How is anyone going to know if Kevin Faulk can carry the ball 30 times, if he doesn't get the opportunity. Everyone just assumes he can't. You mention that he's too small yet he's the same size as Tiki Barber, Portis, Priest Holmes, Canidate, Zereoue, and Curtis Martin. Thanks.
Tara, he's also not as fast or talented as any of those backs. That's not to disrespect Kevin. He's a good player with some unique skills who does a lot of different things well but nothing great. He certainly can cause some mismatches in pass coverage and to his credit, he has become a solid pass blocker in blitz pickup, something he couldn't really do when he got here. Kevin is shifty and quick, yet not in the Barry Sanders (another small guy) Tiki Barber or Curtis Martin mold. He lacks the breakaway speed of Portis, Canidate or Zereoue. He is a nice player and could play for me any day of the week, but I'm not sure he would be my lead back. He would definitely get his share of touches. If Kevin were bigger, he would be a wide receiver for me, not a running back.
You guys do a great job! I love Tedy Bruschi. He is like a kid's wind up toy that is wound too tight and explodes all over everything. How come he doesn't get any national attention? Is it because he isn't that good or is Belichick's system not to make stars? Also PFW is excellent but an article about one of the Cheerleaders wouldn't be too hard to take.
East Stroudsburg, Pa.
Bruschi is a New England type player. He is a high motor, blue-collar guy. He has become an above average linebacker after coming out of college as a defensive lineman. He is smart, quick and plays as hard as anyone I've seen. But he's just not in that class of superstar Ray Lewis-types that get all the attention. That's O.K. Bruschi doesn't need that stuff. As long the fans that watch him every week know and respect how he plays, I think that satisfies him.
Where is Chris Slade these days, is he still involved in football?
That's a good question. Chris is living the high life in Atlanta, where he owns a company that makes Smoothies – you know those health drinks. He was in town a couple of weeks ago, though, spending some time down Cape Cod.
Do you think that Bill Belichick and Charlie Weis believe in controlling the football and running the same number of running plays as passing plays during the course of a football game? Running the football effectively throughout the entire game, instead of just at the end of a game to protect a lead, will give the Patriots more time of possession and keep the other team's offense off the field.
Jack, I think they do whatever they think will work. As Bill says, they are not going to run into the teeth of the defense just to say they did it. If they feel they can have success running the ball, they will run it. Balance is important to every coach, but moving the football and scoring is more important than a 50-50 ratio. I would love to see them run just pound the ball at people, but they are not capable of doing that successfully with any consistency – at least they haven't proven to be yet. The problem arises on third down. When you don't convert on third down, you don't earn yourself more chances to run and then it looks like the offense has no identity. They aren't going to average 5 yards per carry so the onus falls on the offense to convert a few more third-and-6-9 yard situations than maybe some other teams. Through four games, they have only converted 6-of-21 third downs requiring 6-9 yards for the first down. They are 10-for-19 when the distance needed is 2-5 yards. They try to balance that by creating more convertible situations and they do that with the short passing attack. Neither has been particularly successful this year. But the Patriots have run the ball more than 17 teams through four weeks. That's the middle of the pack. They are also running it more and, I think, better than last year.
Can you give me some background on Wilbert Brown? Has he ever started in the league and will he start for the Patriots?
Brown was signed to give the Patriots some depth since Mike Compton, Damien Woody, Adrian Klemm and Stephen Neal were all on the shelf. Brown played in 19 games in four seasons with nine starts, all coming last year while in Washington when he replaced an injured player in the starting lineup.
Why isn't Ty Warren active?
West Wareham, Mass.
He's been "active" every week even though he hasn't been that active. Ty has played in every game and seems to be getting more snaps each week. He's still adjusting and hasn't shown up in the big-play category. The Patriots could certainly use his impact right now with all the injuries, but he's coming along even if somewhat slowly. I would call him a work in progress, which I'm sure isn't what anyone wants to hear at this point. He says he's learning more each day and working hard. He wants to play, and I assume the coaches will give him more chances when he proves he deserves them in the snaps he does get.
I am amazed at the continued repetition in the play calling on the Pats this year. They are so predictable in the Red Zone and at other certain situations, ETC. first downs.We have such a complicated defense and a plain vanilla offense. Why? With all the Pats offensive weapons very few are ever used! Are there any other players on the team except for Troy Brown?Lessons appear to be very hard to learn in this organization. Each game shows the team to be confused and in a definite lack of control. Where is the confidence and direction of the team of 2 years ago. They had far fewer weapons back then but twice the organization and teamwork.Tom Brady is always waiting for people to get open. Two years ago they always were. Lets go back to what worked for us before. We are drowning in our own coaching problems.
