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Patriots Replay Thu Jun 27 | 12:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Ask PFW: We're on to Atlanta

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I saw that an NFL article had Trey Flowers fifth or sixth in most enticing NFL free agents. My assumption is that he hits the open market and is treated like Dont’a Hightower a few seasons ago in that he sees his market value and Pats hopefully get to match. Given his position and production (yes not as flashy as some other free agents but you see it every snap) how likely is it that he wears Patriot blue next season? My assumption is that he plays elsewhere next year but I'd like to think my gut is wrong.
Jason Rollinson

Flowers will almost certainly get a lucrative contract offer if he ultimately hits the open market. While I expect the Patriots to be interested in retaining him, I don’t believe it will be easy or cheap. In Hightower’s case, he really didn’t receive any offers that the Patriots were forced to match. He met with a few teams and reportedly the Jets and Steelers were spooked by his injury history after his physical. That opened the door for Hightower to return. I can’t see the Patriots getting that same opportunity this time. Of course there’s always a chance that the Patriots offer him a big-money contract to keep him, or that Flowers isn’t necessarily interested in receiving the highest offer possible and wants to take less to return to Foxborough. But that’s hard to imagine give his current age and status. This is Flowers’ first real opportunity to cash in and I would be surprised if a team doesn’t make him a pretty substantial offer. He’s earned it with some real solid play for the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

Finally, after years of the NFL looking more like the CFL, someone has figured out that now that defenses are built to stop the pass, it is a good time to run straight at them with power. As it is a copycat league, how many teams do you think will be adding a fullback and trying to employ power running tactics next year?
Eddie Hodgetts

This is something John Hannah used to talk to the PFW boys about several years ago when Hannah was around the offices a lot. He always felt that the turn away from the power running game was cyclical and that it would be back. I didn’t agree with him then and I don’t necessarily agree with him now. There will always be teams that are more willing to run the ball than others, and some will employ a fullback to help do it. But the key to the Patriots success with the running game is having Tom Brady throwing the ball all over the place so effectively. In the two playoff games he threw for 350 yards and was very efficient, which keeps the clock moving and allows the team to continue to run it. Without Brady and with a less-talented quarterback, defenses would focus on the run and production would drop. That was evident at times during the playoffs when the Chargers and Chiefs switched things and contained the ground game after early success, but Brady was there to rip them apart. But great coaches like Bill Belichick have the ability to game plan and use personnel in different ways and can do different things to win against different opponents. It was clear that Belichick’s plan was to shorten the game to keep the Chiefs offense off the field, and with good reason considering how quickly Kansas City was able to put 31 points on the board in the second half.
Paul Perillo

I had the privilege and honor of attending the AFC Championship Game. This was my first time attending a NFL game. What a game it was. To get to my question, with all of the success that Julian Edelman has accomplished (I believe he is only behind Jerry Rice for most receptions in the playoffs) will he be in the Hall of Fame? Keep in mind I am a prisoner of the moment, but he has been doing this for years.
Korey Moye

There’s no question that Edelman has been as tough and clutch as they come. He’s been at his best when it matters most and his ability to make big plays when the Patriots have needed them has been impressive. After Sunday’s game there was some talk about Edelman perhaps being a Hall of Famer, and who knows how that might play out someday down the road. I have a hard time believing that he is one of the greatest players of all time, however. His postseason numbers are outstanding, but he’s also played in more postseason games than most. He’s been a remarkable player and I have no criticisms of his game to speak of. Numbers are going to be changing for receivers and potential Hall of Fame induction with the explosion of the passing game over the past 20 years, so maybe Edelman will get some consideration. He deserves at least that.
Paul Perillo

Midway thru the second quarter, around seven-minute mark, on fourth-and-one the offense stayed on the field as if going for it, and on the 16 seconds left on the play clock there was swift change to the punt team. KC’s defense seemed too slow to get out before snap, but referee stayed for so long at the ball preventing snap, and preventing to many men flag. NE transition looked designed to draw a flag, and was executed well, but for the ref it didn`t result in a first down. Is there a time limit for referee regarding snap, for how long ref can stay over the ball? There are game clock, play clock, 15s radio cut, players, coaches, all are limited with the clock, but refs? It takes a lot of practice and effort to design a play and execute it, only to see it goes wasted in this way.
Savo Javanovic

Plays like this are the precise reason why the league implements rules to prevent this from happening. When a team changes personnel on offense, the defense has to be afforded the time to properly adjust, and that’s why you saw the official (the umpire in this case) standing over the ball preventing the snap from happening. This happens often during games but generally when the offense subs they are in the huddle and the defense has plenty of time to adjust and there’s no threat of delay of game. In this case, as you said the Patriots didn’t switch personnel until very late in the play clock, and therefore there wasn’t enough time for the Chiefs to respond and it led to a delay of game penalty. I believe Belichick simply wanted to try to catch the Chiefs off guard and with their defense on the field for the punt rather than their normal punt return unit, hoping they wouldn’t be ready for the play. But when the Chiefs adjusted properly, the officials correctly waited for all of the personnel to change.
Paul Perillo

When Tom Brady threw the pick that was called back due to the flag on Dee Ford. Did he know there was a flag so he chanced a free play?
Steve Paris

Only Brady himself could answer that for certain but I don’t see any way he could have known there was a penalty on Ford on that play. There was no movement prior to the snap; Ford simply lined up in the neutral zone. Brady was looking the other way at the snap and likely didn’t even see the flag come out, let alone be aware that it was definitely against the Chiefs. After the play, there was uncertainty on both sides as to what the flag was for, so again, I find it unlikely that Brady knew. In addition to all of that, Brady’s pass was a relatively safe, short throw to Gronk that unfortunately bounced off the tight end’s hands for the interception. It’s not like he threw into the end zone in double coverage knowing he had a free play.
Paul Perillo

