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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 09 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 11 - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Ragin' after the Ravens game


Still trying to wrap my head around what took place Sunday. I'm sure you'll get a lot of the party's over messages. I'm going to try a different take. This is our "rebuilding" period, gone are the leaders and Super Bowl champions of the 2000s. There are several young players with a ton of potential who need time and seasoning. [Jerod] Mayo, [Patrick] Chung, [Darius] Butler, [Brandon] Meriweather (I have some questions about him), [Julian] Edelman, [Sebastian] Vollmer. The lost leaders didn't lead from Day 1, they learned to?Dave Barry

Obviously there are a lot of disappointed Patriots out there today after a truly disheartening end to the season. Even those who felt the Ravens would win the game didn't envision things going the way they did. Based on that game the Patriots have a lot of work to do. But the state of the team cannot be viewed in a one-game vacuum. If that were the case then Bill Belichick would have a major overhaul on his hands. We all know that is not the case. But let's get one thing clear: the 2009 Patriots were not a rebuilding team. That seems to be the mantra of late – even before the playoffs began. Most experts felt the Patriots were a favorite to either go to the Super Bowl or win it before the season started. Belichick went out and signed some high-priced, veteran free agents like Shawn Springs, Joey Galloway, Chris Baker, Leigh Bodden and others. Teams don't bring in veterans when they think they're rebuilding. Belichick also traded for a few others like Greg Lewis, Alex Smith and Derrick Burgess. Again, when you feel you're going with a youth movement and are rebuilding, you don't add veterans. So the team fell short of expectations even as it began to transition to a younger defense. The problems were on offense where a unit full of veterans simply never played with any consistency. I do agree with your leadership point in terms of the amount that the team has lost in the last year or two. I don't agree, however, that players simply develop into leaders. A person can improve in that regard, but generally it's something you either have or you don't. I like Butler and Vollmer a lot. I think Mayo is a solid player as well. I'm not as high on some of the others you mentioned and I'm not sure any of the above group has leadership qualities. Time will tell but I feel there are some significant improvements to be made before the team can return to the top of the heap.
Paul Perillo

I thought we had a chance of being competitive with the Ravens but that first quarter just killed us. I'm not writing to say fire everyone and start over like so many other fair-weather "fans" the Pats have. I didn't think we had a chance at the Super Bowl this year so I was in offseason mode anyway, so I was thinking how big of a role do you think Edelman will have in the offense next year? I loved the kid in the preseason and he proved to me that he could be an asset to us. One other thing, what year did we change our logo to what it is now?
Mike Duran

You already got my thoughts on the whole "it was a rebuilding year" thing so I'll skip that. Edelman is a solid player who obviously worked very hard to learn an entirely new position. I don't believe he'll be a huge part of the offense moving forward, though. He should improve and will likely be a complementary piece to the puzzle, but I don't feel he has the potential to do what Wes Welker has done. Welker is much quicker and gets off the line better. Edelman may have better speed and is quite tough to tackle in the open field, but he'll need to improve his route-running and ability to beat press coverage. Again, I think Edelman will improve and be a good player; just not great. Also, the Patriots changed to the current logo before the 1993 season.
Paul Perillo

Now that the Patriots are officially in the offseason, what should they be thinking about? Locking up Vince Wilfork and Leigh Bodden long term have to be top priorities.
Sam Frankel

Wilfork would definitely be one of my priorities but it doesn't look like the team feels the same way. I'd expect him to receive the franchise tag and stick around at least one more year. I'm not as convinced that Bodden is a priority. I think he had a decent year but nothing that would force the team to re-sign him. I think the team could use an upgrade there and I'd like to see them grab another cover corner early in the draft like it did last spring with Butler. If Bodden is willing to return for a short-term, reasonable contract then I'd be fine with that. But I wouldn't invest much more than that. If they wanted to give a corner decent money they should have re-signed Asante Samuel two years ago. I know Bodden won't command that kind of money, but as an example I'd rather spend $60 million on Samuel than $20 million on Bodden.
Paul Perillo