Jeff in Ben Coatesville, I disagree with you. I think the offense tries to be creative. They run multiple personnel groups on the field and use multiple formations to keep a defense making adjustments on the field. When the team isn't executing, it's easy to point at the play calling and there are definitely times when that's a factor. But I just disagree with your premise that the offense is vanilla. I think it lacks big-time star-type playmakers and therefore must be more precise in its execution. That means everybody must play well. If that happens, you usually see pretty solid success. When it doesn't the unit struggles. The margin for error is smaller than on some teams. I don't suppose you'll like that response, but if you try to keep track of the different personnel groups and different formations on a given day, you would not call the offense vanilla. Charlie Weis tries to mix things up as much as anybody.
If Colvin's injury forces him to retire after this season, how is the salary cap affected in 2004 and beyond? I fear his career might be over.
Jack S. Massarsky
Well Jack, if you get me on for a round of golf at the Wianno Club, I'll tell you. Alright just kidding. If Colvin retires, the part of his signing bonus that has not yet counted against the cap, probably around $5 million, would all count against the cap next year. In your scenario, I would guess the league could grant some cap relief because his retirement would be based on a career-ending injury. But he'll be back.
The Patriots have had a lot of injuries but still are competing and doing well. But what I want to see is for them to go after Charles Woodson of the Raiders because he is a free agent after the season. Also I don't know why the Patriots didn't sign Victor Green again when they released Lawyer Milloy. Victor is a damn good safety to go along with Rodney Harrison. Also someone tell Bill to draft a good runner. He really needs it. Also please get a good pass rusher. It would really benefit the team if Robert Kraft can afford a good pass rusher so he should look in to it. Seymour is good, but seven sacks a season is not enough thanks.
Any other requests? Matt, they just went out and signed the best pass rusher available in free agency in Rosevelt Colvin, who then broke his hip. That's bad luck. You have a lot of wants and I'm sure if Bill could pick his team off the Pro Bowl rosters, he'd satisfy your every need. I don't know why Victor Green wasn't signed other than the fact that the staff wasn't enamored with his play here last year. Why else wouldn't they have signed him? I know Derry well, Matt. Go Pinkerton.
I am a transplant to the Atlanta area and I'm looking for a New England bar, with New England fans to watch the games in. I can only see one or two if they are nationally televised. It's bumming me out. Any suggestions?
Tim, I would check out Frankie's on Roswell Road in Atlanta. Tons of TVs in there and probably a bunch of New Englanders watching games.
I watched Daniel Graham during training camp. The kid looked like he was on the way to a breakout season. All of a sudden he's invisible, IS He A BUST or better yet when is the grace period for him to be considered a BUST? ENQUIRING MINDS wanna know.
Since I know you listen to our radio show, I assume you heard our recent discussion on this subject. My personal opinion, and the other fellas disagree, is that he is still trying to learn the adjustments and reads necessary to make him a strong route-runner. I think the skills are there and we see them show up from time to time, but until he can make decisions on the field instinctively, he will continue to show up periodically, but not consistently. However, in addition to his receiving skills, he is a more than capable and willing blocker. I don't think he's a bust, but I'm not sold on the total package yet.
Good day to you. Is Tully Banta Cain still with the team? He was a 7th round draft choice but he may have been injured in the preseason?
Tully is on PUP. He has been hurt since the start of training camp. He is eligible to begin practicing after week six, but he is officially with the club at this point.
You recently posted a question from a reader of AskPFW regarding the salary cap and the implications of being over it at the start of the season. While "IT CAN NOT HAPPEN" surely answers the question, the obvious implications of your response are not well received. Some of us don't deal with football day in and day out like you guys do and we lack the basic knowledge of the salary cap system. It disturbs me to see that you guys get hundreds of questions and then print one where you basically tell the person, "Don't be an idiot; they cant be over the cap". Is this the way to get fan support? I've loved this website since I found it and once considered it to be among the best NFL team sites. Surely you guys must get enough questions submitted that you can do without the put downs whether intentionally or not. Who's the editor of this stuff anyway? I trust people don't take the time to email a question just so they can made to look like a fifth rate fan. Take the time to assess the effect your response will have on the person asking the question and if it seems dumb or ill informed or not to your liking, then don't print the question!
Poland Springs, Maine
William, we are truly sorry if we offended you or anybody else. I don't think the "you can't be over the cap" answer was degrading in any way. We field a lot of questions and sometimes we like to have fun with the answers. Never is there any mean-spirited intent. I suppose that sometimes some of the sarcasm spewed here can be taken in a way that it was not intended to be taken, but know that we are not trying to put anyone down. Let me try to explain the salary cap a little better. The cap for 2004 will be set after this season is over. It then goes into effect on March 1, 2004. So let's say the salary cap is set at $76 million. A team looks at its current roster and at all the raises and bonus payments contractually set to kick in for the 2004 season. That doesn't count any players whose contract expire on Feb. 28 or Feb. 29 in a leap year. Those players are not counted in any calculations for 2004. So let's just say the team has 45 players under contract for 2004 (and I'm making these numbers up), yet they are scheduled too owe those players a combined $82 million. You would then here the phrase, "the Patriots are $6 million over the cap." But that is for the cap as of March 1. The team would have to cut $6 million off its cap figure by the last day of February to ensure it is in compliance with the new cap. The team would be forced by the league to cut players if it weren't under the cap because no team is allowed to be over the cap. The league would not approve any free agent signing if the result of that signing would put a team over the cap. After March 1, you don't hear about teams being over the cap unless someone is referring to the next season and the scheduled payments to be made. Now, on March 1, only the top 51 players on the roster count against the cap and that remains the case until final roster cuts at the end of training camp when all 53 players count plus any players on PUP, IR, the practice squad or any other special list. So if a team is very close to the cap with its top 51, it could be in danger of exceeding the cap when all the players begin counting toward the cap. It would have to release players to be in compliance. Get it? I hope this helps. We appreciate your support and that of all of our readers. We are not in the business of trying to lose readers. Thanks again.
