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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Jun 18 - 11:55 AM | Thu Jun 20 - 09:55 AM

Ask PFW: Super Bowl bound

The Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl, but we're tackling more than just the Eagles here in the latest edition of Ask PFW.

Hey guys, wicked feature on the site, read it all the time. Got a question for your esteemed brainpower. First, I know everyone is talking about Ty Law being gone, but I still think he can help the team if healthy. The Patriots are paying a lot of money to Colvin and getting limited return. I feel bad for the guy because of the injury, but to be paying that much for a situational linebacker wouldn't it make some sense to either restructure his deal to free up some money, or release him and use the money saved to resign Ty. Law could make more of an impact over an entire season than Colvin has so far, and would enable them to start Law and Samuel on the corners, and use Poole or Gay as the nickel back.Mark Boucher

I learned my lesson last year when everyone assumed Law would be gone because of his salary cap number. I am not falling prey to that prevailing thought this time. Law's cap number will be $12.5 million, but the Patriots have to determine if he is worth the $9.8 in new money they will have to pay him, which is a $2.3 million raise over this season. I think they try to hash out a new contract this spring and don't rule out the possibility of the Patriots keeping him and his high cap number on the roster knowing its only for one more season. If they release Law, they will be on the hook for nearly $3 million in dead money and will have to replace his production. I understand that they seemingly have replaced it (at least in the win column) so far this year, but what has happened this season doesn't affect Law's value. Is he worth $9.8 million? If the answer yes, then it doesn't matter that the team won the AFC Championship without him. If the team thinks that Randall Gay and Asante Samuel are ready to hold the positions they have filled this season in place of Law and Tyrone Poole, then perhaps Law will be gone. Don't count on it. I think he stays even if they have to pay him. I don't have a cap to manage so it's easy for me to say. As far as Colvin goes, I really think you need to cut him a break. The Patriots did not know what to expect from him this season and all they got was a full 16 games and some modest production. He worked in the outside linebacker rotation all year. Next year will be a big season for him to truly monitor if he is all the way back from his fractured hip. But he is on the books for around $2.6 million next season with a cap number in the $3.9 million range. He'll be here for that. I don't believe Colvin's contract situation will have any impact on Law's. Is he worth what they have to pay him? If yes, they keep him. If no, he's gone. It's that simple.

OK so Lawyer Milloy was spouting off to WEEI the other day and criticized Pats management for under-paying their players. I thought that the Patriots were maxed out from a salary cap standpoint? If they pay the maximum salary cap each year, how could they be accused of underpaying their players? Is this just sour grapes by Milloy or has he got a point here? Thanks. You guys do a great job. See you in Jacksonville.
Joe Hall
New York, N.Y.

I wish Lawyer would explain this underpaying of players thing to me. I haven't read any stories about the Patriots forcing a player to sign a contract against his will. The Patriots are up against the cap every year, but they do it a little differently. They haven't emptied the coffers with big salaries for too many players, but instead have around 20 or more players with cap numbers of more than $1 million. It's more of a middle class philosophy of building a balanced roster as opposed to one that is top heavy with haves and have nots. The Patriots negotiate for a player and if the player doesn't want their offer and can get more elsewhere, he goes. That's what Damien Woody did and that's what Ted Washington did. That's there collectively bargained right. The Patriots set a value for each player based on their intimate knowledge of the player on and off the field and then it's up to the player to take it or leave it. Some players don't like that. The think it's disrespectful. But it's never personal. If the player does stay even though he might be able to get more elsewhere, that's his choice (see Bruschi, Tedy). So Lawyer is demonstrating with his words that he doesn't understand the marketplace even though he worked it to perfection from a financial standpoint for his own wallet. The team wanted him to take a pay cut. He refused, was cut and got his money elsewhere. Good for him. Some players do take less to play in New England for whatever reason. Colvin signed for about a $6 million bonus when Arizona was reportedly offering twice that. Obviously it wasn't all about the money for Rosey. It's impossible to underpay a player in this market because it's up to the player to accept or refuse an offer. He ultimately has the pen. Lawyer is simply referring to the Patriots reluctance to pay out exorbitant signing bonuses that restrict the team later in the contract.

