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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Apr 14 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 PM

Ask PFW: offseason hot stove

Lifelong Pats fan, but I only began reading Ask PFW a few months ago. Really enjoyed it, so I subscribed to the magazine. It's like getting Easter candy when you're a kid! Do you devour it all in the first day, or try to make it last awhile? Let's just say, mine was done in hours… can't wait until it comes out weekly.Here's my question… with all the recent success of organizations that emphasize coaching, system and "team" (Pats, Detroit Pistons, Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Angels)… over teams trying to buy a championship with outrageous contracts and spending (Redskins, Lakers, Red Wings & Yankees)… Do you think the free-spenders may finally learn the lesson that it takes a team (coaching and ownership included) to win a championship, not just a few elite players? The Patriots were the ultimate example… having the adaptive coaching staff and quality "2nd tier" to overcome all the injuries last season and still win it all.(I know baseball may be an exception because it is often played as a collection of individuals rather than as a team, but I couldn't resist including the "evil empire" with the spenders).

John D.
Washington, D.C.

I think it's great when the team that wins does so with a selfless approach, but I don't think we've seen enough champions do it "the Patriots way" to establish a trend. Do we really think the Yankees won't win more than anyone else with their spend-more approach? I think the Pistons have to be considered the NBA exception rather than the rule. Coaching probably plays a bigger role in football than in other sports because the coach dictates the atmosphere probably more than in other sports and has to because of the size of his team. In hockey, a hot goalie can win you a Stanley Cup, but I think the team that can buy the best players will always be in the mix. Spending doesn't guarantee winning in those non-capped sports, but it buys a chance to contend.

Does our long snapper Lonnie Paxton have any other position he practices at as a low stringer or emergency situation? He is approximately the size of our TEs, LBs, and FBs. What was he in college? Is Brian Sawyer in the same boat? I have never heard of someone drafting a snapper. Thanks
Eric. J. Alexander
Vineyard Haven, Mass.

He doesn't play another position and Sawyer is here only to long snap as well, particularly while Lonie recovers from knee surgery. Neither player was drafted, though. Each signed as an undrafted rookie free agent.

Hello from Bonnie Scotland. I've been a Patriot's fan since '86, a real rollercoaster ride! It's great to be competing with the best these days, and dominating, after the disappointments of the wilderness years. My question concerns Robert Edwards: What happened to him after he was cut by the Patriots? How do you rate his rookie year?After the courage and determination he showed to overcome such a horrendous injury, he deserved success. I reckon he had the potential to be a great running back. Would you agree? Keep up the good work.

Stuart Rowan
Kilmarnock, Ayrshire

Robert signed with and played for Miami after leaving New England. He was a third down back and special teamer. He is not currently on an NFL roster. I think all of New England rooted for Robert to make a successful comeback and his return to the field was uplifting. As far as his rookie year, I thought it was decent. He had a nose for the goal line, but he wasn't a Pro Bowl back. I think he was only going to get better with experience since he only played the position for two years in college.

I grew up in CT loving the PATS. I have been away from NE for 24 years and only 1 or 2 games were shown on national TV a year, it stunk. I have two questions. 1: I lived in LaLa land when JJ Stokes was at UCLA. He got great press runs there, what happened to his career, and why is he a Patriot again? 2: The Patriots played 2 games at Reliant Stadium last year, and Adam V.(Mr. Clutch) seemed to have trouble with the playing surface both times, why?
John
Houston, Texas

Stokes never really lived up to his billing as the 10th pick in the draft. But Bill Belichick loved what he gave them last year as a veteran mid-season pickup with a great attitude and work ethic. He raved about Stokes' efforts to come in during the season and put in the time to help out when needed. They re-signed him in the offseason to give him a legitimate chance to make the team with a better knowledge of the playbook. I think the coaches feel he earned that opportunity.

Who do you think will be the next player inducted into the Patriots HOF? And which current Pat has the best chance to get in? I would guess Bruschi, Vinatieri, McGinest and Ty Law would be the favorites.
Mike Simonelli
Pittsfield, Mass.

