Mike Reiss Patriots chat transcript

Thursday Jan. 24, 2008

Mike_Reiss: Greetings from Gillette Stadium. Packed house down here. Overflowing media crowd. Bill Belichick held a 10:50 a.m. press conference. He didn't comment on the health of QB Tom Brady. He joked that the injury report will be out next Wednesday and that he was excited about handing it out at that time. Belichick noted that the next three days will be used to install most of the game-plan, so the team will have most of it in by Sunday when it arrives in Phoenix. DL Richard Seymour, LB Adalius Thomas and LB Mike Vrabel were scheduled to hold press conferences after Belichick. Media had access to the locker room from 11:10-11:55 a.m. It was a mob scene, but players seemed to handle it with ease, as they most often do. Local media will have access to today's practice starting at 12:55 p.m., so we'll wrap up the chat by 12:45 p.m.

today.nascar338: what is your take on the super bowl

Mike_Reiss: We gave you pole position, nascar338, so you get the first question. I think it's a good matchup. The dynamic of the recent-rematch intrigues me. The teams met on Dec. 29 and now they'll meet just more than a month later. I think that makes it different than a lot of past Super Bowls. Right now, I don't know how someone could pick against the Patriots.

dtnew__Guest_: Do you think the Patriots will try to run the ball initially to open up passing game?

Mike_Reiss: I looked back at how they attacked the Giants in the season finale and this is what I saw: 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB- 37 of 68 plays; 2 WR/1 TE/1 FB/1 RB - 15 of 68; 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB- 7 of 68; 1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB- 7 of 68; 3 WR/1 FB/1 RB -2 of 68. While there will probably be some alterations, I think they'd like to try to attack that secondary out of the 3-wide set again, and see how the protection holds up.

guest: Mike, my wife swears she saw Brady mouth the words "it's my foot" as he approached the sideline early in the game on Sunday. Any truth to this?

Mike_Reiss: I heard Dale Arnold, on WEEI, mention that this morning. I missed it. Will go back and try to watch it again tonight.

tseug__Guest_: Mike, I always see references to "videotape" in the NFL, for instance in the film that coaches receive after games. Do they really still use videotape format? Or do they use DVD's and call it videotape?

Mike_Reiss: It's all on the computer, tseung.

CaliforniaPatsFan__Guest_: Hi Mike Great Job keeping us all informed of what's happening in Pats Nation!!! I thought the San Deigo game had an interesting twist in that we didn't use many blitzes to get after a QB that we knew was hurt and hampered with a knee injury. You take?

Mike_Reiss: I didn't necessarily pick up on that aspect of the plan, CaliforniaPatsFan, but I'm still catching up on things and have only rewatched the first half of the game at this point. In the end, I thought the key was red-zone defense. They stopped the Chargers three times inside the 10, holding them to field goals. That ability to rise up in critical situations was the difference, in my opinion.

Rammer__Guest_: Mike, Do you think the Pats were playing a Vanilla defense (in the first 3 qtrs), envisioning a possible Superbowl rematch?

Mike_Reiss: The biggest thing I noticed in the first meeting between the Patriots and Giants was the Patriots' adjustment to bring more 5-man and 6-man rushes in the second half. They weren't getting there in the first half with four rushers. As for vanilla, I did hear Tom Brady mention something on WEEI that there was a lot of cover-2 schemes later in the year, and that the expectation is that would change in the playoffs/Super Bowl. So I do think there is something to be said for more standard plans in the late regular season becoming more complex in the postseason.

Mike_In_NJ__Guest_: Are the Giants really good enough to beat the Pats? Aside from the late TD in the Decmber 29th game, the Pats dominated that half of football with a very vanilla defense. With two weeks to prepare on a team they already did a lot of work on a few weeks ago, I just don't see the Giants getting close to an upset without being absolutely perfect in all aspects of the game. For arguments sake, what is the biggest area of opportunity for the Giants to beat the Pats?

Mike_Reiss: I think the biggest area of opportunity for the Giants to beat the Patriots is through their pressure defense, hoping to force Tom Brady into the same mistakes that were made against the Chargers. Not many teams win that battle. But the Giants can really get after the passer.

dmurph09__Guest_: Mike, I feel that the Pats' game-planning adjustments going into the Super Bowl will be more effective as a result of the Giants' relative success in the the week 17 game. I think that the Giants will likely be more static and to stick to what worked. What team do you feel will benefit more from their recent meeting?

Mike_Reiss: I can see strong arguments for both sides here, dmurph09. But I'm going to lean toward the Giants, because I think that game gave them confidence that they can play with the Patriots. I also would caution anyone from thinking the Giants will likely be more static, as I thought Dan Reeves made a great point the other day about how New York made some fine adjustments in recent games.

bill__Guest_: it seems like our TE pass production has dropped in the second half of the season. is that a reflection of injury, better options, or a change of offensive philosophy?

Mike_Reiss: I think it's more a reflection of injuries, bill. The Patriots called on their 1 WR/3 TE/1 RB package last Sunday for the first time since the sixth week of the season. I don't think it's because they didn't want to use it, but because they often didn't have three tight ends on the roster due to injuries to Kyle Brady (foot) and Benjamin Watson (ankle).

fourafteronemore__Guest_: do you think the giants sam madison and friends will be able to contain randy moss like the jags and chargers DB's did or will he open them up like he did a few weeks ago?

