Official website of the New England Patriots

Ask PFW: Peak to valley Pt. I

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]()Most people probably think that after winning their third Super Bowl that the Pats are nearing the end of their run, but this may be just the beginning. I think that the first two Super Bowl wins were by overachieving teams that in the normal course of events would not have won championships. This was obvious in 2001, but even last year we won 6 or 7 games by the skin of our teeth. This year the Pats were much more dominant, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. I think that next year's team will be even better, and look forward to 5 or 6 more years of continued excellence, with a few more Super Bowl titles thrown in. Then we can really be called a dynasty! GO PATS!*J.T.*

I will never argue with a fan bringing a positive outlook to the table. That's your job, but the loss of three assistant coaches, including two coordinators, the pending contract negotiations with such key players as Ty Law, Tom Brady, Richard Seymour and Corey Dillon, and the simple challenges of continuing dominance in a league designed to keep teams on a level playing field make such a continued run of winning unlikely. But four years ago I would have said that three in four seasons was impossible, so what do I know?
Andy Hart

I have been listening to all the talk about how the Eagle lost the Super Bowl. There are a lot of good points to be made that the Eagles lost versus the Pat's won. Here is my take on this. 1. The Pat's defense picked Donovan McNabb 3 times! Win Pat's. 2. The Eagles didn't pick Tom Brady once! Win Pat's 3. Terrell Owens caught 9 passes for 122 yards no TDs against a ROOKIE! I don't know about anybody else but Owens against a ROOKIE and no TDs, WIN Pat's! 4. Brady in the shotgun making the eagle show there cards on defense and then adjusting the blocking scheme to pick up the blitz. Win Pat's 5. The Pat's defense pressuring McNabb all day. Win Pat's 6. Freddie Mitchell's dominating 1 catch for 11 yds.! Win EVERYBODY! This leaves little doubt in my mind, the Patriots won this game, because they wanted it more.Vince Gomez

The Patriots won, plain and simple. For the third time in four seasons they are the champions and deserve to be the champions. Blowout or not, dominant or not, New England is the center of success in the NFL these days. No one can argue that.
Andy Hart

Dear New England Patriots, Thank you for giving your all. Thank you Charlie Weis, we wish you undefeated seasons for Notre Dame. Thank you Romeo Crennel, the best of luck in Cleveland (except when we meet you in the playoffs). Thank you Troy Brown for playing defense when we all knew that you are truly a receiver at heart. You are the ultimate team player. Thank you Corey Dillon for forgetting about the money and remembering that the game is played to be won. Thank you Tom Brady for playing through the injuries and the slights, keeping everyone on the same page, and playing to perfection, all the while being humble and hard working. Thank you Deion Branch for your respect, good manners, humility and hard work. You personify most of New England's hard working dedicated workers. Thank you Bill Belichick for all of your hard work and humility. You are one of a kind and all of New England appreciates everything you have done and all the sacrifices you have made. Finally thank you Mr. Kraft. We know it is a business, but you are wise enough to know that money wisely invested returns greatly. Three Super Bowls, bringing pride and happiness to all of New England. These are great times. These are the times that generations will look upon and say greatness came together for a special moment in history. May it never end.Mark Lorusso

I just had to post this one because I thought is reflected the thoughts of many Patriots fans throughout New England. I may not necessarily agree with every one of these "Thank you" statements, but the overall theme is accurate. Current and future Patriots fans will look back on the current winning ways with fondness for years to come. For football in New England, these are the glory days.
Andy Hart

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]()Now I just read on an ESPN.com article that Romeo Crennel named Jeff Davidson offensive line coach for the Browns. Now my understanding was that he was one of the top candidates for our OC position, especially seeing that he has experience calling plays from when Charlie Weis had his surgery. Now does this make Dante Scarnecchia the chief choice if the Pats decide to promote from within (which I believe they should), or will they go out and try to find someone from another organization. If the latter is true, who is out there? Robert University of New Hampshire, Go Wildcats!*Robert Shine*

