Here we go, Patriots at Saints ... Would the fact that the Patriots wouldn't want to see another team go undefeated factor into the game at all? Are we looking at a Super Bowl preview?
If the Patriots hadn't lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, maybe – and that's a big MAYBE – it would be an extra motivating factor. But at this point, New England needs to concern itself more with simply beating a very good team on the road, something they've been unable to accomplish this season. If they want to be serious Super Bowl contenders this year, they need to seal those deals when they have the chance. As to your second question … yes, it's entirely possibly that this could be a Super Bowl XLIV preview. How well the Patriots perform in this Monday Night contest will give us a better indication of the likelihood of that scenario.
Hi PFW. For a second, when the Jets scored there in the second half, I thought "Uh-oh, not again," but the defense tightened things up. Love to get your thoughts on these: Do you think the Pats are finally morphing into those 2003-04 championship teams (productive offense, playmaking defense, average running game that enables play-action), or is it too early to say? Do you see them running the table and grabbing a bye? Finally, why take a shot at Darrelle Revis at the end instead of trying a high percentage play to get a first down and take a knee? Thanks.Mahesh Kalyana
The Patriots teams in the early part of this decade are, it seems to me, almost an inverse of what they are now. Back then, their defenses were absolutely dominant units. Pitching shutouts left and right, getting consistent pressure on the quarterback, stuffing the run at every turn, making big plays at the most important times. The offensive teams, at that time, were good, but not anything that other teams feared necessarily, with the exception of Tom Brady. Today, it's the New England offense that keeps opposing coaches up at night, while the defense is pedestrian, compared to what it used to be.
It's possible that the Patriots could win the remainder of their games, and, if they do, they'd almost certainly secure the number-two seed and a bye week in the first round of the playoffs. However, the schedule looks a lot tougher than it did a month ago, with December games against surging Jacksonville and Houston to close things out, and these tough road games at New Orleans and Miami in the near future. It's a tall order, asking these Pats to win out, but it's not out of the question.
Finally, you ask, why take a shot at a deep ball to Moss against Revis? I ask, why not? Sure, Revis did a great job defending pass thrown Moss' way, but you're talking about the very end of the game, 30 seconds left, with New England on their own 45. Maybe Brady connects with Moss, maybe he doesn't. If not, you punt, which is what happened, and the Jets run a play to end the game. And if Revis picks off the deep pass, so what? That's just as effective as a punt anyway. If Moss makes the catch, he gets to end the day by embarrassing the young, brash corner who got the better of him for the better part of the day. I have no problem with the play call, whatsoever.
Dear PFW, thank you for one of your all-time great issues after the Indy game. I am writing prior to the match against New York, and I am wondering if you know how Bill Belichick approached this week's practice. Did they ignore the Indy film and talk only of the upcoming week's game (perhaps with one eye on the film of Week 2's loss to Rex Ryan's team)? Did he address "The Decision" with his team – particularly the defense? Was the week's practice business as usual? One reason we love this group is because of the way they conduct themselves whether conditions are great (i.e., we're winning) or whether they're adverse (like this week). What was the week like? Thanks PFW ... and keep up the great work!
That exact question came up in one of his press conferences last week, and as you might expect, Belichick was reticent, answering only in generalities. "When I talk to the team, I address whatever I feel is pertinent and important to that team, whatever those things are. It could be a collection of things," he told reporters.
Bill went on to say that, after giving his players last Monday off, in addition to their normal Tuesday respite, the subject of the Colts game necessarily came up when the team reconvened on Wednesday to prepare for the Jets. He stressed, however, that he didn't dwell on the previous game and tried to focus his team on what lay ahead.
What's the skinny on Ron Brace?Robert Bumgardner
First of all, ain't nothin' skinny about a guy who weighs 330. But I see where you're coming from, Robert. The rookie appeared to have started off strong during the preseason, when he was part of a regular rotation of first-and-second-group defensive lineman. Then, after seeing minimal work in the first three games (just one tackle), he was inactive for the entire month of October. He's since been back in uniform on game days, but has still yet to make a significant impact. Or any impact at all, for that matter.
One reason could be Myron Pryor, a fellow rookie on the d-lineman, who seems to have picked up on the Patriots scheme quicker than Brace. It's Pryor, the sixth-round pick, and not Brace, the second-rounder, who has been getting more opportunities to contribute. It's not uncommon for some players to take longer to develop in the Patriots system than others, but when that player is a second-round draft choice, his absence from the lineup is magnified. I wouldn't give up on Brace just yet, however, but I'll be very curious to see how much of a leap he makes from this year to next.