I would say Ben Coates would be the next to get in. Which current Pat has the BEST chance? While I think all of those players you mentioned could and probably will be in, I would say Vinatieri is a lock.

I've been a football fan for as long as I can remember and the Patriots are my all time favorite team and I was just wondering…since the Patriots got a new Tight End, what's going to happen to Christian Fauria? He's is my favorite player ever and he's one of the best looking out there..this is the last season of his contract right? I don't want him to leave!! By the way..I am a 16 year old girl..so I had to say he was hot!! You guys are doing an awesome job - keep up the good work!!
Tory
Dudley, Mass.

Tory, Christian will be here in 2004 and perhaps even 2005 since he restructured his contract and added another season to the end. So don't fret. But how about you root for him to stick around for his production rather than his looks. That's very demeaning. He is a person ya know, not just an object. (I'm just kidding with you. I know many women find him pleasing to the eye). Thanks for checking in.

I may have the dumbest question of all time for you. Does Bob Kraft have a room big enough to fit everyone that attended the ring ceremony (not to mention the rings themselves )and how many people were there? Also, is Troy Brown a lock to be on the team come opening day? It would be a shame if he was the odd man out. He still has a few good years in him and although you may be able to replace his production, he still would be missed.
Joe
Brighton, Mass.

First, I wasn't at nor have I ever been to Robert Kraft's home and I don't know how many people were there for the ring ceremony. But I do know that the party took place inside a big tent in the yard and not inside his house. Troy Brown had his contract guaranteed for 2004 so he is a lock to make the club.

Just wanted to say that it was really nice to hear Bruschi work out his own deal and re-sign with the Patriots. He is simply one of the humblest, hardest working football players in the league. He is really first class. Why don't more players handle their own contracts? What is the typical percentage that an agent would make? Thanks and keep up the good work.
Mark
Worcester, Mass.

The best thing about it is that Tedy can take what he hears during negotiations and handle it professionally. I think there is a mutual respect there and while an agent may have been able to land Tedy a little more money, his contract is real and he will probably see every dime of that $8-plus million as opposed to some fake contract that an agent trumpets as a $20 million deal that is really worth half that and is backloaded so that the player will be released. An agent typically receives anywhere from 0-3 percent of a deal. Some agents will accept less than 3 percent if they also get to charge for handling personal finances or make commissions off such investment earnings. I agree with your assessment of Bruschi and I admire him for standing by his convictions and not listening to outsiders unaware of his feelings. Only he can decide what is important to him and playing for the Patriots for his whole career is obviously important. Hopefully, we'll see him earn some money through endorsements locally. I would certainly sign him to sell my product because he personifies what the Patriots have been for the past three years. His allegiance to this team scores points with fans and I think he would be a coup for a local marketer.

I thought I would ask this question since Patriots radio was shortened last week. I wanted to know what you thought Jarvis Green's role would be this year after showing some promise at the end this past year. I also wanted to know what you thought Marquise Hill's role would be this year. Finally, can you give all the readers a first impression you got from mini camp on this years rookies and the players that we didn't see much last year. Thanks for keeping everyone sane during these boring months.
Mike
Naperville, Ill.

Jarvis Green will continue to see his play time increase. He played about half the snaps last year. He will likely be a regular in subpackages as an interior pass rusher and then will rotate in on the end in the base 3-4. I have no idea what Hill will do. It's impossible to judge linemen during mini-camp when there are no pads on. Just watching him in some drills, I didn't think he looked very quick. I thought Guss Scott looked decent playing alongside Rodney Harrison with Eugene Wilson out of action. Benjamin Watson and Cedric Cobbs were slowed by injury. I think P.K. Sam made a positive impression. Christian Morton is fast, but I'd say he faces an uphill battle to make the club. I think Tully Banta-Cain is the player with the potential to make the biggest jump forward from last year to this.