While I don't have a ton of information to work with here (we all know how tight Belichick keeps things here at Gillette), I believe the Patriots will stay in house for the coordinator spot. Belichick is simply not going to change the system and finding a qualified candidate, likely one from the Belichick "family" who is unemployed right now and willing to come in and just oversee a previously installed system, seems to be unlikely at this point in the game. While I think young, hard working wide receivers coach Brian Daboll will get some consideration I am starting to think that Belichick will take the job and act as his own offensive coordinator for the time being. I just don't think that Dante is all that interested in being the coordinator and Daboll, coming off just his fifth NFL season, is probably not quite ready for the role. Call it is hunch, but I just think Belichick is going to see himself as the best candidate right now. But a week ago I would have told you that Davidson would get the job. One thing is for sure, they certainly keep us guessing around here.
Andy Hart

I read the Super Bowl edition and Bryan Morry's comment that Ty Law will more than likely play out his contract in 2005 and be gone after that. I see zero chance of that happening. Why would the Patriots take a $12.5M cap risk on a player coming off a serious leg injury when they can release him after June 1st and spread the 3 M hit over two years. Think how many useable players the Pats could buy with $11M extra on the cap or they can chose to deal with Richard Seymour and Tom Brady now. The only way Law stays is if converts his 9.5 2005 salary to a bonus and the contract is extended a number of years with reasonable salaries in 2006 and 2007.Steve McCumber

As much as I hate to do this, I have to agree with Bryan. Be honest Steve, if I had asked you this time last year if you thought Law would be in New England this season with a cap number of more than $10 million what would you have said? All along I believed Law would be here this season and next. The team carried the cap figure last year and could carry the $12.5 million this year under an expanded cap. I understand that the team won without Law and that he is coming off an injury, but in my mind if you can keep an All Pro corner you do it. That way you could draft one more young corner and work with that player, Randall Gay, Asante Samuel and Co. for one more season until Law is finally off the books in 2006. By that time you should know who your best replacements are and will be better suited to move on without Law. In that scenario you would also open up a huge cap spot for, as you suggested, contract extensions to guys like Seymour and Law on the 2006 cap. I may be wrong, but I'd be pretty surprised to see Law anywhere but New England in 2005. And they certainly won't cut him, the only way he goes elsewhere is if another team is willing to pony up draft picks in a trade. But I wouldn't suggest fans throw out their No. 24 jerseys just yet.
Andy Hart

I was just wondering how they picked where the Super Bowl is played every year?Sheri Whitten

The NFL, the commissioner and the owners pick the Super Bowl host city years in advance. Many factors including hotel space, climate, whether the city built a new stadium and other political factors go into the decision. Next year Super Bowl XL will be held in Detroit to reward the city for building Ford Field. Super Bowl XLI will be in Miami and Super Bowl XLII will be in Glendale, Ariz., also to reward the area for building a new stadium.
Andy Hart

My question is what year was the Patriots franchise started and what year did the team join the NFL?
Trevor Lemire

Boston was awarded the final AFL franchise in 1959 and played its first season as the Boston Patriots in the fall of 1960. The Patriots and 12 other AFL teams joined the NFL, following the merger of the two leagues, for the 1970 26-team NFL season.
Andy Hart

When did professional football arrive in New England and who was the first draft pick?
H. Donald

As stated in the previous answer, professional football as we know it today arrived in New England for the 1960 season of the Boston Patriots. Northwestern running back Ron Burton was the franchise's first draft choice on Nov. 22, 1959.
Andy Hart

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]()What ever happened to Dan Klecko? Why hasn't he played more? What are Bill's plans for him?*
*James Chester

Klecko was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 30 with a knee injury. Up to that point Klecko had played mostly on special teams and as a fullback on offense. Last training camp the second year, jack-of-all-trades started making the transition from defensive line to inside linebacker. Klecko will continue with that transition this offseason and training camp and it will be interesting to see if he does so to the point where he becomes a legitimate option at linebacker. Otherwise he will likely continue in his role as special teams player and short-yardage fullback, the type of roster spot that could be difficult to hold on to in coming seasons.
Andy Hart

Hello Please tell me the name of the player who is number 46 on your Super Bowl XXXVIII team page. Thank You
M. Michaud

No. 46 is long snapper Brian Kinchen, a veteran who served as New England's long snapper for the final two regular season games and all three postseason games of the 2003 season.
Andy Hart

I just want to know if Tom Brady is married, engaged, girlfriend, etc. Thanks.
Mariana Grijalva

Brady is currently dating actress Bridget Moynahan, best known for her work in such movies as I, Robot and The Recruit.
Andy Hart

