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Patriots Replay Thu May 28 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Moving Forward

With the Deion Branch trade and other trades the team has made for draft picks (Cobbs to Pittsburgh) and the fact the team is 13 million under the cap, do you see a plan evolving? Maybe next April's draft is expected to be deep? Maybe the Pats see more free agents available that appeal to them? Perhaps some linebackers, shutdown corners and wide receivers that can actually catch the ball will be available. Maybe Belichick and Pioli see something in 2007 that they really have their eye on? What do you think?Bob Stuart

I think this Patriots team is pretty much set for this season. Funny, with all the problems and questions surrounding them, the Patriots are still 2-0. However, I do believe they are going to be very aggressive this offseason. They are loaded with draft picks – including two first rounders – and they'll have money to spend in free agency. Moving forward, they're in a good situation. They can compete this year with the young guys getting experience and in 2007. Then, when players like Chad Jackson, Laurence Maroney, David Thomas, Ryan O'Callaghan among others are entering their second season, the team can go out and bring in a couple of solid veterans to go along with all the young talent they already have. The Patriots are good enough to compete this year but my money says that next season they'll be the clear-cut favorites to win the Super Bowl.
-Tom Casale

Do you believe the Patriots front office might have had a receiver of the future in mind when they traded Branch? Using the newly acquired 1st round a 3rd or 4th round to trade up for Jeff Samardzija is a viable option. Seeing how he is a Charlie Weis coached player, it seems he would be a perfect fit to be an immediate impact player. At 6'5" 220lbs athletic and good route running abilities he is a Patriots receiving dream.Darren Galus

There's no question that Samardzija is a very talented player but I see two obstacles with him ending up in New England. First, he may opt to play baseball, so that's something teams will have to consider when drafting him. Second, he should end up being a high draft pick. The Patriots do have two first round picks next year but if you figure both they and the Seahawks will have good records this year, those picks will probably be towards the end of Round 1. If the Patriots are going to draft Samardzija, they'll have to trade up to get him. I actually hope he doesn't come to New England because that means I would have to keep spelling his last name and that's no fun at all. I would prefer Calvin Johnson out of Georgia Tech. He's a better overall player and his name is much easier to spell. Of course now we're talking about jumping up into the top 10, so that probably won't happen.
-Tom Casale

I'm back. I asked your opinion before the season on Kevin Faulk playing wide receiver this year. I'm now telling you that after the Branch trade and that catch he made Sunday playing wideout for a touchdown, Kevin will be a superstar catching Brady passes this year.Donoghue

I don't know what you mean exactly when you refer to Faulk playing receiver. He does line up as a receiver from time-to-time but he's much more effective coming out of the backfield. There he can create more separation from linebackers and safeties in open space. Coach Belichick discussed this at one of his press conferences last week and said there is a difference when Faulk lines up as a receiver compared to when he's in the backfield. I feel Faulk is much more dangerous catching passes when he's lined up as a running back because he can create more mismatches than he can when he's out wide.
-Tom Casale

With Oakland disintegrating, do you think the Raiders would trade Randy Moss for the pick we got for Deion, our second rounder and return to them Doug Gabriel? Would you consider this trade from either side of the fence? Moss, with a guy like Brady throwing to him, would be a game changer once again. I believe his salary would fit within our available cap space. Wondering if you think this would be a good move for either team. Moss is supposed to be a malcontent of sorts, but so was Dillon and he worked out well. Keep up the interesting read.Mike Goulet

This is the way I see it. I was watching ESPN and Moss was on there complaining that Art Shell was too tough and that some of his rules were unnecessary. Now, can you imagine him playing for Belichick if he thinks the Raiders are running too tight of a ship? I certainly can't. Moss is an incredible talent and he's wasting away both on my fantasy team and in Oakland. However, the Patriots have a very specific system in place and they use a thorough process to find players who will fit into that system. I know things worked out with Dillon but I just can't see Moss being a player who would fit in well on the Patriots. Again, he thinks Art Shell is too demanding. That pretty much sums it up right there. However, if Moss did come to New England, Josh Miller would be out of work because with him and Brady on the same team the Patriots would never punt again.
-Tom Casale

