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Ask PFW: Two Pro Bowlers?

PFW readers want to know what happened in the Pro Bowl voting. We answer than and more in ASK PFW.

Pepper Johnson wrote a book about the 2001 championship team could you please give me the name of it so I can purchase it. Thank you.
Steven Ellin
Franklin, Mass.

Pepper's book is called "Won for All" and it's an interesting read.
Bryan Morry

Ty Law was on NFL live during the Pats bye week this year, and Rodney Harrison was on Monday Night Countdown this past week. Do these players get invited to the show or what? How does that work, do they request to be on?
Trumbull, Conn.

The network requests the players through the Patriots media relations office, which arranges for the appearances. The networks have tried to have players on during their bye week over the past few seasons, but since the bye weeks ended in Week 10 this year, that has been more limited. With six teams playing last Saturday, it afforded some of the players to make such appearances.
Bryan Morry

I'm tired of hearing the Patriots have no running game. They've rushed for over 1,200 yards this season, which puts them about in the middle of the pack. If this had been done by one guy, it would be a respectable year. To me, it's still respectable because it's been enough to win. Some day we'll have a monster back, but let's respect the winners we have now. The Eagles rush-by-committee game gets plenty of respect, and so should ours.
Mark Houlne
Northwood, N.H.

Mark, Bill Belichick echoed some of those sentiments today, but the fact that the Patriots have been ahead or right in just about every game has helped them keep the number of carries up, and therefore has helped boost the total rushing yards. Don't get me wrong, that's a good thing, but the production in the running game was been missing from mid-October until last week's Jet's game when Antowain Smith broke out. The team is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry and to put that into perspective, the Patriots well-respected run defense allows 3.5 yards per carry. They have balance in the play calling and they certainly haven't abandoned the run, but better production in that part of the game would make the offense more fearsome.
Bryan Morry

Will the PATS go after some of the Big Name free agents that the NY Jets have on defense, next year, and maybe let some of their own older players go?
Paul Sousa
Hudson, Mass.

I don't know what the Patriots plans are for free agency. I would never have guessed that Rosevelt Colvin would be a Patriot. I don't have a list of yet of all the pending free agents and even if I did, that list could change drastically by March 1 when those players would be scheduled to hit the market. Who you interested in?
Bryan Morry

How are the QBs for the PRO BOWL picked? If the pats finish firstst in the AFC, does it automatically send Tom Brady to the Pro Bowl?
Aaroon Harlap
Newton, Mass.

The quarterbacks are picked just like everybody else. The fans, coaches and players all vote and each count one-third toward the total votes. So no. Tom Brady does not qualify for any automatic invite. The AFC quarterbacks selected to the Pro Bowl were Peyton Manning, Steve McNair and Trent Green.
Bryan Morry

I have a question that I have been pondering a long to time but on the West Coast there is nobody who knows the Pats well enough to answer. Is the Pats offense a product of average players accented by a good offensive scheme or are they excellent players limited by an average offensive scheme reinforced by an awesome "D"? I believe the latter. I believe that the Pats can have a very high power offense like they showed against Miami in the final game last season. It seems to me that Charlie Weis doesn't have enough patience to establish the run. The Pats can be a power running team. If Charlie Weis leaves, will it be positive or negative for the team? What are your thoughts?
Dave Cruz
Monterey, Calif.

I think the offense has good players, but no great players. I think Tom Brady is close to taking the step toward greatness if he's not already there. He may not be the pure passer once associated with greatness, but he is cool under pressure and as clutch as any quarterback in football, which is certainly better than being just a pure thrower, a la Jeff George. I think the scheme is good because it has evolved with Brady's development. The running game just isn't where it needs to be and while Brady has no superstar receiver like a Randy Moss to throw to, he has solid targets across the board led by Troy Brown. The rest of the receiving corps looks good but is still working on consistency, that being David Givens, Deion Branch, Bethel Johnson and Daniel Graham. I think Christian Fauria and Dedric Ward are nice veterans to have on the offense, but they are what they are, which is solid, unspectacular players who understand their role, embrace the team concept and prepare and play hard – not bad qualities. But the scheme is sound even if you or I don't agree with certain play calls during a game.
Bryan Morry

I love watching the Patriots this year. I think this has been one of the most exciting seasons to watch. I have been wondering for a couple weeks now if they can win the Super Bowl again. I think they have the talent and definitely the coaching. Not just the head coaching but the offensive and defensive. The only team I would think the Patriots would really have to look out for is the Chiefs. What is your opinion about the up coming postseason.
Dave Kingsley
Bridgewater, Mass.

