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Patriots Unfiltered (audio only) Thu Feb 02 | 11:55 AM - 02:00 PM

Ask PFW: In the running

The Patriots have put themselves in the running as a true Super Bowl contender, but many fans have question about how Jonas Gray and the running game have been treated in this week’s streaking-edition of Ask PFW.


Hey guys, remember me? If you would activate me I will show you I'm still good like last year, maybe even better. I wouldn't have dropped that pass that Tyms did 2 weeks ago.
Aaron Dobson

Why are we not seeing Dobson at all at this point in the season? He isn't listed on the injury reports. I think Dobson and LaFell on the outsides with Edelman in the slot would be a killer set up especially with Wright and Gronk in a 2 TE set.
David K.

It just seems right now that Dobson is the odd man out. Clearly missing the entire offseason after foot surgery stunted his growth in his second season. Tyms earned himself a roster spot with a strong summer and a big catch in one of his first chances for a deep ball. Dobson probably has too much replication with what LaFell offers when Bill Belichick is putting together his game-day 46-man roster. Tyms is apparently a true deep threat, something the offense has lacked in recent years for shot plays. And Dobson doesn't seem to offer much on special teams. At this point Dobson certainly feels like a lost cause for 2014, assuming injuries don't hit the receiver position. I haven't given up on him as a possibility moving forward – there is a chance neither Amendola nor Tyms is around in the future – but it's hard to see Dobson being a key contributor for the Patriots this year.
Andy Hart


What are the contracts with Ayers and Wright worth in regards to money and duration? It would be nice to know that we would keep these two guys for next year at least. They work well in the Pat's system.**
J.P. Galasso

Ayers is set to be an unrestricted free agent this spring as his rookie contract signed with the Titans will expire at the end of the season. Wright is under contract through 2015 on the rookie free agent deal he signed with the Bucs coming out of Rutgers. Ayers' play over the next month-plus will be interesting to watch. He has three sacks so far and if he keeps producing in that way he might want to test open waters coming off a sort of comeback season. As a former second-round pick with rejuvenated production he might be able to pull a Mark Anderson and get some money from another team. At this point, I haven't seen enough to say I want to see the Patriots re-sign Ayers unless it was a real low-money extension.
Andy Hart

Coach always says you earn playing time in practice. Gray worked his way from the practice squad. LG, who I love. quit on his team. Don't start Gray for being late, but sit him all game and reward LG for quitting on the Steelers?
Brett Larson

Coach, I like Blount but he disrespects his team last week and you reward him? Jonas worked his ass of for you last week and you disrespect him? Please explain.
Tom Bolinder

The week that led to Blount getting his release from Pittsburgh and then scoring twice a few days later for a big Patriots win was an interesting one. Certainly the fact that he pouted his way out of Pittsburgh doesn't leave a great taste in your mouth as an observer. But Belichick has always been consistent with the idea that it doesn't matter how you got to New England, it's what you do once you arrive. Blount, dating back to last year, has been nothing but a positive presence for the Patriots. He proved that again on Sunday. Gray's week was just as confusing as Blount's, but in the opposite way. He went from 200 yards and four touchdowns to earn the cover of Sports Illustrated to a DNPCD (Did Not Play Coach's Decision), as they say in basketball. He was dressed and on the sideline but did not step on the field for a single snap a couple days after reportedly showing up late and missing practice. That occurred during a week in which I'm guess the coaching staff was already focused on suppressing any hype or ego that might be created by Gray's big day. Combine the arrival of Blount with the fact that it was unlikely the team would look to run the ball much against the Lions No. 1 D/No. 1 rush D, and it was an easy teachable moment for the young runner. It is what it is.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, thanks for answering our questions. Couple things: first, did Jonas Gray get treated a little differently when he was late than Revis did? Are we playing favorites here or did BB try to make a point to a rookie getting his first success last week? Second: as Tim Wright continues to grow within the system, do you see him becoming a bigger part of the game planning? McDaniels has done a great job this season of putting together game plans that exploit the weakness of the defenses the Pats have faced. But given his size and seemingly growing rapport with TB12 he seems as a good H-back option that can be split out or play slot. Obviously his slighter frame doesn't allow for use as a true TE2.
Tom McHugh

