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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Snow better time

After Sunday’s dominating win in snowy conditions in Buffalo, Patriots fans are starting to get that same old confident feeling about the team heading down the stretch. But plenty of questions remain for the back-to-back defending Super Bowl champs.

Hi guys. First, as usual, thanks for the great job you guys do with Ask PFW, PFW, PVN and Radio. All your work makes being a Patriots fan a much stronger addiction. I believe the Patriots have as good a chance as any as winning the Super Bowl this year. The Patriots came into the season with a winning team but a lot of that team has been in transition over the last couple of months. The secondary that is there now has only played 2 or 3 games together. The one thing that stands out about the Patriots is their overall system of taking average and good players and making them great. The process takes time and is not guaranteed for every player. Assuming the Patriots play the Colts in the 2nd week of the playoffs (based on current standings). The big question is not can the Patriots beat the Colts, it is can the Patriots improve quickly enough between now and the playoffs. We already have better players in the backfield and better cohesion on defense than we did in week 9 when we played the Colts. We also scored 21 points against a team used to giving up only 13.5 points/game without being able to control the clock or get the defense off the field. All it would have taken then was two or three less mistakes in that game to change the outcome. So what do you think, come play-off time, if the players the Patriots have now can basically stay healthy and continue to improve, can you envision a cliff-hanger 27-24 Patriots win over the Colts? (Of course, beating the Colts is not winning the Super Bowl, but if they do, then anything is possible after that.)
Len LaPadula
Amherst, NH

The D looked great today getting turnovers, getting the touchdown from James Sanders. Corey Dillon had a great game, over 100 yards rushing and a touchdown. Kevin Faulk had some great looking catches, having 70+ yards receiving. Ellis Hobbs has been looking a lot better over the last couple of weeks. Rosevelt Colvin has been getting a great pass rush off of the edge for us now. We are looking like we are getting some confidence more so in the D in more Blitzing. I know it helps to play the Bills, and Jets but we have been looking pretty good. This coming week I think that we are going to match up very well against the Buccaneers. I think we can stop Cadillac Williams, make Chris Simms pass, and Blitz like we have been. Tom Brady can pick apart the Tampa cover 2, with the help of Corey Dillon running the ball. Great Job Pats...Big John

Just a matter of time before the jelling process got into high gear the defense especially seemed to hit on all cylinders. No more rookies from here on in. Just want to send notice to the Colts especially, we're back! Looks like we'll be picking thirty second come April. Excellent play calling, coaching and execution but the bombs are going to hurt against tougher competition as well as special teams coverage. Tampa will be an excellent measuring stick to determine how we are as far as playoff shape we're in! Get well soon Rodney. Best Holiday wishes to all!
Mr. Jules G.

Hey, it's cold up here in Canada too, even if it's called "Southern" Ontario. But, I'd like to know your opinion on a few things, if that's all right. 1st, and I know its a bit early, but I recently looked at our playoff seeding and schedule and it looks like we are bound to play the Jags and the my question is, if we win the next few games and begin to once again dominate on defense (like we did against the J-E-T-S) do you think that we will have the confidence that we will need to take on some of the better teams in the NFL? Because it seems that our defense has been a bit sporadic in past games this season. With a softer schedule coming up do you think its possible to get back our "Je ne sais quoi" (My li'l ode the French Canadians of New England) of our Patriot past? ........Keep the Faith.
Mark MacKew

Yes. Yes. You noticed I used two yes's, that is for the two in a row. You might ask? Why did I not use this before as they have won two in a row at some other time during the season? Ans. -- Sunday showed that this team is ready to play aggressive football and let the chips fall where they might. It is exciting again to watch them and yes I realize that once again the team they played was not what everyone considers a strong team. But you know what, other than the Bills who else lost in there division? Ans. -- NO ONE. The Jets beat, OK a bad team but not as bad as the Jets have been portrayed, and Miami beat a team that should have been ready for the playoff run. Yes, Yes and Yes, it will be three in a row after Sunday's game against Tampa which will be a first for this year. Yes, your right I am optimistic and bragging this week instead of criticizing this team. They earned it.Bruce Wadleigh

