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Ask PFW: Patriots Nation fires back at Angry Andy

I think most Pats fans are being cautiously optimistic for a Rodney Harrison return next year. In the event that he is a little slow for safety, do you think he could bulk up a little and play outside linebacker? He certainly is physical enough and can cover running backs and tight ends coming across the middle. How about those blitzes he could send at opposing quarterbacks? Could this work?Rafael Ordoñez

I don't think so. Harrison is way too small to play linebacker. On running plays, bigger offensive linemen would engulf him. Plus, it's a totally different position that he's never played before. Harrison will do his best to come back and contribute next season but it will be at safety, not outside linebacker. That much I'm sure of.
-Tom Casale

The rumor is Drew Brees is going to become a free agent. What are the chances the Dolphins make a big push for him and if they were to land him, what does this mean for the Patriots and the AFC East?Nathan F.

If Brees does indeed become a free agent you can expect the Dolphins to go after him hard. Miami will be in the market for any quality quarterback that becomes available and Brees is the best of the bunch. What does this mean for the AFC East? It means the Dolphins will be a strong contender to unseat the Patriots. That's what it means. I know a lot of Patriots fans think the Dolphins resurgence is overrated but I'm not one of those people. They played really well in Nick Saban's first year and I think they will be even better next season. Right now, they have an obvious weakness at the quarterback position but signing Brees would take care of that. This is a big "if" but you can expect the Dolphins to be very aggressive this offseason in free agency as the gap between them and the Patriots continues to close. I know Patriots Nation doesn't want to hear this but people better start taking notice of what Saban is doing down there in Miami because that team is on the path to becoming a perennial playoff contender.
-Tom Casale

As much as I would like to see a running back taken in the first round, I think that linebacker is without a doubt the most important position to upgrade. Unless LenDale White or DeÁngelo Williams is available at 21(unlikely) they should stick to the defense. Bobby Carpenter would be great. Do you think he would fit in well with the Pats?Caesar Arroyo

I totally agree that Carpenter would be a great fit for the Pats. He's 255 pounds, athletic and he can play both inside and outside in the 3-4. The only problem is the Cowboys are selecting ahead of the Patriots and I have them picking Carpenter at 18. Carpenter's father played for Bill Parcells in New York and the Cowboys really need a bigger linebacker because most of their current linebackers are undersized. I think if Carpenter is on the board when the Patriots pick, he has a good chance of playing in New England but I also see him being a great fit in Dallas.
-Tom Casale

You guys do a great job and every question I ever have about the Pats can be answered by simply reading the articles you post on the website. You seem to get a lot of redundant questions concerning Ty Law but I haven't noticed much discussion on something that I would think to be relevant. In your opinion, does the prospect of being THE all-time interception leader for the Pats weigh in as a factor in Ty Law's decision in free agency? I would like to see him back but you guys know him a lot better than we do.Linus Kuplast

Hello again from Manila, Philippines. I know that most people want to make as much money as they can in their respective careers whether it's in the NFL or in the corporate sector. Hey, we all need to feed our kids right? I just find it a little unnerving when Ty Law says and I quote, "That's what it's all about for me right now. I need to win another title" and then goes on to say he's looking for about $10 million next season in guaranteed bonus money. With the salary cap looking like it'll be around $95 million next year, does he really expect to be with a strong title contender if his salary alone takes up so much cap space? Does that really sound like someone with a team first attitude which, as the Patriots have proved time and again, is what you need to win Lombardi trophies? It's a little ironic to me that he made those two statements practically in one breath. If he wants to get paid and there's someone out there who's willing to give him that money then more power to him. I don't have a problem with that at all. It just seems like his "I am a team guy" type statements don't jive with what he's truly concerned with, and that's "Show me the Money". If that's who Ty Law really is then he should be consistent and stick with that persona. I guess I just don't buy the idea that he's all of a sudden not always looking out for No. 1.Chris Yao

