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Ask PFW: How's your glass?

Whew, close game against the fish. Good to get a win in a tough environ. I am perturbed that the game ratings and press reviews seem so negative. We do not have the team to have seemingly guaranteed wins every week (in large part due to health) and must battle every opponent. It does seem to me that we are moving in a progressive direction. Ellis Hobbs looks to have great potential and I am excited about getting 54 back up to mid season form. I have been concerned to see Willie McGinest look a step slow (just over the past two weeks) and want to know if Corey Dillon is going to come back and roll down the stretch - what can you tell me? Also will Mike Cloud be able to perform like he did for us in spot duty several years ago as he did not look like gangbusters this weekend [in Miami] - will he start (I mean play the majority of the game) if Dillon can not go until he is 100%. Thanks and hey fans-keep the faith. P.S. Was the crowd nice and rowdy against the Colts because it looked like it on T.V. even under less than ideal circumstances. I know there had been some complaints about this.Chu

First off, I would just like to say what a great job you guys do keeping us all informed to the best of your ability. I'm a diehard Pats fan down in south Florida in hostile Miami territory. This is more a comment than question. I cannot believe what a bunch of naysayers so many of these fans are!!!! Oh boy, why are we losing. Get over it crybabies. Quite obviously our secondary and defense have been decimated with injuries. Why you keep writing and asking why we are giving up so many points is beyond me. Quite obviously you're not paying much attention. Also, how many times do these guys have to tell you they do not get any special info on injuries. When the player is ready Bill will let them back on the field. Secondly, there are a lot of games left. There is a great chance we will win the division. We could get several players back by playoff time and are still a force to be reckoned with!!! Just because Indy won one game doesn't mean we can't go all the way. We are the most resilient team in football and the world champs!!! Bill can still game plan to beat any team on any given day. Once the playoffs start it's anyone's game. So quit cryin' and get behind your team!!! Thanks again guys, keep up the good work and sorry about the venting.Greg Mulherin

Some may think I am the ultimate optimist, but I don't understand why everyone is so down about this season. Yes, the Patriots are no longer what they were over the last two seasons, but that isn't going to stop them from trying. If you look at the first eight games the teams they played had an outrageously high winning percentage. Now, their last eight, including last week's against Miami are pretty easy. There is no better eight game stretch to get young players adjusted to the league. If the rookies come in and gel against some easier foes there is no reason that the Patriots can't still contend with the likes of the Colts, period. Yes, it won't be as easy, but this is what makes the NFL so great. Anyone can win any week, just like the Dolphins last season on Monday night. The Patriots can definitely still beat the Colts in the playoffs.Tom McCugh

I hate to hear all the negativity by Pats fans regarding the Pats chances to once again win the Super Bowl. Although I believe it's their toughest challenge, you can't count them out. If we base everything on stats and polls, then we should just tell the Pats players not to dress and give the game up to forfeit. It only takes playing a good game to beat the best team regardless of what players are out there. I can't stand hearing fans saying the Pats will win the division but won't go deep into the playoffs. If they make the playoffs, it's a new season and everyone is 0-0. We know through experience that once the Pats reach the playoffs they are a different team. and if Brady, Bruschi, Seymour, Dillon, Faulk, Pass, Givens and Branch remain healthy as the season progresses they have as good a chance as any other team. It's happened before it can happen again. IN BILL BELICHICK AND THE PATS I TRUST and I hope all you so called die-hard fans do as well.Andres Ochoa

I just finished reading Ask PFW for 11/15/ 05. Where did all the fair weather fans come from or go to? You guys do a great job of restraining yourselves when replying to this garbage. I try to look at everything on the Patriots website every day. I especially read Brady and Belichick's press conferences. They are great. I gain more respect and admiration for those two every day and I think Mr. Kraft does too. I sense that you guys on Ask PFW feel the same way. We have the best Owner the best Coach the best Quarterback and the best Team in the NFL. Why can't these jerks realize it. In spite of some horrendous injuries to key players they lead the division and some of injured are getting healthy. They've picked up some good replacements. I'm not giving up on this team, not now and not ever.Sam Gammons

Can the DIET PEPSI MACHINE play corner? Ha Ha Ha! Even if the PATS went 0-16 on the season. I would still love them with all my heart.David Dion

Despite all of the injuries to key players, I believe that the Patriots are still a good enough team to make the playoffs. The fact that many of the key players will be returning, their easier schedule and the Patriots ability to score 20 points makes me a strong believer. Do you agree?Craig Wallace