With the Patriots dominant play in the last couple of weeks, even if it was the Jets and Bills, do you think that their stock is rising again as a possible force in the playoffs? Of course everyone is still going to throw them under the bus when is comes to playing and beating the Colts, but I just watched Monday Night Countdown and one of the guys has them back at number 5 in the league. The Patriots seem to be back into their underdog spot and they seem like they might like it. I think a tough performance this week with a win against the Bucs could spark fear back into the eyes of other NFL teams. What do you think?Tom

It's amazing what two straight wins against questionable opposition will do for the confidence of a fan base. I will admit that the Patriots have taken two positive steps forward over the last two weeks, especially with Sunday's dominating win in Buffalo. New England had not been that dominant against any team this season, good or bad. The offense has had a new balance over the last few weeks with the return of Dillon, Faulk and David Givens. Defensively, a more aggressive playmaking output has the unit's swagger returning. But with all that said, New England still has to do it against a quality opponent. They have that chance this week against Tampa at Gillette Stadium. A win tells me they are continuing to improve. A blow-out win tells me they are building toward becoming a possible postseason headache for the elite teams in the conference. A loss would tell me they are what they are for 2005, a middle of the pack team. Time will tell, and as fans point to so often anything came happen in the postseason, but we might learn a quite a bit more about this team Saturday afternoon.
Andy Hart

Wow, what a win on Sunday. Some things I noticed about the Pats D was the great run stuffing ability. I haven't seen that kind of dominance in a long time. Even though the Bills are horrible this year (JP Losman), the Bill's O-line is not to be taken lightly. I was proud to see the Pats dominate the Line. I was also please to see somebody pick off a pass! Keep them coming! And Tom Ashworth at LT, Dillon goes 100+...KEEP HIM THERE…until Matt Light comes back of course...Good Work this week guys. Keep it up! Now for my question...Why did Joe Andruzzi leave? His signing with Cleveland just flew over my head. Was he unhappy with the Patriots or did he just want to leave? Did the Pats try to re-sign him? I know it's been a while since he left but I never understood why he did. I think that's a big reason why the running game has been so slow this's not Dillon getting old its the O-line w/o Andruzzi!Dru

Andruzzi signed with the Browns despite an open desire to return to New England because he was offered significantly more money from Cleveland. The tough veteran signed for four years at more than $9 million to play for Romeo Crennel, above the value the Patriots had placed on the veteran guard.
Andy Hart

Hi, I have three things; two comments and a question. First, I was glad that Joel asked the same question that I asked earlier about the game-winning field goal thing. For those of us who follow soccer and hockey, the "game-winning goal" is whatever goal makes a win, regardless of when it's scored. If the game ends 4-2, then whoever scored the 3rd goal got the game-winning goal -- regardless of when the 2 points were scored by the opponents. So I hope you can understand our confusion -- and hey, we're just sticking up for our favorite kicker and want him to get all due props! Second, I too would love to see some sort of red jersey instead of the silver. Throwback or "alternate," I just think that the silver jerseys look dingy, and red would be a great contrast! My question is about terminology. I've been hearing about a "mike" linebacker for most of the season. What is this a reference to? Thanks! Go Pats!Andrew Miskavage

The Mike linebacker is the strong side, inside linebacker in New England's 3-4 front. In a 4-3 the middle linebacker is also called the Mike. The Mike calls the defenses in the huddle, makes the strength calls and pre-snap adjustments and is considered the more stout, run stopping player. Ted Johnson was the ultimate 3-4 Mike for the Patriots. Tedy Bruschi now fills the role.
Andy Hart

With the Jets owing Ty Law an 11 million dollar roster bonus next year and Lawyer Milloy's tenure with Buffalo almost being over, do u think that there's anyway possibility at all that we might see the return of batman and robin?Joe Cordone

