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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri May 14 - 12:00 AM | Sun May 16 - 11:58 PM

Ask PFW: Turning to 2006

How old are the Patriots? How many Super Bowls have they won? What years did they win?Chester Robinson

The Patriots came into existence as an original AFL franchise with its first regular season game on Sept. 9, 1960. The team has won three Super Bowls out of five overall trips to the big game. The team lost its first two Super Bowl trips following the 1985 and 1996 seasons, but won each of its last three trips following the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Andy Hart

We all have heard on how Tom Brady came from nowhere at pick 199 to become so great. This is true, but I feel that was more of a misread by GMs throughout the league. Brady was a winner throughout college and produced (20-5, perfect in Bowl games). The real amazing story is what David Givens has been able to accomplish. He is the true epitome of the Patriots. He has worked extremely hard after coming in as a 7th round afterthought. The guy didn't even play receiver full time in college. Remember when he first came in and they worked him out some in the defensive backfield? You could literally see the progress each year from his hard work and preparation. David deserves everything he gets in his next deal, hopefully it's from the Pats, but not likely. Just wanted to rise up and give a standing ovation to Mr. Givens and wish him well. My 3-1/2 year old son still copies the "Dirty Bird" dance from the touchdown versus Philly. And it feels good that I can point to Givens and say- "That guy works very hard, see what you can do if you work hard?" (What would I say if it were TO?). The point is, it was a privilege to watch you through start to finish David. Thank you.Snibbets

I agree with your overall assessment of Givens and he evolution as a player and professional. He is one of the real good guys in the New England locker room. Heading into free agency and coming off the best year of his career, there is a good chance that another team will throw some pretty good money in his direction. If the Patriots aren't able to match that type of coin and Givens does go elsewhere it will be a loss for the team and the locker room, but it will also be a well-deserved reward for his hard work and overall professional attitude. If you take into account his blocking ability he is New England's best all-around wideout and those types of players don't just grow on trees or automatically develop out of late-round picks.
Andy Hart

Are players on the Reserve/Future Contracts list able to work out at team facilities and meet with coaches about learning the offense or defense?Greg Clary

Players signed to future contracts are not allowed to work out with the team, be at the facilities or meet with the coaches until after the rosters expand to the 80-man limit following the conclusion of the 2005 NFL season. At that point they will take on customary roles with the team and its offseason program, just like every other player under contract.
Andy Hart

Running game, running game, running game. Well, to me that was what seemed to be missing throughout this season. Corey Dillon appears to be slowing and Kevin Faulk has never been an every-down back. So let's look towards the future of the Patriots running game. What do you think about LenDale White and Laurence Maroney, one of which might be in the Patriots range come draft day? Do you guys think that the running game should be their first concern heading into the draft? Or should it be the defensive secondary (maybe...Ty Law...reunion?)?Andy D.

I agree that the running game was a major problem throughout the season, both in terms of injuries to Dillon and Faulk as well as simply an overall lack of production. Blame the backs, blame the offensive line, blame the scheme – whatever the problem was the running game just wasn't good enough. I do believe that running back is a major need for the Patriots moving forward. The team has tried to draft young players later in the draft in recent years to develop, but guys like J.R. Redmond, Cedric Cobbs and Antwoine Womack just haven't worked out. I think it's time to look for a talented young playmaker early in the draft who can step right in and add a new dynamic to the offense in 2006. Dillon clearly isn't the back he was in 2004 and I don't believe he will approach that year's record-breaking production ever again. White and Maroney are both very talented players and if either is available at or around the 21st pick I think the Patriots have to at least consider pulling the trigger to get some youth and potential at the running back position. At this time linebacker and running back are the only two spots on the team where there isn't really any young, potential top-level talent to develop. That needs to change this spring.
Andy Hart

Well now that the season is over I need something to get my Pats fix. 2 questions: Do you think we will re-sign Givens, Neal, & Vinatieri? Also, what are the key offseason dates in the next few months? Such as the start of the FA signing period, offers to UFAs, Cap compliance, etc. Thanks a lot!David