What area, or, areas do you see need improvement for our 2004 NE Patriots get to the Super Bowl again? Rosie will certainly help our linebacker corps, but what about the offensive line. Can we really expect the group of lineman to hold up against a full schedule, or, do you expect changes?PS: It was great to have the Patriots visit me for a change, the trips to Boston were getting a little expensive!

K. Vargas
Houston, Texas

The Patriots will need to be better in third down and in the red zone offensively. That's where Corey Dillon's production should have the biggest impact. His ability to run inside the 20 should give the offense more options when in close. Also, he gives the offense more versatility as a receiver than Antowain Smith did. Smith was not a natural pass catcher and Dillon doesn't need to be replaced by Kevin Faulk to get a pass catching back in the game. Having another capable tight end should help those areas as well because it provides another big, physical target for Tom Brady, who spreads the ball around well. I think the offensive line could use another veteran body to provide more stability.

Hey Paul, What do you do with a drunken sailor? Thanks.
The Coach
Merrimack, N.H.

You put him in the scuppers with a hose pipe on him. You put him in the longboat 'till he's sober and you tie him by the legs in a running bowline. Why what do you do with a drunken sailor?

My question is about NFL salaries. How do the players get paid? Do they only receive game checks, or do they get paid weekly/bi-weekly/monthly throughout the whole year (like the rest of us common folk)? Also, what happens when a player signs a contract in the off-season, and then gets cut during camp? Does he receive any money since he never actually played in a regular season game? Keep up the good work!
Pete
Holbrook, Mass.

Players get paid 1/17th of their salary weekly during the season and then receive nothing in the offseason other then stipends set in the CBA for mandatory team activities such as mini-camp and training camp. They could get it over the course of the year, but would have to defer their salary to see if they make the team since players are not paid if they do not make the club. For example, let's say player X wanted to spread his salary over the course of the league year, which begins in March. The team wouldn't pay any money until the player made the team because if he didn't make it, the club would have to have to get that money back or incur a salary cap charge. So essentially the player could get paid from September through February. All of the Patriots get their money in 1/17th increments during the season. All players in training camp earn the same amount of money since their salaries don't begin to be paid until the season begins. If a player gets cut, he keeps only his signing bonus, but no salary.

What's the word on David Patten? He's one of my favorite Pats (especially since the run/pass/throw for a TD game in 2001) and I've always felt his contribution to the team has been a bit underrated. I know he got injured early last season and was wondering if you have any news on how he's holding up health-wise and what his expected roll will be for the upcoming season. Thanks.
Jon
Amherst, Mass.

I think David will make the team and continue to play a similar role to what he has played in the past. He may not be the starter, but all the receivers will play and get plenty of chances given the balance the group has. He wore a red no-contact shirt during mini-camp, but looked good running and catching the ball without a hitch. I agree that he is underrated because while he doesn't wow you with his skills, he makes clutch catches. He was paid a $250,000 roster bonus this spring that I think gives him some security.

Have the Pats found a punter? Drafted one? Can he hold for Adam V.?I know Ken Walter was the key holder for field goals for Adam V. but there must be a better punting talent out there that can contibute.

Bob. H.
Stoneham, Mass.

Bob, where have you been? Josh Miller is the new punter and he will hold for Adam on field goals and PATs.

Just a quick question for the expert staff at Patriots Football Weekly: Who do you think is the best receiver on the Patriots? I am having trouble choosing between David Givens, Deion Branch and Troy Brown. I guess Dedric Ward is a pretty good receiver as well. By the way, I live in the heart of Jets/Giants territory and I love touting my team to all of the desperate NY fans. I would appreciate it if the Patriots came down here and taught Kurt Warner or Eli Manning a lesson.
Alex B.
West Orange, N.J.

This is a tough call, but I still have to go with Troy Brown. Until someone shows the ability to make the toughest catches at the biggest times the way Troy Brown does, I have to go with him. That is to take nothing away from the other two, who both played remarkably well down the stretch last year and in the Super Bowl. David Givens is developing into an all-around receiver with blocking skills while Branch can get deep and go over the middle as well. Dedric Ward is not as good as the other three, which only matters if you are a Cowboys fan since he is now playing for them.