I was surprised to see that Maroney had more carries than Dillon did in the first game, and I am glad that he did because he ran a lot better than Dillon. Do you think that Maroney getting more carries than Dillon is something we will see often throughout the year, or was this just part of the game plan because of the Bills defensive speed? If Maroney continues to carry the ball as well as he did in the first game, Dillon might need to watch his starting job.Joe Hedglin

Dillon has run the ball well early on in the season but in my humble opinion, I believe Maroney can be one of the three or four best running backs in the NFL. He has the luxury of not being forced to carry the load as a rookie but my guess is his touches will only increase as the year goes on. He's a superstar in the making and those guys are tough to keep off the field. Not only does the guy have speed, quickness and great vision, the thing I like most about Maroney is his toughness. He kind of reminds me of a younger, faster Dillon. When Maroney turns the corner he looks to punish defenders. I love that. This guy is a future Pro Bowler and 1,500 yard rusher. You can take that to the bank.
-Tom Casale

Hey guys, first of all I've been a long time listener and a big fan of the show. You guys do an awesome job and I look forward to PFW in Progress, plus the podcast was an excellent idea. My first question is, what are the odds that the Patriots offense goes to a dink and dunk type of offense similar to what they ran in the 2001 season? Do you believe the Pats can get by at least until Doug Gabriel and Chad Jackson return from their injuries? I agree that this team has far more firepower offensively than the 2001 team, so it might be a good idea, just to lean on the running game, do the dink and dunk stuff and play strong defense until then. What are your thoughts?Scott Horvath

I'm not sure the Patriots need to go back to that kind of offense. I always thought Charlie Weis used the short passing game to compensate for their lack of a rushing attack. As you can clearly see after two games, the 2006 Patriots don't have that problem. Slowly but surely, things are coming together. Chad Jackson flashed his big-play ability against the Jets and with Dillon and Maroney carrying the rock, I think that replaces the dink and dunk passing game you are talking about. Heck, Maroney gets like eight yards every time he carries the ball. You don't have to dink and dunk when you get the kind of production the Patriots are out of their running game right now.
-Tom Casale

I've heard things like "the Seattle first round draft pick won't be able to help the Patriots this season" from media pundits and fans alike. Couldn't the Pats trade that pick and a lower round pick for a solid WR this year? I'm surprised that no one has brought up the possibility of trading for help this year...as long as the player isn't the next Duane Starks.Paul Foster

I don't think it really makes sense to trade that pick now. The Patriots would be trading it for a player who has to come in and learn their system on the fly. Like I stated earlier, I believe they'll hold on to that pick and be one of the most active teams during the draft and in free agency this offseason. Be patient young grasshopper. I liked Deion Branch as both a player and a person but with the way the Patriots use the draft to their advantage, we could all be laughing a couple of years down the road about the player the Patriots acquired with that pick. Of course, I mean laughing in a good way. Don't worry, the Patriots are heading into next season with plenty of bullets in their gun and while that pick may not help them this year, it could help them for the next 10 years. If that happens, it would be a pretty good deal for the Pats. Wouldn't you agree?
-Tom Casale

Everyone talks about Gabriel as the go-to receiver. I see him developing as a replacement to Givens. But it is Jackson whom I see filling Deion's shoes. Why can't it happen this season? Everyone is expecting him to do little for all the known good reasons. BUT, as a talented man, even at 21 he can shine NOW. Heck, there are 16 year-old runners who are bringing gold medals from the Olympics. There is even a world chess champion at 15. These "kids" have physical abilities or brains plenty for football. We need to reset expectations to age. People are able to do so much more at an earlier age than decades ago. So I do not see any major reason other then injury why Jackson can't become a go-to guy by the end of this season. Do you?Ben

First of all, football is way different than the two things you mentioned. Chess isn't even a sport. While I'm sure it's very challenging mentally, it takes no physical ability at all to play Chess, so let's not even discuss it. Sprinting is an individual sport, while football is the ultimate team game. If you are running a sprint, you just have to be the fastest person on the track. Jackson, on the other hand, has to learn a thick playbook, learn his assignments in the passing game, build chemistry with Brady, know when to cut his routes off, etc. In other words, a rookie receiver has a lot on his plate and it's not quite the same as being good at Chess.