I'll keep it simple, as a duo I don't think there is much chance for a combined return. That said, I do think there is a chance Law could come back under the right circumstances (i.e. money). Both Bill Belichick and Law are bottom line people and top-notch competitors. If it makes sense, both would do it in a heartbeat. I think the Milloy bridge has been burned, and I'm not sure how much sense it would make for the Patriots. I know the team lacks a safety right now, but I think a better long-term solution could be found. But I will never say never, I've been surprised by too many things in the past. I've learned my lesson.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, while I was watching the Steelers-Bengals matchup this past weekend I have to say I was very impressed with the play of the Bengals rookie MLB Odell Thurman. Then I went on to read how he has received Pro-Bowl buzz for his team-leading 100 tackles, 1 sack, 4 forced fumbles, 5 INTs, and 1 defensive TD. I will not pretend to be any kind of football expert, but I am a fanatic on reading about the draft (scouting reports, mock drafts, etc). I would say on 90% of the mock drafts I looked at had the Patriots taking Thurman with the 32nd pick in the NFL draft to fill their hole at MLB with Bruschi just previously being declared out for at least one year. This kid was great at Georgia and seemed to be the perfect fit for the Pats. So on draft day when Thurman was available when the Patriots were on the clock, I was almost positive what the selection would be...then, Logan Mankins? I had not heard his name mentioned once on any draft website, draft guides, or television shows. When I finally looked him up most draft experts had him going in the 5th round or later. I know better than to question Bill and his staff, but am I the only one in the world who thinks that he would have been there in the second round or later? After thinking about the decision, the only conclusion I could reach is that the Pats chose an O-lineman so they wouldn't have to pay as much in salary and save some cap money, but aren't all rookie contracts determined by the NFL? Or, did Mankins stock rise that much on draft day? Please provide any insight, this is driving me crazy!
Richard Fellinger

I doubt very much it was a money decision, because for the most part picks are slotted and aside from the top QB contracts in the early picks don't change much based on position. Thurman had some off-field/discipline concerns coming out of Georgia that may have played a part in some teams passing on him. He's also a little small (6-0, 235) for the inside in New England's two-gap scheme. I think he's given more freedom to run around and make plays in Cincinnati's 4-3 system. But he is definitely having a great year and looks like he could be quite a player.
As for Mankins, he was a left tackle in college projected to play guard in the NFL. That automatically lowers his draft value. But he came from Fresno State where he played under former Belichick assistant and offensive line guru Pat Hill. That reference and the understanding that he could play in the New England system clearly gave him more value to the Patriots. He's a tough, talented, fundamentally sound player and I think that fit New England's needs on the offensive line having already lost Joe Andruzzi. Did the team have other needs? Clearly, but they filled one and if Mankins goes on to start for the next decade and improve from a strong rookie start then it's hard to argue it was a bad pick. And if you believe the Patriots they knew another team was going to draft Mankins early in the second round. Hey, maybe the Patriots and Bengals ended up with players that will help the respective teams for years to come.
Andy Hart

The Patriots do most of their running in 2 tight end sets. Shouldn't they incorporate a lead blocker more? I am not talking about Dan Klecko or Tom Ashworth. I was thinking more along the lines of Ben Watson in that H-back position.Jarrod Grant

Watson does a good deal of run blocking from an H-back-like spot as a motioning tight end and occasionally lined up in the backfield. But using him solely in that role would negate his value as a talent in the passing game. Many times one of the tight ends is a would-be fullback. But the way New England uses the tight ends helps to give the team endless options for both the passing and running attacks while simultaneously keeping the defenses a bit off-balance.
Andy Hart

Quick question: Did the touchdown pass Adam Vinatieri threw last year against the Rams count toward his total points of 1,135 he had after the Jets game? If not, then am I correct in assuming that QBs don't get credit points-wise for the TDs they throw? Thanks for your time.Josh Jacobs

Vinatieri's pass did not count toward the point total. Passers do not get credit for the score when throwing a touchdown, the points go to the receiver who actually scores the touchdown.
Andy Hart

When these guys stop playing like a high school team, I'll start cheering louder. Stop struggling against the Jets and I'll get excited, OK.Jon Lenares

Just thought I should put his response to Richard Seymour's comments about the crowd noise in this week's edition. If Jon is a man of his word then based on last week's performance in Buffalo Gillette Stadium should be rocking this Saturday afternoon. I'm just glad to see fans didn't get defensive about being called out. Talk about spoiled.
Andy Hart

Do you think BB will have an Offensive Coordinator next season? Since Steve Mariucci got fired as a head coach and had success as an OC in the past, would he be a candidate?Steve Bertolino