What is the NFL rule on blocked field goal kicks? It seems that the defensive team reacts differently when the ball goes away from the line of scrimmage (aggressive) and beyond the line of scrimmage (passive).Why don't teams put more than one player back when the opposing team attempts a very long FG to return the ball if its short? Does it matter if the ball hits the ground or not to be returned?Finally, I know there's a 'drop kick' rule in the NFL where the punter can kick (punt) the ball thru the uprights for 3 pts but I don't remember ever seeing one? When last did this happen?

Andrew Chea
Nassau, Bahamas

If a blocked field goal lands on the defense's side of the line of scrimmage and the blocking team touches the ball, it is live and can be recovered by the kicking team and advanced or recovered for a first down. If the blocking team doesn't touch it, it's a dead ball and the blocking team takes over at the spot of the kick. If a blocked FG lands on the kicking team's side of the line of scrimmage, it can be recovered and advanced by the blocking team.
A field goal can be made by a drop kick in the same manner as it is now by place kick. As long as the kick comes from behind the line of scrimmage, it can be drop kicked through the uprights for a field goal. It can also be done on a fair catch kick, which occurs immediately following a fair catch. Upon making a fair catch, the receiving teams opts to either put the ball in play by snap or via a fair catch kick, which could be a drop kick field goal attempt. As far as putting more than 1 player back on a long field goal attempt, what would be the point? On a long field goal, the kicker is likely trying to kick more of a line drive and therefore his kick, in theory, should be easier to block so it's beneficial to have more rushers. Also, one man back is certainly capable of catching and returning the missed kick.

This is more of a public service announcement than a question. The inspiration for this comes from Roger from Milford, N.H. who stated that he misses living in New England.Ahem. To all PFW readers: New Hampshire is part of New England. That's all. Thank you for your time.By the way, PFW RULES!

Bryan O'Bryan
Dunn Loring, Va.

Very funny BrYan. Ryan is with a Y. Bryant is with a Y. Why would Bryan be with an I? I don't get that. Maybe we should start spelling Hart's first name AndI. Now, thanks for the geography lesson. Did you know that New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut could all fit into Maine?

I understand that Ben Watson will probably need time to develop as a major a contributor in a scheme as complex as that of the Patriots. But given that, do you feel that Bill is demonstrating his usual visionary genius by potentially doubling the effect of the difficulty in defending against the new faster, more athletic tight end by utilizing the two tight end set more extensively? Or do you think that he is merely adding depth and youth to the position used in the traditional role?
Neal McGrew
Brookline, Mass.

Good question Neal. I think it's some of both. If Kevin Jones was available at 32, he was the pick. I think the Patriots drafted what they thought was the best player in that spot knowing Watson would add more versatility to the offense and the formations. The Patriots now have three tight ends who can catch and two with the speed to get down the field and create some mismatches. They also have three with capable blocking skills. They could line up in a two or even three tight end set and then motion one or two to the slots or even wide and go from a tight run formation to a spread passing formation. They could run or throw out of either look. Their tight end package gives them a lot of possibilities.

Hey, I just have a quick question about the draft... to be eligible to be entered in it would you have to of played college ball? I ask this because i'm still unsure about college but do want to try and make it in the NFL still. Also if someone were to play in the arena league and they were young could they possibly be signed by a pro team if they had impressive numbers? Thanks a lot, keep up the good work!
Dana Rodriques
Camden, Maine

There is no rule requiring a player to play college football to be drafted. Eric Swann was not playing when he was a first round pick of the Cardinals. He was training with Mike Boyle at Boston University when he was selected. But it is rare and if you truly have NFL aspirations, you're best bet is college football.

I don't know if I am just being stupid but I heard some people saying that Lawyer Milloy has a brother named Doctor. I knew that if anyone knew you guys would.
Tito
Boston, Mass.

You are not stupid. Just gullible.

