

Why doesn't Bill get the fact that we can't put Tom back there in the shotgun formation 80 percent of the time and not get him injured? We need to get Tom back under center and give the ball to the running backs at least 50 percent of the time. This will open up play-action passing and keep the defense playing honest. Otherwise all the defenses they will face are just going to pin their ears back and play kill the quarterback. When the defenses do not have to honor the run Tom is going to have trouble. Bill, help Tom and RUN THE BALL!
Ed DiBiase

I think the first two game were more unbalanced than I would like, but I don't agree as a whole that the Patriots need to run the ball to keep defenses honest. Brady operates at a very high level out of the shotgun and he's most comfortable with that. I don't want to run as infrequently as they did in the first two games, but 50-50 balance isn't the answer either. This is a passing team and that's how most of the good teams in the NFL operate these days. The Patriots threw the ball all over the place in 2007 and Brady did not get injured. He threw it 11 times against Kansas City and was knocked out for the season. That's the way it goes sometimes in the NFL – players get injured. You can't alter your game plan to try to protect the players at the expense of moving the ball and putting points on the board. The Patriots are a passing team and will continue to be as long as Brady is here. Mix in the run once in a while but I have no problem with a 60-40 or 65-35 pass-run ratio as long as Brady is healthy.
Paul Perillo

I would like to see a package of plays that put both Edelman and Welker on the field at the same time (with Moss). I don't love the Smurf concept but I think their quickness could be a chain mover. Thoughts?
Tim Cullen

If the Patriots opt to use some four wide receiver sets once Welker is healthy then I could see that happening. Both Welker and Edelman are slot receivers while Moss and Galloway operate better on the outside. Welker is obviously one of the best in the business at finding cracks underneath but Edelman is still learning his routes and responsibilities. He could be valuable in a similar role with some more development and experience. But I could see your formation being put to use once with everyone available.
Paul Perillo

You mentioned that the Pats would wear throwback uniforms for all games vs. AFL teams. Why didn't they wear them vs. the Jets?
Yoni Monat

The Patriots are scheduled to wear the throwbacks four times this season: the opener against Buffalo obviously, at Denver Oct. 11, at home against Tennessee Oct. 18 and at Miami Dec. 6. Those are the only four scheduled as of now.
Paul Perillo

I heard that the Pats were going to be playing a game in England this year. I have looked at the website but can't find any information. Is this true and if so when?
Kim Rancourt

The Patriots will travel to London for an Oct. 25 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium. The game is listed on the schedule on Patriots.com.
Paul Perillo

I was really impressed with the win over Atlanta. A lot of people forgotten, because of 2007, that the Patriots always won games by playing balanced offence, controlling the clock and having a solid defense. It was reassuring to see them go back to that after a tough loss in New York. That aside, do you think the Patriots need to run the ball more in the red zone? We have thrown almost exclusively in the red zone this season and have struggled a lot.
Sam Frankel

Winter has arrived in Northern Canada but we are fine as the Patriots have just beaten Atlanta as hoped for. I am a first time participant in writing to your writers but am a daily viewer of patriots.com and reading "Ask PFW." I have two questions. What is wrong with the offense? They are marching the ball all over the field, but once they get inside the 20-yard line they are not getting it done. They appear to still have the game plan, and nobody yet has stopped them. I think they need to give the running game a chance to pound the ball in. And it was great to see some emotion from Brady after having some passes dropped. Also, when is the last time the Patriots have lost two games in a row? It has been a while. And when is the last time they have lost more than two games in a row?
Michael Jewis

The offense is still searching for some consistency, especially in the red zone, but as long as Brady is out there I would refrain from using the phrase, "What's wrong with the offense?" I do think it would be wise to run the ball a little more often in the red zone, particularly inside the 10. But again, Brady has made a career out of making good decisions and he's thrown a lot of touchdown passes from in close. It's just a matter of him getting on the same page with some of his new receivers. So far that has been a struggle as Galloway, Edelman and Sam Aiken don't seem to be where they need to be, and with Welker out the problems have been magnified. I think once everyone gets comfortable things will improve – there's too much talent on offense for the red zone struggles to continue. As for the back-to-back losses, you have to go back to 2006 when the Patriots lost to Indianapolis and the Jets – both at home – in Weeks 9 and 10. For more than two in row you have go all the way to 2002 when the Patriots lost four straight (after a 3-0 start) to San Diego, Miami, Green Bay and Denver, the latter two coming at Gillette Stadium.
Paul Perillo

I'm a transplanted Pats fan living in Bengal country, so you guys are kind of my lifeline out here. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. If you lived here, you'd know what I'm talking about. My question is why did we release Prescott Burgess? Are a few days of practice enough to know that a guy isn't worth it? We did give up a pick for him, so I was just wondering if you guys had some insight on this for me, because even though "In Bill We Trust" I'm kind of scratching my head.
Josh Cameron

The Patriots were looking for some linebacker depth and took a shot on a guy with some versatility to play inside and outside and showed the athleticism to play on special teams. I'm not sure they knew definitively what Burgess could or couldn't do when they let him go but they needed to make a move for a defensive lineman for depth in case Vince Wilfork is missing for any length of time. Burgess won't likely cost the team a draft pick since it was reportedly a conditional seventh-round selection and the conditions likely had to do with his playing time in New England. Burgess was brought in for insurance and the team no longer had the luxury of holding onto him. But I also wouldn't be surprised if he re-signed at some point if the need arises again.
Paul Perillo