Hi, I was just wondering what your thoughts are on Tully Banta-Cain? All the praise he got through out camp being called the "steal" of the draft by being picked in the seventh round. Can we expect him to be on the field sometime this year, or is he on P.U.P. for the entire season?
North Liberty, Iowa
I imagine that Tully will begin practicing after week six when he becomes eligible to do so, but I also would guess that after his 21-day practice period ends, he will be left on PUP rather than activated. He is a rookie who missed all of training camp and has not practiced with the team since June mini-camps. I can't imagine him making much of an impact this season.
OK we are now at week 5, his suspension should be done, right? Please give us the scoop on Mike Cloud, and what we might (might we?) expect to see from him in the near future. Or where he fits (or does he) amongst the backs on the roster.
North Leeds, Maine
Mike is practicing this week and the team will have to decide what it wants to do with him by next week. He has a one-week roster exemption where he can practice without counting against the 53-man roster. My guess is that Cloud will be on the team, but since he has been out so long, he will have a lot to prove to get on the field with any frequency. If he can help, the Patriots can certainly use him, but after undergoing surgery on his calf and then sitting out four weeks when he wasn't allowed at the facility, it will be difficult for him to show he can make an impact.
Could you tell me when Ted Washington is expected back in the line up?
No. But I can guess. I would say Nov. 16 vs. Dallas is a target date.
With all of the injuries on defense is there anyone on the practice squad that can help us out? Also I wrote to you a few weeks ago asking if you thought David Givens would see more playing time and if you thought he could contribute to this club.
North Attleboro, Mass.
There are no defensive players on the practice squad ready to step in and help the team right now. As far as Givens goes, I think he can definitely help the team if he can stay healthy. He missed time with an injury and that played a big game in Washington, but got hurt again. He will probably play this week.
Hi. I just wanted to know what was up with the play call on third down when they decided to run a draw play instead of throw the ball for a first down to get closer for a field goal in this Sundays game against Washington?
They were trying to catch Washington off guard. It didn't work. I didn't like that call. I'd rather give my quarterback two chances to make it when it's third-and-five. That's just me. If Centers rattled off 10 yards, I still wouldn't have liked it. But I'm not a football coach. I thought other than that play, Charlie Weis did a nice job Sunday. The offense had 387 yards and would have had more were it not for the four turnovers.
With the defense riddled with injuries this season and the potential for us to fall in the standings, do you think it is likely that we will trade Ty Law before the season is done to a contender for a top draft pick? I believe he is counting for $9 mil next year and has said he won't renegotiate. When is the trading deadline and is it a hard and fast date unlike baseball? Thanks. Mark. A Gloucester native stuck in Donkey land.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
The trading deadline is Oct. 14 and no, Ty Law will not be traded. There's no way Law will be traded with 10 weeks to go in the season. Those kinds of trades don't happen at the football deadline like they do in other sports and the cap ramifications have a lot to do with it as does the early deadline date. Pretty much every team still has a chance to make the playoffs when that deadline rolls around.
No question, just a thank you to Chowdahhead (see Ask PFW-9/16). I took his advice and brought my son to watch the Pats beat the J-E-T-S last Sunday at Sonny Mclean's in Santa Monica. A great time was had by all. Sonny's has a passable breakfast buffet (baked beans included for the homeboys) for those who don't want to start drinking on an empty stomach at 10:00. Lunch starts around halftime. Get there early if you want one of the few unreserved tables. Otherwise there is an adjacent room with a big screen TV, folding chairs and planks on empty kegs to hold your brewskies. Okay, it's not the Ritz, but you're there to have a Guinness and cheer on Brady's Bunch. Check it out.
When R. Colvin got hurt, did he actually recover a fumble. There seems to be dispute on the stat. Some have Phifer with the with recovery some Colvin. Is there any way to get a hold of the game tape. It's the difference in a game in my fantasy league. Please help.
Matt, Colvin recovered the fumble. The original press box game book mistakenly credited the recovery to Phifer. It was later corrected and awarded to Colvin. If you go to the Patriots stats page on NFL.com, you will see that Phifer has zero recoveries and Colvin has one. That should provide the proof you need if my word is not good enough for whoever loses because of the change. But it was definitely Colvin.