Having said that, I thought Jackson had a very strong debut against the Jets. He made two big plays and to be honest, he was open a few more times throughout the game but Brady didn't look his way. He was basically running simple fly routes most of the time but he was killing his man off the line and once he gets that first step on a defender, no one is going to catch him. If teams play him one-on-one in the future, the end result will usually be Jackson doing some sort of dance in the end zone. I think Jackson will eventually become the Patriots go-to receiver but because he missed so much practice time, it's hard to predict when that will happen. Physically, he has all the tools to dominate at the NFL level.
-Tom Casale

Hey, keep up the good work guys. Now that Branch was traded for a draft pick, wouldn't that essentially mean there is an open spot on the 53-man roster? If so, couldn't the Patriots use that to bring someone up from the practice squad (Bam Childress)? Thanks and once again, keep up the good work.Brad Hanovich

Branch was put on the reserve/did not report list and didn't count towards the 53-man roster. Therefore, the Patriots still have a full roster and no extra room to bring another player aboard without releasing someone first.
-Tom Casale

I know this would never happen, but don't you think it would be great if they took away the fair catch. I personally love big hits and that would just add to the mayhem.Frank Osborn

So you were the one person who used to watch the XFL. While you may love mayhem, the NFL prefers to protect its players. I don't think they want to see returners carried off on stretchers every week. I wouldn't hold your breath on this rule change but if you want a good laugh, watch the episode of Jackass where Johnny Knoxville returns punts. He wears an Alabama uniform and returns kicks against the University of Tennessee football team without calling for fair catches. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life.
-Tom Casale

OK, I just might me late noticing this, but I did not see the Bills game. When watching the Jets game I noticed Samuel was the #2 cornerback and Hobbs the #1. I thought it was the other way around. Could you tell me how exactly that happened and when? Also, what score do you predict for the upcoming Broncos game? They don't seem to have been doing incredibly good.Andreas P

The Patriots don't really name a No. 1 corner. However, Hobbs appears to be the top cornerback on the team right now. He shadowed the Bills Lee Evans in Week 1 and held him to just two receptions for 25 yards. I think Samuel is a consistent corner, with Hobbs having the most physical ability and upside out of the two. We have to remember that this is only Hobbs' second season and he didn't start until midseason last year. I'm on record as saying Hobbs will be a future Pro Bowler. He's going to make some mistakes because he's aggressive and Patriots fans are just going to have to live with that right now. He keeps improving and has a chance to be one of the NFL's better cornerbacks in my opinion.

The Broncos defense has played extremely well, not giving up a touchdown in two games this season. However, their offense hasn't done anything up to this point. I'm not being a homer because I've thought this all along; I don't think the Broncos stand a chance on Sunday night. I expect the Patriots to put it all together this week and open up a can on the Broncos. The Denver defense will keep them in it for a while but the Patriots defense will create turnovers and Brady will finally have a great game. I'll go 38-10 Patriots. I think it's going to be a blowout.
-Tom Casale

First off I think that the Pats are still working the kinks out and this will probably take a few more games until the rest of the receivers get adjusted. Sure it is a tough start without Deion, but if Deion were out with an injury, the situation would be similar. I think they are looking good, but next week will be the real test. I think Mangini did a good job with what he has to work with and I think he disrupted the Pats just enough to at least give them a shot at the end of the game. The two real surprise question marks through week 2 is: Are the Dolphins tanking early with Dante and is the Bills defense for real? What do you think?Mark

I've said since the first time I saw him that I don't believe Culpepper is fully recovered from his knee injury and he shouldn't be on the field. Anyone with eyes could see that after only two series in the Steelers game. Apparently Nick Saban doesn't have eyes. I think the Dolphins are making a huge mistake by putting Culpepper on the field when he clearly isn't ready to play yet.