The New England media is unbelievable with their lack of football knowledge. Being a loyal fan is one thing, but the shows picked up from your area on a dish are unfounded with their comments. Learn the game. PITTSBURGH by 14.
Bill Greenawalt

This came in before the game. But I thought it would be worth printing. Good call Bill. It's OK to pick Pittsburgh, but rip local people and make your little bold prediction on the Patriots website and you get what you get, which is to say some tears in your terrible towel … again. On a serious not, I think your quarterback was definitely hurt. That wasn't the same guy that played against New England in October.

I know it's a bit early, but whom do you think the Patriots will draft in the 1st round of April's draft? Many mock drafts have us taking a CB, but I think the Pats have a lot of young talent there even if Ty Law is shipped elsewhere. So what do you think?Adam Mancini

I think cornerback is a need, and if Law is gone, it's a major need. A top-flight corner gives Bill Belichick a bevy of defensive coverage options that maybe he didn't have this year. Also, a top-flight corner is difficult to find, which is why the Patriots kept Law this season despite his $10 million-plus cap number. I also think the Patriots have to address their inside linebacker position because of the age of the current group. I don't know if Roman Phifer will be back next year. The problem is that the draft doesn't seem to have much in the way of quality linebackers (again). Wide receiver might be a need depending on P.K. Sam's progress and perhaps a young tackle in the middle rounds to replace Adrian Klemm, who unfortunately for him, battled injuries since being drafted by New England.

As a big Patriots fan I would like to know what significance (if any) there is when it is reported during the week that so and so player was not in the locker room. If he is not in the locker room does that mean he is unlikely to play the following Sunday? Keep up the good work. Kind regards.Anthony Wise,
Hertfordshire, Great Britain

The Patriots are very secretive about injuries, and usually if a player on the injury list goes unseen when the locker room is open to the media, it is assumed that the reason is so the writers won't report what they see and jump to conclusions about the player's status or ask the player about his status. The team doesn't want its players talking about injuries. So when Richard Seymour isn't in the locker room, it's assumed, but certainly not guaranteed, that he won't play. But since we really don't know, we report that he wasn't in the locker room, a pattern that has led us to believe he isn't playing. But we let the reader make that determination by simply reporting what we do know and not speculating.

Have the Patriots ever had two running backs run for over 100 yards in a game?Steven D.

No. But on Nov. 4, 1990 the Eagles Randall Cunningham (124) and Heath Sherman (113) turned the trick against the Pats.

It seems like Romeo Crennel is finally going to be a head coach. And if he does leave, do you think the Patriots will make Eric Mangini the new defensive coordinator? He is a very good coach and deserves to be a coordinator in this league.Andres Alangha

Yes. I do think so and I agree with you. I just wrote about that in PFW a couple of weeks back. I read that Mangini might leave with Crennel. That would surprise me. But I did wonder why Al Groh was on the Patriots sideline in Pittsburgh when I saw him there.

I was wondering what you guys think our coaching staff will look like with Charlie Weis on his way to Notre Dame and Romeo Crennel the likely new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. I have a sense that Eric Mangini is going to be elevated to Defensive Coordinator. What do you think of someone like Norv Turner as Offensive Coordinator, once his highly rumored dismissal from the Raiders takes place? I think he would be an interesting choice for our great staff! Thanks Guys and keep up the good work.Bob Stuart

Well, I think Eric will get promoted. As far as offensive coordinator goes, I don't have a real sense for whom that might be. Inside candidates include Jeff Davidson, Dante Scarnecchia, Ivan Fears and Brian Daboll. I don't think Turner would be the pick and it doesn't look like he's getting fired, although I certainly haven't followed the Raiders situation that closely. It's an interesting thought, though.

