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Ask PFW: Rounding into form

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Now that the Chiefs have cut Larry Johnson, what do you think the chances are of seeing him in a Patriots uniform? Would the folks at "Ask PFW" approve of such a signing? The Pats have a history of taking loud-mouthed or troublesome players and turning them around (on the field and off the field).
Hamish Patterson

I don't think the Patriots would have any interest in Johnson and Bill Belichick said as much on his weekly radio appearance on WEEI a day after the Dolphins win. Belichick said it would be unlikely and added that the Patriots wouldn't likely get the opportunity anyway since Johnson would have to clear waivers first, much like Chris Chambers did a week earlier. Even though Johnson did in fact make through the waiver process, it still seems unlikely the Patriots would make the move given his age, diminishing production and off-field behavior. Personally, I'd want no part of a me-first running back who's always complaining about his role and respect and has done nothing but cause problems for Kansas City.
Paul Perillo

I would love to see us taking more shots at TDs from the 20-50-yard area. We seem to do well with that, and it may even help our red-zone production as it keeps the opposing DBs grasping for air.
Ed Truman

I always like taking shots and the Patriots have certainly taken more and more lately as Tom Brady has gotten into a groove. They tried a bunch against Tennessee and Tampa Bay, and then called a few more against Miami. Some have worked and some haven't. Randy Moss made a beautiful one-handed catch on one but Vontae Davis picked off an earlier one against Miami. Aqib Talib intercepted one in London in the Bucs game. So you can call all the long passes you want but that doesn't always mean success. The red-zone has been a periodic problem this season – it certainly was against Miami – but that hasn't always been the case. The offense is starting to really click right now and I wouldn't expect too many repeats of what happened against Miami. The play-calling has been just fine.
Paul Perillo

The defense continues to be confused by good opposing teams as a result of creative offensive schemes. It seems that good opposing teams come up with offensive plays that confuse the Patriots defense. I have followed the Patriots for quite some time and you rarely have instances where the Patriots defensive schemes throw the opposing offense off its game plan. Our defensive game plan relies a lot on luck – case in point Derrick Mason dropping the pass in the Ravens game and Ted Ginn Jr. dropping a pass that would have kept Miami's drive alive and possibly scored. If we could only hire someone like Dick LeBeau of Pittsburgh who really knows how to confuse opposing teams with different defensive schemes.
Bill Franks

The Patriots have allowed the second fewest amount of points in the NFL, trailing just Indianapolis through eight games. If they've been confused I'd hate to see the results once they get on the same page. Look, I can't argue with the fact that the Patriots have been rather fortunate on a couple of occasions defensively this season and the two specific examples you mentioned would qualify as lucky. There was nothing the defense did to stop those plays. But losing sight of just how well the defense has performed because there have been a couple of dropped passes would be foolish. The group is coming together and playing better each week. They're getting contributions for several players and different guys are emerging each game. Considering the number of young and new players the defense is breaking in, how could you ask for much more than what you're getting. Even if you discount the blowouts over Tennessee and Tampa Bay, the defense has been solid in every game against some pretty good teams. For all the so-called confusion you write about, Miami scored just 17 points. That's pretty good, especially with this offense. I think you need to cut these guys a break.
Paul Perillo

When will the NFL decide who will be the flex game when we play the Jets Nov. 22?
Buddy Cataldo

The Jets-Patriots game on Nov. 22 will not be flexed to a night game. It will remain in its scheduled 4:15 p.m. slot. Moving that game to prime time would have meant giving the Patriots four straight night games and that's not going to happen.
Paul Perillo

Sebastian Vollmer shut Joey Porter out. Porter's name doesn't appear in the box score. He got NOTHING. Yet, I have read NOTHING about Vollmer in the postgame media coverage. Matt Light is a great interview. A great guy. A great teammate. A fan favorite. But, is he now the Jason Varitek of the Patriots?
Chris Noble

Not sure what postgame coverage you listened to or read but you could barely go five sentences without someone mentioning Joey Porter's shutout. The Boston Herald devoted an entire column to it. Now, if you didn't read much specifically on Vollmer that's because he wasn't the only player responsible for the strong pass protection. Porter lines up all over the place and rushed on Nick Kaczur's side as well. Also, Belichick specifically credited the tight ends for doing a great job helping the tackles in pass protection. Vollmer was excellent in the game and I feel he's knocking on the door for competing for a starting job even when Light is healthy. But let's not make it sound like Light hasn't enjoyed solid games in the past. Remember the Atlanta game when John Abraham was similarly stifled? Vollmer looks like a keeper and should be a fixture at left tackle for years to come and I'm excited about his potential.
Paul Perillo

Early in the season the Pats had a hard time coming up with a touchdown near or in the red zone, after the past two games I thought they fixed that problem. But after the Dolphins games it seems to still be an issue. What way do you think they can fix this problem? Also since we have reached the halfway point of the season, can you give an analysis on all parts of the team?John Optiz