Linus, I was going to answer your question but the thrilla from Manila did it for me. Thanks Chris for saving me all that typing. Ty Law already has three Super Bowl rings so he's going to the team that offers him the most money. Plain and simple. Chris was right on when he pointed out the contradiction in Law's remarks. Listen, I love Law and I wish he would return to New England but I just don't see it happening. I said it before on here and I'll say it again: Ty Law is going to do what's best for Ty Law financially. I'm not saying that's a bad thing – he has his Super Bowl rings – I'm just saying that's the way it is.
-Tom Casale

I know cornerback has been a need the past couple years but I really hope we don't break the bank on a free agent or top draft choice. With Ellis Hobbs, Asante Samuel and Randall Gay, we have a nice young core. Also, if Guss Scott comes back and starts the year at safety while Harrison recovers, Artrell Hawkins is versatile enough to play CB. And if he didn't get booed out of town, Duane Starks should have a rebound year after playing injured most of the season before finally going on IR. Also if we bring Chad Scott back and perhaps draft a cornerback in the 3rd or 4th round if the value is right, we could be in real good shape in the secondary. What are your thoughts on this? Also I would like to thank Tom Casale for the articles (mock draft, free agent wish list, position reviews). I know some of the readers here don't appreciate how much work goes into something like that but keep it up.Jay Corbeille

Well Jay, thanks for the props. I'm glad you enjoy the articles. It's my opinion that fans right now care about free agency and the draft so I'm trying to pump out as much information as possible in those two areas. I agree with you in regards to the cornerback position. I know a lot of people are predicting the Patriots will sign a big-name free agent or draft a corner in the first round but I just don't see it. Like you said, they have some good young depth at the position and I think they will add a couple more cost-friendly veterans in free agency. I don't think both Starks and Scott will return. One of them might but I don't see both players coming back. The secondary needs a bit of an upgrade but with all the injuries they suffered in 2005, I don't think the position is as weak as some people think. I do, however, believe the safety position needs to be addressed. Guss Scott has been injured too much for the team to depend on him.
-Tom Casale

When will you guys stop giving the "right" answer and speak from your hearts? Sometimes you just get a feeling that if a bad call just went you way, you would have won the game. Regardless of what happened after the fact or if you had a chance to win the game anyway. I had that feeling In the Pats-Broncos playoff game, and especially during the Super Bowl after that horrble holding call. You just get that feeling that everything changed on those calls. And real fans are not afraid to come out and say it. That´s why I don´t blame Holmgren for his comments. Whether or not he still had a chance to win the game is irrelevent. I think that you guys feel the same way, but you are too afraid to come out and say it. It`s much easier to come out and give the safe answer saying that the teams could not overcome the error. That´s so BS man....SPEAK FROM THE HEART....that´s what real journalism is all about.Greg Randall

I love it when people write in and tell us what real journalism is all about. Seeing we spent four years in college studying journalism and got hired by one of the greatest organizations in all of sports to cover the team so maybe – just maybe – we know a thing or two about journalism and what it's all about. However, if you would like to send us your resume, go right ahead. I'm sure it will give me a good laugh right before we toss it in the shredder. And that, my friend, came directly from the heart.
-Tom Casale

With the NFL draft coming up, who do you think is going to be the Patriots first round pick? Is it going to come down to the combine this Thursday or do you feel like Coach Belichick already has in his mind who he wants? Do you feel like if LenDale White is there from USC the Patriots would draft him? I have saw a lot of mock drafts and a lot of them have him being the 3rd best back in the draft, which at the 21st pick if you can get someone that good I think it would be to hard to pass up. What are your thoughts?Amber Bennett

Hello guys! What do you think about trading up with Jets or Packers to draft LenDale White? I see him as best player in the draft this year and he is exactly what Patriots need.Roman G.