Dear PFW, I am concerned about a couple of missing Patriots. Where are James Sanders and Junior Seau? Sanders has been our most consistent safety the past several years. Did we really bring Seau out of retirement to stand on the sidelines?
Sanders, like Brace, has been a victim of an impressive performance a teammate at his position. In Sanders' case, that teammate is Brandon McGowan, the free agent from Chicago. He's just been much more of a playmaker and a better match-up against the many quality tight ends the Patriots have faced this season. As a result, Sanders has been relegated mainly to special teams duty and the occasional dime package assignment. Even rookie Pat Chung has been getting more reps than Sanders of late in the extra DB packages. When Chung left the Jets game after getting dinged up, Sanders took his place, so, it seems Sanders has been reduced to – to put it diplomatically – role player status.
Seau is a different story. He made no effort to hide the fact that his 40-year-old body is only capable of enduring about a half-dozen NFL games at this point. So, it would appear that, in order to have him available for the remainder of the season, there must be times when he needs to be kept out of action, from a purely practical standpoint. Being signed in mid-October, Seau couldn't possibly be asked to play in twice as many games, or more, than what he feels his body can handle. As the Patriots inch closer to the playoffs, it makes sense to save him in the event of an emergency down the stretch ... if that's in fact what the coaches are doing with him.
I have noticed we have a lot of banged up guys in a lot places. When are Matt Light, Jarvis Green, Fred Taylor, and Sammy Morris coming back into the lineup?
(THUD!) … I'm alright, I'm alright … no, really, it's OK. That loud noise you heard was just me, falling off my chair laughing. Oh, that was a good one, James, asking about injuries and all. HA! Great setup, a killer punch-line … an example of comedic execution at its best. Yes, sir … I mean, demanding to know about Patriots players and their injury status … oh, my sides are splitting and my eyes are watering now.
… OK, I've composed myself. I'm sorry, but we're so accustomed to avoiding that subject that it's genuinely funny when someone has the temerity to bring up the subject around here. Of course, Bill would never divulge directly when an injured player is going to return to action, so, we're left to speculate based on circumstantial evidence. Namely, whether or not a player is practicing and if he dares speak to the media prior to suiting up once more. Of the names you mentioned, all but Taylor have been spotted on the practice field recently. However, none has returned to game action, and only Morris has gone so far as to talk to reporters.
That would lead me to believe that he is the closest to returning, though with the scare the Patriots received on the O-line against the Jets (Sebastian Vollmer and Nick Kaczur both banged up a bit), Light might be hastened back into service soon. My best guess, based on what I've seen, is that Green, Light, and Morris stand a very good chance of coming back against either the Saints or Dolphins in the next couple of weeks. Taylor, as has been suspected since he underwent ankle surgery last month, will likely not have a chance until sometime in December. The fact that he hasn't been placed on injured reserve, though, is a good sign that the coaching staff hasn't given up on his season.
Hey guys, thanks for answering all of our questions. You guys do a good job but I'm gonna try and stump ya here. Including the week 1 matchup vs Buffalo, I think this weeks matchup will be the 8th undefeated team the Pats have faced this year. All 3 losses have come from undefeated teams at the time of those games. Is this some sort of record and how does thier strength of schedule at the begining of the season compare to the strength of schedule now? I like to use this kinda trivial information to bring Raider and Niner fans down to earth after they scramble up a win here or there. Thanks.
Thanks for the kind words, Dave. We always appreciate a sincere sycophant. And nice effort trying to stump us pigskin pedants at PFW. Perhaps you're not a subscriber to the newspaper, but if you'd read our October 14 edition, you wouldn't have had to ask this question because you would have read the answer in my "Football Things You Don't Care About" section. There, I noted:
"Not counting the season opener when both teams were 0-0, the Patriots have started this season playing four straight opponents who were undefeated coming into the game (the Jets, Falcons, Ravens and Broncos). The last and only other time that has occurred since the merger was in 1986, when Philadelphia played four undefeated teams in a row."
Feel free to boggle the feeble minds of your Raider- and Niner-fan friends with that piece of useless knowledge.
I know this has nothing to do with the Jets game (which was awesome), but as a fan who goes to every game, something is driving me nuts! What is the name of the song that is played all the time in game with the lyrics "this is our house ... etc., etc." I have asked around and no one seems to know.
To be fair to the countless faithful readers of Ask PFW each week, I'm not going to answer this question directly, Rick. I'll just say that we've addressed this question a few times already this year in this space. Do a little digging in our archives and you’ll find what you’re looking for there. Plus, you'll get to read some of our highly entertaining responses to scores of other questions … it's a win-win for everyone!
(P.S. Click on the red text above and that'll take you to the most recent column where you'll find the answer.)