OK, so there is still more optimism than reality in these responses but that's to be expected. Fans should have, to some degree, unwavering faith in their team. The Patriots have finally won two games in a row, with a chance to make it three against a questionable Chiefs team this Sunday in Kansas City. It will be a tough game in a tough environment, but no games for this team (anywhere) are a lock right now. It is certainly winnable. And it wouldn't be out crazy to think that if they win this weekend, the Patriots have a chance to run the table over the next two months. But that won't change the reality of the team. It is good enough to win games against other mid-level teams. That doesn't mean it has everything needed (including playmaking experience in secondary) to get it done in the postseason against the likes of the Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Bengals and others. In all likelihood New England will win the AFC East and host a playoff game on Wild Card weekend. At that point, anything is possible. But that doesn't mean winning and moving on is likely. A lot can happen between now and then, and fans should remain loyal and confident, I just hope a late season run against sub par competition doesn't build false confidence/hopes in Patriots Nation.
Andy Hart

How come its impossible to find out the extent of David Givens' injury on this website? How long is he expected to be out? Thanks.Adam Savrin

Good luck. As most Patriots fans are aware of at this point, the team does a tremendous job of keeping injury information under wraps. Most of what you read and hear in regards to injuries is speculation at best. Givens has a knee injury that has cost him two games. I saw him scoot through the locker room last week, so it's not like he's on crutches or braced up right now. I have to assume that he's week-to-week, getting better and has at least a chance to play this week in Kansas City. Sorry to be so factually informative.
Andy Hart

I hate to repeat the issue of the utter devastation to the Patriots secondary, but how come we have not seen Don Davis at safety this season. To me, having Ellis Hobbs and Asante Samuel at the corners and Eugene Wilson and Don Davis at safety is not a bad secondary. After all, those are the only guys left standing.Pat Keogh

Davis has been working with the safeties over the last few weeks, even if he hasn't gotten in games much at the position. I personally think that Michael Stone has done a pretty decent job in his starts over the last two games. I know the numbers allowed in terms of passing yards haven't really improved, but I think the secondary has become a little more settled with Stone in the mix. He's never really had a chance to play defense in the league as a career special teamer much like Davis. So I say let's continue to see how he does and keep Davis in his role as an emergency option. I just think that if you put Davis out there on a regular basis he would be exposed for what he is – a talented special teamer and backup linebacker with enough speed to play safety on occasion. Now, I'm not saying that Stone is much more than that, but he was a second-round draft pick and has played defensive back most of his life. That has to give him an edge over Davis, doesn't it?
Andy Hart

Can someone please explain to me how come anyone could possibly come to the conclusion that Roosevelt Colvin is doing his job? We have been waiting 3 years for this "disruptive" linebacker to come off what should've been an career ending injury and he's been little more than a cheerleader on and off the field all season. There have been two games all year where he has made one significant play (one of them was causing a fumble after getting beat on coverage), and several instances in every game where he has been victimized or made serious mistakes. This was supposed to be his breakout, "no excuses" year with the Pats and so far he's been as valuable to the team as the other highly touted free agent signing... Rodney Bailey. He is not an every down player at OLB in the NFL, certainly not in this defense. They'd be better with Phifer... heck, bring back Slade!
Bill Reilly

I find the timing of this email extremely odd. And its contents are down right mean spirited and nowhere near based in fact. Colvin broke his hip on Sept. 14, 2003. That's just over two years ago. So I have no idea where you got your three years from, must be some kind of alternative calendar you go by. The injury was a severe one that many people believe takes a full two years to recover from, if a player can do it at all. That means Colvin should just now be getting back to his normal level. And low and behold, I think that Colvin is coming off of his best month of football in New England. He's started each of the last five games and has made plays in each of those games, including a key strip sack/fumble recovery in the win over the Bills. He has made huge strides over the last year, including a very disruptive performance in a start in Super Bowl XXXIX. I think he's getting better and better each week. And just to clarify, despite his back-to-back 10.5-sack seasons (2001-2002) with the Bears he was never a Dwight Freeney or Jason Taylor type pure speed pass rusher. Many of his sacks come with a combination of quickness, effort, resiliency and intelligence. And by the way, his not doing his job has him with 2.5 sacks, just one behind team leaders Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest. So just to clarify my stance here, clearly defending Colvin, I think you were way off base with your evaluation. By your standards maybe we should start questioning Tedy Bruschi's production over the last few weeks?
Andy Hart