Before the Colts game I was almost positive that the Patriots would need to sign or draft a very good corner to be a future starter, but after the Colts game do you think that Asante Samuel and Randall Gay could be both starting full time within a year or two? Why would we need to draft a corner in the first round if these two can shut down the best wide receivers in the league? Obviously the Patriots need depth and Tyrone Poole and maybe Ty Law will be back but I think these two are better than just backups.Corey Fink

They might be in there down the line, but that's a position where you can't have enough good players. Just because the Patriots have continued winning doesn't mean we should enshrine these guys. Heck, Troy Brown has been playing too. Do you want to make him a full-time corner? He's done OK in his call to duty, but the Patriots need some young quality depth at corner. It's difficult to get that shutdown guy outside of the top 10 picks, but it happens. Neither Sam Madison nor Patrick Surtain in Miami were first round picks and Ty Law was picked 23rd in the first round. If there is a top quality corner out there, the Patriots should consider taking him if they get the chance.

About a month ago I read on ESPN Insider that the Patriots and Kicker Adam Vinatieri were in the final stages of getting a contract extension done. I haven't heard anything new on this? Are the Pats looking to re-sign him? Also do you think the Pats will resign Joe Andruzzi? Thank You.Stephan Murphy

I think Adam will be back next year. I feel pretty secure making that statement even though he has refused to reveal whether or not a deal has been agreed upon. Joe is a good question. He will be 30 in August and certainly won't command big money in free agency so I can see a deal getting done if the Patriots want Joe back and Joe wants to stay in a place where he has established roots relatively close to his Staten Island, N.Y. home.

Hi Guys. Thanks for doing such a great job keeping us up to date on all things Patriot. I know I'm getting way too far ahead thinking about this, but do you know what dead money will count against the cap next season? Does Milloy still have a cap number for a pro-rated bonus? Any (other) big numbers? I think this may play a big roll in how aggressive the team is in the free agent market or in keeping Law on the roster.Don Coulombe

As of now, I don't know of any beyond a few small figures that will count. That could change in February before the start of the new league year if the Patriots decide to release any veterans under contract. Milloy will be off the books after this season.

Listening to Dale Arnold on "The Big Jab" WJAB here in Maine, I heard him talk to possibly Bill being "vanilla" or holding back during the Halloween Trick the Steelers gave us, perhaps revealing his intuitiveness and forethought on seeing the Steelers again in late December or January. Well here we our January treat for the Steelers foretold by Bill's psuedo subliminal game play and prep in October? Your thoughts are always respected. Respectfully, The unofficial, official chief of the Patriot Nation Fire Department.James Mitchell

Bill obviously had a good plan for Sunday's game. But I will respectfully disagree with Dale. There is no way on earth Bill held something back on Halloween in anticipation of a playoff rematch. No way. Now, I will say this: the Patriots game plan was thrown out the window at the end of one quarter on Oct. 31 so Pittsburgh didn't get a full look at how the Pats wanted to attack as the game progressed. But Bill is trying to win at all costs every week. He would never assume in October that his team will have enough wins come January that he wouldn't put everything he has into a game. Heck, he put everything he had into the 49ers game at the end of the season, which was relatively meaningless from a playoff seeding standpoint.

Dear PFW, I just wanted to drop a note and thank you for doing such an outstanding job with the "Weekly". I have been an avid Patriots Fan since Game 1 in 1960. I truly love my Pats, and lately have been having the time of my life with their recent success. I agree with your latest comments. We have the best "team" in the NFL, and it is a pleasure watching them each week carry out each the best thought out plan of attack. I appreciate you taking the time to print this article. If I was to ask your opinion on an issue, it would be the following: In this age of " massive ego's " why don't other Head Coaches use the " Bill Belichick" team above all else attitude, when they see it works so well. I can recall the 2001 Super Bowl when after all the individuals for the Rams were introduced, we ran out as a " team ". The results speak for themselves. I hope and pray for the same this year. We already had a perfect example this past week. No one individual can defeat our team. Thanks again for your outstanding work, and continued success for my beloved Pats. Delaware's # 1 fan.
Dan Roberts
Dover, Del.