Looking back at the season, I can't stop asking myself if BB believes too much in himself and takes everything too easy, thinking that he is over all troubles. Having a QB to compete for a SB is a great chance in the NFL, but this guy needs help. First, we can't trade down at every draft and think that we'll have HUGE playmakers in second round. After that, we trade one of our rare playmaker on defense for a first rounder in two years, and we're not sure how Brady will look like when that player will come (assuming this pick is not traded down). It seems to me that BB thinks that every move he makes will turn out for the best, but that's not the case anymore. I don't care losing Seymour for nothing if it gives us more chances of winning the SB, when you have the horses to compete right now, then do it. Maybe fans must stop saying in BB we trust to give him a chance to come back to Earth. The Pats seem to lack preparation for a lot of games this year and it's unusual for a BB team. I still think he his a great coach, but he needs to change his mindset if we want to see Brady win another one.Martin Lampron

I basically agree with your entire mindset, Martin. I, too, have grown tired of trading down early in the draft and of searching for bargain basement free agents. The Seymour trade was a good one in the long term but it did a lot of damage to the 2009 defense. Right now I think Belichick does have too much on his plate. He has his director of personnel also coaching the wide receivers and no official offensive coordinator. That obviously put a lot of strain on him in terms of play calling and game planning. I'd like to see some additions to the coaching staff, not necessarily replacement, but more sets of eyes and ideas for Belichick to rely on. The Patriots are by no means done and there's still plenty of talent on the roster. But they do need some improvements and the offseason will be quite important in that regard. Hopefully they can find some talent by targeting it and paying it rather than trading down in search of value. With the salary cap on the rise in recent years – and likely out altogether in 2010 – there's no reason to continue that approach.
Paul Perillo

Looking at the wild card games it was clear that the Patriots clearly lack the impact players that the other teams have - take Welker out and we look to have nothing on offense for the best QB in the league to work with, and on defense where is the difference maker? The recent Patriots drafts and free agency signings have produced nothing - instead of looking for 'value' and getting average or old players do you think the Patriots should change their philosophy and go for the top free agents and/or trade up in the draft rather than down?
Ray Towey

We've sort of discussed some of these issues earlier as well but once again I would tend to agree with this point of view. The offense is in need of a complementary receiver to join Moss and Welker and a running back who can provide more consistency. The offensive line could also be in a transition stage with the possibility of losing free agent Stephen Neal, who could retire, and maybe even Matt Light. Light has expressed some displeasure with the notion of moving to right tackle, a position he has never really played. Belichick may decide that Vollmer is the better option on the left side and Light's contract (roughly $4.5 million salary for 2010) may be too high to keep. So there will be some changes on offense as well as defense. The playmakers you referenced are in great need. I'd like to see an athletic guy that can get after the quarterback and a cover corner with a physical edge. I like Butler and believe he will be a good player. I'm not sold on any of the other young corners, however. There's work to be done but despite all the negative talk here I still have faith in Belichick to get the job done.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, what a season, up, down and every other way imaginable! I think like everyone I was more than a bit upset by the way our guys played on Sunday, they really looked like they just did not want to be there! A couple of things I was wanting your view on, firstly, where was Fred Taylor on Sunday? I only saw him in for one or two plays. Secondly, I know Brady had a pretty good season statically but take the Jacksonville game out and the end of his season was poor. Everyone seems to say it can take up to a year to fully recover from the type of knee injury Brady had, (maybe I am just trying to find excuses for him) and could this have had anything to do with his play? I remain confident that we can turn things around next year. Sunday has certainly left a bitter taste in my mouth though.Rob Masters

When you fall behind 24-0 in the first quarter it's hard to work on establishing your running game. Taylor was not going to be very useful grinding it out when the team was so far behind. Plus, even if the game remained competitive, the Ravens are very tough to run against and it would be hard to imagine the Patriots planned on running much against that front anyway. I agree that Brady was statistically better in 2009 than I thought his overall performance showed. He missed too many open receivers and clearly was limited in his mobility due to his knee. Other injuries piled up as the season wore on and those affected him as well. Overall, I wouldn't be too concerned about his play moving forward. He remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he should be healthier for the start of 2010 than he was last summer.
Paul Perillo

