boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Transcript of a chat with the Globe's Mike Reiss

November 15, 2005
Mike_Reiss:Ready to roll here. Thanks for joining in. Pats enter the week at 5-4 and with a winnable game against the Saints on Sunday, they could be 6-4. I think that's remarkable given all their injuries.
Durango:Q: What is David Given's status?
Mike_Reiss:Well, right now he's questionable with a knee injury. But I'm not led to believe it's anything that could keep him out for the season. Probably just a week-to-week thing. He didn't make the trip to Miami.
Socko:Q: What are the chances of the Patriots picking up Walls (CB)??? I hear he is interested but I am not sure we have the room under the cap.
Mike_Reiss:I have the Patriots at $454,000 under the salary cap, which is not a lot of room. Walls still has to clear waivers and there's no guarantee the Patriots would get him on a waiver claim ...
Mike_Reiss:Technically he's still property of the Broncos until he's fully healthy. And I'm not so sure the Patriots are crazy about him anyway.
God_I_Miss_Harisson:Q: Mike, love the blog for updates, great job. Granted we've come to not question BB, but any idea of the rationale behind cutting Arturo Freeman and signing Mike Cloud 5 days before the Colts game?
Mike_Reiss:Don't think Freeman can cut it phsyically. They liked his smarts and work ethic, but ultimately you have to make plays. I don't think they were that crazy about him as a player ...
Mike_Reiss:As for signing Cloud, at the time Dillon was a game-time decision for the Monday night game. They had to be prepared for the possibility Dillon couldn't go, and thus, signed Cloud. ...
Mike_Reiss:In the end, I don't think they thought Freeman would be here much longer, and wouldn't have made much of a difference against the Colts.
dave:Q: any word on Dan Koppen's arm?
Mike_Reiss:No, but the team has reached an agreement to bring Gene Mruczkowski back. That probably means it's not good news on Koppen.
ramsfan:Q: The loss of a Center usually impacts the O line big time. What do you see?
Mike_Reiss:Agreed. I felt Koppen was underrated. I think Hochstein will step in and do a good job, but naturally it hurts to lose Koppen.
Jason:Q: It seems that keeping #12 healthy has to be Job 1 for the offense. With more instability on the OL, do you think offensive schemes and formations will change to reduce the risk of leaving Brady vulnerable?
Mike_Reiss:Good question. I'd say, if anything, we probably won't see as many empty formations. But that's sort of what it's been like all year anyway. BTW, I think Kaczur and Mankins are doing really well on the left side given they are rookies. Any disagreement there from anyone?
az_pete:Q: where are the trick plays we have seen the last few years?
Mike_Reiss:They went to Notre Dame ...
Mike_Reiss:No, seriously, that's a good question. Not sure I have the answer to it, other than that Charlie Weis might have been a little more confident to call some of them given his experience in the position.
Swank13:Q: What is the status on Dillon? Will he return to start this season?
Mike_Reiss:Dillon is bothered by calf and ankle injuries. He said after Sunday's game he doesn't want to return until he's fully healthy. So my guess is he probably sits the next week or so and they try to get by with Heath Evans, Michael Cloud or another free agent.
Swank13:Q: Who will be the starting running back on Sunday?
Mike_Reiss:I'd have to say it will be Heath Evans. Based on Sunday's performance, he deserves to start the game there. That is, unless Dillon is healthy and ready to go. If he is, it has to be Dillon.
Marbleheader:Q: Hi Mike, how do you think the Pats rate their receivers right now? Who's the top guy? Who's the bottom guy? It just seems like a bunch of guys.
Mike_Reiss:Really like questions like these. Here is how I think they rate them: Deion Branch; David Givens; Troy Brown; Tim Dwight; Bethel Johnson; Andre Davis ...
Mike_Reiss:But it's important to also realize how they manage the players -- like Dwight, they don't want to overwork him, so he's a siutuation guy. Johnson and Davis are big-play guys who show flashes, and can run the go routes, but haven't consistently made an impact from game to game, or play to play for that matter.
readytedy:Q: How do you rank the Pats' DBs -- the healthy ones, I mean.
Mike_Reiss:Cornerbacks: Samuel, Hobbs, Gay (is he healthy?), Poteat ...
Mike_Reiss:Safeties: Wilson, Sanders (based on potential), Stone
superfan:Q: Will we be seeing more Troy brown in the defensive backfield?
Mike_Reiss:I'd say yes, on third and long situations. Hard to believe the Patriots prepared for a d-back crisis by keeping 10 out of training camp. And here they are in the same situation as last year after keeping, I believe, only 8 out of training camp.
nick:Q: Hi Mike, I heard that Eugene Wilson has been suffering from an arm injury recently - do you think this has contributed to his poor tackling, and overall poor play?
Mike_Reiss:It probably has something to do with it, but that shouldn't be why he sometimes takes bad angles to make tackles ...
Mike_Reiss:Wilson also isn't playmaking as much this year. He had 4 INTs in 2003 and 4 more in 2004 (plus 2 in the playoffs). He doesn't have one this year ...