Edelman is by far the best receiver Patriots have. At 32 with a history of injuries, he is being slammed by multiple players every time he makes a catch. And with all that load, BB is still putting his uber-valuable asset to handle punt returns. Isn’t there anybody else on the team who can catch the ball besides Jules? What about Cordarrelle Patterson?
Pat Minsky

I don’t want anyone other than Edelman anywhere near the punt returns. He’s been that effective at that job his whole career. Yes he may have made an error in judgment on Sunday when he tried to field that punt off the bounce, but he also was his normal productive self on his other opportunities, averaging over 12 yards per return. Edelman is explosive and has experience handling the ball in all kinds of difficult situations. No way I would risk putting anyone else in that position.
Paul Perillo

In most sports, the home team’s locker room and clubhouse is much better outfitted than the visiting team’s (which, in some cases, is almost laughably Spartan, or worse). For the Super Bowl, played on a neutral field, does the NFL do anything to make the teams’ spaces closer to equal? And if not the NFL, do the teams make significant changes to the spaces? Or does it just come down to the luck of being designated the home team?
Peter Turchi

The home team designation between the AFC and NFC switches back and forth every season. This year the AFC is the visiting team and therefore the Patriots will be in the visiting locker room. But I don’t see this as the issue that you do. There are some older stadiums in the NFL that have smaller locker rooms for the visiting team (Buffalo comes to mind), but with most teams now playing in newer, modern stadiums that really isn’t an issue. At Gillette Stadium the home locker room is obviously much nicer, but there’s nothing “Spartan” about the visiting team’s space at all. Plus, teams only use the locker rooms at the stadium on game day. During the week they practice at different facilities elsewhere. In short, there won’t be much of a need to change anything at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Paul Perillo

One thing sets the Rams apart from other teams that Patriots faced so far is their impressive defensive line and offensive line. I feel that this is why Patriots are heading to SB - their lines held up or dominated the opponent. Also, it felt like the other teams were one-dimensional in relying mostly on the passing play and Pats could blitz freely. Besides impressive front lines, Rams have a great running game with a play-action component. It seems that the football gods wanted the Pats and Rams in SB, but I would have much rather preferred the Saints. What about you?
Maurice Mendez

I agree that the Rams are very strong along both lines but I also think you’re underselling the previous playoff opponents in that regard. Both the Chargers and Chiefs are very strong along the defensive line (yes, I believe the Rams are better) and the Chiefs are solid on the offensive line as well (the Chargers no so much). The Patriots offensive line has been the true unsung hero of these two playoff wins. The blocking has been superb and the pass rushers from both the Chargers and Chiefs haven’t been anywhere near Brady. That will be the key once again against the Rams in Atlanta. I view the Saints and Rams as very similar teams – physical, tough up front, not afraid to run the ball. Personally, I would rather face the Rams and their inexperienced quarterback rather than Drew Brees.
Paul Perillo

I think that the key factor in the Patriots win over the Chiefs was the play of their offensive line, which was absolutely brilliant. No offensive lineman from the Patriots was selected for the Pro Bowl; meanwhile, Nate Solder, who would have gone to the Pro Bowl last year if New England hadn’t made the Super Bowl, left in the offseason as a free agent. Still, Tom Brady was able to camp out in the pocket against the Chiefs, who led the league in sacks during the regular season, and the Pats also racked up 176 yards on the ground plus four rushing touchdowns.
Paul Levesque

No question about it. The Patriots offensive line has been brilliant and Dante Scarnecchia has done a masterful job. It’s been a great combination of physical toughness in the running game and expert game-planning to get the ball out quickly and keep those dangerous pass rushers at bay. But there were also times when Brady needed more time to throw needing long yardage and the line provided plenty of help there as well. There’s no underselling how valuable those guys have been. Truly outstanding work by all five guys – Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon – plus the tight ends and backs who have chipped in as well. There’s no way the Patriots would be headed to Atlanta if not for the play up front.
Paul Perillo

I have a comment regarding the rules for overtime. I’m thrilled the Pats won but I find it totally unfair that the other team does not even get a chance to possess the football. I think after a first possession touchdown the opposing team should be able to receive the kickoff and if they don’t respond and score a touchdown then the game would be over. The whole overtime can be dictated by the luck of a coin toss. To me it is like if a baseball game went to extra innings and if a run is scored in the top half of the inning then the opposing team doesn’t get a chance to come to bat in the bottom half of the inning to respond. To me the overtime rules are the worst in sports and I can’t believe there isn’t more discussion about this. I’m glad the Pats won but the shoe could have easily been on the other foot.
Cam Keddy

This actually does receive a lot of discussion and has for years. It’s the reason the rules were changed in the first place requiring teams to score a touchdown on the opening possession rather than just a field goal. I believe the current format is fair for both teams. While there’s not much doubt in my mind that the Chiefs would have done the same thing considering how they performed on offense in the fourth quarter, the defense has the opportunity to keep the offense out of the end zone. The Chiefs forced the Patriots into three separate third-and-10 situations and Brady converted all three. Had Kansas City prevented just one conversion, Patrick Mahomes would have had his chance. They didn’t, but the rules are fair for both teams and the game wasn’t decided by a simple coin toss. In fact, in the NFC game the Saints won the toss and the Rams forced a turnover before winning with a field goal. It’s more than fair to both sides the way it is.
Paul Perillo

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