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Ask PFW: Winning and whining - Part II

I'm sure the undefeated season talk will intensify in the wake of this weeks victory over the Colts. I was reading a blog post by SI.com's Andrew Perloff who believes that even if the Pats are 15-0 going into week 17 against the Giants, they'll rest the regulars. Interestingly, he wrote that Belichick has done so in similar situations before, though I'm not sure what he's basing that on. Do you agree with Mr. Perloff? If they're 15-0, does the prideful Belichick actually rest the regulars?
Kent Barnes

I disagree 100 percent. If the Patriots are 15-0 heading into that game it means they will have already wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage in the postseason. That means they will have a bye in the postseason. So if Belichick didn't play his starters for at least part of the game in New York his players would go nearly three full weeks without game action. That could leave them very rusty. The Colts have shut things down for the starters in the past and it cost them. I don't think Belichick would do that. And the only times Belichick has shut down his team, like against Miami a couple year ago, was when his team was not a top seed, didn't have a bye and had to play on the first weekend of the playoffs. That won't be the case this year if the team is going for the perfect record. In the end it comes down to the question of whether you think extra time off is good rest or leads to rust. I think Belichick would fear the latter and, at least for a half or so, would play the bulk of his regulars against the Giants.
Andy Hart

I thought the lack of playing time for Adalius Thomas against the Colts was surprising. I saw that BB chose to use a 4 man D-line for much of the game, but used Bruschi/Seau at MLB instead of the more athletic Thomas. Was it an indication that BB isn't happy with Thomas's development at the MLB position? Or do you think it was a case where, since it still was just a regular season game, BB wanted to save a few wrinkles in his defensive scheme for when these two teams inevitably meet in the playoffs?Anthony G.

I certainly don't think Belichick was saving anything. He always says he does what is in the best interest of his team and plays to win the game. I believe him. My guess is that Thomas is banged up with an ankle injury that's bothered him all the way back to training camp. I know he was healthy enough to play at times against Indy, but he hasn't been the same athletic player over the last few weeks. He seems to be running a bit gingerly in my opinion. I know everyone assumed that when the Patriots signed Thomas this offseason that it was at least in part with a focus on his versatile athleticism helping the team against the Colts offense. That made his absence for the bulk of Sunday's action noticeable. I just have to think he's banged up right now.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, longtime Patriots fan attending Western Illinois University, home of Rodney Harrison. I was going through the ESPN.com career stats of Tom Brady, and in 2001, it says that he caught a pass for 23 yards. I remember this happening, but I don't remember the details. What exactly happened in that play? Thanks guys, and take care!
KT

The play was a throw-back from Kevin Faulk to Brady for 23-yard gain in a Dec. 22nd game against the Dolphins. On a side note, yours truly was an intern in the Patriots PR department at the team and was on the sideline for that play right near where Brady tip-toed harmlessly out of bounds following the trick play. Check the video. Slow it down. Stop it. There I am.
Andy Hart

My question is, as long as the Pats and Colts continue winning their divisions, we will see them play every year correct?? Thanks guy and keep up the great work!!!
Edgar Paz

As of right now the current schedule format is only set through the 2009 season. But assuming the teams continue to win their respective divisions (or even just finish in the same spot in the divisions) they will play both seasons. New England will visit the winner of the AFC South next fall, meaning another likely trip to the Colts to play in their new stadium. In 2009 the Patriots will travel to Indy as part of the team's regular rotation of games against the AFC South. And if the NFL continues with the current system of scheduling, the seasonal rivalry between the teams would continue moving forward.
Andy Hart

I've asked this question on other sites, but have never gotten an answer. I would really love to know what the purpose is of a quarterback kicking up his leg just before the snap. Thanks!
Sam Hayes

The quarterback lifts his leg for two reasons (neither of which are for the same reason a dog does!). First is when it is a signal to one of his offensive teammates to go in motion, although that is often just a heal lift and not a full leg lift. The second, and the one I think you're referring to, comes in the shot-gun formation as a signal to the center that he is ready for the snap. The center, who is looking at the quarterback between his legs, then lifts his head to prepare to block and snaps the ball on whatever silent count the team is using in that situation.
Andy Hart

I am a Patriot fan at the beginning. And I really like your show [PFW in Progress, Tuesday-Friday from noon-2 p.m. on Patriots.com] until Paul P speaks out because he doesn't make sense at all. I think Paul P should be FIRED at PFW. He is a such a hypocrite and a jerk. Please look at yourself first before you open your mouth. Who is he to say that he knows what's the best interest of the team. Does he know everything what's going in and out of the team? So is he GOD almighty now? Maybe you tell me what's in my best interest. You are in the minority. Because a lot of the fans is not bothered at all.
Marcy Theresa Butch

I just wanted to post this email to promote our PFW in Progress radio show. (I also enjoy when people get mad at Paul.) We have a growing audience and I think have become quite a spot for legitimate Patriots talk that usually spans the spectrum on opinions from homer-driven (Fred Kirsch, God bless him) to objective (me, of course). Tune in and try us out Tuesday-Friday from noon-2 p.m. on Patriots.com. Tell us what you think. You can email the show at Webradio@patriots.com. Some of our most loyal listeners like us so much they even send us lunch. Feel free to join that growing list as well.
Andy Hart

So I know I shouldn't nit-pick about the 9-0 start but why did we draft Maroney if we don't play him. He looked decent in the 1.5 quarters he seemed to have played. But they never seem to have him out there in the second half. I thought he had good hands? Plus he is faster and stronger then Faulk. Don't get me wrong Faulk is great but when they have a fast d-line Maroney seems to match-up better. Why do they not play him the WHOLE game. I know he was hurt but he looked healthy the few times we actually saw him play. Why can't they get him more involved? I appreciate everything you guys put up with and I look forward to everything you write. Thanks for everything.Chris Eaton

Maroney ran well in the early going against the Colts. He had nine carries for 48 yards (5.3 avg.) at halftime. He then carried the ball six times for just 11 yards in the second half. He seemed to dance a bit more and wasn't quite as decisive hitting the hole, the same problems that have hindered him throughout his short career. He doesn't have great hands, as he was never really asked to catch the ball much before arriving in New England. But he has been working to become more effective in the passing game as both a receiver and a blocker. He is faster and stronger than Faulk, but Faulk is the proven third-down back and passing option. I still think Maroney will be a very good player at some point even though it seems like some people are starting to give up on him. He was a first-round pick (selected ahead of Colts productive sophomore Joseph Addai) and needs to produce on a regular basis at some point. I was slow to put his bust in Canton after his breakout game last year in Cincinnati and now I'm slow to bury him after a few injuries and less-than-dominant play. With the injury to Sammy Morris, Maroney should get the chance to show his stuff over the rest of the season on a regular basis. His time to shine is now.
Andy Hart

What were the details of the Pats punishment for "cameragate"?....Do they only lose THEIR first round draft pick or do they lose the higher of the 2 (assuming the 49ers continue their current pace)?
James Cormier

The Patriots lost their own first-round pick (assuming they make the playoffs, which is looking like a pretty sure bet at this point). They retain the pick obtained via trade from the 49ers and it's starting to look like that selection could be a potential top-five choice. Not a bad pick to have for a team that most expect to win the Super Bowl.
Andy Hart

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