How many players do you think will make the Pro Bowl for New England?Cody Cunningham
I am not going to try to predict the player and coaches' voting, which comes after handfuls of Patriots remained in the Pro Bowl mix at the conclusion of fan voting. What I will do is tell you who I think should go. Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins and Asante Samuel are all locks in my eyes. If any one of those guys isn't in Hawaii in February I think it's a crime. I also think that Wes Welker deserves consideration as a receiver, not just a return man. He would get my vote because he's a key part of the best offense in football. He has the numbers. He should go. I would also vote for Dan Koppen, Ty Warren and Mike Vrabel. All three are, like Welker, key forces on the best team in football. My guess is they won't all go, but they should. If they all went that would give the Patriots nine reps in the Pro Bowl. That's not an outlandish number, especially for an undefeated team.
I have a question for the experts (that's you guys). When Pat Tillman was killed in action serving our country all the NFL teams honored him by displaying his number on their helmets during the first week of competition. Jake Plummer, who was Tillman's quarterback when they both played for Arizona, wanted to continue honoring Tillman by keeping his number on his helmet for the rest of the year. The NFL told him NO - only his team members could display his number on their helmets for the entire year. Everyone else could only display that appreciation for the first week of competition. Fast forward to present day. Sean Taylor is tragically killed. The entire NFL displays his number on their helmets - as they should - on week one. This week - the second week - many, if not most, teams continue to display his number on their helmets. Not a bad thing but - have the rules changed??
I think the league makes these decisions on a case-by-case basis. Maybe the changes in policy also had to do with having a new Commissioner in place. They chose to honor Taylor and allow all teams to do so through the rest of the season. I have no problem with that. I did have problem that Plummer was not allowed to honor his fallen friend simply because he wasn't on the Cardinals anymore. I also find it curious that all teams wore No. 21 for Taylor, but didn't do the same for a number of other active NFL players that have passed in the last year including Marquise Hill. But as I said they must make those decisions on a case-by-case basis. And since I disagree with a lot of the decisions and rules that the NFL makes, it doesn't surprise me that I fail to see eye-to-eye with the powers that be on this one as well.
I know it's early, but I always love your draft coverage on the site. Who do you think the Pats might be considering with the SF pick if they keep it? Since trading down is a likely scenario which team might be willing to trade up for the pick? Is the absence of a clear-cut top QB going to hurt their trade down opportunities? Which player or position might the Pats target if they do trade down? Thanks.Conrad Davids
As you said, it's very early. We haven't done much work on the draft yet. We'll have a much better handle once the season ends, we get back from the Combine and watch all the video of all the prospects. The one thing I'll say is that I talked with Mel Kiper Jr. for a while last week and pulled a few things from that conversation. First, it sounds like the draft really lacks top-end, blue-chip prospects, at least until all the juniors make their intentions known. Many of the so-called elite players at certain positions, aren't as good as the elite guys at that same position a year ago. T Jake Long (supposedly no Joe Thomas) and RB Darren McFadden (who if he declares as a junior, is clearly no Adrian Peterson) are two good examples of that. I think this draft may end up being deeper than it is top-heavy. As such the Patriots might not find a ton of teams looking to move into the top-five picks. The practice of trading up hasn't been as common of late. In an ideal world I think New England would trade down five slots or so and take the best linebacker available, which it seems could be Ohio State's James Laurinaitis, assuming he too declares as a junior. McFadden will be the guy who will bring value in terms of trade offers, especially if Jerry Jones reported infatuation with his fellow Razorback is accurate. But, it's way too early to know any of this for sure.
A few weeks ago, there was all kind of contractual maneuvering with TE Marcellus Rivers, then out of the blue they sign [Stephen] Spach for two years. What gives? Why did they give up on Rivers?
To the best of my knowledge, Rivers is still available. Spach had knowledge of the New England offense because of the similarities it has to the scheme he ran playing for Pat Hill at Fresno State. The Patriots have been in touch with Spach, as they have with all their emergency free agents, throughout the year. I just think at this point they looked at his skills as both a tight end and special teams contributor and thought he was the better fit. It's that simple.
Maroney has taken some harsh criticism this year on PFW. I think most of us can agree however that he was the best offensive player on the field on Sunday. Why did the Patriots stop using him during the fourth quarter? It seems like they abandoned a running game that was working very well near the end of the game.Tyler Flanagan
The Patriots did what they have done at crunch time throughout the year -- looked to throw the ball to Randy Moss when the game is on the line. This is still a pass-first offense. Maroney had an OK game. I still didn't see the big plays I've been looking for all year. He's supposed to be that type of back, but after 152 carries on the season his long run is still just 19 yards and that came in Week 3. Sunday's performance was a nice step in the right direction, but I'm still not sold that Maroney can carry this offense on his back if he needs to. Apparently Bill Belichick isn't either, as the Patriots returned to pass mode with a seven point fourth quarter lead against the Jets on Sunday.
