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Ask PFW: Heading for the home stretch I

I just read an article on the Sports Illustrated site listing Steve Grogan amongst the top 10 scrambling QB's of the modern era. I've been a huge Patriots fan since '85 and I have fond memories of his gutsy performance in SB XX, refusing to give up in the face of impossible odds and Da Bears infamous 46 D. Also I remember his good work during the '86 regular season replacing the injured Eason (given that we had just about the NFL's worst ever run offence that season, I don't think we would have won the division without him). But Steve Grogan as a scrambler? I must be too young to have appreciated Steve in his prime as his knees were shot when I saw him play. Can you guys and the rest of the Patriots nation give me your impressions/memories of Steve in his prime. I think he's due.
Richard Walker

All of your memories of Steve Grogan are true, Richard. Grogan was one of the toughest quarterbacks to ever play the game. But you definitely missed out on a very large part of his career if you don't recall him as one of the best scrambling quarterbacks ever. Grogan rushed for 12 TDs in 1976, which is still a record for quarterbacks (Kordell Stewart had 11 in 1997). Early in his career he routinely racked up 300-plus yards per season, and in 1978 he finished with 539 yards on the ground. Unfortunately all that running took its toll and Grogan's knees eventually turned him into a pocket passer later in his career.
Paul Perillo

I've read so much about Terrell Owens' great performance in the Super Bowl and how courageous he was coming back from injury. How much do you think T.O.'s performance was based upon the Pats game plan? The Pats admitted afterwards that they wanted to rush McNabb and contain him from running, and the pressure they put on him contributed to his subpar game. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that they had single coverage on the wideouts for a majority of the game. With that being said, isn't it fair to say that the Pats game plan helped contribute to T.O.'s personal success at the detriment of the Eagles' TEAM success (i.e. winning)? If the Pats had doubled up on T.O. the entire game, they would have almost surely held his stats down, but perhaps we would have a different outcome of the game. Your thoughts?
Ian Baxter

I can understand wanting to diminish the accomplishments of a loudmouth like TO, but do you really think it was part of the game plan to allow any of the Eagles wideouts to run free the way TO did? Belichick often says that it's never part of the game plan to allow a player to run virtually uncovered. While I agree with your sentiment about containing McNabb in the pocket, I totally disagree with the premise that TO's strong game was by design. And just how exactly did TO negatively impact his team's chances of winning by catching nine passes for 122 yards? That's like saying Brady hurts the team by completing too many passes.
Paul Perillo

The recent news of Mo Lewis retiring brings up an interesting question in my head. If Mo never laid that wicked pop on former Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe, would we be talking Patriots Dynasty and 3 Super Bowl titles right now?
Rian Bednarz

I just saw in the news that Mo Lewis was re-signed by the Jets so that he could retire as a Jet. This reminded me of a topic I've thought about for a long time and would like to raise here: Since Bob Kraft is busy handing out Super Bowl rings (as he did with Putin recently), I say that Mr. Kraft should also give a Super Bowl ring to Mo Lewis (2001 vintage). The reason? Without Mo Lewis smashing Drew Bledsoe back at the beginning of the 2001 season, the Brady era would not have begun and where would we be now? So, whether or not Mo gets a ring, I must at least extend my thanks to him for what he has done for the Pats (sorry Drew!), and I wish him all the best for a relaxing and enjoyable retirement.
Craig First

You never know, guys, we may be talking about a Patriots dynasty with four straight Super Bowl titles right now. But thanks for the classy submissions.
Paul Perillo

Can you please help me with this question? Did and when did Derrick Cullors play for the New England Patriots?
Donna Nile

Cullors played running back for the Patriots from 1997-99. He was used mostly as a special teams player and had some success returning kicks. He played in 31 games for the Patriots and currently ranks 11th in team history in kick return yardage.
Paul Perillo

I understand why everyone is frustrated with the Seymour situation, but this is getting ridiculous. I heard one person suggest that Richard Seymour be traded for a second-round pick. First of all, that's the most ignorant statement I've ever heard, since Seymour should be traded for no less than a high first-round pick. Second of all, we don't even know if he will hold out training camp, if he's not, I'd prefer to have him for the season, NOR do we know if he and the Patriots might be on the negotiating table. Third of all, trading him for a draft pick now would be foolish. If you're going to trade away the best DL in football, you better know EXACTLY what you're getting in return. In other words, we wait until the season is over before we even begin to discuss trade possibilities. Seymour will have one year left on his contract, we'll know exactly where everyone is picking in the draft, and we'll know more about any possible attempts to sign him long term. If he can't be had long term, a trade AFTER the season for a HIGH first-round pick (and probably more) sounds plausible... Thoughts?
Brian J