I've never been so excited for a Pats season than the one coming up. The defense looks quite "deep" and I hope We can utilize the power effectively. I would like to know your opinion on who may be the defensive starters this year. Rookies and Vets included. I have a strange feeling we may meet Dallas in the Super Bowl.
Nate Alfiero
Portland, Maine

OK, here's my guess for opening day assuming all are healthy: Keith Traylor (NT), Richard Seymour (DE), Ty Warren (DE), Willie McGinest (OLB), Tedy Bruschi (ILB), Roman Phifer (ILB), Mike Vrabel (OLB), Ty Law (CB), Asante Samuel (CB), Rodney Harrison (SS) and Eugene Wilson (FS).

I don't understand why we drafted Marquise Hill even though he was projected to go a lot earlier in the draft. Although he would be a good fit as an end in our 3-4 defense, he is never going to start except during an injury. Seymour and Warren are at ages 23 and 24, and our future nose tackle (Vince Wilfork) is 22 years old. Do you think that we will trade him for a player or a 1st or 2nd round pick?
Nathan
Snohomish, Wash.

No. If there is a defensive lineman available who is worth the draft slot or was projected higher, you take him. Good defensive linemen are hard to find and a strong front can lead to a dominant defense. I don't know if Hill can play, but if he was projected higher and would have been a high pick next year, then I think he is worth the last pick in the second round. You can never have enough good defensive linemen. They don't play every snap and you need depth.

I'd like to know where you stand on the Pats use(some might say overuse) of the wide receiver screen, and five yard curl, dump, and outs? Seeing as how they went to those plays, primarily to keep the clock rolling because they lacked a consistent running game (Smith was 3 yds and a cloud of dust on his best days). Do you think that the addition of Dillon (a career 4.7 yds per carry guy) will allow for a larger diet of intermediate routes? Also do you think the Pats start the season with 6 wideouts, neither Branch, Givens, nor Johnson have exactly proven to be ironmen, I remember each of them leaving early or missing games due to injury last season. Last question do you believe that the defense might start slowly due to the influx of new (and young) players being added in the offseason, some of which are going to be manning positions they've never played before (Traylor)? Injuries aside, because that is only thing none of us can predict, they should contend and make it into the playoffs. That's all we can ask for, because in the NFL funky things happen in the playoffs and the best team going in can lose in the Divisional Game.
Cautiously Optimistic
Brockton, Mass.

I think the Patriots passing game was effective last year. Most teams throw the largest percentage of their passes 10 yards or less and that includes the 1999 Rams that scored 500 points. According to Stats, Inc., Kurt Warner attempted 327 passes of 10 yards or fewer and 172 of more than 10 that championship season. Last year, Tom Brady attempted 346 passes of 10 or fewer yards and 181 of more than 10. So I have no problem with the short passes the Patriots throw as long as they remain effective. I think Brady does a good job working away from the teeth of the defense. Also, the Patriots made a much greater effort to work more downfield passes into the offense last year.
I do think they could keep six WR and durability might be the biggest reason. Bethel Johnson was the only opening day wide receiver who didn't miss any games with injuries and he left more than one game with some kind of ailment.
Defensively, Keith Traylor is the only new body that will be expected to jump right in as a starter from Day One so I don't think there should be much of a hiccup. Guys like Hill and Wilfork and Scott will get a chance to work in slowly barring injuries. Newcomers like Buckley and Otis Smith know the system.

What are your views on Ty's latest change of heart???
Al Siciliano
Waltham, Mass.

He makes me laugh. He went from not wanting to wear the uniform to wanting to retire here? It all has to do with his agenda in the moment. I give him credit, though, because I share his belief that the offseason is the time to handle personal stuff like contracts and the season is when it's time to be a team player. I think he recognized that. He didn't apologize for insulting his coach, but they met and realized that they share the same goal. Ty will be paid well in 2004. I respect Ty Law and have for many years. I think he either used bad judgment or followed bad advice in his offseason media tour dubbed "the Hungry Man Tour" but he reported to mini-camp and faced his coach and the media, thereby putting the offseason foolishness in the past. But his desire to remain a Patriot after doing his best to get out of town still makes me laugh. The almighty dollar can cause people to act out of character.