First off, I'm pretty sure Belichick has no idea who he's going to draft in the first round yet. There is still a long way to go before the draft. After the combine there are personal workouts by the players themselves and each team brings in players they are interested in and puts them through their own workouts and sits down to talk with them. As far as White goes, I've written on here many times how much I like him but I don't think he will be there at 21. I believe Reggie Bush and DeAngelo Williams are two future stars but White and Laurence Maroney aren't far behind. Chances are one of those four backs will be a bust but I personally like all four of them. If the Patriots use a first round draft pick on a running back, it will most likely be the speedy Maroney because the other three will be gone by the time New England is on the clock. As for trading up, forget it. The Patriots are not going to trade up that far for any player, especially a running back.
-Tom Casale

I am so sick of hearing the Steelers fans, since they won the Super Bowl. People have said that the Steelers have sold more Super Bowl shirts and hats than the Patriots did in our last Super Bowl, or any of them, and how the Steelers game was the highest ranted in 10 years. First off who cares? Does this make the Steelers a better team than the Patriots? This is the reason why I hate the Steelers. They get one Super Bowl win in 26 years but the Patriots have done something the NFL never wanted to see, since they put in the salary cap and that is a team that has been on top for three of the last four years. The Steelers only need to win two more Super Bowl wins to even be put in our class, meaning in the salary cap era, this isn't the 1970s. Which in my opinion I don't think they are going to win another Super Bowl let alone win another two. Not with Ben Thumblisberger at quarterback. He is always hurt or crying about something. I feel like he is going to make it 10 years in the NFL. I have heard things like Bill Cowher is better than Belichick. How can that be? We are not talking about choking here. It took Bill Cowher 14 years to win a Super Bowl, and it took Coach Belichick's 2nd season as the Patriot head coach to win one. If the Seahawks would have came to play it was their game to take. Which ones are worse Steelers fans of Yankee Fans? Thanks for your time.Big John

Let it go Big John. Let it go. The Steelers are the champions of the world and there is nothing anyone can do about that. You said it perfectly at first: who cares? Who cares which game is the highest rated? If the Patriots/Rams Super Bowl was the lowest rated Super Bowl of all-time, would that have tainted the win for you? Who cares how many shirts and hats a team sells? What does that mean? That isn't surprising anyway. Other than the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers are probably the most popular team in the NFL nationally but what does it matter? In the NFL there is one winner and 31 losers. The Steelers are the champions and the Patriots, unfortunately, are no different than the Arizona Cardinals. Neither team won the Super Bowl so both their seasons were a disappointment. That's not a slam on the Patriots; it's actually a compliment because this team knows better than anyone that it's all about winning championships and nothing else. My advice would be to stop caring how many hats Steelers fans are buying, accept the fact that they are the deserving World Champions by beating the top three seeds in the AFC and the top seed in the NFC, and move on to next year. As a fan, that's all you can do.
-Tom Casale

Hi Guys, In my opinion it would be a huge step backwards if salary caps are not continued in 2007. I can't stand baseball because the Yankees just buy whatever talent they want (usually from the Red Sox) and far overpay their players. It is not a sport unless all teams play by the same rules and unfortunately salaries can become a big factor in creating imbalance. It comes down to the owner of team X wants to win more than the owner of team Y and it is hard to cheer for that. I don't care what the cap numbers are - I believe NFL players earn every penny they make (okay, let's leave T.O. out of this) especially with the chance for serious injury and how short their careers can be - I just hope the caps continue. Maybe I haven't scoured through the news deeply enough but I haven't been hearing much about progress in this area.Len LaPadula

Len, I disagree that NFL players make enough money if that is what you were implying. Even if it wasn't, I want to touch on that. This is the most violent sport in the world and it just happens to also be the richest sport, yet NFL players continue to be underpaid. Think about how much money some 7'0 stiff makes in the NBA or how much a left-handed relieve pitcher with a lifetime ERA of over 5.00 makes in MLB. I think there will always be a salary cap in the NFL but I do believe for how much punishment these players take, the time they spend preparing for the season and how much money their jerseys and other merchandise make for the league, they are severely underpaid when you compare them to other sports. Think about that the next time you are watching baseball and see an overweight DH walk out to hit three times a game and then realize that he probably makes more money than most NFL running backs. By the way, I noticed you mentioned the Yankees buying championships. You do realize that the Red Sox routinely have the second highest payroll in baseball, right? Hey, I despise the Yankees too but we have to tell it like it is.
-Tom Casale