I certainly like your plan, Brian, but what if no one wants to give the Patriots a high first-round pick for a guy who's disgruntled about his contract? And what if Seymour does decide to holdout once training camp begins? Wouldn't it be better to get something for him rather than have him wasting away? The fact is it's impossible to predict where this situation is going to lead. There really aren't any right and wrong ways of handling a possible holdout. My guess is the Patriots will ultimately win in this case because Seymour doesn't really have any leverage. He can hold out, but that won't get him anywhere if the Patriots decide to hold onto his rights. If there was some way for the Patriots to know for certain what Seymour was planning to do, then it would be easier to act accordingly. But since that's nearly impossible, they need to keep all their options open – including trading Seymour.
Paul Perillo

I have two questions for you guys: I just watched the tickets remaining for preseason games and it's easy to get tickets, I would like to know if the Patriots organization have an idea to play a preseason game in Canada one day, we have big stadium as the Rogers Centre in Toronto and Olympic Stadium in Montreal. I know it happened few years ago for a preseason game between the Bills and Packers in Toronto. Can it happen again with the Pats?Dave Labrie

I haven't heard anything about a possible Patriots preseason game in Canada in the near future. They did play a preseason game in Toronto against Cleveland in 1993 and another in Montreal against Pittsburgh in 1990. No word on any potential return dates to Canada but we'll keep you posted if we hear anything.
Paul Perillo

Although I agree with David Drew's "Top 10 Moments" in recent Patriots playoff history, there is one moment that HAS to be on the list. All Patriot fans who were watching will recall their heart sinking, followed by a slight uplift, and then glee after this play. All Oakland fans still say it was the key play in the game. I'm of course talking about the "Tuck Rule" play in the Oakland game. Without that play the game was probably lost. And for all the reasons that David mentioned in his No. 1 moment, this play has to be near the top of the list. Admittedly, is was not a "great" or even "good" play, but it's outcome was key to the rest of Patriots history.
Ken Charles

I too wanted to commend David Drew on his top 10 playoff moments in Patriots history. Reading and re-living those moments were almost as enjoyable as watching "Three Games To Glory Parts I-III" for the umpteenth time. However, David left out possibly the MOST critical play in our run to glory. One that quite possibly would have changed Patriots history since it occurred. The 2001 "Tuck Rule" play and subsequent officials' call sent this franchise on the path to three championships. If that play is ruled a fumble, the Pats lose that game and history is changed forever. The anticipation of that call by the officials alone has to make that play one of the most important in franchise history. PS: I have a Pats player update for you. Former Pats TE Lin Dawson now works (as I do) at Virginia Commonwealth University as our new Associate Athletic Director. I e-mailed him and introduced myself as a former Bedford, Mass., resident and 30-year Pats fan. He replied to my e-mail and we had lunch earlier this week and reminisced about the 80s-90s Pats and the '86 Super Bowl that he played in (albeit briefly). The 1985 team's wild card playoff run is still one of the greatest accomplishments in NFL history. Lin is a great guy and it was an honor to meet him. He is still very much a Patriot and is very proud of the team's recent accomplishments.Franklin Wallace
Richmond, Va.

David's list prompted a few responses with mostly favorable reviews. I like your addition to the list as the Tuck Rule's importance simply cannot be overstated. Obviously, at the very minimum, we'd be talking about one less Super Bowl title had the play not been overturned by replay. And thanks for the update on Lin Dawson … glad to hear he's doing well and keeping tabs on his former club.
Paul Perillo

Do you see any increased role for Dexter Reid this season? Has PFW interviewed him this offseason to gauge what he learned in his first season?Ryan

In terms of defense, I don't really see Reid as a key figure in the secondary. Personally I think he'll have his hands full just making the roster for a second season, but that's strictly my opinion and it's not based on anything any members of the coaching staff have told me. Reid appeared to be a promising special teams player at times as a rookie and perhaps he can carve out a role in that department once again in 2005. But as a safety I wasn't overly impressed with his play. We'll see how he fares in that key Year 1-2 jump that so many other Patriots youngsters have made in the past.
Paul Perillo