Paul Perillo will get mad at me for this response, but I think any of the teams in the postseason can knock off the Patriots, who have won a ton of close games this season. But I also think the Patriots can beat anybody and if they can get home field advantage, they will have that going for them. The Patriots are battle hardened. They've played a tough schedule and have won almost every week. They are resilient and I like their chances. I think Denver might be the scariest team outside of New England if that's what you were looking for.
Bryan Morry

It was my understanding that the new stadium had approximately 35 miles of radiant heat piping under the field and that we would never see a snow covered field again. If so, then why has the field been covered with snow during the last two games?
Jerry Demi
East Haddam, Conn.

According to Director of Construction Administration Ted Fire, there are "miles" of radiant heat piping under the field, but it's primary purpose is not for snow melting, but rather "grass-growing". In general, the underfield heating system is designed to keep the soil at around 55 degrees, which prolongs the growing period for the grass, and allows the field to recover well beyond the normal dates for our climate. For example, without the heating system, we might start to lose the grass in early November, and it wouldn't germinate and grow for the remaining games. With the heating system, we can cover the field between games with a special tarp that retains the heat (while allowing the sun's energy through). The heat generated allows the grass to germinate and the field recovers, even this late in the season.
Secondarily, with the soil at around 55 degrees, it will melt some snow on the grass surface. If the pace of the snowfall is on the heavy side (like the last two games) the soil can't melt it as fast as it falls, and it tends to accumulate. A lighter snow would tend to not accumulate, or would melt sooner than a heavy, fast-falling snow. We don't bank on deriving the "snow-melting" benefits, so between games, when snow is forecast, we cover the field with a tarp, and any snow that accumulates is shoveled off, with the tarp removed as late as possible before game time.
There you go. I'll thank Ted for you.
Bryan Morry

I once heard there's no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid people who ask questions so here goes. You said Anthony Dorsett is a cousin of Ty Law's. Tony Dorsett is Ty's Uncle? Interesting.
Danville, Va.

I agree it is interesting. I'm a big Tony Dorsett fan. I wonder if Ty will mind if I call him Uncle Tony.
Bryan Morry

Thank you for the answer to my previous question. I would like to know if the history part of this site is likely to be "filled out" a bit? This is due to the fact that as it is so "pared to the bone" it can cause confusion to those of us not fortunate enough to know more about the Wonderful PATS (13-2) as I write.
Adrian D. Duffen
Birmingham, UK

That part of the site is a work in progress and will continue to be upgraded over time. Is there any history before 2001? I'm just kidding.
Bryan Morry

I don't believe this. Why are we questioning Coach Belichick's personnel decisions? 2 years ago, he gave us our first Super Bowl victory. This year we are 13-2, even after getting rid of Lawyer Milloy, and with keeping, firing, and re-hiring Ken Walter. On top of that, his coaching with all our injuries and rookie starters has given us the best record in the NFL so far, and the greatest record in Patriots franchise history. Does anyone out there think that he doesn't know what he is doing? Or am I the only one out here who believes in him and doesn't question his coaching abilities? I had the privilege of watching him beat the Broncos here in Colorado and beat the Texans in Houston. Coach Belichick should not only be the NFL coach of the year. He should also have a statue put up for him in front of Gillette Stadium for what he has given us, the greatest football team New England Patriots have ever had.
Craig Walker
Colorado Springs

Those are kind words Craig and I'm sure Bill would be appreciative. He has done a fine job, no doubt. I think he has earned the benefit of the doubt on his personnel decisions, but that doesn't mean folks won't question them or shouldn't ever question them. I think we just have to believe that he does as he says, which is whatever is best for his team. No move he's made so far has proven otherwise. His track record in New England is certainly good, but you will always have those who question everything. That's OK, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. But he did win the organization's only Super Bowl and has now guided the team to its best ever regular season. I'd say that makes him the best coach this franchise ever had.
Bryan Morry

If Romeo Crennel gets a job as a head coach, who would replace him as defensive coordinator?
Travis Simpson
Waltham, Vt.

While I certainly don't know the answer to that question, a good guess would be defensive backs coach Eric Mangini, who started with Bill in Cleveland, joined him with the Jets and then followed him to New England. He would seem to have a good grasp of the defensive system and it would be a matter of whether he has the experience to be a coordinator. I'd say he'd at least be on the radar screen.
Bryan Morry

Please try and explain why the Patriots are overlooked week in and week out. I'm talking about the Pro Bowl. 13-2 only getting two players? It just goes to show you most people don't think of football as a team sport but as what one may get for one's self. I hope the Pats win and laugh all the way home from Houston, Texas.
Tucson, Ariz.

