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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Midseason momentum

PFW answers your questions on everything from the running game to penalties to the current four-game winning streak.

Yes, Kevin Faulk looked great Sunday so I know that he'll probably being seeing all the carries but I was wondering if they'll keep him in around the goal line or put Antowain Smith in for that?
Grant Broggi
Beaufort, S.C.

Yes Faulk did look good on Sunday against the Browns, just missing his first career 100-yard rushing performance. So I do believe he will continue to get the opportunity to get the bulk of the carries, especially if he has continued success and cuts down on the fumbles that have hurt him at times. But asking him to pound the ball on short yardage or the goal line isn't necessarily his strength. I think you could see Smith help in that role along with QB sneaks from Brady. And as far as the running back spot goes in general, I think Faulk, Smith and Michael Cloud will all likely get chances to be contributors through the final half of the season.
Andy Hart

Hey, my question to you is, I was looking at the play-by-play of the Pats and Browns game. As I looked, I saw that we did run some shotgun formation plays, but when we ran them they would either be incomplete. Some penetration by the "D" which allowed a sack or a good amount of pressure. Or if we were lucky a 3 yard gain. Why does this not work??
Jim Smith
Tucson, Ariz.

Part of the problem of lining up in the shotgun formation, especially if it is in an empty back field with no running back, is that it allows opposing pass rushers to simply pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. Without the threat of a run or much movement from the quarterback the rushers get in sprinter's stances and put added pressure on the offensive linemen to block. If you can protect, then the added depth of the quarterback at the snap gives him a better view of the field and a head start on his reads and progressions, but if you can't protect he is in even more trouble than if he took the snap under center.
Andy Hart

Bill Belichick is bringing the Patriots up in the Colorado mountains to play on Monday Night Football. With the thin air in Denver, the players lungs will be gasping for air unless they're accustomed to playing here, particularly the linemen. I like the Pats and the way that the defense has improved lately, but do you think that they can stop the running of Clinton Portis in the thin air and handle running Shannon Sharpe in the mountain environment?
Kevin Jones
Vail, Colo.

There is no question those will be the keys, especially stopping Portis. With the Broncos current quarterback situation I fully expect Denver to look to win the game on the ground and with its defense, even though the defenders have gotten a bit banged up of late as well. While I would have said at the beginning of the year that the Patriots didn't have a shot in heck winning in Denver, I have come full circle. I not only believe they can win, I think they will. This team has shown the ability in recent weeks to make plays when it has to and has the momentum rolling. It would still be considered an upset to win in Denver, the Patriots are 1-12 in the last 13 trips to the Mile High city, but I think it is a very real possibility this Monday night.
Andy Hart

Here in Indiana we do not often get the Patriots game on TV. However, yesterday we did. Watching the game with some friends we began to argue about what the symbol is on either side of the 50-yard line. Clearly it has something to do with Gillette and/or Gillette Stadium but we do not know what. Please clear up this argument and let us know what we are looking at. Thank you.
Fort Wayne, Ind.

The logo you see painted in gray on the field is that of Gillette Stadium itself. The logo represents the lighthouse and bridge that are part of the stadium in the north end zone and represent a tie to the New England region.
Andy Hart

Hi. I'm a big die-hard Pats fan. I never miss a single game. I noticed that the Patriots have not worn their white jerseys yet this year. I always thought they wore blue at home, and white away. So how come they haven't worn their white jerseys yet?
Arlington, Mass.

Actually the Patriots wore the white jerseys on the road on opening day in Buffalo. You are right though that teams generally do where dark at home and white on the road, but it is up to the home team to decide first what it will be wearing. Since the Patriots' other road opponents have chosen to wear their light/white home jerseys, New England has been forced into wearing the blue jerseys on the road a number of times this season.
Andy Hart

With the release of Kenyatta Jones Do you think that the Pats will draft an elite and respectable offensive tackle in next years draft to go along with Matt Light. This might be necessary because of the uncertain future of Mike Compton.
Mike Cziria
Davenport, Fla.