Hi. I have a quick question about Stanley Morgan. He has more total yards by far than Hall of Famers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann and more TDs than they have. He was one of the best receivers ever, and he has an average of almost 20 yards per catch (I can find only one other player in NFL history to have a better yards per catch). I am surprised he is not in the Pro Football HOF, but may I ask, how and why is he not at least in the Patriots' HOF???? Thank you very sincerely for taking my question.Jennifer Fortune
Morgan was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame last summer. You will be able to see his career achievements displayed alongside the rest of New England's greats at the Hall at Patriots Place, the team's new museum, set to open next fall here in Foxborough.
Most of the so-called experts are saying that the biggest threat to the Patriots come playoffs is Jacksonville besides the Colts, that if the Jaguars make it, and it is because of their power running game and physical defense. I think that Jags defense is overrated. They are pretty good against the run but the Pats running game is not their strength. And I have watched some Jags games and they seem to be weak in the secondary, they gave up a lot of big plays. What is your take on this guys? Thanks in advance!Ron Competente
I don't think the Jags have a chance in H-E-double hockey stick of coming to Foxborough and beating the Patriots in the postseason. I agree that it's not a good matchup for Jacksonville. I think Tom Brady would throw all over the Jags, even in questionable weather, and the Patriots would contain the Jags running game. I think David Garrard has done a very good job this year and is better than I ever thought he would be, but he's not coming to Gillette and beating the Patriots through the air. Jacksonville is a good second-tier team in my eyes. Nothing more. Plus, the coaching advantage of Bill Belichick against Jake Del Rio is like my advantage over Tom Casale in a battle of wits. Del Rio, in my mind, is in-Competente. Si?
Hi guys. As a long time reader and part time emailer, I'm wondering... what is the difference between Tom Brady now and after the 2001 Super Bowl? I visited Boston in September 2002 and went to the preseason game vs. the Panthers. I've rooted for the Pats ever since and I'd just like your take on what makes Brady special. Is it purely natural talent, or would (for example) David Carr or Joey Harrington have thrived in the New England System? With the year that Brady is having, I don't wish to suggest at all that it is down to the system, merely to ask, what is it that Brady has which other quarterbacks don't? (I include Peyton Manning in this, as he has had the best consistent receiver the NFL... Marvin Harrison. Since I started watching the NFL, I think Manning is only now beginning to appreciate the task Brady has had without superstar receivers!)
I think Brady would be a great quarterback, given the chance, almost anywhere. I think getting the right place has a lot to do with ultimate success, but Brady would be one of the best in the NFL anywhere. He is intelligent, accurate, hard working and driven like most elite athletes are not. He's succeeded in so many ways in New England, from dink-and-dunk to throwing the ball down the field and everything in between. He's had a running game and succeeded. He's had no real running game and succeeded. I don't think Carr or Harrington would have been great in New England, but I think they may have been better than they turned out. Playing for Belichick and with a very good defense would have helped them. But they certainly would not have been Brady. The only guy I think you could say may have been as good or better than Brady in this era in New England is Manning. And I'm not sure that's the case, either. He's good, but in my mind Brady is the best of this era and is on his way of moving toward the top of the all-time list.
Wasn't there a coach who has guided/coached unprofessionally or professionally in Tom Brady's rising career from a young age? Who?
- *Tom Martinez, billed as a "passing guru," has been working with Brady since he was 13 years old.
Hi. You guys do a great job. Keep up the good work. I was just wondering what you guys thought of using Jarvis Green at outside linebacker for a few formations? He is a great pass rusher and is basically the same size as Adalius Thomas. That would allow Adalius to move back inside, giving Bruschi or Seau a few plays off, while having Jarvis out there more often for the pass rush. Just a thought, thanksJeremy Ribadeneyra
Green not only weighs 15 pounds more than Thomas, he doesn't come close to the first-year Patriot in terms of athleticism. His good skills as a pass rusher aren't nearly enough to warrant a move to linebacker. It's not as easy as just changing positions for a guy who's played line for years. Remember the Dan Klecko experiment/failure? Green is a very good backup lineman and situational pass-rusher. He's got no chance of being a good linebacker. Can't we just be happy with what he is?
So what do you guys think, if we go all the way and win a super bowl and go 19 and 0. Does Josh McDaniels get a shot at a head coaching job? If not in the pro's maybe in the college ranks? I would hate to lose him, what do you think?Kenny Tasney
I do think McDaniels will get some attention as a head coaching candidate and I think he should. Young coaches are the rage these days in the NFL and some of those guys are having pretty good success. McDaniels has done a very good job in New England and has risen through ranks at a great rate. He comes from the most successful system in football. I don't think he'd take a college job, but if he gets a good offer in the pros I think he will have to consider it. I think he's going to be a very good head coach in this league, either next year or in the near future. And when he leaves, he'll be missed here in New England.
