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Ask PFW: Preseason passing thoughts

Hi APE (That stands for Andy - Paul - or Erik). Brett Farve is now a member of the New York Jets - WOO HOO !! IF, you are a true Patriots fan, does that mean MORE FUN - because now your team gets to play against "Jet Farve The Legend" on a regular basis, or, LESS FUN - because now the Jets are probably a much tougher team? (I know I sound like a beer commercial). Sincerely.Dick Goodwin

What do you think about Brett Favre going to the Jets? What do you think are the chances of the Patriots losing to the Jets considering that they play them twice this season?Mark McLochlin

I guess APE is better than PEA. Plus I get top billing, I'll take it. Favre ending in New York is just about the only way that the soap opera could have ended in a way that I would care. It makes life in the division more exciting, but I don't think it really shifts the balance of power in any way. I thought all along the Jets were the second-best team. I think that even more now. I think they will win enough games to compete for a wild card spot and probably will beat up on bad teams with Favre putting up big numbers in those games. But I think they will lose two games to the Patriots. New England will give Favre problems and pick him off a handful of times in both meetings. I don't think he's a very good big-game quarterback anymore. He seems to turtle in big games. Did you see his prime time matchup with the Cowboys last year? That, to me, is the big game Favre you get these days. A pair of meetings in the Border War will put pressure on him and the New England defense will take advantage of it all.
Andy Hart

AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT CONSIDERS WILLIAMS' INJURY A DISASTER??? NOW ABSOLUTELY NO BACKUP FOR HARRISON- UNLESS YOU CONSIDER A CORNER BACK AS "SUCH", WHICH IS JOKE. PATRIOTS HAD BETTER BE BURNING UP THE PHONE LINES 24/7 TO GET A LEGITIMATE S/S ( 6 FEET PLUS AT LEAST, 215 LBS ). AND, IT IF HIS INJURY OCCURRED WHILE HE WAS PLAYING AT THE LINEBACKER POSITION????? WHY WAS HE THERE TO START WITH??? HE, WAY TOO SMALL TO BE THERE TO BEGIN WITH, ESPECIALLY WITH SO MANY CANDIDATES THERE ALREADY. HINDSIGHT-- VERY POOR JUDGEMENT!!!
John Connors

Yes, you are the only one that considers the Tank Williams injury a disaster. I was intrigued by the way he was being used on the defense and think Bill Belichick would have used him in some interesting ways throughout the season depending on each week's game plan. But his loss is certainly not a disaster. And for the record he was not hurt playing linebacker, but nice try with the reactionary rant. Step away from the cliff, turn off your Caps Lock and relax a bit. Everything will be OK.
Andy Hart

With Tank Williams being placed on IR last week, do you see a scenario where the Patriots look at the possibility of bringing in John Lynch due to some uncertain depth at safety after Meriweather, Harrison, and Sanders. Obviously since Tank Williams is/was a safety as well who was playing a little ILB? And with the dynamic that Williams had at getting reps at ILB, do you foresee NE possibly look at bringing in recently released Brandon Moore from SF or will it just be the inevitable that we see [Junior] Seau back here in NE by time the season starts?
Brandon Andrews

While I think Belichick will always consider every opportunity that presents itself, I'm not as worried about the Williams loss. Assuming Harrison, Sanders and Meriweather will be healthy for the season it gives you three starting-caliber safeties. Add in an improving Antwan Spann, who's had a very solid camp, and that's four guys at safety. It's not realistic to carry much more depth than that. And I don't think Lynch would be a great option at this point. He's just about at the end of the road and I'm not all that interested. I'll take Spann and his special teams contributions. And since Belichick signed a cornerback, Jeff Shoate, to fill Williams' roster spot it looks like he's not too interested in Lynch either. Since I didn't really consider Williams a linebacker, I don't think there is a rush to add depth at that spot now. My guess is that we do see Seau at some point, maybe even as an in-season addition to the roster. It makes too much sense. I think he still has something to offer the defense.
Andy Hart

Hi I was wondering with Williams out what are the chances of hiring Ty Law? Are there any other corners in mind that you think the Patriots might pick up?Josh Pales