That approach requires someone having a well thought out plan and being committed to bringing in the right kind of players. Bill worked hard to bring in hungry veterans rather than go out and throw money at the top free agents. There are egos in the Patriots locker room, but there seems to be an internal pressure to check them at the door. That pressure doesn't come from Belichick, but from the players that he and Scott Pioli have procured along with a few holdovers. I think every football coach preaches team over individual, but that's easier said than done. The Patriots have seen the fruits of their labor. They have seen how that approach works. The Patriots roster is not built on high-priced free agents, but on guys who are willing to commit to a demanding program. The Patriots are meat and potatoes. If you want gourmet, you go somewhere else. A guy who simply wants his touches or his playing time won't usually last in New England. The players wouldn't put up with it. The test will come when some of the older veterans start leaving as their careers wind down and the younger players step into those roles. That's a delicate balance. The Willie McGinests, Ted Johnsons and Tedy Bruschis of the world weren't ready for those roles in 1997 when many veterans were let go in favor of the younger, talented players. The teams lacked leadership back then. Now those same players are strong leaders. Will guys like Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson and Deion Branch be able to carry that torch. The young players undoubtedly follow the lead of the vets here. They don't want to step out of line. But they will need to continue that approach when they are the veterans.

Manning on winning: I had a good game and I made the right calls at the line of scrimmage. Manning on losing: The coaches didn't make the right calls at the right time. Brady on Winning: The guys played great. They deserve the credit. Brady on losing (although hardly ever spoken in last 2 years): It's on me. I made some bad reads and just didn't get it done. My perception is that Tom Brady, as much as BB and the coaching staff, has set the tone for TEAM FIRST that makes the Pats winners. And those players that put TEAM over money, like Tedy Bruschi, have NE fans the classiest team in sports and insured a winner for years to come. No question... just thanks guys. Go Pats!!!Otis Hill

OK Otis, if the Patriots are the classiest team in sports, let's be classy fans and resist Manning bashing after beating his Colts the playoffs. Humility is best. The Patriots have a group of players who make sacrifices for the good of the team. I'm not sure every other team can make that claim. I'll leave it at that.

What's the deal with the signing, releasing and re-signing some of the fringe players? It often seems a player is released only to be signed again a few days later. Are they clearing room for other players? Is it a money issue? What happens to the players in between these times?Liz Mahoney

It could just be a game related move or precipitated by an injury. Maybe the team needs an extra running back for a particular game or to help prepare for a particular game. So a fringe player is let go for a week or so and then re-signed. Teams are constantly tweaking the bottom of the roster and practice squad. It's not a money issue. When a player is released, he is free to sign elsewhere. Perhaps he has been told that they will re-sign him in a week if he is still available. Then it would be up the player to mull another offer or resist and wait on a call back.

Hello PFW, just a few questions from the south side of the continent. 1) I've heard a lot of times that the '76 pats hold the record for most team rushing yards (something like 3100 yards), how come? Did they have two 1,000 rushing yards halfbacks? 2) Does Dante Scarnecchia have any chance of being named the new offensive coordinator? 3) When will Ben Coates be eligible for the Hall of Fame? 4) I know is still too early but are the patriots targeting any specific veteran free agent, maybe a CB or LB? Thanks, keep up the great work. Que vivan los Patriots!!!!Andres Salazar

Hola Andres. Como esta? Estoy bien. I just thought I'd write what little Spanish I know. First, it was the 1978 Patriots that set the NFL rushing record with 3,165 rushing yards. They had no 1,000-yard rushers, but four guys with more than 500 yards (Sam Cunningham, 768; Horace Ivory, 693; Andy Johnson, 675; and Steve Grogan, 539) and another just shy of 400 (Don Calhoun, 391). Secondly, Dante would have a chance if he were interested. I haven't asked Bill Belichick about Dante's candidacy or whether Dante has any interest. My sense is that Dante prefers to be in the bunker out of the limelight where he can just work his fingers to the bone. He doesn't care about credit or ego. He's just a coach. Next, I believe Coates' final season was 2000 with Baltimore so he would be eligible for enshrinement five years after that or the summer of 2006. Finally, I haven't perused a list of NFL free agents, but both are positions of need and will likely be addressed in some form, either the draft or free agency.