Mike_Reiss:One Pats fan made a suggestion last week that maybe next year the Patriots move Wilson back to the position he played in college, cornerback, and look to bring in a veteran, hard-hitting safety. While it's too early to pull the plug on Wilson at safety -- and he clearly misses Rodney Harrison -- I still hought that was an intriguing idea to at least consider.
HHIPATSFAN:Q: Hi Mike - Is Ellis Hobbs the real deal or what? Some of the chest thumping and celebrating sure didn't seem like Patriots football
Mike_Reiss:Hobbs showed some skills, I thought, but let's not single him out as the only chest-thumper. I saw Asante Samuel celebreating after plays/big hits in the last two games, too. ...
Mike_Reiss:I would say, though, that some Patriots veterans might remind Hobbs he's a rookie and to tone down that stuff.
no_name:Q: Do you think the letters "T' and "O" have come out of the mouths of anyone at Gillette?
Mike_Reiss:Sure, but not to make him a member of the team. More about his situation. On the radio last week, Rodney Harrison called T.O. a "selfish jerk."
zabadooha:Q: Can you imagine any scenario where Belichek would welcome T.O.?
Mike_Reiss:Never.
LeftOut:Q: With the Injury report as opaque as it can be, what can you tell us of the likely return and timing for the offensive line: Koppen, Light, and Ashworth?
Mike_Reiss:These are guesses: Koppen the rest of the year, Light 4 weeks and Ashworth 2 weeks. Light seems to have ratcheted up his workouts and was buzzing around the locker room last week.
JimG57:Q: I see other teams throw crossing routes against the Pats. Why don't we throw many?
Mike_Reiss:Brady is averaging 8 yards per pass attempt, which is outstanding. Peyton Manning, for example, is 7.86 yards per attempt. If I'm reading the numbers right, the Patriots have been going down the field more instead of throwing shorter, crossing routes.
IraJake:Q: I am thinking of choosing NE over the Saints for my suicide pool pick..Safe?
Mike_Reiss:I think the Patriots will win, although I caution you about taking any advice on that from me ...
Mike_Reiss:We pick the games against the point spread in the Globe and it's lonely down here in last place.
Bonzo:Q: How much better will this team be come playoff time, when presumably some of the injured players will return?
Mike_Reiss:Was just thinking about this earlier today. So much changes from week to week that it's hard to tell. Presumably, the Patriots should be better, although you wonder how many more of these personnel losses they can keep taking.
Mike_Reiss:To answer, I do think they'll be better.
bootsie:Q: Can you try to explain why Rosie has been looking so good lately? Is it just having Bruschi back in the middle?
Mike_Reiss:Colvin has 22 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery over the last three games -- and has set a strong edge at outside linebacker. He's stepped up his play big-play. I don't think it's about Bruschi as much as Colvin ...
Mike_Reiss:When Bruschi came back, Colvin was given the opportunity to start and play more. He's made the most of it.
damien_woody:Q: Hey Mike, Damien here. I made a mistake going to Detroit. Can I come back?
Mike_Reiss:) How's it going out there? Will you be hosting any of your former teammates at a pre Super Bowl party?
BeantownBobbyD:Q: Mike, first you are the best thing (not named Hazel) in Boston sports right now! The offensive play calling has lead to 3rd and long all year and that's why we have so many 3 and outs. Care to comment on that?
Mike_Reiss:Well, the Patriots average 5.7 yards per first-down play, which ranks them 9th in the NFL. So my thought is that they are either committing too many penalties before the snap on first down or really struggling on second down. I don't have the second-down numbers in front of me. ...
Mike_Reiss:I also think the three-and-outs are a reflection of an inconsistent running game.
Chris_NY:Q: Does it look like Dan Koppen will be put on IR, or will he be able to return this season?
Chris_NY:Q: Does it look like Dan Koppen will be put on IR, or will he be able to return this season?
Mike_Reiss:Hey Chris, my guess is that Koppen will be out for the year. Looked like either an arm/shoulder injury. There are seven games left and I'm guessing he'll need at least that much time to recover. ...
Mike_Reiss:Then it comes to the question of how many roster spots can you hold for injured players. They're already holding Light's spot, and Faulk's spot. Can they afford a third spot? I don't know.
Nick_2:Q: After Sunday's victory against Miami, I am newly optimistic about the Patriots' chances for the rest of the season and beyond. It wouldn't surprise me if they ran the table and ended up with a 12-4 record. Is my optimisim unrealistic?
Mike_Reiss:I don't think they run the table, but here is a stat that might make you think they can: The combined record of their remaining seven opponents is 24-39. I look at the schedule and see each remaining game as winnable ...
Mike_Reiss:But the other thing is that they are so banged up, you figure there has to be at least a week or two accounted for in there for an "off week."
Snapper:Q: While we're on the subject of injury timetables, can you speculate on Kevin Faulk's return date?
Mike_Reiss:That's been a tough one to crack. One published report said it could be career threatening, but I figured the team would have placed him on injured reserve already if that was the case ...