What the player share of money for winning Super Bowl?Darius Washington

$68, 500.
Andy Hart

I know P.K. Sam was on the IR for most of this year and didn't to get to play much, so what are the chances of P.K. starting for the Patriots next year? I have a good feeling he will be become our T.O., but better because he is not selfish and doesn't cry when he doesn't get the ball every snap. He is a big physical receiver that Tom Brady and Cory Dillon would love. He would become a fan favorite very quickly. He can also play more than just receiver, he can play the B.B. system. I live in Florida so I watched him play at Florida State for the last 3 years. Tell the rest of the Patriot fan base how great this guy will be for our team in the future, maybe next year.
Jack Porter

It is interesting that we have received a lot of emails regarding Sam over the last month or so. First off, he was moved from injured reserve to the reserve/suspended list during the week leading up to the Super Bowl as a result of a "violation of team rules." At this point I don't have much more information to offer on that. As far as Sam's future in New England, I think it depends how he approaches the offseason program and working to make himself a better player. If Sam is the player, and more importantly the person, that you say he is, then I would expect positive gains from him in his second season. He arrived in New England out of shape and seemingly ill-prepared for his rookie NFL season. That simply can't happen in year two, especially for a guy who did something to end the year on a suspension. At 6-3, 210 pounds Sam's pure physical ability make him an interesting factor in the future of New England's still undersized receiving corps. Only time will tell how it works out though.
Andy Hart

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]()IS DEION BRANCH RELATED TO OAKLAND RAIDER GREAT CLIFF BRANCH?*
*Shannon Cantwell

Although it is a common belief, Deion in not related in any way to Cliff.
Andy Hart

What extra Draft Picks beside the usual seven (7) scheduled picks are N.E. Patriots due? Any additional picks - like compensatory or the trade to Chicago for LB Quinn Dorsey? Is there a good possibility of additional compensatory picks?Robert Bumgardner

As of right now, New England has just the normal seven draft picks. Compensatory picks – decided by a formula that includes a cumulative analysis of free agents lost and free agents signed – aren't awarded until sometime in late March or early April leading up to the draft. And in checking with the Patriots PR department there isn't likely to be a pick from the Dorsey trade, a potential conditional pick that likely revolved around the linebacker making the roster, something that never happened. So until the conditional picks come out, New England has just it's regular seven picks to work with at this time. But there is a good chance the team will get a pick, probably something around the fourth round, for the loss of guys like Bobby Hamilton, Ted Washington and Damien Woody last spring.
Andy Hart

Antwan Harris was released prior to the Super Bowl. After playing the whole season with the Pats is he going to be denied a Super Bowl ring because of his release?
Mike Newman

Harris did not play for the Patriots for the entire season, in fact he was signed for just a two-week span from 1/13-1/24 and never played in a game. He was inactive for the team's two AFC playoff games against the Colts and Steelers. I doubt he will get a ring, and personally I don't think he should, but ring decisions are made by the team on an individual basis and I don't really know for sure.
Andy Hart

I was a little confused on how Andy Reid could challenge a non-call that went against his team. (Donovan McNabb being down and nothing was called) I thought that a call had to be in question before a challenge could be made. If this is the case then coaches could challenge a lot of missed calls for holding and other infractions. What is the rule and was it applied properly?Don Bourgault

The rule was applied correctly. There is a long list of things that a coach can challenge including a fumble and whether a player was down by contact. As we all saw on the replay McNabb was in fact down by contact and the referee got the call right in the end. Penalties, such as the holding call as you suggest, cannot be challenged. A full list of the challenge plays is available in the NFL rulebook, Rule 15, Section 9.
Andy Hart

All of the first team players need to have equal face time with the media. Fans rarely hear from the offensive line or the defensive line as individuals. Fame and media should be shared among all of the first team contributors. It's not fair to only put the quarterback in front of reporters. If the media is demanding the quarterback, make them wait until. There are 21 other players (offense and defense) that are in front. Have the quarterback wait for his turn. It's just what's fair given the team orientation of the sport and the individual contributions to the team.Jane Wentworth

I know this message was signed Jane Wentworth, but it just as easily could have come from Bill Belichick. But in reality, fans have certain people they want to see and hear from more often than others. While New England does its best to keep the media attention equal and spread out, in fact Brady didn't have a podium press conference until the very end of the 2004 season, media attention is about pleasing an audience. People, in general, simply want to see star-type skill position players more than some other guys. Fair or not, those are the facts of life. And putting into place some sort of plan as you suggested in terms of making the media talk to the linemen first would simply be a waste of time for everyone involved. Your idealistic view of media coverage is nice, but it will never be a reality.
Andy Hart