I don't recall which one of you was against Corey Dillon coming to New England because you felt he would be a distraction, but would you mind doing the honorable thing by apologizing and sending him a thank you card?Douglas Milton
Oakland, Calif.

Thanks Douglas. I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I don't think any of us doubted his ability to run the ball. My contention was that the Patriots would never trade for Dillon. I was wrong on that. For that I apologize to the fans for misleading them when they come to us for a "knowledgeable" opinion. I owe Corey Dillon nothing for that. Did I question him because of what I had heard and read about his time in Cincinnati? Yes. I'm not really sorry for that. He's been a good Patriot this year. He's been a humble, team guy with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He was miserable in Cincinnati, which explains some of his behavior, but doesn't necessarily excuse it. The fact that he has been a happy Patriot and just one of the guys in a locker room full of good ones doesn't mean it was OK for him to hand his pads to the fans after his last game in 2003. He was frustrated. I grant him that. He's a terrific runner. That was never in doubt.

Hey guys I know it's really early for this kind of question but I would like to know if we had a chance of taking Braylon Edwards in the draft or Pac Man if we don't have a chance to keep Ty Law?Jose Carkon

I think there is a chance Law stays, first of all. But beyond that, I don't know if either of those players would be available at pick 31 or 32, which is where the Patriots will be slated to draft this April.

On ESPN Sportscenter they keep emphasizing how great New England did in 2001 and 2003 and how Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are undefeated in the playoffs, but no one mentions the 2002 season. What happened? How does a team that wins the Super Bowl one year not even make it to the playoffs and then come back to win the Super Bowl the next year and is going there again this year? Again, what happened in 2002? What was New England's record?Geralyn Koehler

Well, they had a hiccup. They didn't play as well in 2002. They finished 9-7, which tied for the division lead, but they lost the tiebreakers and missed the playoffs. They didn't deal real well with being the hunted defending champion. They did do that well this time. But before this year, three of the last five defending champs missed the playoffs and the other two lost in the conference playoffs.

Why does the league MVP almost always go to a quarterback ? Don't you think Rodney Harrison should have gotten serious consideration ? It's not just the plays he's made [ 87 yd TD INT ], but the way he's held the secondary together on the field, that has made the most valuable player on the best TEAM.Howard Wolfe

Howard, how would Rodney play the disrespect card he uses so well as motivation if he was the MVP? The MVP is just a name and it causes all kinds of arguments about how the award should be decided upon. It should probably be called Player of the Year and then we would lose our debates about who is the "most valuable." But I think most people now accept that it goes to the player that had the best season and while Rodney was huge this year for New England, Peyton Manning won the award and should have with his record-breaking season. Don't forget, this is a regular season award.

Isn't the rule that you can't fumble the ball forward and gain yardage from it? If so, why did the referees allow Philly that touchdown last weekend when the ball was jarred lose on the 5-year line and Freddie Mitchell caught it in the end zone for a touchdown? I have been confused all week why that was allowed. Pats fan in ProvidenceAl Dahlberg

Yardage on a forward fumble counts except in two instances. If it is fumbled out of bounds, it then goes back to the spot of the fumble. The second situation is a fourth down fumble. A fumble on fourth down must be recovered by the fumbler to get credit for the yardage gained. If another member of the fumbling team recovers a fourth down fumble, the ball is moved back to the spot of the fumble.

Will the Patriots wear their blue jerseys or their white ones in the Super Bowl?Mike Huff

White. The Eagles are the home team and have their choice of colors. I assume they will wear their green.