Erik is a fool … How can he say that the running game has returned? Oh, Maroney ran for 104 yards! Big deal, it took him 26 carries to do that, that means he only averaged 4.0 yards per carry, which in my opinion is completely unacceptable for a 1st round pick. The conditions were not that bad at the game (I work at the stadium so I'm at every home game) and the Jet's run defense is awful. Jamal Lewis of the Browns ran for 163 yards on 33 carries through a raging blizzard against a better defense, sorry, but the running game is not back. Am I the only one who thinks Maroney's performance was lackluster? We need a new back next season. Out of the free agents to be and the possible draft picks, who do you guys at PFW see as having a good chance of being a Patriot in 2008?Wesley Nickle
Wesley, thanks for putting in your five cents. Erik is definitely a fool. But thanks for bringing it to the masses. I agree that Maroney was just OK on Sunday. As I said earlier, I'm still waiting for the big plays that he's supposed to bring to the field. It's still too early to call him a bust, but I don't think it's too early to say he's been a disappointment or that he may never reach the levels that many predicted when the team drafted him. As for a future back, I don't think the team would take Darren McFadden if available at the top of the draft. I think it's more likely the team takes a back in the second or third round, a group that could be pretty strong come April. Plenty of very productive NFL backs have gone in that area in recent years. Maybe the Patriots will hit with one this spring.
I meant to write in a few weeks ago to compliment Kelly Washington on his special teams play and he beat me to the punch. He really has been a great, unselfish addition to the Pats this year. I feel like he was the most consistent player on special teams all year....the punt block just re-affirmed it. I don't think he signed with the Pats to play on coverage teams, but he is doing a great job. Do you think he has any desire to stay with the Pats? I think he has a Donte Stallworth type contract with a big roster bonus coming us, so his current deal will not work. Do you think he will be back next year?Shane C.
Washington is due a $4 million bonus next spring. As good as he's been on kicks, he's unlikely to get that from the Patriots to just play on special teams. He's done a great job of swallowing his ego, taking on the role on kicks and doing a great job at it. He's definitely been one of the team's best special teamers this year and I think he brings a real positive energy as a core player. His return next spring will depend on a number of factors including whether he gets offers to play receiver elsewhere, which other receivers (Moss, Stallworth, Gaffney) return and whether he's willing to come back as just a special teamer for a reduced contract? My guess would be he'll get the chance to play more offense somewhere else and will take a chance at that opportunity.
It looks as if The Patriots won their final 3 games of the 2006 regular season. If they were, in fact, to go 16 - 0, that would give them 19 consecutive regular season victories. Am I mistaken that that would be a new record for consecutive regular season games, breaking their own previous record of 18? As of Monday before the Miami game, I have not heard this mentioned. Certainly the 16 - 0 mark would be a bigger deal, but it would be nice to have the other record tossed in as a bonus. p.s. Do you think the Celtics can go 80 - 2?Andrew Harrington
Adding 16 wins to the final three from a year ago would give the team a 19-0 regular season streak and a new record. But you are right, no one would really care in light to the importance of becoming the first team to ever go a perfect 16-0 in a regular season. I don't think the Celtics can go 80-2, but if they stay healthy I think they will be battling for the title. Imagine if three New England teams won a world title within the span of a year? Wow.
Tom C., Did I not see you pick against the PATS before the Pitt's game and then not show up a week later to get your punishment on NECN? What's the deal? Anyway, on to my question, assuming Big Bill trades down in next year draft to select a LB, who do you see available and at what pick (middle or late 1st rd)? Thanks guys. I love you all (even Tom).Dan N.
That's what Tom does. He talks the talk but he, like the Steelers, is capable of walking the walk. I like James Laurinaitis. We'll see where his value is on draft weekend, if he even decides to enter the draft as a junior.
Am I the only one surprised by the Patriot's on-field response to Anthony Smith's comments? Even after hearing all of the garbage Smith has been talking up, I figured the Pats would go about their business in normal Patriots fashion. However, they really played and acted as if they had a bone to pick, which took me a bit by surprise. The Patriots always let their performance do the talking for them--and while they did just that last Sunday--they also ran their mouths a bit and got themselves in a scrap or two. It just doesn't seem like the ol' Patriots way that I have been so proud of for the last couple of years. But perhaps they needed this to get on an emotional high. What do you guys think?
Stephen you should not have been surprised by the way the Patriots acted. That's how they've always done things. They don't talk before games, but they certainly talk during and after games. Remember everyone flapping their arms to celebrate against the Eagles in the Super Bowl? This team always talks after it succeeds in sending a loud-mouthed opponent home in defeat. I don't have a problem with the way they handle things, but let's not pretend they are above it. It's what they do. It is what it is.
Hi PFW, I was wondering since the Pats have won their division and home field do you think they will rest the players or go for the records? Thanks.Gary
I don't think Belichick will rest his players, unless they are hurt already. With a bye for the first week of the playoffs, letting up at all in the final two weeks would mean the Patriots could go a full month without playing a real, competitive game. That's too long. Belichick put his team through tough practices following the bye weekend because he thought two weeks was too long without good competition at that point. That's why I think he'll go all-out through the last two games. By doing that, by extension he will also be going for the records and will likely get them. But I don't think that will be his top motivation. He'll go all-out because he thinks that will give his team the best chance come the playoffs on the second weekend of January and subsequently in its march toward a fourth Super Bowl crown.