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]()First off, I want to congratulate the Pats on another amazing season. What they did this year was truly incredible especially consider the amount of injuries and the tough teams they faced down the stretch and especially in the playoffs. I picked the Pats to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season, but if you had told me that by the end of the Super Bowl, Rodney Harrison would be the only person left from the original starting secondary I would've said you were crazy. I also want to point out that I was very impressed by the play of our young D-Linemen (Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Jarvis Green and obviously Richard Seymour), if they can continue to play at that level and improve things could be tough for other teams for a while to come. Anyways on to my question -- I didn't see Ty Law on the sidelines at all during or after the Super Bowl. I think I got a glimpse of some of the other IR players (Ben Watson?), but I didn't see Ty at all. Do the players on IR generally just go about their own business once they are out? I would've thought he'd be on the sidelines cheering his team on and enjoying the experience.*Tim W.*

Law was on the sidelines cheering his team on during the Super Bowl, as were most of the other New England players on injured reserve. Many times Patriots players that are on injured reserve remain with the team for some or most of the season, rehabbing at Gillette Stadium while retaining an active presence in the locker room. While Law was in and out of the locker room at different times while dealing with his injury, he was definitely on the sideline for Super Bowl XXXIX with the rest of his active and injured teammates.
Andy Hart

Because Eugene Wilson got injured on a special teams play, will this be the end of putting starters on special teams?Nathan Graf

I doubt it. The Patriots put a lot of emphasis on special teams and that includes using just about everyone on those units. Wilson's injury was unfortunate, but it also occurred while make a nice tackle. I would expect New England's approach to filling out its kicking and coverage units to go unchanged heading into 2005.
Andy Hart

What a team! They played there "B" game and still won. I know a lot of people will disagree on me with this, but I think Dexter Reid, handled himself quite good considering he was playing the biggest game in his life, and hardly had any game experience. The only thing was the holding call on the punt return. I hope Eugene Wilson is all right though. He is a very underrated in this league. Notice I said league, not team. We Pats fans know how good he is. Great season PFW, and enjoyed it very much.Bob Sulik

Reid did enough to allow the Patriots to win, although just barely. He looked to be in coverage on two of the touchdowns the Eagles scored, including the long, obvious one that led to a Bill Belichick disagreement with Eric Mangini on the sidelines. You are right, though, he had very little defensive playing time heading into he Super Bowl and in the end didn't cost his team the game. But he certainly needs to build on the performance heading into his sophomore season if he is to become more of a defensive option in the coming years.
Andy Hart

I read the history on the New England Patriots hoping to discover why they are call "The New England Patriots", I found that they were the "Boston Patriots" (which makes a lot of sense) until March 1971, however there is no reason listed for the name change. Do you know why the name was changed from Boston to New England?Dawn Gilio

The team became the New England Patriots when it began playing its home games in Foxborough, Mass., a town located between Boston and Providence, in the fall of 1971. Up to that point the Boston Patriots had played all home games at various sites in Boston. The relocation resulted in the name being changed to reflect the team's ties to an entire region, not a single city.
Andy Hart

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]()The Patriots are really looking good as far as defense, even if they decide to not extend Law's stay here. Even with a young secondary, Samuel and Gay proved capable, and giving more time to Reid and Guss Scott, should allow the diaper DBs to improve. But I have another question. Looking back at the last few years, is Tedy Bruschi actually PEAKING as a linebacker at age 30? His play has been phenomenal over the last three years, and it really proves that the Pro Bowl selection process is a sham that he only got elected as a replacement just this year. Aside from another CB for depth, and a LB to replace Roman Phifer who might retire, this defense is looking great.*Dave Isaacson*

Bruschi is definitely playing the best football of his career in his 30s. Over the last two seasons his totals of 265 tackles, 4.5 sacks, six interceptions, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery are as impressive as any player's in football. I think a big reason for that is Bruschi is now comfortable at his inside linebacker spot, after playing as an outside linebacker, defensive lineman, special teamer early in his career. His instincts and playmaking ability have found a home and they are producing at a Pro Bowl level. But with that in mind, the age of the New England linebackers is a big concern moving forward. Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Phifer and Willie McGinest are all getting on in years. If Rosevelt Colvin can continue to return from his hip injury, he adds some youth to the group, but look for the position to be a target area in the coming offseasons. If the team can add some young players at linebacker, to work in conjunction with a deep, young defensive line and a secondary that now boasts some experienced young players, the overall defensive should move in a positive direction for many years to come.
Andy Hart