Why are the Patriots so Good? I have seen every pats game since the start of the '94 season and have been a football fan for 20 years. The Packers were good before the NFL really existed, the Cowboys ran behind a 300 pound line with 5 such players existed in the entire league. The Patriots simply win, scoring, defense, special teams, whatever it is it continues to work. How is it that one organization can become so unbelievable dominating in a time where supposedly parody should rule?Christopher Herb

Great question. They have a good foundation with good ownership and good management (and a good PFW staff). They've built a relatively deep roster and have put together a group of guys that all feel like an equal part of something and all have identified roles that they accept and embrace. The coaching staff is tremendous and the ownership supplies all the necessary elements to help the coaches and players be as successful as they can. Winning is an organizational thing and the Krafts obviously found the right person/people to run the football operation. They win because of good plans, good coaching, good preparation, hard work and execution. They also have the necessary tools to aid the process. I don't think there is much else besides those things.

What do you guys know about Bills home / family life? Does he have a wife and kids? You never see shots of his family in the owner's box or anywhere for that matter. I know he is very private, but since he never lets anything out in regards to the team, maybe someone knows something about his home life, if he has one. We know he's a great coach, I wonder about the home life though. GO PATS!!! 3 in 4 years !!!Jeff C.

Bill is married and with three children, two boys and a girl. Bill keeps his home life separate from his football life for the most part. I think his family has been on the field after both of the team's Super Bowl wins. I don't know where they sit on game day, though. I never asked.

When Bill Parcells left the organization, the Pats received some draft picks as compensation. Who did those players turn out to be? Just wondering if anyone is still left. On the flipside, whom did the Jets pick when we stole Coach Belichick? In Bill We Trust.Scott E.

The following players were drafted as part of the compensation package for Bill Parcells: OL Damon Denson (1997 4th round), RB Sedrick Shaw (1997 3rd round), WR Tony Simmons (1998 2nd round) and LB Andy Katzenmoyer (1999 1st round). Pretty good eh? The Jets acquired the 16th pick in the first round in 2000 for Bill Belichick. They traded the pick to move up to 12th and selected DL Shaun Ellis. San Francisco used the 16th pick to draft LB Julian Peterson.

OK, ask PFW guys, you can come on out now....what do you think of Corey Dillon now? I remember very well how several of you overly pessimistic pats fans were shocked that BB would even consider trading for Dillon. I believe that one of you said that you would never want a guy like that on our team. That he would be better off going to the Raiders with the other rejects and troublemakers. It's OK, don't be afraid, admit that he was a perfect fit for this team, and has probably done everything that was asked of him, while remaining a model teammate. I will admit that I had a few doubts in the back of my mind too, but I didn't completely dismiss him as a possibility either. Some times you guys need to open up your minds and give people a chance. You can be surprised. GO PATS!!!!!!!Greg Bradley

I admitted earlier in the column that I never thought they would trade for Dillon. I was wrong. They did. He's been a good player and, by all accounts, a good teammate. It's certainly easy to say so in hindsight. Not as easy when you're giving an opinion of how you think it could turn out before it happens and you're using the information available to make an opinion. You had doubts too. That's all any of us had. We just had to answer questions about it. I don't know if anyone was close-minded. We just talked about some of the incidents that happened in Cincy. He has been great here so far. There is no question about that.

YYOOOO!!! LETS GO PATS!!!!! Die-hard pats fan from south jersey!! I just wanna that we got this far, but its not over! I live in Eagles country and I get a lot of harassment from friends but its all good. They are acting like they've all ready won the super bowl. They forgot that there's one more game left. When the pats win the super bowl I may need a bulletproof vest but it'll be well worth it!! Lets go some them what real champions are made of!!!Sal Reza

That one stands alone.

I hope the pats aren't like the media and underestimate the eagles.
Mike Carfagno

That's the last thing anyone needs to worry about. If the Pats lose, it will not be because they underestimated the Eagles. I guarantee that. It will be because the Eagles outplayed them.

Sorry!! It's the Eagles turn to win it this year!! Fly Eagles Fly!!!Peter (Eagles fan)

Just thought I'd let you know that Eagles fans actually want the Eagles to win. No respect.

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