I don't think New England will be able to re-sign Givens. I think he will get a pretty good financial offer on the free agent market to go to another team, maybe to even compete for some team's No. 1 job. I do think the Patriots will sign Vinatieri to a long-term deal, although to be honest I thought it would happen last offseason. One hurdle that seems to be slowing things up is the fact that Vinatieri's agent, Neil Cornrich, is serving a one-year suspension of his license by the NFLPA. That makes things a little harder, although the kicker will reportedly sign with another agent working in Cornrich's offices. Keeping the franchise tag on him doesn't make sense, because he is already the highest paid kicker and would receiver a 20-percent raise over his 2005 salary of $2.5 million for a potential 2006 salary of more than $3 million. I don't have a strong read on potentially re-singing Neal, because I am not sure what offers he might get on the open market. He is still a solid, developing player with a strong upside that might be enticing to other teams. My gut tells me he will re-sign with the team that gave him the chance to go from raw wrestler to NFL starter, but that's just a hunch.
Andy Hart

Can please fill me in on why the Patriots hold on to Christian Fauria with all of the talent we have at the TE position. All Christian does is catch the ball and fall. He does not try to get YAC. It is almost like he is scared to get hit. One game he caught the ball (he did get the first down) then just fell with no defenders around him. He was good for at least another 5-10 YDS.Samuel McClure

I know this email is from Mr. McClure, but it just as easily could have come from PFW's Fred Kirsch. Fred was the first to point Fauria's proficiency for going down immediately after catching the ball, often saying the tight end was tackled by a certain yard marker. But what's lost in this good-natured joking is the fact that Fauria does a very good job of getting open and catching the ball, something he does even more consistently than either Daniel Graham or Benjamin Watson. Fauria has been a strong, consistent veteran presence on and off the field at a position that sports mostly relatively young talent. And in terms of the fall after the catch (maybe we can call it FAC), would you rather he falls after a 10-yard gain or drop the ball for no gain?
Andy Hart

I've been reading about how getting some young linebackers is a high priority. I'm wondering what the outlook is for Ryan Claridge? I know he was on IR all year, but is the Pats' staff high on him? On the subject of DBs, it would seem that Duane Starks would be released due to his high cap number and poor play this year, and Tyrone Poole might be released for his high cap number and susceptibility to injury. But how do you think the remaining injured DBs will fare for next year? A lot of people are suggesting that we'll need to draft DBs or acquire a few through free agency, but it seems like we have quite a few already on our staff, they were just injured this year. Thanks!
Andrew Miskavage

Claridge is an interesting player. He came out of UNLV with experience in playing in the 3-4 at both inside and outside linebacker. He had surgery on a shoulder problem last winter and never really got going in training camp before going on injured reserve in early August. After that he pretty much fell off the map. While many injured players are around the team throughout the season, seen in the locker room and around the training facilities, I never saw Claridge. What does that mean? I don't know. Maybe nothing. I just kind of thought it was strange that a young player looking to earn a spot with a team down the road wouldn't be around the facility. He was a productive, well-respected player in college with skills that could be a good fit for New England's system. It will be noteworthy to see where he falls into line this spring and summer and if he is a legitimate option for the future on defense.
Andy Hart

What are the chances the Patriots will hire Ted Johnson as the linebackers coach to replace the one who got promoted to DC? I think it'll be a great choice, Ted's familiar with the defense and knows the job better then anyone.Peter Reynolds

While it might look like a good fit on paper, I think the chances of Johnson coaching in the NFL are almost less than nothing. He is a family man now and I have heard him say he's really not all that interested in the long-hours and lack of personal life that come with coaching at the NFL level. I think if Johnson ever thought of coaching it would be at the high school or college level. Plus, I think he's enjoying his first season as a TV and radio analyst and is intrigued by where that career might go. I don't think people really understand the commitment it takes to be an NFL coach and just how much a person has to give up in the rest of their life.
Andy Hart

Someone said they thought that both QB Tom Brady and FB Patrick Pass were 2000 Compensatory Draft Picks. If this is possibly true; it would sure increase the value of Compensatory Draft Picks in some minds. Knowing now that New England now places 21st in the 2006 NFL Draft; and (that N.E. also has the 3rd rd pick of Baltimore &the 4th rd pick of Detroit) which gives N.E. nine (9) 2006 picks. Now knowing that N.E. lost G Joe Andruzzi to Cleveland, G Adrian Klemm to Green Bay, and WR David Patten to Washington; what NFL 2006 Compensatory Draft Picks do you envision N.E. receiving?Robert Bumgardner