I am not sure if Belichick will have an offensive coordinator in a titular sense next season, but I don't think any high-profile coach like Mariucci will be joining the staff. Belichick wants the system in place to remain as such and that's something that's hard to do when you bring in a big-name, big-ego, big-ideas coach like Mariucci. If and when Josh McDaniels is ready for the title, I think he will get it. Until then it might remain as it is right now. Game plans will get created. Plays will get called. There just isn't a person carrying the OC title.
Andy Hart

I read in this section someone asked about Brad Johnson being the only NFL quarterback to complete a touchdown pass to himself. Didn't Steve Young do it too, or did he just complete a pass to himself? Do you know what Lenny Walls' status is on clearing waivers? I haven't read about him signing anywhere since Denver released him. Has he not cleared waivers yet? What do you think the odds are that the Pats sign him. I think he'd be a huge boost to the secondary. He'd give them more talent and NFL experience and could probably get plugged into the 2nd corner once he gets a handle on the D. GO PATS!Keith Marrin

Steve Young did catch two passes, although neither of them went for a touchdown. To the best of my knowledge Johnson is the only quarterback to ever complete a touchdown pass to himself. As for Walls, he was claimed by the Raiders but released the following day when he did not pass his physical. As far as I can tell he's not signed with anyone since. I would assume he's not healthy at this point and not capable of helping any team, including the Patriots at this point in the year.
Andy Hart

What is the reserve/non-football injury list? Is it anything similar to IR or PUP?Kacper K.

Reserve non-football injury is where players land when they don't pass their initial training camp physical due to injuries or problems suffered in an offseason/non-football environment. The biggest difference from the player's perspective is that when placed on NFI the team has the right to not pay the player. Players on injured reserve and PUP (meaning they were hurt in some football related manner) are paid.
Andy Hart

I am glad to read in the news blitz that Kevin Faulk is getting some recognition and everyone realized how much he was missed. What was written sounded just like me telling my Pats fan buddies that his injury was just as big as anyones with the exception of Harrison. Kevin Faulk has made tons - TONS of plays for us these last 4 years and he was missed! Sure, he has had some fumble issues but I think he has certainly improved that each year. Welcome back Kevin!!David

Faulk has been a welcome addition to the offense. He does, as Belichick says, things that no other player on the team can do. He is a unique talent. He was greatly missed and has given the offense a clear spark, especially on third down. He doesn't always get the credit he deserves but he's been a key part of this team for years.

Andy Hart

With the AFC LEast as bad as it's been, we could be looking at one or maybe even two teams with 11-5 records not making the post season. Since the beginning of the Super Bowl era, how many teams with 11-5 records have been denied a playoff berth? Also, what were the teams denied and the years? Also realize that a three-division format like we used to have would make such occurrences less likely. Do you suppose that if two teams go 11-5 and are shut out of the post-season the league may consider returning to a three-division format? Could the NFL change to allow three wild-card teams and give the top three teams in each conference a bye? I believe I have heard such discussions taking place in the offseason before, but it never came to fruition. What are your thoughts on all this?

Since the NFL went to the 16-game schedule in 1978 only one 11-5 team, the 1985 Denver Broncos, failed to qualify for the playoffs. I don't believe the league would return to a three-division format because it really wouldn't change all that much. In order to truly avoid leaving a good team at home you would have remove division winners from the equation and base the postseason solely on record. It's highly unlikely that an 11-5 team will miss the playoffs this year, anyway. And even if it happens, there is a good chance that the Patriots qualify as the division winner with the worst record at 11-5. In the end it usually plays itself out and changing the system is something that takes lots of time, consideration and support from a majority of owners to enact. I don't see that happening any time soon.
Andy Hart

I think the Patriots should sign ref Ed Hochuli to play safety for them. They way our safeties have played I think he could be more physical and probably more durable. Just a thought.Jason Liberty

I see what you did there. The only problem is I think he would spend more time flexing and worrying about how he looks than making plays. Plus he already has a pretty cushy gig.
Andy Hart