Mike, I do think that tackle, or at least offensive line in general, will be a focus in next April's draft. As it stands right now New England has just three tackles on the roster, Light, Tom Ashworth and Brandon Gorin, and two of those guys are of very limited experience. As for Compton, who is currently on injured reserve and is in the final year of his contract with the Patriots, I am not sure we will see him suit up for the team again. I think the offensive line has done a solid job since his injury and he may simply disappear into the injury abyss and become a forgotten player in these parts.
Andy Hart

Do the Patriots have a Proshop catalog? How can I receive one either via online or mail?
Cathy Williams
Cranston, R.I.

Cathy you can call 1-888-662-PATS between the hours of 9-5 and one will be mailed out to you.
Andy Hart

Question to the Patriots' coach. How come we do not see more of Michael Cloud running the ball instead of Kevin Faulk? I know Kevin has been there longer but I'd like to see more Cloud. One game doesn't make him the best, but he looks like with the right blocks he can break a game open.
Brookfield, Mass.

Bstevens? First of all I am going to assume that you didn't enter your name properly in the name field when you submitted your question. So I apologize that your name will not appear properly on the website. But it also might help you out to remain anonymous, because not to poke fun but any back that makes it to the NFL can produce with the right blocks. That's what separates the guys who never make it from those who become stars. I will agree with you though that Cloud brings a unique combination of skills that neither Faulk nor Antowain Smith can match. He hasn't proven a thing in the league though and for now will remain a backup to tempt the imaginations of Patriots fans like you.
Andy Hart

This has been an amazing season, so far- with all our rookies stepping up their play to overcome team injuries.. Is our coaching staff unique in evaluating rookie talent over other NFL coaches?
Ted Schiavoni, Jr.
Hampton, N.H.

To be fair to coaches across the NFL the answer is no. Most teams put in a similar amount of time to scouting, drafting and coaching. That said, you have to credit this organization for what it has done with this draft class. While it is still far to early to give an overall grade or rank where the class fits in to the franchise's future, the coaches and scouts selected players who were capable of coming in and contributing immediately. You simply can't say enough about what these rookies are doing and in turn must credit the decision makers who brought them to this team. But let's keep in mind that drafting is an inexact science. This same group of talent evaluators who selected players like Brock Williams, Kenyatta Jones, Jabari Holloway and J.R. Redmond in recent years who are no longer with the team. You win some and you lose some, but no one can question this organizations effort and attention to detail in all areas.
Andy Hart

Hi! I was at Football 101 the other night and I have 2 questions to ask. First off what is the other way of getting a safety? I know one way is tackling a player/QB in their own end zone but what is the other way? Steve Grogan touched on it but I couldn't hear him straight. Also my second question is just out of curiosity. Does Tom Brady wear contacts? That's it from me. Thank you!
Chicopee, Mass.

Glad you enjoyed Football 101 and I hope you learned a lot. I will answer the Brady question first. I have no idea if he wears contacts or not. I will try to ask him in the locker room this week and post it in a future ASK PFW. The other way to get a safety is by blocking a punt out of the opponents end zone or the other team fumbling out of its end zone. Both result in a 2-point safety. You can also get a safety by virtue of a penalty if the opposing team was called for offensive holding in the end zone or if the quarterback was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. Hope that covers it for you. Feel free to email any other questions that may not have been covered for you in Football 101.
Andy Hart

During overtime of the Dolphins game on the Dolphins first drive, their receiver made a nice catch but possibly stepped out of bounds before catching the ball and then possibly did not come down with both feet in bounds. This was likely a reviewable play but the Dolphins smartly hurried-up the next play to avoid that scenario. My question is: Could that play have been reviewed if the Patriots had taken a timeout before the Dolphins snapped the ball?
David Collin
Edmundston, N.B., Canada

Yes. The Patriots could have called a time out and given the replay judge in the booth an opportunity to see the play and call for a challenge. Personally I think it is unfortunate that he didn't call for a replay in the first place. I don't think there was single person watching the game that didn't have some question about the reception, so I don't see why a replay official would be any different. It was a questionable call and deserved a replay. But I guess at least in the end it didn't end up costing the Patriots the game as it very well could have.
Andy Hart

Are you certain about that answer you gave to Shane of Middletown? I don't have a rulebook in front of me, but I believe that a kick-off out of bounds is a thirty yard penalty from the spot of the kick-off, which is almost always the kicking team's 30 yard line, resulting in placement at the receiving team's 40 yard line.Also, what's with the fans? What a negative batch of e-mails! Did Pats get blown out last week in Miami and I missed it?