Sure Gray may have been treated differently than Revis. There are different rules for different people in this world. Remember the old book, The Jordan Rules? All-Pro veterans aren't the same as practice squad call-ups. That's just reality. It may have also been a factor that Revis was late on an extra Tuesday of practice. But I do think it was also a case of Belichick and his staff probably trying to keep Gray and the team grounded. The Patriots are in an impressive march of success, but they also need to continue to take things in stride. As I said earlier, all the circumstances of the game made it an easy choice to keep Gray sidelined. As for Wright, I think he's a nice complementary option. But he's clearly a by-product of playing with Rob Gronkowski, and there is no shame in that. He has taken advantage of his open chances to make plays. He's building confidence and rapport. That will either pay off in the role he's in now or if injury and other factors force his role to grow. Right now I like Wright's role just the way it is. He's a productive piece and another guy defenses have to consider.
Andy Hart

How much useful info do you think Dom Capers has on Brady and the Pats since his time here in 2009-10?
Sean L.

Capers was on the Patriots coaching staff in 2008. That was a limited experience with the team, especially with Brady, who missed that entire season to a torn ACL. There has been a ton of turnover on the New England roster since then on both sides of the ball. Sure Capers may have a bit more knowledge of the Patriots and Brady than another coach who never spent any time in New England, but I don't think it will be much of a factor on Sunday.
Andy Hart


Hey guys. Seems like the consensus with Revis is that he's gone after this year, and I understand that his contract is pretty awkward to keep him next year. But why wouldn't we do everything in our power to keep him? Including re-structuring his deal for next season & giving him the money he wants? Is it down to not having the cap space to do this? Apart from J.J Watt, he's DPOY right now and makes our defense infinitely better, and gives us the chance to not only compete for a ring this year, but over the next couple of years as well.**
Anthony Pearson

The Patriots do have some leverage over Revis in that he is under contract for next season, although it would be under a $25 million cap figure. While it's not impossible for the Patriots to carry such a charge, it is somewhat unlikely. Beyond that, any restructure or re-signing would come only under a working agreement with Revis. If he wants to reach free agency, he may not be open to any long-term deal. I also wonder how the situation will be affected based on what New England does the rest of the season. If the Patriots win the Super Bowl would that give Revis more incentive to hit free agency and cash in? If the team comes up just short, losing again in the AFC title game, might he be more open to a return to pursue the ring that has eluded him? It will be an interesting negotiation this winter. Right now, though, it sure is fun to watch him play and transform the defense.
Andy Hart

Hello guys, I was wondering about the situation involving Jonas Gray. I mean, the guy had a great game last week against the Colts, showed some potential and didn't play a single snap against Detroit. I know he was late for a practice last week but don't you think it can ruin the guy's season? In my opinion it could break the good vibe that was in the locker room... what do you guys think? Thank you, and don't mind my poor English, I am Brazilian.
Arthur Albano

I don't think Gray's punishment – dressing but failing to play a single snap against the Lions – will have any negative long term effect on either him or the Patriots. He's a young back who really had played a role in just two games since his call-up from the practice squad. If this issue derails his or the team's success then neither was really that poised to succeed in the first place. I don't really think it's that big of a deal. It was a great teachable moment for a young player and a team in the perfect situation to teach it. Nothing more than that. Nothing less than that.
Andy Hart


Hello, my question is who is your favorite New England Patriots player?**
Colby Moyer

Rob Gronkowski. Easy. Maybe the greatest tight end ever. Most unique, irreplaceable weapon in the NFL today. Always has a smile on his face. Super guy in the community and in his charity work. Loves life and loves football.
Andy Hart

The Patriots have looked good on offense and pretty much on defense in the seven recent wins. My huge concern, especially against Aaron Rodgers and the high powered Packers passing attack, is we have no pass rush. Why doesn't Matt Patricia dial up some more blitzes? We need a push rush!
Mike Hugo