Hi long time fan first time writer! I was wondering if you could give me some insight as to why we haven't seen the deep ball to Randy? The way the team has been starting the games running the ball I would think we'd see a few play action deep throws to Randy Moss but nothing, why does it seem like they're playing so conservative?
Jeff Weathermon

I really don't think the offense has been conservative at all. They threw the ball 142 times in three games – that's not a conservative approach. The problem has been the lack of receiving options for Brady. With Welker out the Patriots have needed Moss to make catches underneath to keep the chains moving, which has been the case despite the less-than-expected overall production. Moss has taken fewer deep shots than normal but if Welker were healthy and catching the short stuff I think Moss would have more opportunities to get downfield without having to worry about getting first downs. I would be surprised if Brady doesn't let a few fly to Randy against Baltimore.
Paul Perillo

While watching the effectiveness of the Pats O Line in running the ball I remembered a comment made during the 2007 season on "Total Access." They said that the Oline was more effective run blockers than pass blockers. Is there any truth to this?
Martyn Morris

I think most offensive linemen feel that way and certainly all would want the opportunity to run block over pass block every game. I don't necessarily believe the Patriots offensive line is better at run blocking than pass blocking, however. I think they do a solid job in both regards but their pass protection is more consistent in my opinion. Some of that is because of Brady and his innate ability to recognize the rush and get rid of the ball quickly, but I feel the pass protection has been better than the run blocking over the years since this group has been together.
Paul Perillo

OK, so from my perspective up in sec. 306 Brady seems to be getting back to form although slower than either he or the rest of us would like I'm sure. With that being said, you can't blame all of Galloway's miscues on him not knowing the system fully yet. Brady overthrew a few Sunday. My question is, do you think that part of BB's decision to keep Galloway over Greg Lewis was in part due to his veteran status and the salary implications that go with cutting him. If I'm not mistaken, he would have to have been paid if he was cut. Is that right? I thought that Lewis and Brady had developed some chemistry in the preseason and seeing him come in as a backup Sunday for the Vikings and making as spectacular TD catch from Brett Favre to win the game makes me think all the more that the wrong guy was sent packing.
Gary Abrams

Hey Guys - Quick Comment, Joey Galloway drops open passes ... Greg Lewis catches game winning TDs ... Discuss?
Graham Smith

In answering the first part of Gary's question, I feel after watching Brady all these years that when a pass is off target that generally it's because the receiver isn't where he's supposed to be. In the case of Galloway, the receiver himself has recognized the fact that he's having a hard time picking everything up so when Brady airmails him I'm assuming the receiver isn't where he's supposed to be. Now, as for keeping him over Lewis, Galloway could have just as easily been cut after camp. Galloway would have counted just $600,000 (his signing bonus) against the cap if he got axed before the season. Once the season starts and he's on the roster, then he would be entitled to his salary. Lewis would be in the same category although he was cheaper to cut since he was traded for and didn't have any signing bonus to pay. As for the whole Greg Lewis phenomenon, his game-winning 32-yard touchdown catch against San Francisco gave him season totals of one catch for 32 yards and a touchdown. He took part in four plays in the game and is the Vikings fifth receiver. He was not overly impressive in camp in New England and would not be a huge upgrade over Galloway. Would he help? Sure, but I don't think he would be the difference between red zone struggles and production reminiscent of 2007.
Paul Perillo

Good win on Sunday. I've never been pessimistic about this year's team, but I just read that we released Prescott Burgess. That's fine, but we traded a draft pick to get him. It seems like we have been throwing away draft picks recently by trading for a player and then releasing him shortly after, for example Greg Lewis and Alex Smith. Is this a sign of Belichick's staff scouting poorly or something else?
Nate D.

The trades have been somewhat disappointing but the Burgess deal does not fall into the same category. The two Lewises were targeted by the team and the fact they couldn't stick around, despite costing draft picks as compensation, was troubling. But neither was a disaster, either. They just got caught up in a numbers game and didn't make the cut. In the case of Greg Lewis, as many posters have mentioned, he probably could have helped. Burgess was a desperation fill in with Mayo out and the Patriots looking for bodies to fill in. He was traded for a conditional pick, as I mentioned above, and won't cost the team anything.
Paul Perillo

It appears that QB Jeff Garcia will become available soon. Do you think the Patriots will be interested in obtaining him as a backup?Jim Tully

As Belichick says, I wouldn't rule out. Garcia is a veteran who has experience playing in the West Coast offense. That's not the same as the Patriots attack, but given his resume and a month or so to work in this system I believe he could be counted on as a reliable backup should anything happen to Brady. Now that Garcia is available we'll have to wait and see.
Paul Perillo

My question is whether or not you think the special teams kick and coverage units are in fact a major concern right now, and if so, what particularly is going wrong? It just seems like our opponents consistently are getting decent returns on punts and kickoffs while we are often not even getting back to the 20-yard line on kickoff returns.
Andrew Gianelli

I do think it's an issue – on both sides. The kick coverage has been leaky at best while the return game, after one solid one by Laurence Maroney to open the season, has been ineffective. I'm not sure what the answer is in either case other than the simple fundamentals – the Patriots need to block and tackle better in order to improve. Other than that, I can't really give you any definite reasons for the early struggles in those departments.
*Paul Perillo
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