Mike_Reiss:So I'd say by the end of December, one of those situations where the player comes back toward the end of the regular season to get tuned up for the playoffs (assuming they make it, which I think they will).
GrnMtnPatFan:Q: Hi Mike: I see the Pats at 9-7, Buffalo 8-8 or 9-7 with a better AFC record with the game at Bufalo key. Is this closer than we think?
Mike_Reiss:Check out Buffalo's schedule. It's brutal. At San Diego this week. Hosting Carolina in two weeks. At Miami. Then hosting New England. Then hosting Denver and on the road against the Bengals and Jets ...
Mike_Reiss:I think the Patriots are in fine shape in the division race, given their current standing and the fact Buffalo -- their prime competitor -- has a real tough remaining schedule.
Fishman:Q: Mike, Chad Brown become a probowler rushing the QB, I am shocked BB doesn't try to take advantage of his skills more. Do you think that will change ?
Mike_Reiss:Something tells me Chad Brown is going to make a big play before the season is out. He is really a player in transition now, having played inside linebacker (out of position for him) early in the year and now moving into a pass-rush specialist, third-down type of role ...
Mike_Reiss:The Patriots are ranked 30th defensive on third down -- opponents are converting 42 percent of the time -- and I think Brown is going to be a key on that unit the rest of the way.
DCDoug:Q: Assuming Pats make playoffs, I'm hoping someone else knocks the Colts off. Who you think has the best chance of doing that?
Mike_Reiss:Let's break it down. I see the No. 1 seed being the Colts and No. 2 going to Pittsburgh (I was wrong about them from the start). We'll put Denver at No. 3 and the Patriots at No. 4, with wild cards going to the Bengals (No. 5) and Jaguars/Chargers (No. 6) ...
Mike_Reiss:I think the Steelers would have the best shot but it doesn't look like they would have to face them unless they lose the AFC North, which is possible given the Bengals' 7-2 record.
pussinboots:Q: Hey Mike, Like the Reiss Pieces. What's is the impact of the dropoff in play by Vince Wilfork on the Pat's D?
Mike_Reiss:That nose tackle spot is really important and if there's no push there, it's sort of like a baseball team having a pitcher on an off day. With Seymour returning, I thought Wilfork looked much better on Sunday.
Tom_Tupa:Q: Looks like Asante Samuel is trying to fill the shoes of Rodney Harrison and made some big hits last game. What do you think of his progress and possible emergence of a leader on defense?
Mike_Reiss:Hey Tom. Hope all is well punting the ball ...
Mike_Reiss:Samuel had some big hits, but he also gave up two touchdowns -- one on a fade route and one on a mix-up with Eugene Wilson. It's sort of hard to ask a third-year player to step up and be a leader on defense, so I'd say that's a few years away.
Dan:Q: I saw Eddie Geore just minutes ago on tv say he'd be willing to play this year. Could the Pats sign him as insurance behind Dillion?
Mike_Reiss:I always like George and I think Belichick does, too. That wouldn't surprise me. Finances might be an issue though -- the Patriots are really tight to the cap.
JohnnyDfence:Q: Do you see Rodney Harrison ever playing again ? Has he had his surgery yet ?
Mike_Reiss:Don't know if Harrison had the surgery -- his agent, Steve Feldman, declined comment when asked about that last week. Knowing Harrison's drive and passion for the game, it wouldn't surprise if he played again ... even as a linebacker.
PatsFAN_westernMA:Q: I was wondering why the pats havent gone after someone like bobby taylor or buckley?? Are our secondary guys just getting healthy or is there just nothing to work without in FA market. Also is Faulk coming back, when will pass get back, and did Lenny Wa
Mike_Reiss:Taylor has a bad knee. Buckley is close to the end of his career. There are some players in the free-agent market who could potentially help. Not sure on the returns of Faulk or Pass and Lenny Walls is still property of the Broncos and I don't think the Patriots are that interested.
Mike_Reiss:Walls will be waived when he returns to health.
lagunacat:Q: Mike, what is your opinion on Peyton with his "attack, attack attack" tactics, trying to catch the Patriots substituting? I thought it was bush league.
Mike_Reiss:The no-huddle offense? I thought that good strategy and the Patriots didn't seem to respond well to it. I didn't have a problem with it.
BostonDotCom:this next question will be the last one of the chat ...
bosfan:Q: After the game Benjamin Watson had against Miami, do you think he will become more a go to guy on the offense? I think he can be a weapon just link Crumpler and Gates.
Mike_Reiss:I like Watson, but there seems to be a rush to judgment on his greatness. His first catch was pretty easy if I recall and the second one was spectacular. He finished with 3 catches for 37 yards ...
Mike_Reiss:And now has 13 catches on the year. He's played in 10 career games. So I guess I want to see more before mentioning Watson with Crumpler or Gates ...
Mike_Reiss:Thanks to everyone for joining the chat. Have a great week and we'll look forward to doing it again.
BostonDotCom:Thanks Mike!
BostonDotCom:Stay tuned for Mike's weekly mailbag on Boston.com later this afternoon
Sponsored Links