What happened Sunday really shouldn't have surprised anyone. Basically, I saw the two fundamental issues that have plagued this team all season against GOOD teams - blocking and tackling. The tackling issue has been a bad one for some time with the LBs, DBs and S positions being the worst. As for the blocking, just because Brady didn't get sacked a lot this season doesn't mean it wasn't a problem. Aside from the Titans and Bucs victories this was a average team. What's your thoughts?
Darrell Veilleux

Once again I totally agree on both counts. I've been saying for quite some time that Brady is the reason the Patriots don't take many sacks. We saw this last season when Matt Cassel got sacked multiple times during the first half of the season until he learned to get rid of the ball the way Brady does. Brady was under a lot more pressure than one sack per game would indicate and the offensive line play has really broken down badly now in the team's last two postseason games. As I mentioned above I believe there will be some changes here so things might not get better immediately depending on the experience level of the new guys. For example, if Neal goes and Dan Connolly or Rich Ohrnberger replaces him, it would be unrealistic to expect that change to represent an upgrade. If they sign a veteran free agent, then it's possible. Tackling on this team has been atrocious for quite some time and no one is more guilty than Brandon Meriweather. For some reason he tries to play with a physical edge that his slight 5-11, 200-pound frame won't allow. It's not good when your safety isn't considered a good tackler. He's not alone in that department but his problems have been the most glaring.
Paul Perillo

This is probably too late to fit in on the first post playoff Ask PFW but I figured I would try to ask it anyway. On Sunday Brady showed us something we haven't seen before, a lot of indecision, confusion and bad decisions in the pocket. I know that Brady is suffering from a plethora of injuries but what I am wondering is did those injuries hurt his playmaking intelligence, was this just a bad day for Brady, or did Brady really suffer a setback this season which was personified during this playoff game?Ryan Lentz

I know it's hard to imagine by Brady has had similarly bad games before – and he's had a few in the playoffs. In fact he's now a very mediocre 4-4 in his last eight postseason games and he's thrown multiple picks in four of those eight games. Surprisingly he's thrown three picks in two of those wins – both against San Diego – so it hasn't all been great in the past. He didn't suddenly become an indecisive boob overnight, though. Brady was under a ton of pressure on Sunday and he didn't handle it well. His first interception was one of the worst throws and decisions I've ever seen him make. I do believe his poor health contributed to his performance down the stretch but the bottom line is Brady is just like everybody else and he needs to get better. He could use some more weapons to turn to rather than converted college quarterbacks and special teams players. I wouldn't worry about his career being over or anything like that at this point.
Paul Perillo

Were the Pats in a rebuilding year and just did better than expected (certainly their defense was, and Mr. Brady took some time to get started with an offense that showed flashes of it's old brilliance) or are they in at the end of an era as a number of writers want to proclaim. I'm going with the former, as soon as Seymour was traded it was such.
Jeremy Hus

Back to the rebuilding word … a common lament after the team was unceremoniously dumped from the playoffs. This was in no way a rebuilding year. The fact is many felt the team was stacked offensively and could afford to let Seymour go on defense because things would be OK due to the amount of points the Patriots would score. It never turned out that way. Offensively things fell apart when Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis failed to produce as extra receivers. That crippled the offense in ways none of us envisioned. Moss and Welker had fine seasons but Brady had no other legitimate options to turn to and piling up the points became difficult once teams realized how little depth the Patriots receiving corps possessed. Defensively things weren't great either. In terms of expectations things went OK but in terms of stacking up against the better offenses they were overmatched. Just watch the Indy, New Orleans and Houston games to see what I'm talking about. And things really hit bottom against a one-dimensional Ravens offense last week when they couldn't stop the run even though they knew it was coming. So to answer the question, the Patriots will likely continue to find ways to win games but are in need of a major overhaul if they are to return to the league's elite. It's not about one or two players but rather a half dozen or so. They need athletic playmakers on both sides of the ball and right now they don't have many. Moss will be 33 next year and Welker likely will miss at least half the season. So even the few they had in 2009 may not be in the mix in 2010.
Paul Perillo

Can anyone tell us what happened to Terence Wheatley? As I recall he actually started a couple of games in 2008 and this year he was pretty much inactive the entire year. Seems like a drastic drop in value in a very short time.Dave Bates