I don't believe the Patriots have a problem in the red zone as much as these things can fluctuate from game to game. Against Tampa and Miami the red zone production wasn't great but there have been other games when it was pretty much perfect. I'd like to see the Patriots run the ball a bit more often from inside the 10, but other than that it's really just about execution. Brady hit BenJarvus Green-Ellis with a perfect touchdown pass but the back dropped the ball. There have been other times when receivers have been open but the pass hasn't been on target. But overall the offense, as I said earlier, is really starting to click. I'm not expecting much trouble putting points on the board going forward. As for the midseason analysis of the team, I would direct you to the 48 pages we printed coming out of the bye week for that week's issue of PFW. In a nutshell, the team appears poised to be a major postseason player down the stretch.
Paul Perillo

Do you know who went after Kyle Arrington? I think it was the Colts as their secondary is quite beat up with the loss of Kelvin Hayden, Marlin Jackson and Bob Sanders. Does BB really like the kid or do you think he was afraid of what Arrington could tell the Colts (i.e. Broncos, Jets)? This is probably where Andy says he was a practice player and thus could not provide any good insight.Karl Mishina

I think your instincts about the Colts were probably correct. There were some published reports that indicated as much and it would make sense given the state of disarray the Colts secondary finds itself in. I'm not sure that was the sole reason Belichick opted to elevate him from the practice squad when he did but it makes sense if that played a part. It would seem the team is thinner at wide receiver and possibly even defensive line with Jarvis Green out, but he went with a defensive back, which is probably the deepest position on the team. As for Andy, I think you're missing his point. He's not saying a practice squad player doesn't know anything. He's saying that most practice squad players spend more time running other teams' schemes and formations than the Patriots. They're not necessarily glued to the Patriots weekly game plans as much as they are doing their jobs on the scout team. That doesn't mean he wouldn't have information to offer the Colts or any other team. Just not was much as guys who are taking part in the game plan every week.
Paul Perillo

I have just been thinking about the undefeated teams left in the league and after the last two weeks I don't think it will be long until the Saints lose. But the Colts I think are lucky to still be undefeated at all. That's not saying they aren't a good team but they have faced nothing but weak teams all year. In my opinion the first challenge they have is in Week 10 against New England. Just wondering your opinion on this.Rob Hansen

I'm not surprised to hear people discredit the Colts and Saints, that's for sure. Both were undefeated through eight games and anytime that happens those teams are going to come under great scrutiny. Therefore the Colts a simply good, not great, because they "faced nothing but weak teams." I have news for you, Rob. The NFL is filled with weak teams. There aren't too many really good ones. The Colts, Saints, Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Vikings … maybe the Bengals … who else? Not too many. That leaves a whole lot of "nothing but weak teams" and the Patriots have faced many of those as well. Probably the best win the Colts have came in Week 3 at Arizona (5-3). The best wins for the Patriots were probably at home against Atlanta (5-3) and Baltimore (4-4). That's not much of a difference. The Patriots played at Denver, but they lost. All of this is irrelevant, however, because we'll get to see these teams go at it in the playoffs and figure out which teams deserve to move on. As of now, I find it awfully tough to say that Indy and New Orleans aren't the two best teams.
Paul Perillo

I want to check and see if Daleeland Moore was a player in the 1970s or 1980s. Please let me know.Karen Reid-Sandstedt

I found no records of a Daleeland Moore ever playing for the Patriots. There's always the possibility that he was participated in training camp with the team but was cut before he ever played a game, but my records (i.e. my ever-fading memory) doesn't recall a player of that name.
Paul Perillo

Enjoy your show very much. I am old enough to remember when, if the defensive players jumped, the center would snap the ball to get an offside penalty. Why don't they do that anymore? Secondly, I wonder why teams call a timeout to prevent a delay of game penalty in the second half. I understand that there are situations when this is definitely called for but I think that the timeout is sometimes more important than the 5 yards. I would appreciate your comments.Tom Ciovacco

On the first point, I think we do see this every week, whether it's specifically the center snapping the ball to draw the penalty or another lineman moving to force the official to throw the flag. The NFL changed the false start rules slightly several years ago so that now when a defensive lineman jumps into the neutral zone and causes an offensive lineman to flinch, the penalty now goes against the defense. In the past, it would be called on the offense as long as the defender did not make contact with the blocker. The change has led to an advantage for the offense, however, as now teams often create the penalty whenever a defender moves across the line. And centers still snap the ball occasionally when this happens and the quarterback often takes a knee to kill the play and pick up the 5 yards. As for the delay of game, I'm right there with you. Obviously if it's a third-and-two during a key part of the game, then you want to call timeout and make sure you don't create a long-yardage situation. But too often we see quarterbacks call the timeout when it's already a difficult third-down conversion and the 5 yards would have made little difference. I once saw a quarterback call timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty on a third-and-18 with the ball was on his own 1-yard line. I guess it would have made it impossible if it were third-and-18 and a half. What a waste of a timeout!
Paul Perillo

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