Two Patriots in the Pro Bowl?? I will not be watching that this year. Politics should not play such a huge part in the selection. Who is playing better than most of the pats defensive players? What a joke. I guess we will just have to win the Super Bowl instead. Rock on.
Steve Bean
Littleton, N.H.

Okay, so we've experienced it time and time again, yet it still seems to burn a hole so deep Bugs Bunny would feel a little bit insecure! Only two players were selected from the most complete team in the NFL to the Pro Bowl! What's wrong with this picture? Who does the voting? I guess you have to pay for respect now.
O'Ryan Goring
State College, Pa.

Why did the Patriots get the shaft in the Pro Bowl selection? I can name about 5 more players that were more worth going than some of the people selected. Where's Brady, Bruschi, Johnson??? These people carried this team to make them the best team in the NFL today. What's going on????
Derek Barsaleau
Kenosha, Wis.

After the Pro Bowl picks this year when do you think a guy like Tedy Bruschi will get his shot? And do you believe this lack of respect will be the fuel for another Super Bowl win?
Atlanta, Ga.

How is it that the Patriots, the best team in the NFL, can only get 2 people into the Pro Bowl?!?! It's a joke!!! They're leaving out great players like Tom Brady and Rodney Harrison! I'm just saying that on the best team in the NFL, there should be at least 4 players in the Pro Bowl. Is there any reason for leaving those guys out? Especially Rodney??
Ryan Malone
Wellesley, Mass.

As appalled as we are towards the outcome of the Pro Bowl selection (Only 2 Pat's), if guys were selected on how they compare statistically to others at their position this year, then the Patriots would have no representation. Need more proof that they win as a Team and not solely by individual ability?
Richard Forcino
Cranston, R.I.

What is up with the Pro Bowl picks? I mean, the Pats are a 12-2 team, with tons of talent, and only send two players to Hawaii. Bruschi, Brady, Poole, and Harrison should've made it, just to name a few. The only reason other players made it is because they are a bigger name. I think the NFL needs to come up with a better voting system, because obviously all the fans, players and coaches care about are the names of the players, not their playing ability. How can the league officials let all these big-name players go when there are tons more who are much better players??
State College, Pa.

To the readers should Ty Law and Richard Seymour not go? To show respect to the rest of the team!
C. Findlen
Franklin, Mass.

OK, OK, OK, OK, OK. Phew. I thought I'd let all you guys get that stuff off your chest and I'd respond just once. I think that the voting process is as fair as it could be. The fans, coaches and players each count one-third of the voting. That's definitely the most balanced and best way to do it. Ty Law and Richard Seymour undoubtedly deserved their berth. Rodney Harrison is the most obvious snub and clearly the voters were not paying attention to his play. Three safeties made it over him? That truly is a joke. I think Tedy Bruschi deserved a bid, but he plays a position with some high-profile talent and it's tough to unseat guys like Zach Thomas and Ray Lewis. Al Wilson is another guy that's been. Bruschi is underrated. He has continued to improve as a linebacker, but because he had so far to come as a college defensive tackle making that change, he never really earned the "big name" label nationally. It's too bad. He's made a ton of big plays for this team this year. The next two guys would be Larry Izzo and Tom Brady. Brady would have made it easy in the NFC, but statistically he was outshined by those who made it and unfortunately, that's what often decides these things. He may be an MVP candidate the way he's rallied this team to some late-game wins, but I guess that's not good enough to get him to Hawaii. I couldn't tell you if Izzo should have made it or not. I know he's a respected special teamer with two Pro Bowls to his credit, and I know he is still a top notch performer, but I have no idea about anybody else's specialists.
The last guy from Franklin … I don't think Ty and Richard should stay home, but maybe take those other guys with them on the trip. I don't even think they should play the game. Pick the team, send them to Hawaii and have a week full of events and fun skills competitions. But I'm with you all, the Patriots got the short end of the stick in the Pro Bowl voting.
Bryan Morry

What was big bad Pennington's QB rating in the New England win? I can understand how some of the patriots got left off the Pro Bowl roster (except Harrison) but if Belichick doesn't get coach of the year something is wrong with the NFL. When is that award given out?
Davenport, Fla.

Pennington had a 31.2 passer rating last week against the Patriots. Belichick is certainly one of the worthy candidates for coach of the year and I think he probably deserves to win, but Andy Reid, Marvin Lewis and Bill Parcells also deserve consideration.
Bryan Morry

I have heard through the grapevine that the Patriots have a good shot at landing Corey Dillon and Keyshawn Johnson next year. Do you think they will make a move for them?
Kenny Tasney
Quincy, Mass.

