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Ask PFW: Mixed Mailbag

In this week's abbreviated mailbag (due to the Monday night game), we answer your questions on a variety of topics.

I would be interested in knowing what process the Pats used to get Danny Woodhead. And was any other team close to picking him[


]()up? With him being such a late cut, another team must have had him on their radar.Larry Bennett

Because Woodhead is not yet a vested NFL veteran (meaning a player with four years' experience or more in the league), he had to go through the waiver process when the Jets released him after Week 1. He cleared waivers, meaning no team put in a claim for him during the allotted time window, which ended at 4 p.m. Eastern that Wednesday. That made him an unrestricted free agent, so any team could then sign him, which the Patriots elected to do on that Saturday before the Week 2 game against Woodhead's former team. If other teams did have him on their radar, they waited too long to sign him.
Erik Scalavino

Hey guys! Love your work, and love the victory over the Jets! What is the status of Danny Woodhead's contract, and how important is it to lock this young star up for years to come?
Chas Akers

As we noted in a recent issue of PFW, Woodhead's contract was reportedly extended through 2012, just prior to the Thanksgiving game.
Erik Scalavino

Hey PFW. Do you guys think that the Pats would bring back [Josh] McDaniels after his firing in Denver? Or do you think they are fine with what they have? And is McDaniels recent troubles not worth bringing him back? Thanks, keep it up and let's go Pats!Chris C.

I wouldn't rule anything out, where Bill Belichick is concerned. If he felt like McDaniels was the best person for the job (you know, the job title that doesn't currently exist here in New England), then, sure, he'd bring him back. But if you haven't noticed, the Patriots are currently the highest scoring team in the NFL, with a dynamic offense loaded with weapons. Bill O'Brien, the QB coach and de facto OC, seems to be doing a fine job calling the plays. I don't foresee any changes in that area anytime soon.
Erik Scalavino

Hey you guys, great job on these columns, they're the best part of my Tuesdays. What do you think of bringing in Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator and giving him the head coaching job when BB is ready to step down?Edgar Ortiz

Wow … lot of assumptions you're making here, Edgar. First, that Bill actually wants to bring in a defensive coordinator. Not sure if you've heard, but he's not really big on titles around here, which is why we don't have any coordinators at the moment. But, okay, maybe Belichick'll change his mind. If he does, you're assuming he'd want someone with Ryan's personality on his staff. I know, he used to work for Belichick here in New England (from 2000-03 as linebackers coach), but something tells me, with his brother in the Big Apple, that would cause more of a distraction than he'd be worth.

Furthermore, BB has given no indication that he plans to retire anytime soon. So, why would Ryan want to make a lateral move (he's DC in Cleveland right now), just to sit around and wait for a promotion? And finally, what makes you think Ryan would be such a great head coach? What do I think of your idea, then? Only that it raises far more questions than it answers, my friend.
Erik Scalavino

I've read several reports of rumors saying that Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams is on the trading block. If true, do you think the Pats would take a look at him?
*Nolan Michalski *

Possibly. The Patriots had a chance to draft Williams with the 21st overall pick in 2006, but went with Laurence Maroney instead. Williams went six picks later to Carolina. So, they certainly have known about him for quite some time. However, with the way BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been performing, I'm not sure how Williams would fit in here, or whether he'd want to be part of another committee-style backfield, like he has been with Jonathan Stewart. What's more likely, in my estimation, is New England drafting a young player to groom in their scheme.
Erik Scalavino

Dear Ask PFW, you guys do great job keeping us informed each week. Is it me, or did the NFL give the Patriots one of the toughest schedules this year? The Pats have not had consecutive home games all season and will not for the rest of the way. Over the next five weeks, the Steelers have three consecutive home games. It just really seems like the NFL had it out for us this year.
Jeff Cabral

Whoa, take it easy with all your conspiracy theories there, Mulder. Perhaps you've forgotten that our owner, Robert Kraft, is one of the most influential owners in the league. The NFL had it out for New England? Hardly. The schedule-making process is a complex one, for various reasons, including external factors (concerts, other major events in the area) that help determine whether a team is home or on the road on any given week.

As I see it, the Patriots always have a tough schedule because they usually end up with the top record in their division, so they're facing mostly other teams of similar quality. If anything, I think the NFL may have actually done New England a favor this year by giving them, essentially, two bye weeks … two-and-a-half, really: the real one in Week 5, then the mini-break after Thanksgiving, and then the 11-day layoff, including back-to-back weekends off, before the Jets game. That basically breaks the season up into nice, even thirds. And if the Patriots somehow wind up with a bye during the playoffs, that'll be even better for the team's overall health going forward.

Perspective, Jeff. It's all about perspective.
Erik Scalavino

Does the clock stop when an offensive ball carrier is forced out of bounds by the defense? I used to think that the clock always stopped, no matter what, as soon as the ball carrier steps out of bounds, but now I am not sure.
Patrick Colletta

It depends on your definition of "forced out of bounds." The referee's definition, actually. If a ball carrier goes out of bounds during the process of a defensive player tackling or attempting to tackle him, then, yes, the clock should stop. However, if the officials feel that the ball carrier's forward progress has been stopped on the field of play, before he goes out of bounds, then the clock would continue to run and the ball would be spotted where the official determines progress was stopped.

Furthermore, when the clock stops, the refs will restart it once the ball's been spotted and they feel the teams are ready to proceed. The exception to this rule is during the final two minutes of the first half and the final five of the fourth quarter. In those instances, the clock only restarts when the offense snaps the ball.
Erik Scalavino

Hi guys, nice reading you from overseas. Just two questions not Patriots-related. Recently I watched the Chargers-Colts game and I remember seeing a Colt offensive lineman being pushed into Manning causing a sack .Who's credited for the sack? The defensive lineman, the offensive one (funny, I sacked my own QB!!) or the next Charger who touched Manning? Second, when a QB throws a pass that's deflected in his hands, is he credited with a completed pass and a reception at the same time? Thanks and go Pats!!
David Aubertin, France

I didn't see the play you're talking about in the Charger game, but if the play was blown dead after Manning hit the ground, then the nearest Charger would be credited with the sack (presumably the guy who pushed the o-lineman into him). However, if play continued, and another Charger touched Manning while he was down, then that player would be credited. As for your second question, the answer is yes. It has happened on a few occasions. The most recent one I can remember is Brad Johnson with the Vikings (can't remember which year that was, exactly).
Erik Scalavino

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