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Ask PFW: Stay Classy New England

Unless the Patriots are planning to take a CB with the 22nd pick they should really resign Samuel. Do you think that either Jeff Samardzija, Dwayne Jarrett, Ted Ginn Jr., or Calvin Johnson (if they come out) will have any chance of falling to the Pats?Nick Mortell

Johnson has no chance of being around when the Patriots draft and Jarrett's chances are slim to none. Ginn could be around at that point, depending on how the draft falls. On the other hand, I wouldn't touch Samardzija with a ten-foot pole. I feel he is one of the most overrated players to come out in years. He's a nice college player but every time he went up against a big, fast physical corner, he got beat up and couldn't create separation. Samardzija would be better served to play baseball because he's going to have a tough time adjusting to the pro game. Just watch the games against Michigan, USC and LSU. Those corners beat him up at the line and he was a non-factor. Meanwhile, he really tore up the service academies. Unfortunately, he won't be playing Army and Navy in the NFL.

Out of the receivers you mentioned, Ginn would be the most logical choice for the Patriots if he decides to enter the draft. He's the fastest football player I've seen since Deion Sanders. And as we saw in the National Championship Game, his ability to return kicks will only add to his value on draft day. He's not quite as polished as some of the other receivers coming out but with his speed and physical ability, Ginn's upside is tremendous. He would look awfully good in a Patriots uniform.
-Tom Casale

As much as I don't like the Dolphins, I like what Junior did for us this year. With that said, IF Jason Taylor were to "Retire" this year, could you see the Patriots acquiring him like they did Junior? I can't see any reason why he wouldn't want to come here. Can the Pats afford him?

Taylor said he will return to Miami on Monday but even if he did retire, he Patriots wouldn't be able to sign him. Seau retired but he wasn't under contract. If Taylor retires, the Dolphins would still own his rights, so the only way to get him would be via trade. It's like Barry Sanders' situation. When he retired from the Lions, Detroit still owned his rights, so no other team could go out and just offer Sanders a contract.
-Tom Casale

I know there's no chance of this happening, but it's fun to consider. With rumors of Charlie Weis coming back to the NFL (which everyone in New England knows is totally false since he has his dream job now), and with Romeo Crennel not being the most popular guy in Cleveland right now (there was talk of replacing him), wouldn't it be great if Weis went to Miami and Crennel went to Buffalo in the future? Okay, quite unrealistic, but how fun of a division would that be with Belichick, Mangini, Weis, and Crennel running the AFC East?Nathan F.

The only problem I have with your theory Nathan is why do we think Crennel, Weis and Mangini are great NFL coaches? Sure, Mangini did a great job in New York this year and it looks like he's going to be a good coach, but weren't we saying the same thing about Nick Saban last year? Meanwhile, Crennel hasn't done anything in Cleveland and Weis has only coached in college without a lot of success in big games. I'm not saying any, or even all, of these guys won't be great NFL coaches. I'm just saying it's way too early to tell. Mangini has only coached one year, Crennel is fighting for his job and Weis has never coached a game in the NFL. I agree it would be fun but I also think Belichick would probably just outcoach them all and keep winning division titles. So, in the end, it would really only be fun for Patriots fans.
-Tom Casale

Is it worth mentioning that the Jets have had the easiest schedule against the worst teams, over the last 3 months I've ever seen? It's just amazing the schedule they've had and other than the Patriots win, they've lost to all the winning teams they played over the season.Mark Richardson

The Jets did play an easy schedule, but so did the Patriots. The Jets had one victory over a team with a winning record (Patriots), while the Patriots had two (Jets, Bears.) I wouldn't call that a huge difference. I was impressed with how hard the Jets fought the Patriots for three and a half quarters last Sunday. Even in defeat, that team showed me a lot. The Patriots have the better players and the better coach and were able to pull away at the end but if you are a Jets fan, you have to feel good about the future. Oh, and by the way, next year both teams will have tougher schedules because they play the NFC East.
-Tom Casale

The pats should do this: 3. Cleveland Browns Johnson, Calvin, WR Georgia Tech TRADE N.E.* Cleveland trades C.J. and 4th round to N.E. for 22nd, 28th, 2nd rounder, 3rd rounder. Brady grabs a stud and with Jackson coming from injury and Caldwell emerging as a football player, this could be the strong point of the team.Bob Johnson

No way Bob. I think Calvin Johnson is the best player coming out in this draft and he'll be an instant star in the NFL. However, that's way too much to give up to get any player. The Patriots have a lot of holes to fill. Their linebackers are getting older and they need depth in the secondary and at receiver. Johnson is a Top 5 pick. There's no way the Patriots have enough to move up that high, even with two first round selections.

