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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 09 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 11 - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Lightning rod loss

After watching the unmitigated disaster that just occurred against the Chargers, I felt the need to voice my opinion and ask a couple questions. But before I go any further, let me say that I am a huge Patriots fan. I stick with them, no matter what. First of all...does it seem to anyone else that the Patriots are an unfocused team right now? This does not even seem like the same TEAM that we saw last year...and I emphasize the word TEAM for the reason that, when watching the games, there does not seem to be as much chemistry as last year. Also, the Patriots don't seem to be playing with any inspiration, enthusiasm or aggression. I just don't see any fire in the eyes of Richard Seymour or Mike Vrabel, there are far too many lame attempts at tackling (Monty Beisel being the prime example), and Tom Brady looks like he would rather be taking a nap on the bench instead of throwing the football. In closing, I hope that Tedy Bruschi comes back after the bye week.... perhaps he is what the Patriots need this season to give them some direction and desire and will stop them from being so complacent.Marc Anastasio

While I am not sure about all the examples of disinterest you gave, I agree with the overall premise of your email. I do think the Patriots have looked lethargic at times, especially last week. I do think that could be due to the fact that, especially defensively, the team lost two of its greatest leaders in Bruschi and Rodney Harrison. Chemistry is a tough thing to put your finger on, something that needs to develop on its own each season. Right now the Patriots are a .500 team and playing that way – average. It will be interesting to see how the team reacts this week to a strong challenge in Atlanta and what sort of enthusiasm and emotion it brings to the field in the Georgia Dome.
Andy Hart

Hey Guys, I get PFW every week and I wanted to let you know I couldn't live without it. On to the question ... I think that the loss of Harrison is very similar to when we lost Lawyer Milloy a few years back. Obviously the loss in production is huge, but I think even bigger than that is losing the leader that both Harrison and Milloy were. I don't think that anyone would argue that Harrison was the heart of the defense, and overcoming that emotionally (especially after finding out it could end his career) is something that takes more than just a week to get over. Couple that with a very good Chargers team looking to establish themselves as contenders, and you get 41-17. I do think, though that the Pats will step it up next weekend and take care of Atlanta. It won't be easy, but I have faith in the team. Yeah I know this wasn't really a question, but I wanted to get some feed back on my thoughts and sadly I am the only true Pats fan I know. Thanks, guys and keep up the good work!Chris Moller

The one thing that I really agree with in your analysis is that the loss of Harrison, like Milloy's, is even more emotional than it is physical. Harrison's duties and production will not be replaced by any one player or scheme, but they can be covered for on some level. His loss as a leader, both on the field and in the locker, is immeasurable. Remember, it was Harrison who helped the team overcome Milloy's departure, taking on a role as a team captain in his first season. Then Harrison held together the secondary throughout a variety of injuries last season. The time has come for some other defensive player and step up, both on and off the field. It could be anyone -- Seymour, Eugene Wilson, Vrabel or any number of other players -- but someone needs to become a rock for the defense and team as a whole to rally around moving forward.
Andy Hart

Hello ... I was curious ... as you know 49ers are coming to play to Mexico at Azteca Stadium ... I want to know if Pats will come this season too... Thank you, bye.
Jessica Barba

The Patriots will not be playing in Mexico this season, but it is interesting to note that the team did play a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys in Mexico City on Aug. 17, 1998 in front of 106,424 fans, the largest crowd ever for any Patriots game.
Andy Hart

Just a quick question.....I love the Visa commercial with Brady and his offensive line. Just wondering if it is his girl friend at the table or just some actress who was cast for the commercial. Knew if anybody could help me it was you guys. P.S. You guys are the best, keep up the good work.Nicole

Sorry, but that woman is just an actress, not Brady's real-life love interest, another actress – Bridget Moynahan.