BT Scrivenr
San Antonio, Texas

BT, you are right. Rule 6, section 3, article 3, states that on a kick out of bounds it is the "receivers' ball 30 yards from the spot of the kick or the team may elect the option of taking possession of the ball at the out-of-bounds spot." Sorry for the incorrect answer last week, but one incorrect response in the hundreds that we have answered in recent months isn't bad. We all make mistakes, just ask the NFL officials.
Andy Hart

In your answers to questions from last week you incorrectly responded to a question about where the Giants would have received the ball had Adam Vinatieri kicked a kickoff out of bounds when he had to tee it up from the 15 yard line because of an unnecessary roughness call on Rodney Harrison during Matt Chatham's fumble recovery and TD run. The Giants would not have gotten the ball on their 40 yard line, like you answered, but rather on the Patriots 45 yard line. The rule states, if a ball is kicked out of bounds without the receiving team touching it, the ball is placed 30 from the spot of the kickoff (in this case 30 yards from the Patriots 15 yard line). Just wanted to clear that up so the person who asked the question would not be confused. Thanks.
Sami Hanna
Hanover, Pa.

Just wanted to include this to show that Sami caught our mistake as well. Please see the previous answer for out correction.
Andy Hart

Please post this. You guys get so many questions from people being critical, Monday morning QB's. The Pats have been anywhere from competitive to World Champs every year since 1994 with the exception of two seasons 1995 (6-10) and 2000 (5-11) so stop complaining. Do you want to go back to the late 80's and early 90's teams that were laughing stocks of the league?? The Pats are solid and they are being managed well whether you agree with every move or not.
David Houlden
Greensboro, N.C.

I just posted this because you asked politely and made a good point. A competitive 9-7, non-playoff year looks pretty good match up with a 1-15 season.
Andy Hart

Are you kidding me? Ron Dayne has not had the opportunity he needs to succeed. I am biased - I went to the UW and enjoyed Dayne's greatness there. The fact remains, though, that he has not been a number one back and been given the ball 25-30 times a game. He was a change of pace back, and defenses keyed on him when he was in the game. Right now we have Mike Cloud, a doper who has still not done anything. I think not taking Dayne was a serious mistake. Do you really believe we have a better alternative?
Jon Levin
Washington, D.C.

A change of pace? Yeah you bring him in when you want to slow down a drive and hand the ball to someone who has no chance of gaining yards. As another emailer put it, A.C. Arnold from New York, they refer to him as "No Gain Dayne." No disrespect to your alum buddy, but Dayne has been a very disappointing professional and I have no desire to see him in a Patriots uniform.
Andy Hart

What song is played during home games when the Pats come on the field? Is it by ACDC or Aerosmith? Not the pregame Carmina Burana song. (We want the CD so we can play it while tailgating along with the other Pats tunes like Hells Bells and other oldies but goodies.)
Brookline, N.H.

Carolyn I have two answers for you because I am not exactly sure what you were referring to. It is either 'Crazy Train' by Ozzy Osbourne or
'For Those About to Rock' by AC/DC. Hope that helps.
Andy Hart

The song the pats come out to is actually Rex Mundi. Which is from the opera Carmina Burana composed by Karl Orf.
Nashua, N.H.

Who knew that the music played in Gillette Stadium was such a hot topic? We get as many emails about these types of things as we do about more game related issues.
Andy Hart

I've read a lot of questions referring to the amount of penalties committed by the Patriots. I do not believe it has anything to do with the coaching. It appears some crews let the game develop and others want to be the main attraction. Do they officiate as a fixed crew, or do they rotate members weekly?
Dean Houle
Palenville, N.Y.

The officials work as a crew for the entire season. They travel together week to week to the different games. But you are right, there certainly different styles of calling a game from crew to crew. Whether it is the number of holding penalties or the swiftness of blowing plays dead, each crew is a little bit different. But in the end most of the blame falls on the players and coaches when it comes to penalties. Both teams play under the same officiating and it seems that every week the Patriots are the far more penalized team. It is one of the 6-2 team's glaring problems that must be fixed if this recent success is to be expected to continue.
Andy Hart

I noticed a number of times during the Miami game that Miami defenders were "standing up" Patriots backs and receivers while other defenders took running shots or tried to punch the ball out. In several instances the runner's forward progress was clearly stopped. Are the officials and teams sent a post-game briefing by the league to point out these unsportsmanlike activities or is it just accepted as part of the game?
Jim Moran
Gardner, Mass.