Who knew that Tank Williams earned so many fans in such a short time in New England? Boy, you'd think it was Tom Brady who got hurt and not a free-agent fourth safety/hybrid inside linebacker. This injury Pales in comparison. (See what I did there.) Law is still out there and a factor that might give the Patriots increased interest at this point is the injury situation at cornerback. Jason Webster, Jonathan Wilhite and Mike Richardson have all missed extended preseason time. That's why Shoate was signed over the weekend. But I'd still like to kick the tires on Law. He knows the system, is a proven playmaker (something the team lacks at corner right now) and could probably have some position versatility moving forward. If his price tag comes down from what I understand were somewhat ridiculous numbers earlier this offseason I'd love to see Law on board. But I don't think his signing would have much to do with the Tank Williams injury.
Andy Hart

Does the signing of Lamont Jordan mean the end of the road for Eckel and/or Evans? Could BB keep 5 or even 6 RB/FB's on the roster? Do either Eckel or Evans have any practice squad eligibility left? If not, it's not hard to imagine the Mangini Weenies picking one or both up before the start of the season to gain a 'tactical' advantage.Nate Stafford

Assuming they all stay healthy I think Belichick will keep five running backs – Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Jordan and Heath Evans. That will leave Eckel on the outside looking. He's a nice special teams player, but I don't think he's good enough in that area to warrant a roster spot. He does not have any practice squad eligibility left. Nor does the eight-year veteran Evans. As far as his ending up in New York, who cares? All teams sign players from other teams at some point. Sometimes its because of legitimate interest or comfort in a similar system. Sometimes it might be for "tactical" reasons. I'm sure Belichick has done it at different times for all of the reasons listed. Again, who cares?
Andy Hart

Where is Troy Brown?
Dennis Shutt

My guess is that Troy is at his house. I don't believe that Brown has yet officially retired, but he's not with any team. He was not in the Patriots plan for this season. He visited a couple other teams but didn't end up signing elsewhere. So he's sort of in limbo at this point.
Andy Hart

I know it's only one preseason game with a lot of backups playing defense against O'Connell and Gutierrez as well as Cassel, but Cassel really seemed to not have much chemistry with his offense--one he's been around for 3 full seasons. Perhaps it was Jackson's fault for running the wrong route, but don't we give the QB the culpa for the good, the bad, and the ugly? It's early, but is it TOO early to say bye-bye Cassel, hello O'Connell and Gutierrez. Because Jones is new to the system don't we have to give a couple more chances to get his feet under him and his hands on the ball? Thanks for keeping the offseason and midweek season bearable.
James Seigel

Hi guys, First I want to say that I enjoy reading your texts about Pats. Second, I wonder what is your opinion on pats without Brady - would we be able to reach playoffs without him? And what I'm more interested in is your opinion on what would Belichick do if that, god forbid, happens? Would we play Cassel or would we be trying to get someone else, Culpepper for instance? So, what is your opinion on what would happen in that totally unwanted situation? Greetings from Croatia.Zvonimir Mamic

The backup QB spot has been one of big questions of the preseason. Brady didn't play in the preseason opener and his three understudies were less than overwhelming. Cassel's development seems to have hit a plateau. I think the interception in the game was Jackson's miss-play, but Cassel was still not very impressive. I think he's in a real fight for his roster life at this point. Gutierrez certainly hasn't taken the bull by the horns and is as inexperienced as Cassel, but he's earlier in the development. I think O'Connell is an intriguing long-term talent, but not sure he plays into things this year.
The bottom line is that if Brady goes down I don't think there is a quarterback on the roster who could lead the team to consistent victory or the postseason. Maybe at that point Belichick would have to consider a veteran. Or maybe he thinks more of the guys behind Brady than I do. Let's hope we never have to find out.
Andy Hart

Call me crazy but I was at the game on Thursday night and I swear I saw an O-lineman wearing #75, Vince Wilfork's number!!??Steven Morrison

Andy Hart
You did see a No. 75 on offense. It's veteran offensive lineman Barry Stokes, who signed with the team during training camp. Teams often have to give out the same number to two different people in training camp. It's just part of doing business in the summer. Don't worry, Wilfork will own No. 75 during the regular season.
Andy Hart

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