A lot has been said and speculated about our new cornerbacks' ability to cover guys like Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens. How big of an advantage do those guys have over other corners in the league by getting to cover Randy Moss every day in practice. It seems like the best practice for covering some of the best wide receivers in games would be to cover the BEST wide receiver during practice, which they are doing on a daily basis.
In theory, yes. When you compete against the best, your own level of play should improve. The Pats corners are not only going against one of the best receivers the game has ever seen, but also one of, if not the best quarterbacks in NFL history. We've asked players about this before, and they all admit it helps them develop as corners. But what's important is not how they play in practice, but how they perform when it counts. And we won't know the answer to that until this year's team starts playing some games.
Will Bill Belichick break any more records this season? I'm aware that he is at least 100 away from all-time wins, needs only four to tie the all-time playoff wins, and one to tie Super Bowl victories. Please fill me in on what records are looming and achievable in the medium term. Thanks for doing an OUTSTANDING JOB this off-season.
Rich Markell, Canada
Well, Rich, first of all, thanks for the kind words. Second, Belichick actually needs about 200 more wins to catch Don Shula, whose 347 wins are the most in league history. So, that's not happening anytime soon. I think you answered your own question, though. The only record that would mean anything to Belichick would be winning that fourth Lombardi Trophy. That's definitely achievable in the short term.
- I have heard rumors that the NFL is going to expand the season with 20 games. I personally do not like this idea. Records will be shattered easily including Tom Brady's 50 TD passes and Randy Moss's 23 TD receptions. What are your thoughts? Thank you very much.
I agree and disagree with you, Isaak. I agree that going to 20 regular season games is not a good idea. The schedule is fine the way it is. No need to go messing with it. However, if the league does expand the schedule by two games, I don't necessarily think that records like Brady's will be "easily" shattered, as you predict. Twenty games is a lot of time, of course, but that also means most players won't make it that far. The likelihood of injuries increases with two extra meaningful games, so that might negate any extra opportunities that might arise from the added snaps. Besides, the records you cited aren't very easy to approach, let alone break. Even with two more games, it would take a long time before anyone came close to eclipsing 50 TD passes or 23 TD receptions.
I noticed the practice Jerseys have "Gillette" on them. I know Gillette sponsors the Patriots stadium, so my questions are: Is the ad on the practice jersey new for this year? Is this a sign of things to come in regards to game day jerseys?
My answers are: yes, and I hope not. This year, the NFL gave teams the option to sell corporate sponsorships on their practice jerseys. I haven't heard of very many teams taking this up, however. Maybe they have and it's just not being publicized enough. Only one or two teams (the Jets among them, I believe) came out with announcements about this recently. I suppose I'm OK with the one Gillette-style patch that the Pats have, but I don't want the NFL to start looking like some European soccer team or a NASCAR vehicle, which have basically become walking billboards.
Andy, in your rankings of the Patriots roster players, your comment about Stephen Gostkowski was that he was the best player at his position in the game. I don't totally disagree, but what did you base this on? I still think back about the field goal Belichick did NOT let him kick in the Super Bowl and wonder...what if?
Phil, Phil, Phil … you've put me in the unenviable position of having to defend my juvenile colleague, Andy Hart. Much as it pains me to do this, I must come to his defense. He made his comment (which is in our training camp preview issue of PFW) based on the fact that Gostkowski was name to the NFL's All-Pro team last year. That distinction is given to players who are deemed – by the experts who vote on these things – the best in the game at their position.
But thanks for reading the paper, and keep looking for items to take issue with when it comes to Andy's writing. I'm sure you'll find plenty of other examples of his foolishness to bring to our attention.
Hi PFW, as you may or may not know, Kevin O'Connell received a rating of 41 (out of 99) on Madden 2010. This is by far the lowest rating on the Patriots, and one of the lowest I've ever seen in Madden games. From what you've seen, is Kevin O'Connell capable of being a backup QB, or is EA Sports just pulling ratings out of a hat? (P.S. - T.J. Houshmanzadeh was angry for receiving a 91 rating.).
First off, O'Connell is capable of being not just a backup, but one day a starter in this league. I have no doubts about that. The kid is one of the best QB prospects I've ever seen coming out of college. And he has the luxury of tutoring under Tom Brady, which is an advantage that virtually no other QB will ever have. So, Bob, don't put too much stock in what some software nerd at a video game company thinks about any player's skill set. He's probably never seen an NFL practice in his life, or broken down game film, to know what he's talking about. He doesn't have time. He's too busy playing silly video games.