A guy to keep an eye on is Robert Meachem out of Tennessee. He runs in the 4.3 range and really stepped up his game this year. With all the big-name receivers in this draft, he doesn't get talked about a lot but he's a good player who will see his draft stock rise over the next couple of months. Watch out for him, he's a player.
-Tom Casale

While I am happy with Tully Banta-Cain's performance, I am not printing any TBC for 2007 Pro Bowl stickers for the moment like other fans. Can the Pats count on this guy to be a consistent starter at the position for next year? Is he a free agent? We all know how other teams constantly reap what the Patriots sow. Is he under contract? What are your feelings overall on TBC and his future with the Patriots?Henry Littlefield

I'm very happy with Banta-Cain's play this year. He's going to be a free agent but there's good news and bad news. The good news is I think he likes it here and being strictly a 3-4 outside linebacker, there really aren't a lot of teams he can go to. The bad news is one of those teams is the Jets and they have a ton of cap room in 2007. I believe Banta-Cain will be re-signed by the Patriots. They're thin at that position and they have a guy who has been in the system for a while and seems to be getting better and better. I don't think he'll ever be a superstar but he can be a productive player in this system for years to come.
-Tom Casale

My question has to do with Teddy Bruschi. This guy is still the heart and soul of the defense (especially with Rodney out) and he brings years of playoff experience to the field. That said, I see a older, sloooowwwwer Teddy B out there now. He still can play the run well, but his pass coverage is getting bad. He just can't keep up with most receivers anymore. Do you guys see the same thing? Peter King said that Teddy trying to cover Leon Washington was like himself trying to hit Johan Santana: kind of insulting to Teddy, but I saw the same thing. I`m afraid that his skills are in decline now and next year may be his last. Linebacker is already a depth-starved position. Are the Pats in bigger trouble than we thought at LB?Ben Askew

I hate to say it Bob because Bruschi has meant so much to the Patriots but I agree with you 100 percent. I have been saying the same thing all year. Keep in mind, this is no slam on Bruschi or his effort, he's just getting older. There's nothing anyone can do about that. Trust me, I've tried. He still has great instincts and makes his share of tackles but he's really struggled in pass coverage this year. That could be a big problem this week with Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson to deal with. Bruschi will always be a good football player because he's tough, works hard and knows the game. However, you are correct when you say he's lost a step in pass coverage. There's no doubt about it.
-Tom Casale

I realize that you get tired of the Chad Jackson questions...well here is one more. Is this guy really only capable of running fly routes or quick throws to the slot? He doesn't know how to run a post or slant? You learn that in JV football, so I find that hard to believe. He is the biggest receiver they have, but never try get him involved in the middle of the field where he can shield off defenders. Is he that bad? He worked out of the slot at Florida a lot...what is the problem with this guy?Alex Glascow

I wish I had an easy answer for you Alex but I don't. Perhaps he's been slowed by that hamstring injury all year or he's just having a hard time picking up the offense. Patriots fans think you're crazy when you suggest he's having trouble picking up the offense like he would be the first rookie receiver in NFL history to have that problem. I remember Javon Walker's first year in Green Bay. There were some close to the team who thought he was going to be a monumental bust because he couldn't pick up the offense. Sometimes it just takes a player a year or two to develop and mature enough to be productive in the pro game. I think we need to give Jackson at least one more year. If he's in the same boat this time next season, then we can start throwing the word "bust" around.

The one thing I am concerned about with Jackson is that it looks like his 40-speed is much faster than his football speed. If you line Jackson and Ellis Hobbs up on a track, Jackson probably wins that showdown. However, on the football field, Hobbs looks much faster to me. On all those deep routes he runs, he doesn't get any separation. Guys who run a 4.3 40 are supposed to at least look fast, even if they don't catch the ball. That's the one thing that concerns me the most but I will hold judgment on him for at least another season.
-Tom Casale

Belichick actually looks happy these days. Should we be nervous about this? He has used up an entire season's worth of smiles in 48 hours.Chris Noble

Maybe he knows something about this team that others don't see. He's not fooling me. I saw the same thing you did. He has a good feeling about this team. That's why I'm picking the Patriots to upset the Chargers 27-20 this Sunday.
-Tom Casale

Sorry, but I don't get the supposed "wicked" threat represented by the Chargers. If you look at their record for the regular season, you see a ridiculously easy schedule, with just about total avoidance of calibre teams. Even some of the weakest teams in the league like Cleveland and Oakland gave them game. The only decent team that they manhandled was Denver, which ended up not even making the play-offs. (Denver gets "decent" by spanking the pats:) Who did they beat that demonstrates superbowl calibre total team domination required in this league today?Jeremy Stieglitz

Nothing bother's me more than e-mails like this. The New England Patriots had two wins against teams with winning records this season. The Chargers had four. You say they haven't beaten anyone? Seems like that's what people were saying about the 2001 Patriots if I remember correctly. I don't care if you believe the Patriots are going to win – I think they will myself. However, don't write in and talk about how a 14-2 team in the AFC is overrated. You know who had a "ridiculous easy schedule?" The Patriots and they're not bad either. The Chargers are a very good football team. However, based on your theory, if the Patriots beat the Chargers I can say they will lose against either the Colts or Ravens because San Diego didn't play anyone and was overrated. Isn't that right?

By the way, Denver was the only team they manhandled? Are you sure you know what team you're even talking about? Also, the Patriots beat the Jaguars and Titans who ended up not making the playoffs either. I guess you forgot to mention that, huh? It's amazing. Everyone plays an easy schedule except the Patriots. I hate to be the one to tell you this but there are about five good teams in the NFL these days, so pretty much everyone plays an easy schedule. In my opinion, two of the best teams in pro football will do battle this Sunday, with the winner having a great chance to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Now, stay classy New England.
-Tom Casale

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