Should Mike Cloud take over as the running back for the Pats. I mean common, P. Pass ands C. Dillon are not performing well while injured. Mike Cloud was on the 2003 Pats Super Bowl team, then they released him. Now he's back and they won't use him. He avg. 3.4 yards a carry, and has never fumbled in his NFL career! Can you explain to me why the Pats are not using him more, is there something I don't know?Nate Fridley

I am guessing this is a joke email, at least I hope it is. 3.4 avg.? Doesn't that say it all? Cloud is a good veteran emergency running back and not much more. He's not as versatile as Pass and even with this season's struggles in mind, isn't even in the same stratosphere as Dillon. And there were a lot of players on that same 2003 team with Cloud, that doesn't mean any of them are good options for the current team. Nothing against Cloud – he is what he is. What he isn't is an every down, starting running back.
Andy Hart

Please explain how the teams are matched up in the playoffs. I don't think it is always strictly by seed, because don't they prevent teams from the same division from playing each other? If so, does this rule also apply to match-ups in the second round as well?Steve Maifield
Des Moines, Iowa

Teams are matched up based on their seed. The seeding systems ranks the division winners based on record from 1-4, then the next two based non-division winners are seeded five and six based on their records. The top two seeds get a first-round bye. Seeds three and six play. Seeds four and five play (Wild Card Weekend). In the next round the No. 1 seed hosts the lowest remaining seed left and the No. 2 seed hosts the highest seed left (Divisional Playoff). After that the highest remaining seed hosts the lowest remaining seed (AFC/NFC Championship) for the right to go to the Super Bowl. From 1970-1989 teams from the same division could not meet in the playoffs prior to the conference championship game, but that rule no longer exists. In the current six-team, two-bye playoff format seeding is all that decides the matchups.
Andy Hart

Greetings. How do I find out which Pats will be spending the summer playing in the NFL Europe league. I would like to what teams they will be playing for so I can keep track of them. Thanks 15-year fan.James Evans

The Patriot do not decided which players to send to Europe until sometime during the winter, usually between late January and mid February depending on when the season ends. That information will be available on when it is released. As always will also have full coverage of New England's players in Europe this spring, including weekly updates, game recaps, photos and a player diary.
Andy Hart

First off Ronde Barber seems to be a good guy and an outstanding football player overall. In fact I like both the Barber brothers. Also it would be an absolute fantasy to have Ronde Barber running around in the secondary for the Pats. Although I was wondering why there is a bit of commotion about Ronde Barber getting at least 20/20 sacks and interceptions for his career. Specifically I have heard that Ronde Barber is being touted as the first defensive back to get 20/20 sacks and interceptions, but I know that Rodney Harrison has that distinction and is in fact the All-Time NFL Leader in that category. Is this just another example of Rodney Harrison getting overlooked by his peers and industry or am I being blinded by a bit of fan bias? (i.e. no recent Pro Bowls despite Rodney Harrison's yearly efforts, no MVP or at the very least a co-MVP consideration for Super Bowl 39.) I guess this comes down to me wondering if I am alone in thinking Rodney Harrison doesn't get the credit he deserves.Robin Bennett

I don't think Harrison gets the credit he deserves and nothing shows that more than the all-out collapse the New England secondary suffered without him this season. But the Barber thing is just a case of people misspeaking. Harrison is the only player in league history with 25 sacks and at least 30 interceptions. But Harrison is a safety and it is easier and more likely for a safety to record sacks than a cornerback (although LeRoy Butler is the only other safety prior to 2005 with the 20/20 thanks to 20.5 sacks and 38 interceptions). Therefore, Barber is set to become the first cornerback in NFL history to pull off 20 interceptions and 20 sacks for his career. It's just a little misunderstanding in the description of the feat, but other than that Harrison is definitely not give the credit he deserves.
Andy Hart

I have a picture of my son wearing a red Patriots jersey back in 1981with the number 39 and no name on it. Would you know who wore that number in 1981 or where I might look it up? Thanks.
Al Ouellette

Running back Sam Cunningham wore No. 39 in New England from 1973-79 and 81-82. Cunningham is the franchise's all-time leader in rushing yards (5,453) and attempts (1,385). He's second all-time with 43 rushing touchdowns.
Andy Hart

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