The Pats have been making a lot of "off-the-street" free agent signings this year to fill in the gaps left by players going on Injured Reserve. How does this effect the salary cap? Do you think these signings will hamstring the team next season when they try to re-sign the likes of Richard Seymour or Mr. Franchise Adam Vinatieri? I'd hate for this team to balk at signing a quality DB or LB in the off-season because they'll be up against the cap.Paul Foster

The signings the team is making right now in an effort to get through the injuries will have no real effect on the team's 2006 salary cap. I don't have all the specifics, but I doubt any of the players have received one cent in signing bonus, meaning their salaries for the remainder of the season are basically the veteran minimum for their experience prorated over the number of games on the season. There is no other cap hit than the money they are paid for this season unless, of course, they stay with the team next season. So fear not, while the injuries may be hurting the team this season they shouldn't have any long-term effect.
Andy Hart

Paul, you are right and I was wrong. Just having Richard Seymour on the field gave me more hope that the defense would play better. I 'm not quite sure that they played up to their ability against Miami but I am more confident that they will improve week after week. If Seymour can stay healthy he is a force to contend with. I think the Miami game was getting his feet wet after a long time off and we are going to see a more aggressive play in the games to come. I know it is more likely that the Patriots won't repeat but who ever believed the Red Sox down 3 to zip were going to come back. As an avid Red Sox fan I didn't. But you can bet on how happy I am that they did.
Bruce Wadleigh

I just wanted to make sure your acknowledgment of Paul's never-ending correctness was out there for everyone to see. No one pats Paul on the back more than Paul, but I am sure he will appreciate it. And don't worry, Paul never ever doubts whether he's right. Take it from someone who argues with him on a daily basis and suffers from a similar blind confidence.
Andy Hart

What I have to say really doesn't have to do with being a question just more of a comment. I would like to apologize to Duane Starks for all the verbal abuse that we (the fans) have been throwing at him. I myself was one of those people and now that I read all these stories about how he was injured and how he was staying in because we needed him because there was no one to step up really after him. So, I hope that he really sees this and knows that I am definitely sorry for the criticism and the rest of the Patriots fans either are sorry or they should be. Also thank you and hope to see you next year HEALTHY.Michael Hobbs

We are all about fair and balanced coverage here at PFW. So helping one fan pass on his mea culpa is part of the job. We all make mistakes, I mean just look at us. Anyone remember when I had the intelligence to say that the injury-ravaged 2003 Patriots should turn their attention to the draft midseason. Hey, we all make mistakes.
Andy Hart

Thanks for the great reporting. Go Pats. Until someone beats Brady and Company in the playoffs I think people should keep their doomsday predictions with the Red Sox. I recently read somewhere that the Pats were about 500k under the cap. With all the recent injuries and acquisitions is there a point when they just can't sign someone due to the cap? As a second to that could they get somebody to restructure thus allowing them to sign someone if it gets to that point?Mike

Your two questions tie together. At whatever point the team ran out of cap room it would indeed need to restructure some existing contracts to create room to sign new players. It hasn't gotten to that point just yet, but with six games to play it certainly wouldn't be out of the question, although signing guys like Artrell Hawkins at this point in the season doesn't really eat up that much cap space considering it's a veteran minimum type contract for just a portion of the season.
Andy Hart

Why does God hate New England? We've had worse injuries than any team I can remember. (And that includes the Jets this year)Jeff

Jeff, have you been in a cave for the last five years? On the moon? In a coma? Did you miss the three Super Bowl titles, back-to-back 14-2 seasons? Have you not heard all the dynasty chatter? I mean come on, I get your joke but I think it's just the opposite. The Patriots have had more than their share of luck throughout this recent run of success. There were times when I was wondering whether the big guy upstairs (not Mr. Kraft, the real big guy in the sky) was a Patriots season ticket holder. Or maybe even the guy who mans the eternal basement. But in the end things tend to balance out. Luck, good and bad, plays a key part in winning championships in all sports at all levels.
Andy Hart

What can you tell me about how good Artrell Hawkins is? I looked at his career stats and am surprised that he was released. He's shown to be a steady and injury free player throughout his career.Moses Ip