Hey, I know Ben Watson is listed as a tight end but surely with his speed (4.4) he could quite easily line up as a slot receiver, allowing Fauria or Graham to play in a one tight-end set.And I'm one for ignoring draft numbers, but when you consider 4.4 speed for a TE as productive as Kellen (and smarter) then I don't understand the criticism of the pick. Surely he was the best available WR/TE at that point?

Andy Silvester
Epsom, England

I think Watson will be used tight, wide, in the slot and in the backfield. He did not prove at the college level to be as productive as Winslow, who was a top 10 pick, so to put him in that category based on his speed is a stretch at this point. I don't think it was bad pick, but let's let him get on the field before we determine that.

Do you think that all of the Patriots draft picks will make the roster?
Bo Traits
Burlington, Vt.

No. I think Morton is a long shot. Sam will have a tough time cracking the deep receiving corps although I think he'll make it. One of the two safeties may have a tough time as well, probably Reid. I wouldn't be shocked to see Cobbs land on an injured list after only partially participating in mini-camp.

Why is fullback such an under-appreciated position with many teams? A versatile fullback that can block, and catch the ball in the flats is a great option to have, yet teams find every excuse they can to hire some no-name slouch to be the FB. Doesn't anyone remember Keith Byars and Daryl Johnston?
Prince Brown
Atlanta, Ga.

It's just not a dynamic, playmaking position. The fullback serves as an unglamorous lead blocker, catches a few passes in the flat and gets an occasional carry up the middle. It's not a position in which teams want to sink any significant money because it's not a position that requires the athleticism of a tailback or a wideout. I do think a capable fullback can be an asset to an offense, but in an era when speed, spread formations and single-back sets are in vogue, the fullback has become less valuable. Moose was more of a cult hero type in Dallas because he was an awesome lead blocker for Emmitt. He also was a solid receiver out of the backfield in a weapon-filled offense. But it's not like he was the key ingredient of an offense that had Irvin, Emmitt, Aikman, Harper, Novacek and an excellent offensive line. I'm not trying to diminish his ability and impact because I think he was a great fullback. But how many fullbacks are there that you even know off the tip of your tongue? It's like playing guard. It's unglamorous.

Do you think that Asante Samuel will beat out Tyrone Poole for the starting CB job?
Stevie B
Portland, Maine

Yes. I don't think that is a slight toward Poole, but I think Samuel's nose for the football will be more apparent this year. He will be given the opportunity to win that job and I predict that he will win it.

This is a comment about some reports that the patriots got a steal in the signing of teddy bruschi, that is making agents 'throw up in their mouths' (boston herald). What the reporter fails to take into consideration is the sheer percentage of the contract that is given as a bonus. Yes an average of ~2 mil a year is a steal for a linebacker of bruschi's caliber, but for an agent to walk away from the table with more than 40% of the contract as a bonus is also a steal. I think that bruschi has done a great thing in negotiating a straight forward deal without any backloading of the contract that could get him cut later or hurt his team's salary cap situation, but still gives him financial security for the future. He has basically guaranteed that he will see all 8 million of the four-year contract instead of taking a gamble that his skills will not erode making him a cap casualty as his pay escalates (as most nfl contracts do). Your thoughts?
Justin
Montreal, Quebec

I agree that he signed a deal that ensures he will see the whole thing, which makes it a true $8 million deal without any fake money in there to inflate it. Agents often include such years and money to make them look better and make it easier to recruit new clients. Bruschi doesn't have to worry about that and I'm quite sure he knows what other guys get paid and then determines his acceptable salary. He wants to stay in New England even if it means taking less than he could get on the open market. Good for him. He's a rare bird. But what is this 40 percent you speak of? Agents get about 3 percent of a contract, which is just more than $243,000 in an $8.1 million contract.