P.S.—You're not so bad yourself.
Andy Hart

Hi. Recently [PFW's Paul Perillo] mentioned that Robert Edwards suffered "career" ending ligament damage. Actually Robert is enjoying a great year with Montreal Alouettes in the CFL. So far this year he has 114 carries for 743 yards and 5 touchdowns.Thomas Shears

To be fair to Paul, the NFL is the top of the football world and Edwards' NFL career basically ended with the severe knee injury. But to factually accurate you are right, Edwards is having a good season in Canada.
Andy Hart

As a diehard Patriot fan living in South Florida, I can honestly say that Rodney has been a role model for many young athletes aspiring to become professional football players. His mental and physical toughness has no rival, which is obvious why he is, and will continue to be, a leader of this team. I have enjoyed watching him knock out the competition (literally) the past two years, and can only wish him a speedy recovery. If anyone has the ability to overcome that type of injury, I know it would be Rodney. I for one, can't wait to see him out there next year coming in from the blind side and laying a sick hit on some poor soul that has no choice but accept the fact that he is the hardest hitting football player the game has ever seen. Thank you, Rodney, for giving Pats Fans your heart and soul. I'm sure I can speak for the Patriot Nation when I say you will be sorely missed.Pat Colletta

I have to be honest; I am one of those doubting whether Harrison can return from this devastating injury. And if he does, I wonder at what level he will be able to play and for how long? He is looking at more than a year of rehab. He likely would have to start next season on PUP. By the end of next year he would be a 13-year veteran trying to come back from a very severe injury at age 34. Even if he'd never gotten hurt people would probably be wondering by that time how much he had left in the tank. Add the injury and those doubts will be even louder. I think Harrison is a great player, great leader and, more importantly, a good person. Part of me just wants to see him walk away, rehab to resume a normal life with his family and dedicate his energy into life after football. But either way, I am sure he will make the right decision for himself and his family. As he said recently football is what he does, it doesn't define him as a person. No one will ever question what he brought to the game every time he walked on the field. Even if he never plays again he deserves to at least get mentioned for Hall of Fame consideration.
Andy Hart

Two questions. First, why the silver jerseys? I'm not complaining, but frankly, I would rather see the red ones back than silver and am just curious. Now for the substantive question. I'm wondering about the effects of lacking a fulltime offensive coordinator. Not that the offense has done a bad job, and I'm not thinking of play calling, but I'm wondering if you think overall things could be even better if the Pats had one person whose full-time role was to see it all come together when the team has the ball. There have been a lot of sloppy penalties, and the run game is getting better but is not great yet. Clearly other coaches are having to divert time from their other focuses, especially now with several new players stepping in. Is it a matter of not being able to get the right person for the job?Brian Glenn

As far as the silver jerseys, that's what the Patriots have for their third, alternate uniform. Teams can only have three jersey's and must notify the league well in advance what those are and when they will wear them. Red is not an option right now, those are throwbacks, not alternates. And changing to a red alternate jersey takes some time, although it's my understanding that the possibility has at least been explored. In terms of the offense, I also have questions about the situation with the coaching staff. I fully expected the unit to have its struggles in the early part of the season adjusting to life without Charlie Weis, and it has. But I have seen some things that go beyond game planning and play calling, including penalties and times when Brady and his receivers don't seem to be on the same page. Beyond that, the blocking in the running game has been rather suspect, there have been dropped passes and poorly thrown balls. All that being said, the production from the unit hasn't been all bad. It just hasn't been up to the usual standards and hasn't been good enough to win. I don't think all of the issues would be solved simply by bringing in a new offensive coordinator. Bill Belichick isn't willing to change his system and there wasn't really anyone ready to take full control from within the system. That leaves you with the questions you have at this early point in the season and no one to really direct those questions at, other than Belichick himself.
Andy Hart

What role do you see Zereoue playing in the offense? Will it be the same as the injured Faulk? How does Zereoue compare in this role to Faulk?Moses Ip

Zereoue has a similar build as Faulk, but isn't necessarily capable of all the things Faulk has done for this offense over the years. Plus, he needs time to learn the system, including pass protection, before he's ready to just get thrown out there. I think Patrick Pass will continue to get a lot of the third-down/change-of-pace touches in the next few week as a more experienced, versatile player in the New England system. But you can't go into a game with just two running backs and that's where Zereoue fits in for now. He's been productive in a variety roles in the league and the Patriots were probably fortunate that a back with his skills and experience was available at this point.
Andy Hart

Like all of us Patriots fans, I want to say thanks for a great run, but I would like you to pass along one more thing to Rodney Harrison. No one out there thinks he can come back from such a devastating injury! Did you hear that Rodney? NO ONE thinks you can do it!Vern Imrich

Vern, I wish I were rich too. Can you toss me a few bucks? Just kidding. And I see what you are doing there trying to motivate Rodney, but as I wrote earlier in this mailbag there is a part of me that really wants to see the well-respected veteran just walk away from the game after a great career.
Andy Hart