I agree with Tom Casale 100 percent. Now is the time for youth at the running back position. Tom Brady needs a threat in the running game. Look at Dillon two years ago when he was healthy. This team was awesome. Granted they could use help at defense but its time to get youth and a stud at this position. Time of possession keeps the defense off the field and fresh.Bob Sulik

I disagree with you Bob. I don't think that loudmouth Tom Casale has any idea of what he's talking about. He's a talentless hack who got his job because he was lucky. Originally I thought the Patriots needed a young running back but if that idiot Casale thinks so too, it must be wrong. That guy is never right.
-Tom Casale

Nate Clements would be a good pickup in free agency. He is tough and plays both the pass and run well. Do you think we can sign him and how much would it cost?Griff Thomas

I agree that Clements is a great player and he would be a tremendous addition to this team but I just don't see it happening. You asked how much it would cost to sign him? The answer is a lot. Clements is a premier cornerback and like you said, he's strong against both the run and the pass. Clements is a better player than his former teammate, Antoine Winfield, and seeing that Winfield signed a huge contract with the Vikings a couple of years ago, Clements is going to cost a pretty penny. Like I said earlier, I would expect the Patriots to sign a less expensive veteran at the cornerback position. A stud like Clements is probably out of their price range but you never know. If Belichick really likes him, anything is possible.
-Tom Casale

Hey PFW, how's it going? I just have a quick question that I want to ask. If the Patriots pull it off this year and win another (4th) Super Bowl, would they be considered the same dynasty they were last season or would it be considered the start of a completely new dynasty? I'm just wondering. Thanks for your time.Evan

That would be considered the same dynasty Evan. A dynasty exists when a lot of the same players are still on the team over the time that team is winning championships. Brady, Branch Bruschi, Harrison Vrabel – not to mention Bill Belichick – among others are still competing on this team so it would be considered the same run. Now, had the Patriots beaten the Packers in the Super Bowl, that wouldn't be counted in with these championships much like the Steelers win this season isn't lumped into the titles they won back in the 70s.
-Tom Casale

Love you guys at PFW and find your columns very insightful. Kudos to Andy Hart for shooting back at all those ridiculous whiners who wrote in last week. My question is about pass interference penalties. Under the present rule, all PI penalties are spot fouls. Do you think that there should be two different PI penalties much like there are for grabbing the facemask and for roughing the kicker? I hate seeing a ticky-tack foul down the field lead to a 50-yard penalty. Should there be a spot foul penalty for egregious PI and a 15-yard penalty for the touch fouls?Mark Damiano

Easy answer Mark. Make pass interference a 15-yard penalty. Case closed. That way a terrible call by the official only costs a team 15 yards instead of 60. It works in college so I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work in the NFL. Of course, instant replay works in college too and not in the NFL but that's a discussion for another time. And for those who argue players like Randy Moss would never catch a pass because defenders would just interfere with him, I say fine. I'll go down the field at 15 yards a clip. Besides, if that were the case, wouldn't defenders just interfere with Moss on fade routes inside the 10-yard line every time instead of letting him score? Make pass interference a 15-yard penalty and then a referee's mistake hurts a team but doesn't decide a game like they are at the present moment. Also, offensive pass interference is only a 10-yard penalty. So the receiver can do anything he wants and only lose 10 yards but if a defensive back slightly touches someone, the offense gets first-and-goal from the one? That just doesn't make any sense to me. The NFL needs to get rid of the spot foul rule because it's starting to decide too many football games.
-Tom Casale