I would be surprised to see Dillon in a Patriots uniform, but Johnson has a good relationship with Bill Belichick and the two sides will probably talk when Johnson is freed from his contractual obligation with the Bucs. It will depend on the cost for both guys, who at least come with some sort of baggage.
Bryan Morry

Who was the tight end for New England in 1996?
St. Paul, Minn.

Ben Coates, John Burke and Mike Bartrum
Bryan Morry

When will the Patriots get the respect they deserve? I can say when they win the next five games outright, and are world champs again. That's how much hope the media and critics have. But that is all that Coach Bill needs to get his boys ready. And will we ever see Rosie Colvin again?
Kris Harrington
Methuen, Mass.

Colvin is on IR recovering from a fractured hip. I presume he will try to resume his playing career next season. As for respect, the Patriots are widely considered the best team in the NFL even if begrudgingly. They will need to win it all to convince some.
Bryan Morry

Where do you put the progression of rookie receiver Bethel Johnson at this point in the season and do you think teams have to prepare for him in the special teams aspect of the game?
Montray Andrews
El Paso, Texas

My uneducated opinion is that Johnson is two seasons away from being a reliable, consistent and maybe even star receiver. He is still a little raw, but has shown definite skills to go with unmatched speed. He is definitely a player teams have to plan for in the kicking game as a threat to take it to the house on every kickoff.
Bryan Morry

What are passes defended?
Fairfield, Calif.

That's a category that is sometimes called pass break-ups. In the NFL, they designate it as PD or passes defensed where in college it might be PBU for pass break-ups. It is when a defender deflects a pass.
Bryan Morry

Please don't let the Goose Creek, SC. address fool ya. I was born and raised in Somerville, Mass., on Vinal Ave. and I've been a Pats fan since birth. Thank God for Bob Kraft buying the team, the combo of him running it as a profitable business and as a fan of the game/team has in my mind proven to be a winner. Now my question, In the past few weeks (prior to the Pats being Pennington's prime receivers) the playoff picture I've seen and read about was 1) If the Pats and the Chiefs win out the Pats will have #1 seed, by way of the conference record tie breaker. 2) If both the Pats and the Chiefs lose one game the conference record would be tied and the Pats would STILL win via the strength of schedule. But since Pennington's 4 early Christmas presents, all I've seen or read is that the Pats must beat our buddy Drew to get #1 seed. I'm missing something. Could you PLEASE fill in the blanks for me?
Goose Creek, S.C.

Forget about what was before the Jets game. I can tell you that if the Patriots and Chiefs tied at 14-2, you are correct that New England would have won the tie-break based on their AFC record (11-1). But if they lose to Buffalo and finish tied at 13-3 with Kansas City, the Patriots would have a second AFC loss and be tied with the Chiefs at 10-2 in the conference. The next tie-breaker would be common opponents and KC is 4-1 against teams the Patriots also played – Houston, Denver (twice), Buffalo and Cleveland. The Patriots are currently 3-1 against those four teams so if they lose to Buffalo for a second time, they will fall to 3-2 and finish as the No. 2 seed. If they win, it won't matter because they will finish with the league's best record.
Bryan Morry

Who was the Patriots starting QB before Drew Bledsoe?
Steven Katz
Princeton, N.J.

In 1992, Hugh Millen, Scott Zolak, Tommy Hodson and Jeff Carlson all played and had at least 49 pass attempts.
Bryan Morry

Who will the Patriots play in the 2nd round of the playoffs? If they get the 1st seed, will they always play the lowest remaining seed or will they play the winner of the AFC North Champion/1st Wildcard team game?
Tim Orcutt
Hollis, N.H.

If they are No. 1, they will play the lowest remaining seed, which would either be Denver (as of now) or the winner of the 4 vs. 5 game. The would not have to play No. 3 until the AFC Title game.
Bryan Morry

What if the Pats lose and the Chiefs tie?
Art Hastings
Feeding Hills, Mass.

The Pats would have the top seed at 13-3 over the 12-3-1 Chiefs.
Bryan Morry

I know the date will either be Jan 10 or Jan 11 for the 1st playoff game but has a time been determined yet or will we be subject to another Saturday night game?
Bedford, Mass.

The AFC divisional playoff games will be held Saturday night Jan. 10 at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. I don't know which the Patriots will play in, but I'm guessing the night game.
Bryan Morry

Why was former Patriots Head Coach Chuck Fairbanks suspended at the end of the 1978 season? Was he the same coach who was caught searching for another job opening during the season?
Sharon, Mass.

Actually, he had accepted the head coaching job at Colorado if I'm not mistaken. When the news broke and Fairbanks confirmed its validity to Billy Sullivan, Sullivan suspended him for the regular season finale in Miami and reinstated him for the playoff game against Houston. The Patriots lost both.
Bryan Morry

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