Wheatley never got into the mix in 2009 and barely registered a blip on the radar as a rookie in 2008. I thought he looked good in training camp as a rookie but then didn't see a lot of playing time in the early going. He started the game at Indy in November but broke his wrist in the first quarter and was placed on injured reserve. He never really showed anything in games and then this season was relegated to the third unit in training camp and never factored into the plans. He was inactive 12 times this year including the playoff game, and some of those came even when the team appeared to be short at cornerback. I'm not sure why but Wheatley clearly isn't in the team's immediate plans after appearing in just 11 of 33 careers games and making four tackles.
Paul Perillo

I really think this team needs to completely throw out its offensive playbook, draw new plays they have become to predictable they are not fooling anybody. Bring in Mike Leach the Texas Tech ex-head coach for offensive coordinator. Just ask Wes Welker about his former coach. His offenses have been explosive and he is a master of the spread offense. I think the sooner they bring him in the sooner he can get the playbook changed and get some of the players studying this offseason especially Brady.David Hook

I'm not going to criticize you David because you are by no means alone in your beliefs about the offense. I'm just going to disagree with you. I don't believe the offense is predictable in terms of the plays. If that's the case then I believe every team is predictable because I can reasonably predict many teams' calls before they happen. The difference is stopping them. In 2007 how hard was it to know that Brady was going to look deep to Moss? Everyone knew where the ball was going yet the two connected 23 times for touchdowns. Obviously Moss was a better player than but more importantly there were other options for opposing defenses to worry about. Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney could hurt secondaries that were preoccupied with Moss. That's no longer the case. How many times did Brady try to get the ball downfield to Sam Aiken this season? I'd say at 10 and probably more. You think the defenses knew Brady was going to throw a bomb to a special teams player? I don't, yet the plays weren't successful because the talent level of the player wasn't high enough to make a difference. Fans have been crying for more screens all season long. I'm not sure if people were paying attention but the screen was defensed very well this season, again, largely because Moss was the only player who could hurt defenses down the field. Put a guy or two on Moss and everyone else was able to crowd the line of scrimmage. The teams that tackled well, like the Jets, Baltimore, New Orleans and some others didn't allow the backs to break tackles and pick up extra yards. It's easy to blame the coach in this case because he's new and the offense didn't achieve the levels it has in the past. But the fact is it didn't have the talent it possessed in the past either. I'd expect some changes to the coaching staff simply because I feel Belichick needs more help. But I also believe Bill O'Brien is being scapegoated for problems that were largely not of his doing. It's not always about tricking the opponent; it's about being better and too often that wasn't the case in 2009.
Paul Perillo

It was obvious during the season and even more obvious against the Ravens, that we traded Richard away too soon. Baltimore had 52 rushing attempts against us at home, 13 of their 16 first downs from rushing. Where was our rushing game? Even though we were down 21-0 in first quarter, we still had to just move the chains to get back in it. I don't think it was fair to give Maroney one carry after the good season he had. With temperatures so cold, could have given him a chance to break one just like Rice. Maybe Brady should go back to thinking, protect the ball first, dink and dunk due to the talent you have, is better than trying to force things deep that weren't there. He looked like Jason Campbell back there! Is Jabar Gaffney that much better than Sam Aiken?
Joe Boyd

This is really the first post that I totally disagree with today. The Patriots were down 24-0 in the first quarter and people really thought the running game was going to get us back in it? And what season did I just watch where Laurence Maroney actually warranted MORE carries than he got? Maroney was in no way effective this season. He had a couple of solid games but his fumbles generally overshadowed even that limited production. Now we wanted his to salvage the season against a top five rushing defense while trailing by 24 points? No thanks. I'll take my chances with Brady leading a comeback. He may not have delivered but at least he's done it before. That's more than I could say of Maroney. And for your last point, you really didn't think Gaffney was light years better than Aiken after watching the last couple of seasons? Gaffney is a legitimate NFL receiver. I'll admit that he was better than I thought he was, but at no point did I ever think he didn't belong on the field. Aiken is a hard-working special teams player and nothing more than that. It's actually unfair to even compare the two.
Paul Perillo

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