First off thank you to Andy Hart and the rest of PFW for answering my questions last week! Ok now is Chris Hope a free agent? If he is, any shot that the Patriots land him?Guy Giguere

Chris Hope is an unrestricted free agent and I think he's a player the Patriots will look at in free agency. I don't have any inside information but my gut tells me the Patriots will almost certainly sign a veteran safety this offseason. Hope was a big part of the Steelers defense that won the Super Bowl and I think he would be a great fit in New England. He's tough, can cover well and he obviously knows what it's like to be on a winning team. The Steelers are a little tight when it comes to spending money on players so I think there is a good chance Hope will be elsewhere next season. If that place is New England, the Patriots will have a heck of a player on their hands at a position they desperately need to upgrade.
-Tom Casale

OK work with me here. Givens is gone when March 3rd rolls around. He will demand some big bucks and it's well deserved. However, everyone knows the Jets have some serious cap issues to deal with and that they are trying to rework some contracts including that of Laveranues Coles. So what do you think of the chances of Coles signing with the Pats?Ryan Parker

See, these are the kind of e-mails I enjoy reading. That is an intelligent suggestion that never even crossed my mind. I think Coles would be a great signing for the Pats. I actually think Coles is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL because he's played with below-average quarterbacks the past few years. If he had Brady throwing him the ball, Coles would be a monster. Don't forget, Coles ran a 4.29 40-yard dash once. He's a playmaker; he just hasn't had quarterbacks who have been able to get him the ball down the field the past two seasons. However, I don't think the Jets will let Coles go. It looks more and more as if Pennington will be cut and if that's the case, I think the Jets will make every attempt to keep Coles. He's still their most dangerous offensive weapon. Although if he does get cut, Coles and Deion Branch would make a deadly combination at the receiver position. Now, combine that with the speed of someone like a Laurence Maroney in the backfield and you're talking about one of the most explosive offenses in football. Oh well, we can dream, can't we? Thanks for the question.
-Tom Casale

Many news items publish everything about the Patriots except Brady's operation. There hasn't been any news in the NFL on his condition after the operation took place. Why is there so much HUSH HUSH on Brady's health and us fans want to know what is going on with him???? Lets keep us fans informed on Brady's condition and his progress. Not even ESPN or the NFL Network has info about Brady.Nicholas Patella

You're wondering why there is no information about Brady's injury? Boy, you must be new around here. The Patriots don't disclose much injury information but I can tell you from experience that Brady's operation is nothing. I had the same surgery myself and they only reason it takes two months to recover from is because you can't lift anything heavy or the procedure can tear open again. It's a basic operation and Brady will be walking around soon after it's over. As long as he's careful and doesn't overexert himself, he'll be fine by the time training camp opens. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
-Tom Casale

Grew up in New England, but live in Houston know, I used to love coming to the site for a little inside info. Now I can't stand reading your input. You all think you are god's gift to knowing everything about football and the Pats. Stick to facts, not petting your egos! I wonder how many of you actually played football at a high level, because It sure shows with some of your answers. This section should be Ask PDW as in "Pure Dumb Writers."Anonymous

My favorite one of all-time. "You guys never even played football." First of all, we all played football – Andy Hart at the college level. What do you mean by high level? Did you play in the NFL? If that's your criteria, then no, none of us has ever played football at a high level. What does that mean anyway? Can you write a 1,000-word story good enough to be published in 30 minutes? Well, that's what our job requires. You may not know this but to be a journalist you don't actually have to go through Patriots training camp. I love Mike Reiss but do you honestly think he ever played football? My guess is no but he's still a heck of a writer, isn't he? I think this is the most ridiculous cop out bunch of crap in the world. Michael Irvin played football. Sean Salisbury played football. How much insight do you get from those guys? Furthermore, I don't think I'm God's gift to knowing everything about football, I think I'm God's gift to young, attractive women. Get your facts straight the next time tough guy. Also, let us know if you are going to be a free agent this season. Perhaps the Patriots will sign you.
-Tom Casale

Okay, last week Angry Andy Hart went off on a tangent and here are some of the responses we received regarding his remarks. In a stunning upset, a majority of them were positive. Go figure.