The Pass and Brady picks were compensatory selections from the league in the 2000 draft, but I really don't think that changes the value of such picks. That's like saying that Ryan Leaf's bomb of a career has devalued top picks in the first round. It just doesn't work that way. Both turned out to be productive players, Brady a future Hall of Famer, that just means they were good picks and has nothing to do with the fact that they were compensatory selections. The dispersion of compensatory picks (a max of 32 selections given out by the league) uses a complex formula based on the level free agents lost and what those players did in their new cities versus the level of free agents acquired (the formula takes into account salary, playing time and postseason honors). Andruzzi started all 13 games he played in for Cleveland, Patten seven of nine games played in Washington and Klemm eight of 16 games played in Green Bay. New England didn't really sign many productive free agents last spring as Monty Beisel (15 games, six starts), Chad Brown (15 games, five starts) and Tim Dwight (16 games, one start) played limited roles for most of last season. Based on that I would assumed the Patriots would get one or two mid- to- late-round picks as compensation in April's draft.
Andy Hart

I have been reading some commentaries from other sports websites and commentators that our playoff defeat in Denver has marked the death of the Patriots Dynasty. Why are they so quick to declare us dead and believe we will be mired in 2-14 seasons, picking 1st and 2nd every draft! Are they forgetting we still have our core players, coach Belichick, Scott Pioli and Robert Kraft? With some tweaking of the roster through the draft and free agency I believe we will be competitive and could quite possibly win a couple or more Super Bowls by the time it is truly over. This team could rival the San Francisco 49ers in the 80's that stayed good for a long time with several winning seasons and Super Bowls. What do you think? Thank you.Bob Stuart

I think the team has a very good chance to remain strong if it makes solid decisions this offseason in free agency and the draft. With the return of a number of injured players, the development of a few key young players and the continued success of key cogs like Brady and Belichick, the pieces remain in place for winning/championship-level seasons. That said, the competition is getting stronger in the AFC East, especially in Miami. Nick Saban is building what looks to be a challenger for the Patriots in the coming years. But I believe reports of the death of the New England dynasty are greatly exaggerated. The team has as good a chance or better than most other teams of competing for Super Bowls in the next few years. Having Belichick and Brady will do that for you.
Andy Hart

Hi, I'm formally from Worcester and still follow the Pats though it's hard to do. Could you tell me how many draft pick s the Pats have this year and what rounds? Thank you very much.Bill Peters

Does that mean you wear a tux all the time? I didn't know Worcester was such a formal city. Anyway, New England has one pick in all seven rounds of the upcoming draft (the fifth-round selection originally belonged to the Raiders as New England traded its own assigned selection to the Browns for Andre' Davis) as well as an extra third-round pick (Baltimore) and extra fourth-round pick (Detroit). So as of right now (pre-compensatory picks) the Patriots have nine picks heading into draft weekend.
Andy Hart

My husband and I have a disagreement. He says if we had beaten Miami in the final game, we would have played Indy in the playoffs. I say who we played in the playoffs was not determined by our win or loss, but other teams results. Who is right? We both think the Pats would have beaten Indy, and we wish we had played them instead of Denver - not that we shouldn't have beaten Denver! Thanks for the info!
Pat Ross

Had New England beaten Miami and assumed the No. 3 seed in the AFC, the Patriots would have hosted the Steelers on Wild Card weekend. If the team had beaten Pittsburgh it would have automatically gone on to face the Broncos in Denver as Indy had the honor of facing the lowest remaining seed, in this scenario that would have been the winner of the 4 vs. 5 game.
Andy Hart

Yes, I know I write to you guys a lot, but there's only so much Pats talk I can make my girlfriend listen to. Anyway, I just want to state for the record that as a Pats fan, I hope that Terrell Owens NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER becomes a Patriot. In a team and system that seems to rely first and foremost on team chemistry, communication, smarts, class, and discipline on the field, practice, and in the media....Owens has none of the above. I'm sure Belichick is well aware of the potential for a massive breakdown both in the Patriots classy media game, and in the Patriots locker-room and on-field games if Owens was to be here. But the part that scares me is that he is mentioned in several articles as a distant possibility, "but don't hold your breath." I don't understand why it isn't a clear fact that the Pats would never bring this team-bomb in. I know people should never say never, but even the remote possibility of putting this guy on the Pats scares me to my football core.Nathan F.