Brady had two years left on his contract, same as Seymour, and Brady got the deal Seymour may have to wait. And that is how it should be. I don't really care if Richard is the best defensive player in the league. Here is some reasoning for my thought process. Brady has the ball in his hands 100 percent of the plays. The most compelling stat when compared to wins and losses is his turnover ratio and how the team capitalizes on it. How many of the Pats defensive turnovers were run in for a touchdown by another defensive player, a small percent. Brady is the sole commander of everything offensively that is going on on the field during the course of the game. If he were to consistently make a mistake it would spell disaster for the team. Now to Seymour, no doubt pound for pound the best defensive lineman in the game but on the defensive side he is, no pun intended, a small cog in what it takes to correctly operate a strong defense. The defensive side relies more on groups working together than on one single person. Granted that Seymour does command a double team almost all the time, which helps eat up blockers so the linebackers can make the plays. His defensive line is simply 1/3 of the overall defensive scheme. What would you rather have Seymour miss a tackle or Brady fumble the snap?
James Joseph

Call me crazy but I don't want to see too much of either. What good would it do if Brady handled all the snaps from center but Seymour and his defensive mates missed a ton of tackles? The answer can be found throughout the 2002 season, when Brady enjoyed an outstanding year personally but the defense couldn't stop anyone from running the ball. The result was a 9-7 (and fortunate to be that good), non-playoff finish. I understand your point about the quarterback being the most important play on the field and I agree with that. If for no other reason it makes the decision to extend Brady a wise one. Whether that ultimately costs the Patriots Seymour is unknown, but the team had little choice. If it was a choice between the two, any team is going top choose the quarterback.
Paul Perillo

I cannot find any information on training camp and Patriots experience. My kids loved it last year and want to go again. How can I get your schedule of events?
Bill Morrill

Patriots training camp will once again be held at Gillette Stadium this summer with the first practice open to the public schedules for July 29. Check with Patriots.com daily for the latest updates regarding practice times, Patriots Experience and other events being held at the stadium. There is a tentative list of Patriots Experience times and dates on the website now.
Paul Perillo

I read in the Globe (of 7/3) that Seymour is scheduled to make $2.8 million for 2005, yet I seem to recall that if you add in his considerable escalators and prorated rookie signing bonus he will earn close to $5 million in 2005 and over $6 million in 2006. Doesn't this put him in the top 5 for DL? What are the facts of Seymour's rookie contract that make him feel so underpaid and what do the top 5 DL now make? Also, An article in USA Today (dated 6/25/05 and referred in the News Blitz of 6/30) left me somewhat confused … "Linebackers Monty Beisel, 26, and Chad Brown, 34, signed for two years, but both received signing bonuses of less than $500,000 while cornerback Duane Starks, 31, had two years left on his contract when the Pats traded for him. He is still on the books for more than $3 million in bonus money." My understanding is that any signing bonuses would be on the prior team's books, not the Patriots. But would the Pats be hit on the cap for any annual and incentive bonuses on his inherited contract (or a an existing contract for any player obtained in a trade).
Otis Hill

The $2.87 million Seymour is set to earn in 2005 includes the "considerable" escalators you referred to. Otherwise his base pay would be just over a million. He doesn't earn any prorated portion of his signing bonus – the prorated portion only counts against the cap to allow the team to save space each year. Even if he is able to earn most of the $6.8 million escalators (which is unlikely since he earned only about half of the escalators from his first four years despite going to three Pro Bowls and being named All-Pro twice) he has remaining on his deal he would wind up somewhere in the six-year, $20-$22 million range for his rookie deal. That would not put him among the top 10 defensive linemen. The current franchise and transition numbers for defensive tackles are $5.134 million and $4.436 million, respectively. Seymour's numbers fall well below those marks. As for Starks, any signing bonus he received from Arizona would go on the Cardinals books. But if he had an option bonus that was due to be picked up in the future, that would become the Patriots responsibility. I do not have any information on Starks' current deal, although he did mention that we reworked his contract with the Patriots at the time of the trade. I can't say for sure whether the information in the piece you're referring to was accurate or not but it seems to make sense.
Paul Perillo

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