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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri May 14 - 12:00 AM | Sun May 16 - 11:58 PM

Ask PFW: Pre-playoff potpourri

First of all, I would like to thank everyone involved with publication for an job well done. The insight is very much appreciated by a fan outside of the New England area that until the NFL channel, got very little Pats press. Now my question is, I personally like Doug Flutie as a quarterback I think he brings a level of enthusiasm to the game, not to mention he is a pleasure to watch. Although there is no doubt Tom Brady is the best player in the league I would like to know what you think the chances of Flutie returning as his backup for next year would be. Thank you.Chad Allum

I think the chances of Flutie being with the Patriots next season are minimal. The 43-year-old veteran was an emergency option for this season with no other real veteran available that was a good fit. While I am not sure that Matt Cassel will be ready to be the fulltime backup next season, I don't think Flutie will be back in the veteran role. I wouldn't be surprised if he calls it a career, or even returns to Canada for one last lucrative CFL run. I also think the Patriots will bring in another veteran to throw into the mix. One name to keep an eye on is current Jets backup Jay Fiedler. The former Dolphins starter has always been well respected by Bill Belichick. He's coming off an injury in New York and is under contract, but with that team's concerns with starter Chad Pennington's health I am not sure they can afford to have two rehabbing passers in the mix. This one is just hunch, but I think it could be a good fit. Beyond that there are always a few inexpensive veteran backup options out there and I would assume the Patriots will go after one of them to mix in with behind Tom Brady as Cassel continues to develop. But either way in the end Flutie will go down as one of the most memorable faces in New England football history taking into account his achievements in high school, college and at the pro level.
Andy Hart

What are Rodney Harrison's chances of being back in the playoff's? And are the Patriots thinking of picking up Terrell Owens in the offseason.Jakenson Derosier

Harrison is on injured reserve, meaning he can't play again this season. He also couldn't play because I saw him in the locker room today and he is still greatly limited by the reconstructive knee surgery he had not long ago. It's not even a sure thing that Harrison will be ready to get back on the field for the beginning of next season based on the severity of his injury.
As for Owens, I will never say never, but I think he's one of the last players I would ever expect to see in a Patriots uniform. Harrison himself has called Owens a selfish jerk and I tend to agree with him. Belichick and Co. can look beyond some things from a player's past, but I don't think Owens will ever be their kind of player.
Andy Hart

People who don't think Richard Seymour should be in the Pro Bowl are either idiots, don't know football, don't completely watch it, or are all of the above. He is so dominant, especially in the run game, that it's laughable that some fans are blasting him (most likely because of his holdout). It's easy to praise defensive lineman like Dwight Freeney and John Abraham (both great pass rushers by the way) because of the sack totals. You have to really watch the game to appreciate what Seymour does in terms of drawing double teams and holding at the point of attack so other players (Colvin, Vrabel) can come and make plays free of blockers, not to mention putting pressure on the QB. I'm so sick of fans complaining about Seymour holding out. I can see people being angry with a player like T.O. who publicly, through the media, talk and complain about their contract. However, this was not the case with Seymour; he quietly went about his negotiations and chose to holdout in order to get the money he felt he deserves as the best defensive lineman in the league, as any logical person with a sense of business would do. If a holdout into training camp is what it takes for him to get it, good for him, he deserves the money and I'm just happy he handled the situation with class.Tim

Tim, this is one of the most logical emails I have ever had the privilege to post in this mailbag. Seymour is a beast. I see this watching the games. I hear this talking to Belichick. And I certainly hear it from the people who play around and across from Seymour. I never like to be too overdramatic, but we very well may be witnessing the career of one of the best two or three defensive football players to ever wear a Patriots uniform. Longevity and continued success will determine Seymour's ultimate place in history, but he truly is that good. When Belichick calls one of his players "special" and a guy that "doesn't come along very often," it really says something.
I also think Seymour handled his contract issues with the class and dignity that I have come to expect from him. He is a great player on the field, good teammate, strong leader and just about everything you could ask for in a player. I know fans tend to always side with the team, but I think Seymour is a guy who more than deserves to the unquestioned respect of Patriots Nation.
Andy Hart

When multiple teams have the same record at the end of the season as it looks will be the case with NY Jets, GB, NO, SF, and Houston after they beat SF. how is it determined who gets the #1 pick? Is it division wins then strength of schedule?Dub G.