Come on, you don't have a girlfriend. Nobody with a girlfriend would be emailing Ask PFW as often as you do. And I will agree with others you have read, never say never. Never isn't a word in Bill Belichick's vocabulary.
Andy Hart

One item I'd like to comment on, is Troy Brown's fumbled punt fair catch. I don't view this as Troy's fault, but rather the coaches' fault, since they were trying to go for the block. Troy wasn't back in a position to fair catch the ball in the first place, and had to run over from where he was originally at the snap of the ball. Bad coaching decision. Troy, you're a class act, keep the faith!C. First

Si, C. I pretty much agree with you. Asking Troy to run all the way back from guarding the gunner to catch the punt is a difficult proposition. But the thing is, he was in position to make the play and simply didn't make the catch. I am assuming the coaches gave Brown, as experienced a punt returner as there is in the league, the ability to make the decision as to whether to catch the ball or let it bounce. Brown chose to try to make the catch and come up with it. Regardless of what transpired before the actual muff, he could have caught the ball and didn't. The hard part was getting there. He did that, he just didn't make the catch.
Andy Hart

Dear Sirs I have been searching high and low to find out if we got a first round draft pick from the Jets for Eric Mangini. I hope we did!!! Thanks.Mike Nap

As an assistant coach, by rule Mangini could take the head coaching job with the Jets without any compensation for the Patriots. That's just the way the system works in the NFL. The only time draft pick compensation is involved is for head coaches that are under contract with one team and then are lured away by another team.
Andy Hart

Many weird things happened last Saturday night. Nobody said anything about the moon that night. It was a full moon! How else can all the Pat boops be explained. I now believe that very strange things can happen under a FULL MOON.Jerry Lucchesi

I can't believe all the local and national analysts missed that. The loss in Denver and the uncharacteristic play has finally been explained. Now the only thing I am wondering about is what exactly a boop is.
Andy Hart

Interested in your comments regarding a theory that I have. In the NFL, I think there is regular season running and playoffs running. In the regular season, the defense plays at a moderate pace and running backs have the luxury and looking longer for holes and running more "straight up" hoping to hit a big run. In the playoffs, defenses speed up. To me, effective playoff running backs have to hit the hole quicker and play with a lean that tries to maximize a 3 or 4 yard run. I thought Antowain Smith was a decent regular season back but a good playoff back. He understood in the playoffs that you needed to hit the right away and fight to maximize the 3 or 4 yard run. I feel that Corey Dillon didn't adjust his game into this playoff mode. It hurt in situations like first and goal from the Denver 5 when a 3-yard gain would have kept the run/pass options open to the Patriots. Your thoughts?Steve O'Brien

I thought Dillon had a bad regular season. I don't think he did much better in the playoffs. And he certainly didn't run as well down the stretch as Smith did in his time in New England. As bad as Smith was at times, he had a very good run late in the 2001 season heading into the playoffs. Dillon never got hot in 2005 and was the biggest disappointment for the Patriots this season.
Andy Hart

I just heard on the news about Dean Pees' promotion to defensive coordinator, so I jumped on the website to get the skinny on the man now scheming up the defense. Call me crazy, but this guy seems to be a better fit than Eric Mangini was. If I remember my info, Mangini was coaching for around ten to twelve years, and Pees has almost triple that experience, including former stints as defensive coordinator AND head coach. While I don't know anything about his personality, the experience alone seems to make this an addition by subtraction (not to diss Mangini!) Your thoughts? Go Pats!Steve Nadeau

I think the transition from Mangini to Pees will be easier than the adjustment from Romeo Crennel to Mangini. Pees is a solid, well-respected veteran coach who has impressed both Belichick and Nick Saban. That tells me a lot about his knowledge of the game and his work ethic. While most of his experience came at the college level, he worked in similar systems with both those defensive minded head coaches. I think the players respect his knowledge of the game. And as a linebackers coach you are very active in both the running game and passing game. I think that makes him perfect coordinator material. I thought Mangini did a very good job once he got a full lineup of players and I think Pees is more than capable of similar or better production in 2006. That said, Mangini is an impressive young coach and I think over time he is going to have a lot of success in the NFL.
Andy Hart

I have been disappointed to hear so much talk about David Givens being gone without any discussion on what it would take to keep him. Why would the Patriots let him go without an effort to keep him. He has been one of the hardest working guys on the team since he arrived and has clearly improved each year. Why would they be willing to pay some other free agent who may or may not fit the Patriot model when David has already proven himself? His future has a big upside!!
Randy Barko

Givens does have a big upside and that's why I think some team will throw some money at him in free agency. Think a team without a top wide receiver like the Chiefs wouldn't like to see Givens suit up? He could very well be one of the most attractive free agent wide receivers on the market. That equates money that the Patriots may not be willing or able to match. Developing young talent is a very good thing for a team but eventually that young talent has to be paid. Deion Branch is going to have to be signed very soon and is clearly New England's No. 1 receiver. That means the resources and cap space allotted for Givens will be somewhat limited. It's the harsh reality of the game and something teams have to deal with every offseason. As a wise football man once told me, "It is what it is."
Andy Hart

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