Hey Andy, maybe you would rather be right 100% of the time but you got a long way to go son. Treating your fellow Pats fans (you know...real Pats fans) like you did will make you 100% wrong in our book. Better luck next time.Charles Stems

Man you guys are something else. Do you really think you can talk to us that way? That will be the last time I EVER write in to a bunch of jerks like you guys!Don Stevens

I'm sure that all you guys at PFW are bombarded weekly with many unthoughtful and misinformed e-mails. I like to think that I make an effort to ask intelligent questions and ask for your opinions on current topics. I have read some of your responses to my questions as well as to others. Many times you guys can be down right cynical and sarcastic in your responses. Remember...we are the fans asking your professional opinions. We do not have the access to the Patriots organization like PFW does.... That's why we ask you. You are very kind to take the time and answer our questions. But you can be downright insulting (at times) in your answers. Why you even acknowledge these blowhard "fans" by answering their questions I just don't understand. Out of 15 questions each week you answer, at least 4 or 5 have no real point or reason to answer. You only encourage these idiots by answering their questions. Why even publish them? Why take the time out to whine about how misled they are? Why do you complain about answering the same question every week? Just don't answer it! Some of us have real questions that we appreciate to be answered. Talking down to us or making us look stupid only reflects poorly on you. Mr. Hart, I hope that was the first and last time that a week of ask PFW is wasted. Again, I appreciate the service you give to loyal Patriots fans. But last week was insulting, I think, to more people than you realize.Shane Cahill

Hey, I read the article all the time and I just wanted to thank Mr. Andy Hart for putting those stupid questions in their place! Who are they to insult the writers of this GREAT COLUMN! Take it easy guys.Michael Sackett

I think the Ask PFW writers deserve a little more respect. They've been answering the questions we ask with decent answers, and this is a privilege some people don't deserve. If you want to search out grammatical errors and complain about them, go become an English teacher. You might need this thing called education. Thanks PFW for all you provide for Patriots fans.Jeremy Brown

Man! I just wanted to comment on the tirade of attacks on Andy, Paul and Tom by the readers of Ask PFW. "He who is without sin cast the first stone!" It's crazy - all the nit picking that has occurred over the past couple of weeks. Give the guys a break! They do a great job of answering the questions of Patriot Nation! Type-O's and other mistakes can and will continue to happen. Also these guys have their opinion on certain topics (i.e. Domanick Davis) You may agree or disagree, but there is no reason to attack! Personally I want to read more about what is going on with the Pats and LESS about these guys' mistakes and defense of them... There is nothing to defend people... move on and lets get back to talking about the 2006 Patriots!Frank

Well, I'm not going to defend or condemn Andy. That's not my place. However – as you might expect – I am going to give you my two cents on the subject. Football and sports are supposed to be fun. We all have a lot of fun at this job and sometimes we like to fool around with our readers. It's the offseason and there isn't much going on right now so Andy was having a little fun with Ask PFW. I don't really think that's a big deal. Personally, I love an intelligent ripping from the fans but when people write in and get personal over one misspelled word, it's sad. Can you really be that irate because one word in a story on Patriots.com is misspelled? You realize the New York Times has between 10-20 grammatical errors in each newspaper and they hire professional proofreaders. So, if you are going to rip us, I'm all for it. Just put a little thought behind it and make it entertaining. Personally attacking one of us for making a spelling error isn't going to do anything. We just delete the e-mail and we still work for the Patriots. Nothing changes so if you want to make fun of us, at least make us laugh while you're doing it. We are in a profession where we are going to get criticized for what we say and that's fine. It doesn't bother me at all. Anyway, we appreciate the e-mails and support of the Patriots fans and I won't let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.
-Tom Casale

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