While this scenario didn't play out like Dub expected, I thought the answer might still be notable as it relates to all draft order tiebreakers. According to league guidelines, "Draft-order ties are resolved by the cumulative record of each team's opponents. The team with the weaker opponents receives drafting priority. Within a tied segment, non-playoff clubs are given priority over playoff clubs. Priority of playoff clubs within a tied segment will be based on their advancement in the playoffs, but they will not drop out of their tied segment unless they participate in the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl champion will select 32nd and the runner-up 31st." If teams with the same record have the exact same strength of schedule, then the tie is broken by a coin flip as is the case between the Raiders and 49ers for the sixth and seventh pick in the draft this spring. Hopefully this clears up any tie-relative draft order questions that may come up.
Right now the Patriots are penciled in to have the 21st pick come April. That could change based on postseason action, but if they don't go to the Super Bowl the lowest they could pick is with the 22nd pick.
Andy Hart

OK, let's see how good you guys are. Other than Mike Vrabel has any player ever caught a TD pass and sacked the QB on the next play? Move over Chris Carter, all Mike Vrabel does..........CATCH TOUCHDOWNS! Seymour bashers - If you don't see how dominant and awesome he is then just watch the Pats and don't show your lack of Football knowledge by saying he does not belong in the Pro Bowl. Defense is a system and there is always a game plan. If a player is dominant in his role it makes others job easier thus makes them look better. Seymour CLEARLY does that! It is not all about sacks / stats. He is awesome! You da man Richard but keep in mind when it is 10 degrees the cheers might be a bit muffled. Just a thought!

While I can't answer your question with certainty, I can tell you for a fact that he's the only player to score two touchdowns and record a sack in a game since quarterback sacks became an official statistic in 1982. As for your Seymour praise, I agree and please see my answer about Seymour earlier in the mailbag.
Andy Hart

Can you tell me who wore the #23 for the New England Patriots before Duane Starks? Thank you.Cathy Buccola

Cornerback Omare Lowe wore 23 for a short time at the end of 2004, while defensive back and special teamer Shawn Mayer wore it earlier that season. Antwan Harris owned the number from 2000-2003, but actually wore No. 45 when he re-signed with the team last postseason. So Lowe was the last player to wear 23 before Starks took the number for the start of 2005.
Andy Hart

Could you tell me who is the Patriots all time rushing leader. I tried a search to no avail. Thanks.Tom Halloran

Running back Sam Cunningham owns the franchise rushing record with 5,453 career rushing yards from 1973-79 and 1981-2.
Andy Hart

Hi, I am wondering, is it possible when the season is over for the Jets or other teams, can the Pats sign any of their players who will be free agents? I'm sorry if this is a glaring rule I should already know, but hey, my husband says the only stupid questions are the ones that don't get asked. GO PATS!! Thank you.Victoria

Sorry to say this, and I say it all in good fun, but your husband is wrong. Just kidding. No, the Patriots can't sign players from other teams that aren't in the playoff. When a player is under contract with a team, that runs through the entire season unless he is cut. That means the entire season for the league, including the postseason, not just for that team. If what you are asking about were possible, anarchy would ensue just after the regular season as all the playoff teams tried to sign players to help them for the postseason run and then fit them into their system. It just wouldn't work. No, the Patriots are stuck with the players they have or the ones that are on the street and out of football. There will be no cherry-picking off other rosters.
Andy Hart

I am probably getting ahead of myself but my question is about the draft. Are we back to looking for a running back or can Corey Dillon bounce back from the injuries? The secondary and linebacking corps is a disaster right now and we just don't have enough draft picks to cover the spots. What do you fine fellows see for this upcoming offseason? Any potential FA's or College prospects that might become Patriots? Regards,
Chris Morris