The main problem in the Miami game was a slow whistle from the officials. They seemed to let plays go on forever and it helped both teams at different times. The Patriots forced a fumble on a play that probably should have already been blown dead. But you certainly cannot fault the players. From day one on the football field players are taught to play up until the whistle. You can't assume a play is over until you hear the whistle, if you do you will be in trouble. So if the plays were being allowed to go too long in that game then the blame falls on the officials. And yes the teams and officials do get memos from the league each week during the season, a forum where such a concern could be addressed.
Andy Hart

What's the deal with 30 second time outs? Who makes the decision if it is a thirty and why? Also, why is it that sometime there is a TV. timeout after a kickoff return and sometime no time out? Thanks
Framingham, Mass.

I can answer one of your two questions. For the timeouts, they change depending on the time in the game. During most of the game the time outs last 1 minute and 50 seconds. But after the two-minute warning in either half the time outs last only 30 seconds in duration unless more time is required due to injury or television commercial needs. As for the TV timeout after a kickoff return, my guess is that it varies depending on the commercial needs of the network at that point in the game, but I am not sure and couldn't track down a definitive answer. Hey, at least one of two answers isn't too bad. If I were playing baseball I would be in the Hall of Fame with a .500 average. And by the way I have a question for you, what is P.F.M.? Are you our competition PFW? Are you Patriots Football Monthly?
Andy Hart

Why was the future HOFer Larry Centers cut? Not much was said when he was cut...?
Jay Gargan
Danvers, Mass.

Larry Centers was released with an injury settlement prior to the Dolphins game after he suffered a knee injury. Bill Belichick has said that there is a chance that the pass-catching fullback could return to the team at a later date when he is healthy.
Andy Hart

Any chance Bill Belichick will manage the Red Sox next year?
Somerville, Mass.

In light of recent results, I think you might be on to something. I bet Belichick could make an impression on Manny and Pedro.
Andy Hart

Do you think Eugene Wilson will end up staying at free safety after this season, or will he go back to his natural CB spot?
Stamford, Conn.

That is a very good question. I think he has shown the ability to play both at the NFL level and still believe that Wilson and fellow rookie Asante Samuel are the New England corners of the future. But as long as Tyrone Poole and Ty Law are around and playing well, there is no reason to move him back to corner. Plus, he has shown to be an upgrade from anything the Patriots have had at free safety in recent years and rounds out what has been a much-improved secondary. In the end I think Wilson's versatility can only help him and his role will be based on what else the team has to work with. But at some point I think he will return to corner, as a good NFL corner is harder to find than a free safety.
Andy Hart

I'm sorry this is more of an opinion than a question. Mike Cloud from what I've seen has the rare ability to make people miss. Walter Payton had it, Barry Sanders had it, Mike Cloud has it. Thank you for reading.
Dan Davis
Beaver Dam, Wis.

One letter away and you could be a linebacker for the Patriots. So close. As for your comment, are you kidding? Are you seriously mentioning Cloud in the same sentence as two of the greatest backs to ever play the game? I have gone on record as saying that I would like to see a bit more from Cloud and that I am intrigued by his set of skills, but you have taken the crazy thinking that sometimes grows in Patriots Nation and taken it to a whole different level. Cloud had one nice game in New England, nothing more.
Andy Hart

Before the season began, I was totally psyched and had the Patriots pegged to go 11-5. After week one's disaster and the subsequent injuries, my expectations plummeted to 8-8. Now I'm back to envisioning playoffs and beyond. My major concern is about relying on the play of so many rookies for a long season. Do you think the concept of these players hitting a "rookie wall" and tiring during the second half is overrated?
Bellingham, Mass.

I don't think it is overrated and neither does Bill Belichick. He has said in recent weeks that the wall is a pure fact of life in the NFL for both players and coaches. The long season wears people down and there is really no way to prepare for it or prevent against it. And that worry is even more of a concern considering the huge contributions that these rookies have been making this year. But when the wall hits and how much it will affect players is anyone's guess. We will have to sit back and see what happens. These players have surpassed expectations so far, maybe they can continue to do so throughout the season.
Andy Hart

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