I have to say, early in the season, the Bills may be the second best team in the AFC East. I don't think they're a playoff contender quite yet because of their below-average passing game, although I do believe the team is heading in the right direction. Their defense is extremely fast and with a bunch of young players getting on the field already, they're only going to get better as the year goes on. The Bills might not get into the postseason but they have the look of one of those teams that will give their opponents fits every week. It has been a very impressive start for the Bills on the defensive side of the ball after two games.
-Tom Casale

After watching the blocked field goal on Sunday, I got to wondering who is to blame for it. Was it the line? Was it Gostkowski? The announcers did not really address the issue. I think it matters because a young kicker's mindset can be somewhat fragile, and if the Pats had lost, we would have heard a lot of Goat-kowski jokes. Luckily, the Pats won, and we may never have to worry about it, but I am curious about who should shoulder the most blame for a block?Peter Nessen

I thought he kicked the ball low. I wouldn't panic quite yet. Like you said, the Patriots won the game so there wasn't any damage done. However, in my opinion, the ball was low coming off Gostkowski's foot.
-Tom Casale

Do you guys think the team depends as much on Brady as everyone around the league (myself included) emphasize? I mean, we can all acknowledge the leadership and cool head he brings to the game and he's a completely non-replaceable player whose contribution is more than just completions or comeback stats or whatever but if (God forbid, knock on wood), something happened to Brady and we had to go to Cassel, do you think the season would be shot? Or do you think the rest of the team harbors enough talent to pull together and still put in a strong showing? I'm not predicting anything nor do I want to be a harbinger of doom but I'm sure the coaches have to consider these things so I was curious on your opinions about Cassel's ability to play the game if the time ever came.Jen

I really like Cassel and I actually think he may be a future starter in the NFL. But we are talking about Tom Brady who I believe is the best player in the NFL at any position (Despite what Sports Illustrated thinks). The Patriots would still be decent with Cassel but to lose a player of Brady's caliber is just too much for any team to overcome. That goes for the Colts or Bengals as well. They can't survive without their quarterbacks either. The Patriots could still have a respectable record with Cassel at quarterback but to get to where they want to go – the Super Bowl – the team needs Brady under center. He's just so darn good that he's the one player that can't be replaced.
-Tom Casale

I don't know about you guys, but I thought that Brady looked horrible yesterday throwing outside the numbers. Almost all of his passes were nowhere near the intended receiver. Troy Brown was often the target and he has been with Brady since day one so the timing should be there. The throw that Jackson dropped was nice, but other than that, I was not impressed. I am not dumping everything in Tom's lap, but it seems like he is really struggling to figure this team out. I hope it happens soon because the Broncos and Bengals are tougher tests. Do you think we will see a better Brady in those two games?Ben Kotz

I agree that Brady hasn't looked great up to this point in the season, yet the team is still 2-0. I'm sorry; I just can't get overly concerned with Brady's subpar performances yet. He's just too good of a quarterback for that to continue much longer. With Chad Jackson now healthy and Doug Gabriel getting on the field, I think Brady's numbers will start to look a lot better. My guess is he's been waiting for this Broncos game all offseason and he'll have a huge game this Sunday night. I know the Broncos secondary looks to have the edge over the Patriots receivers but I just have a hunch that Brady is going to breakout this week. I'm feeling over 300 yards passing and three touchdowns. Will that alleviate any worries you have?
-Tom Casale

Anybody could see that the Pats did not tackle well in Sunday's game. What concerns me is that tackling used to be one of the Patriots strong points, especially in the secondary. But the tackling by Eugene Wilson and company was very lackluster and the linebackers missed a handful themselves. Do you think that the downturn is from the changes in personnel or coaches? I'm sure Dean Pees was not pleased by Sunday's performance.Chris Sutrey

There's no question that the Patriots played sloppy in the second half against the Jets. I chalk it up to a team being way ahead and losing concentration. Obviously, this shouldn't happen but as Ellis Hobbs said after the game, it's something the team can easily fix in the future if they work on it. The way I see it, the Jets got back in the game on a great individual effort by Jerricho Cotchery. That was a third down play and if he doesn't make that amazing catch, I'm willing to say the Jets don't even score in that game. To a man, every Jets player I talked to after the game said that one play energized the team and woke them up. Now, the Coles touchdown catch and run was embarrassing. There were too many missed tackles and players taking bad angles on the ball carrier. Still, I think it comes down to a situation where a team is headed towards an easy victory and one incredible play changed the momentum of the game. Overall, I think the Patriots defense has played very well in the first two weeks and I've been impressed with the play calling of Pees. If the sloppy tackling continues, it will be a problem but I'm not concerned just yet. However, if they tackle that way in a couple of weeks at Cincinnati, the Patriots are going to be in trouble.
-Tom Casale

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