Has Roman Phifer retired? I didn't see any information suggesting this, and it appears he didn't sign with any other team. Wouldn't it be beneficial to the Patriots to re-sign him, to add back some veteran presence on the defense? He is already familiar with the Patriots defensive system, and assuming he isn't retired, he should still be in reasonably good physical condition.George Newell

At last check, Phifer had not officially filed his retirement papers. He had offseason shoulder surgery and I am not sure where the rehab from that stands at this point. I also don't know how much he has left to offer. His numbers and playing time were down dramatically last season. He clearly knows the system as well as anyone, whether that would be enough to help the team at his point, I don't know.
Andy Hart

Are you aware of a sports bar in the Minneapolis/St Paul area where Patriots fans congregate to watch the Pat's games? Thank you.Gus Ackerly

The Ask PFW connect-a-fan service continues, Gus. We'll post any Minneapolis/St. Paul responses we get next week.
Andy Hart

What is that symbol on their football field? It looks like something with flames come up from it????Gina Ramstad

I don't want to lash out specifically at you, Gina, but for the millionth time, that's the logo for Gillette Stadium. It's a reproduction of the lighthouse at the stadium with rays of light shooting out the top.
Andy Hart

Could you please let me know what the green stickers on the players helmets stand for? Thank you.Lena Jones

The green stickers you saw on the back of the Patriots helmets, worn by every NFL team last weekend, said "Futbol Americano." The stickers were in recognition of the first NFL game ever played outside the United States, Sunday night's matchup between the 49ers and the Cardinals at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico.
Andy Hart

I am not an offensive coordinator. I don't know very much about calling plays in the NFL...but I do know this: All this offseason, all I heard from both the Patriots and you guys at PFW was how our two TEs (Benjamin Watson and Daniel Graham) were going to "change the dynamics of the offense", "open things up", "create mismatches down the seam" and my favorite "add a new dimension to our red zone play-calling"... So far I am waiting for at least one of these claims to materialize. Don't get me wrong, I could have forecasted the same thing. So far our two number one picks have done squat and all that talk has been just that and no more. When are going to see some action and results out of this investment?
Mathew Haywood

Hey, would you relax! It's still early and I think some of the lack of production from the tight ends is because they have taken on larger role in the blocking game. Graham, as he's done in the past, has been asked to help the new-look offensive line in its pass protection. Watson has also been used in pass protection as well as a fullback/h-back type in the running game. To be fair, though, production hasn't been terrible in the passing game, it's actually been pretty good. Brady leads the AFC in attempts, completions and yards. The fact that it doesn't include the tight ends isn't a huge issue right now. But I'm with you hoping that Watson evolves into a more productive option. I do think he has the talent to be a unique weapon. Of course, I had similar hopes for Graham for a while that I don't think will ever come to fruition.
Andy Hart

I know you have touched on this issue after the season opener, but I feel like it needs to be addressed further after the loss to San Diego this weekend. The fans attending games at Gillette recently have been a disgrace. When the Pats are at home I feel like it is up to the fans attending the game to provide them with an advantage. Make as much noise as possible when the opposition has the ball, and try to disrupt them as much as possible. I do not see an effort from the majority of the fans. I attended the game yesterday and the few people in my section that where making noise and trying to encourage and promote others in the area to do the same where looked down upon. One ticket holder even stated, "we paid good money for these seats there is no need to make noise". Now I understand that if people pay for an event they are entitled to act as they wish, I just feel like this has become a problem with Gillette Stadium. Has it become too fancy? Have the real fans been priced out of the stadium for people who can afford their fancy personalized Patriots jersey's. I for one am becoming very concerned.A.J. Costa

This is one of many emails we received on the crowd noise issue this week. Almost to a man people think last week's crowd was the worst yet. But I find it funny that every email we get is from someone claiming they are loud, it's everyone else that's quiet. Regardless of who or what the problem is, it needs to be better. Crowd noise can affect a game and make a difference and the Patriots, who've struggled a bit in the early going, could use the extra help. I think fans know how to be loud (like when they post a Red Sox update on the scoreboard at Gillette), they just need to show it more often and at the right times. And if you are one of the loud fans, don't give up. Sooner or later maybe you can break the quiet ones and finally give Gillette Stadium a home-field advantage that goes beyond the late season weather.
Andy Hart

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