I was wondering…If the Patriots win their first 3 games of the season; wouldn't they be tied with the 72-73 Dolphins for the longest winning streak in NFL history at 18? If so, wouldn't the home game against the Dolphins the following week be one of the biggest in team history? If this is true, then I think this team can easily accomplish this goal if they play up to their full potential. Not only that, but they should be able to extend the streak for at least for 2 more games as the following 2 weeks are home games as well.
James Edwards
Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

OK, here it is: The regular season record for consecutive wins is 17 by the 1933-34 Bears. The Patriots are at 12. The record for consecutive wins, including postseason, is 18 by five teams – the 1933-34 Bears, the 1941-42 Bears, the 1972-73 Dolphins, the 1997-98 Broncos and the 1989-90 49ers. The Patriots have 15. So if they win their first three games, they will tie those teams with the fourth game of the season coming at home against the Dolphins. In that scenario, the Pats would have a chance to beat the Dolphins and break their record with 19 straight.

Thanks for keeping us Pats fans in touch during the offseason. I've been reading PFW since last season and have a fun time sharing it with friends (who are quick to point out here in Texas, Bill Parcells couldn't win the big one in NE, of course I remind them of last year's Dallas/NE game). My question for you guys is about Kliff Kingsbury...he played well here at Texas Tech and enjoyed the benefits of the Leech offense. He spent much of last year slowed by injury (can't remember exactly what) but still seems to be slow picking up the offense. What have been your observations? Also, Lawrence Flugence played bigger than his size at Tech (hard hitting, fast moving) and seemed to have a good season in Europe... anyone seriously consider him making the team?P.S. In case I seem too Texan, I was born and raised in Ware, MA.

Jeff
Lubbock, Texas

I would say that Flugence has to be considered a long shot given the depth at linebacker, but wouldn't rule him out as a practice squad developmental player. I don't know much about him and may be better qualified to answer that in late August. Kinsgbury is trying to make an adjustment to a play-action type passing game, which requires him to turn his back to the defense and then turn back and make his reads. That's something he wasn't asked to do in college and is a big adjustment for him. I think his arm strength still might be a question, but we'll get a better gauge on that in preseason action.

Hey Paul I'll bet you $100 dollars you wont post this question! What do you think was the most crucial difference for Bill B. between his losing years in Cleveland and his incredible success here in New England. In short what do you think was different here for him that allowed him to excel? Oh, and on the name thing, try growing up in the late 70's early 80's, the peak of star wars mania, with the name "Luke". "Luke.........I am ....your father" that got really old. Love the column. Great job!
Luke
Brockton, Mass.

"Run Luke, Run" – Obi Wan before being slain by Darth Vader.
Now pay up Luke. $100 in any form. I don't want to sit here and make excuses for Bill for his Cleveland record because I didn't cover it and wasn't exactly following the 1991-1995 Browns closely. However, I think he probably tried to control everything too much, including the media and didn't go about things the right way. It certainly wasn't his Xs and Os prowess that cost him. He was combative at times with the media and fought a losing battle with those guys who never run out of ink. He didn't delegate well enough and might even have been over-obsessed with every detail if that's possible. He probably didn't handle player relations very well either.
But he took over a team that went 3-13 in 1990. He doubled the win total to 6 in 1991, improved it to 7 in 1992, remained stagnant at 7 in 1993 before winning 11 and making the playoffs in 1994. He appeared to have the team on the right track. He got off to a 3-1 start in 1995 when news broke that the team was moving to Baltimore. That caused some unrest that affected the whole organization. The team went 2-10 the rest of the way for whatever reason in a major collapse. I think he's learned to keep player relations closer to the vest and he now shields them from criticism as much as possible. In Cleveland he might have been more apt to lash out. He's done a better job of creating a selfless, team atmosphere here and is careful that his actions and words don't deviate from that so as not to look like a self-serving fraud while preaching one thing in the locker room and another in public. He also learned the kind of player he needs to win. I think that without that Cleveland experience, Belichick would not have been as successful as he's been in New England.

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