You certainly are getting ahead of yourself and I will not pretend to have started much research for the draft in terms of specific prospects, but I do think running back has become more of a need. Even if Dillon can return to form next season, he will be 32. The team needs to find a long-term running back solution for the future. Now, is that a top need, beyond what you mentioned at linebacker, secondary, or elsewhere? That's hard to say and could depend on what happens in free agency next spring. But a young, stud running back would definitely be a nice addition to the roster.
Andy Hart

What the Miami game proved is that us Patriot fans better hope, no let me rephrase that must have everyone clicking on defense front line or this team will not get passed the first round. The secondary and d backs are terrible. The amount of third downs made by Miami should of made BB sick. If I had paid to go to this exhibition game I would of demanded a refund. I can't believe to settle for fourth seed and not take third was a good idea. All those players who the Patriots decided to protect better be stepping it up for the playoffs. There was no flow to the offense Sunday and the defense was well like it's second week off as it was off the field most of the time against the Jet's. What was there thinking and was it worth the loss?Bruce Wadleigh

While I can't say whether it was worth it or not, it's hard to take too much from the finale based on the personnel involved and not knowing exactly what motivation the team had going into the game. I will say that a lot of the top defensive backs played quite a while against the Dolphins and struggled at times. That just shows how important it is for the defense to get a huge effort from the front seven in the postseason if it hopes to be successful. The DBs are what they are right now. They weren't the guys who started the season, that's a fact. But they are all the team has. It will have to win or lose with them. But in my opinion the team will go as far as the defensive line and linebackers can take it. I, too, thought the Jaguars were the better matchup as an opening round opponent, but they aren't the pushover they are being made out to be. They are a tough, physical football team that is more than capable of beating New England if the Patriots don't show up to play. All the rest of the theories surrounding the final game and the playoff seeding are history now. Now, as Belichick would say, it's just about how well the teams play this weekend.
Andy Hart

Hi guys. Maybe it is a little early to ask this question, but Matt Cassel's performance yesterday was impressive. It seems to me he could start for several teams in the league. While it is great to have a capable long-term back-up QB, it does not seem fair to Matt to have him sit on the sidelines for the next 6 or so years. Do you think the Patriots would consider trading him and what type of draft pick do you think they could get?Len LaPadula
Amherst, NH

Let's not put Cassel in Canton just yet. He wasn't even good enough to start for his college team and now you want to trade him because he's a hot prospect. I thought he showed some things on Sunday and is already further along in his development than Rohan Davey ever was. Developing young backups is a good thing for a team. It gives you a player you control for at least four years at low money. Then if he is good enough over a couple years you can trade him for draft picks as you suggested. But after one so-so game against a non-playoff team I don't think teams are really lining up for Cassel. If you want an answer right now I'd say you'd be lucky to get much more than the seventh-round pick that New England drafted him with in the draft. I mean St. Louis drafted Ryan Fitzpatrick in the seventh round, are teams lining up to trade for him? He threw for 300 yards and was the offensive player of the week. Right now, I think Cassel can make a nice career for himself improving as the backup for the Patriots. If that happens all the rest will take care of itself.
Andy Hart

Go Pats!!! I can't believe so many people don't think the Patriots won't be able to win the Super Bowl. Sure they're not as good, I can see that, and whoever can't is lying to themselves, but they still have a good chance. The first game that they have is against the Jaguars, and it should be easy, they barely beat some of the worst teams in the NFL. They can also take the Colts, sure they're good, but now the Patriots are more like last season than they were when they played Indy this season. The Colts will have a hard time. The Super Bowl then will be a cinch. None of the NFC teams can even come close to the AFC teams, it's been that way for the last at least 2 seasons, and it's that way now. Also, the hidden weapon, Brady, the guy's never lost in the playoffs, not once, and I'm pretty sure he won't want to lose now, if nothing else Brady will drive the Pats to a Super Bowl win. I just wanted to let everyone know, especially the champions themselves, that there is still hope for the 3 Super Bowls in a row, and that hope is great indeed. Do you agree?Andreas