My prior attempt sent itself before I knew what was happening! Many people have been commenting on the sweatshirt the coach has been wearing. I have noticed it, and cannot decipher it even with a magnifying glass!!! WHAT DO THE WHITE LETTERS ON THE FRONT SAY??Marion Meenan

Sorry to disappoint you, but the sweatshirt says "New England Patriots Equipment." Nothing fancy. Occasionally he wears one that has his initials, "BB", under the team name. Other than that, a Patriots logo and a Reebok logo, it's just a normal sweatshirt.
Andy Hart

This is in response to the earlier question of last week answered by Paul (who didn't seem to know much) regarding the Gorin salary cap move. A rule exists that allows teams, in essence, to move unused salary cap space from one season into the next. Salary cap rules state that any incentive added after the start of the regular season — no matter how unreachable — is automatically deemed Likely To Be Earned and immediately counts against the cap. The amount is prorated over the remaining years of the contract, which is why the loophole is most often used with a player in the final year of his contract. The rule makes it possible for teams to add unreachable incentives late in the season, thereby using up any leftover cap room. Since the money is charged against the cap but never paid to the player, the team is credited back that amount the following season — effectively pushing cap space from one year into the next. Really, this $3M unplanned extra cap space came from the Milloy cut late in the offseason. The incentive itself was for $6 million and was added to Gorin's contract on Dec. 26. Since incentives added to the cap after the start of the regular season are prorated, the Pats were charged $3 million for 2003 and $3 million for 2004. Gorin also got a $2,500 bonus, prorated at $1,250 each season. That left the Patriots $3,802 under the 2003 salary cap. The incentive dealt with special teams tackles, which Gorin wasn't going to achieve because he didn't play on kick teams. In 2004, the Patriots were credited back the $3 million they were charged in 2003 for the unearned incentive. All in all, a good move for the Patriots cap. This year however, they are tight against the cap, so minor restructuring to get under the cap will be needed before the March 1 deadline, obviating the need for this tactic this year. Thanks Miguel - hope this helps.J. Lemmer

Thanks for helping Paul out, he must have been too busy when he answered that one. But if you are looking for a more detailed account of the move you are talking about I wrote one in an Ask PFW from last year that is available in the archives on the web site. Thanks again for the info and keep up the good work.
Andy Hart

When exactly did the salary cap era begin? I thought it was in place during the early 90's and the 49ers and Cowboys are now paying for their win now, pay later type of approach.Scott E.

The salary cap became a part of the NFL landscape in the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners that was approved in 1993. The actual cap was put into place for the 1994 NFL season.
Andy Hart

I've been reading about the various restricted and unrestricted free agents the Pats have on their roster. Who do you see as prime targets to be re-signed, deals restructured (Brady, Seymour), cap casualties etc? In other words, who do you think is staying and who's going?Ross

I think that David Givens (RFA), Adam Vinatieri (UFA) and Joe Andruzzi (UFA) are all locks to be back. I think there is a good chance that David Patten (UFA) and Jarvis Green (RFA) end up testing the free agent waters. I think there is a chance that Roman Phifer will retire and I also think there is a good chance that Tyrone Poole will not be back either. While I am sure the team will get to work on contract extensions for Brady and Seymour, I am not sure it will be able to get either done before the start of next season. And keeping an eye on cap renegotiations always means keeping track of such veterans as Willie McGinest, Troy Brown (who will likely have to do something to reduce his $5 million cap hit and $2.5 million salary to stick around) and even Rosevelt Colvin who has a salary of $2.6 million for next season. With all this going on, along with free agents from other teams and the always-entertaining draft speculation, it should be an interesting offseason.
Andy Hart

Seeing as how the Pats have won three champs in 4 years, they are now worthy of naming their fabulous defense. Two years ago the "Homeland Defense" name came up, but doesn't really seem fitting anymore. I figured maybe they should go with the "Ironman Defense" since you have several guys working on the offense as well (Troy Brown, Vrabel, Seymour, etc). What do you guys think?Dave Isaacson

I am all for it. So fans send your name ideas for the New England defense to Ask PFW. We will post some of the best names and see if we can get any of them to stick.
Andy Hart

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