Ironically, considering your question, Hawkins says he was cut by the Redskins at the end of camp because he was dealing with a hamstring injury. He's definitely had a productive career to this point and brings veteran experience to New England. His ability to fit right in was displayed last week when he saw significant action as New England's nickel back against the Saints in his first week with the team. Obviously he's not a Pro Bowler, but considering the team's needs and the point in the season, he might be better than one might have normally expected on the open market.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW, first I want to thank you guys for the great Q&A every week outside of Patriots Video News (RIP), this section is one that always keeps me coming back. I just wanted to talk a bit about Troy Brown. He has shown his worth over his entire career, but shown who he is a man, especially over the last year and a half. This guy is out there in any role asked of him and took less money just to play with the team that his family and himself wanted to be a part of. He is a New England Patriot in every sense of the word. That being said, not too much fuss was made over him passing Ben Coates for second of all time in receptions in a Patriots uniform. He now sits with 499 career receptions and only 35 off from Stanley Morgan. Note that Troy Brown's receptions were held down last year because he was busy saving our defensive backfield and our season. Now, I know the Patriots, and other franchises (are you listening T.O.) don't make personal accomplishments a big thing, but I just want Troy Brown to know, and I can speak on behalf of all the rest of the PFW faithful that we recognize what Troy has done for this franchise, and that's in and out of the uniform. Thanks Troy.Thomas Nystrom

Troy is a true leader and professional. I am not sure that he gets the notoriety or respect that he deserves, but those who have played with him, coached him and even dealt with him, have the utmost respect for him. I think everyone would wholeheartedly agree with your recognition and thank you.
Andy Hart

Why haven't P.K. Sam or Bam Childress been activated to replace an injured receiver, especially the sizable P.K?Bill Johnson

Until last week, when David Givens and Bethel Johnson were inactive and Brown was dressed but did not play, the injuries didn't really affect multiple receivers. Against the Saints Andre' Davis took an increased roll in the offense with Deion Branch, while Tim Dwight came in to help out at times. I think that fact, that Davis and Dwight are both more deep specialists than every down type receivers, played into New England's game plan to go deep on a regular basis against the Saints. If the multiple injuries continue the Patriots might have to add some depth to the position, although I am not sure how much Sam or Childress are prepared to offer at this point. Plus, all the injuries to other positions have put roster spots at a premium right now and I'm not sure the team can afford to cut/IR any players to make room for either Sam or Childress.
Andy Hart

The question at work asked the other day was have the Patriots, with Bill Belichick at head coach, beaten every team in the N.F.L.? I think they have, but I'm not 100% sure. Thanks for the helpJoel Phaneuf

Sorry, but you are wrong. The Patriots have yet to beat three team's under Belichick's watch – Washington, Tampa Bay and Green Bay. New England will have the chance to cut it to two when the team hosts the Buccaneers on Dec. 17.
Andy Hart

Tom Casale, I hope you are a man of your word and give up your spot on the PFW TV Show. I noticed that Heath Evans had 74 yds.Richard Cobleigh

Just to let those Ask PFW readers who don't watch the PFW TV Show (Saturday nights, midnight, WB56 and shame on you) in on this little note, Tom said on last week's show that if Evans rushed for more than 70 yards he would not appear on the show again. Well, Evans had 74 yards but I certainly am not going to hold Tom to his word. If we do, he gets to get out of work earlier on the day we shoot the show and would leave more work for the rest of us. But I do think he should pay a price for his bold statement. So I am opening it up to you, the Ask PFW readers, to send in creative punishment ideas. Tom will be doing next week's Ask PFW and will pick the best punishment for his incorrect analysis. But be creative, we really need him to learn his lesson.
Andy Hart

I just wanted to offer my condolences to Coach Bill for the loss of his Dad. I will always remember the shot of him on the sidelines getting doused by Tedy Bruschi after the most recent Super Bowl victory. May God comfort Coach Bill in his time of sorrow.
Susan Gervasi

Susan, I will let your words speak for all Patriots fans.
Andy Hart

Do you think the increase of injuries this year for the patriots team was at least partially caused by the tough early season schedule? The Patriots had to play not only some of the best teams but the toughest teams mostly on the road week in, week out over the first 6 games (at Carolina, at Pittsburgh, San Diego, at Atlanta, at Denver). While not being the only cause, I think facing so many tough, physical, games early on in a season helped increase the amount of injuries. Hopefully they can get healthy for the playoffs and make another run to the Super Bowl.Marc

You could be right. But just like almost every other theory for why the Patriots have so many injuries, I don't think you can prove it. It is what it is. Bad luck? Maybe. Lots of extra games over the last few years? Maybe. Circumstantial? Probably. I don't know, but it certainly changed this season for the two-time defending Super Bowl champs and seems to have pretty much taken away the team's legitimate shot at making NFL history with a third-straight Super Bowl win. There is little question in my mind that when people look back 20 years from now and wonder what derailed New England's march toward a third in a row, injuries will be the answer they settle on.
Andy Hart

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