The Patriots pass rush is certainly a concern. It's taken a hit with Chandler Jones missing the last four games with a hip injury and not yet having returned to even the practice field. It was even more undermanned on Sunday with Dominique Easley inactive with a knee issue. Rob Ninkovich has been his consistent self. Akeem Ayers has shown up a bit and the linebackers have shown some impact on blitzes on the inside. But the pass rush just isn't a strength right now. The Patriots have used more blitzes, twists and stunts this season than in previous years. But it's not going to be the focal point of their pass defense. Given the success of Revis and Browner, combined with the depth of the secondary, this team's pass defense will be built around its coverage ability. Right now anyway, it looks like that could be a pretty impressive strength.
Andy Hart

I do love all the hype around Brady, Gronk and now Gray, but I noted last week if you add 16 of Lucks incompletions, a sack and 16 runs for 19 yards, that's 33 offensive plays for 19 yards, offense wins games defense wins championships, is this the best Belichick era defense?
Paul Looker

No, it isn't. The 2003-2004 Patriots were the best defense of the Belichick era in my opinion, with the 2003 unit maybe the best single group. That group was loaded with talent at all three levels, forced turnovers and was capable of dominating a game in a variety of ways. The 2003 defense led the NFL in points allowed and was top 10 in total yards, rushing yards, interception percentage and third down defense. This defense hasn't reached that level yet either in terms of dominance or versatility. This group does look like it could be the best unit since 2004, though. It also looks like it could be a championship-caliber unit with its impressive work against the Broncos, Colts and Lions. And that's really all that matters.
Andy Hart


The Patriots are 9-2. Nine wins on turf, two losses on grass. Why is this? What can they do to get a win on grass?**
Jason Chance

I think some of it is circumstantial at this point. Gillette Stadium is a turf field and the Patriots are a dominant team at home. So most of the team's wins will come on turf. The trip to Miami was a bad spot based on the time of year and weather, not the field surface. The Kansas City game is the only one where I remember the team looking out of sorts on grass, with a lot of guys slipping during the dismal night of action. The Patriots have a chance to break this trend in the coming weeks with trips to grass fields in Green Bay and San Diego. My guess is that two weeks from now the team will have at least one win on grass.
Andy Hart

Do you think Tom will win another Super Bowl before he retires?
Michael Kiskadden

Yes. I think if Brady, Gronkowski and Revis stay healthy that Brady has a very good chance to win another Super Bowl this coming February. The team is destined for its fourth straight AFC title game and beyond. Brady shows no sign of slowing down. Revis gives his a much better defense. And as long as Gronkowski is healthy the offense will make plays. Plus, there are no dominant teams in the league right now. So betting against Brady and Belichick for this year, or even next year, just doesn't make sense.
Andy Hart

What did the Patriots receive for the Ryan Mallett trade?
Daren McLellan

The Patriots will receive Houston's 2016 seventh-round pick. The trade had called for the potential for that pick to increase to a sixth-round selection based on playing time (40 percent of snaps this year), but with Mallett's season ending due to a pectoral injury just two games into his starting tenure the compensation is now officially set.
Andy Hart

Hello there PFW. I am a huge fan from Slovakia, I wanted to ask that at this point do we really worry about any opponent that we have left? We just shut down the Broncos and Colts... Our D is balling and I believe that this year may finally be the year we get the 4th ring.
Herbert Grego

I do think that the Packers, especially in Green Bay, are a challenge. Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL's No. 2 scoring attack and hasn't thrown an interception at home since 2012. Eddie Lacy is a powerful back like the Patriots haven't faced since Chris Ivory ran wild. The road is always a challenge. Beyond that, no, I don't see any huge hurdles on the horizon. The Patriots are rolling and have won in impressive fashion over formidable competition. There is a long way to go, and injuries can change any outlook, but right now I think New England has a better shot than almost any other team of winning the Super Bowl.
Andy Hart

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