Sorry to rip you here, but I have to disagree with your email on a number of levels. It's just flawed in so many ways. First you argue that New England will beat the Jags and the Colts. Sorry, but they have to win three games to get to the Super Bowl, not just two. Second, while I know it's a common thought that the AFC is clearly the more dominant conference, the Patriots won each of the last two Super Bowls by three points. So they haven't exactly walked all over their NFC counterparts in the big game in the last two years. And Brady is a hidden weapon? He just won the Sportsman of the Year award. He's one of the most notable athletes in America and the story of his playoff dominance is well known. He certainly isn't going to sneak up on anyone. He's a great player and a key to New England's chances in the postseason, but just because he doesn't want to lose doesn't mean it can't happen. I agree, there is hope for this team. But a lot has to fall into place and I just think you might be underestimating the rest of the AFC playoff field.
Andy Hart

Did Douglas Macintosh who is on the People's Court ever play for you? The judge on the show said he did, me being a fan, cannot remember him.William Hammer

No, I don't think Douglas ever played for me. Of course I have never been a coach or an owner of a team, so I don't really know how he could have played for me. Sorry to hammer you back with that shot, I'm just kidding. And I can't find any record of him playing for the Patriots at any point either.
Andy Hart

What was with the TV analysts during the season finale between the Patriots and the Dolphins? They kept stating during the 4th Quarter that the Dolphins are sending the Patriots a message with this game. What message? That if you put in your rookie 3rd string QB for the last half of the game we can only beat you by 2 points? I know those guys have to talk about something, but why can't it be that the Dolphins are so bad that Cassel almost tied the game in the closing seconds? I guess I'm the odd man out because I don't like hearing people talk about bad teams like they are actually good. Hey, even the Texans won a game, it doesn't make them good.Mike Cziria

I don't watch games on TV, so I'm not exactly sure how that played out on that end. In many ways I agree with you, the Patriots had all their subs in that game and clearly didn't make winning that game the ultimate priority. But let's not totally dismiss the Dolphins either. That's a team that won the final six games of the year and played the Patriots first teamers tough to the very last play of the game the first time around this season. Had Miami won that game they could have been playing to tie New England atop the AFC East last Sunday. And while Houston won just two games, Miami finished at 9-7. Give them some credit. Miami is going in the right direction under Nick Saban and could be a team to watch out for in the coming years. There are some really, really bad teams in the NFL right now and the Dolphins aren't one of them. They are middle of the pack and building toward the future with some stability at head coach.
Andy Hart

I think it was disgusting how the Patriots let a legend sit on the sideline in a meaningless game and evaluate a rookie QB. Sure Cassel did a great job, and were it not for a safety we would've won the game with him leading, but when you have a QB like Steve Grogan on the sideline, they should've thrown pads on him and put him in there. But seriously, I think it was pathetic how when Matt Cassel was playing and would make a bad throw everyone would boo him and cheer for Flutie. Gotta get out of the past and look to the future, and Cassel showed me that he can be a very capable backup.Jay Corbeille

I was also disappointed with the booing on Sunday. I am not sure if that was a reaction to the fact that so many backups were playing or if fans were really looking to see Flutie. Cassel is a young, talented player with a lot to prove. I was happy to see him take a small step in that direction on Sunday. And if that continues, those fans who were booing him last weekend could very well be cheering him on in some key situation down the road. New England has been trying to develop a young backup for a few years now and things didn't work out with Rohan Davey. This experiment looks like it could be a more fruitful one. Flutie has had a great career at all levels of football, but sometimes I think his legend has far outgrown his current abilities. I mean did fans expect him to come in and recreate his famous Hail Mary play? Come on, let's give Cassel his chance to show us something. But I guess we are never happy here in New England. I just have to accept that fact and maybe you should too, Jay.
Andy Hart

What determines who is the QB for a win or loss in a game where multiple QBs play for one team?Greg Mowery

I don't think a quarterback's record is really an official stat, but when it's listed I believe it includes all games started by that quarterback. That means that technically last Sunday Tom Brady got a loss on his career record as a starter even though he only attempted eight passes in a quarter of action. But PR people and statisticians can pretty much spin stats any way they want to if they need to.
Andy Hart

If the Pats beat Jaguars, and the Steelers beat Bengals, whom would play Indy in the 2nd round???
*Rudy DiTonno
*The Patriots would play the Broncos in Denver and the Steelers would travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts.
Andy Hart

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