Mike_Reiss: I saw the Jags and Chargers play two different approaches against Moss. The Jaguars had CB Brian Williams cover him, while always having safety help over the top. They geared their plan around it. The Chargers were more willing to match up their corners with Moss and play the matchup more straight up. I don't think the Giants have the personnel to do what the Chargers did, on a consistent basis, without getting hurt by it.

mmiller220__Guest_: Will the Chargers be penalized for basically cheating, Philip Rivers had Surgery - was listed as doubtful and played the entire game, while LT was not even on the injury report when he should have been atleast doubtful if not Inactive? What do you think?

Mike_Reiss: They will not be penalized by the league. The purpose of the injury report is to disclose injuries, and the NFL feels that everyone knew Tomlinson was hurt. I think what you might see from this is that the desigations of "doubtful", "questionable" and "probable" will eventually be dropped. I think teams are OK with disclosing injuries, but it gets shaky when you're asking them to handicap if a player is going to suit up... I am glad you brought it up, mmiller220, because if the Patriots did that, I think there would be a huge outcry about how the team bends the injury report rules. This is an example of how other teams manipulate the report as well.

troy_brown__Guest_: will i play

Mike_Reiss: I'm going to say yes.

legally_speaking__Guest_: Since this is the week before the Super Bowl and most papers and on line publications are producing inane stories for review I thought that I would throw this somewhat off-beat question out there: besides Jimmy Johnson and Romeo Crennel, does Coach B have many friends in the NFL head coaching ranks ? I thought that I heard Shanahan was a pal...any others?

Mike_Reiss: Absolutely. He just prefers those to stay private. Without going into a long list, I think Andy Reid is one coach that you could add to your group there.

mcfierce24__Guest_: Will the Pat's send-off be inside the stadium? The others have taken place in the parking lot.

Mike_Reiss: The entire team, as well as head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, will greet fans from the Gillette Stadium field just before boarding buses to the airport.

Pete__Guest_: I've heard some rumblings that maybe the whole Brady foot injury is a way of diverting attention from Randy Moss and the "finger" situation... any merit to this at all?

Mike_Reiss: I'd find that hard to believe.

Big_Ed__Guest_: Mike, I am quite disappointed in the backup linebackers we have. It seem the best place for Adalius Thomas to be is in the middle and then Bruschi and Seau can rotate and stay fresh. Are the Pats done on Alexander and Woods? If they had any talent, they would be playing outside and free up Thomas to be in the middle.

Mike_Reiss: Fair point, Big-Ed. I think Woods still has a chance -- it's only his second year -- while I'd say Alexander might be falling into the special-teams-only category.

J__Guest_: Eugene Wilson - What's his role these days? Will he be active in the SB? Will he be back next year?

Mike_Reiss: If Troy Brown is active, it might come at the expense of Wilson. Wilson played on special teams against the Chargers. It looks to me like he's the seventh defensive back right now, so he's not even playing in the nickel or dime packages. I think he'll move on after the year and look for a fresh start.

Tommy_C__Guest_: How will having Kaczur, Neal, K. Brady, and Watson change what the Patriots do this time around against the G-men?

Mike_Reiss: Glad you mentioned it, Tommy_C. I think it's an important point that Kaczur (right tackle), Neal (right guard), and Kyle Brady (tight end) did not play in the season finale. Watson (tight end) did play. I think it strengthens the Patriots chances. The Giants really brought the pressure in that game and I thought the offensive line hung in there, and ultimately wore them down.

mmiller220__Guest_: Who will be the X-Factor on the Defense?

Mike_Reiss: Tough to pick one player. I always like to start with the line, which is where I think games are won. But if forced to pick one player, I'll go with Vrabel. They want to hurry Manning and Vrabel is the top pass rusher.

Foxboro_Native__Guest_: Hi Mike. You guys are fantastic. Really keep a guy in San Francisco in the loop. My question is whether you think Seau, Bruschi and Vrabel's improvement in the past 2 games has been a result of defensive schemes or just them being downright hungry in the playoffs.

Mike_Reiss: It's really both, Foxboro_Native. Seau credited a defensive call for allowing him to make that third-and-1 stop that was so key in the Chargers game. But when you look at Bruschi and his impressive pass breakup on Antonio Gates, that was all him -- making an athletic, instinctive play.

senator__Guest_: mike Eli has been on a roll lately, but it doesn't seem that anyone is pressuring him, i think the key for the pats is to get him out of the pocket, hopefully making him move to his left, as he has shown the ability to throw accurately rolling to his right, what do you think ?

Mike_Reiss: That is exactly what Otis Smith, the former Patriots DB now serving as a coaching assistant with the Eagles, felt was the key. Since he was in on the game-planning when the Eagles faced the Giants, I'll go along with those thoughts.

Eagle1__Guest_: mind as well give us an up to the minute report on THE ANKLE

Mike_Reiss: Heading out to practice at 12:45 p.m. and will report on Brady at that time, Eagle1. We didn't see him in the locker room today.

Steve__Guest_: Hi Mike - How do you think the Patriots will contain Burress, that guy is a beast.

Mike_Reiss: He's a tough matchup, especially close to the goal-line. I think it starts up front, trying to get pressure on Manning to disrupt the timing of the chemistry between QB and WR. In terms of coverage, they'll probably need to roll a safety over the top to provide help.

LadyBradyFan: It seems like people were wanting the Pats to go 18-0. Now they have and are going to SB but all I keep reading and hearing this week is people are picking the Giants. Why?

Mike_Reiss: I haven't seen too many predictions of people picking the Giants, LadyBradyFan. What am I missing?

Tommy_C__Guest_: How will the Patriots defend Eli Manning differently this time? He played very well the last game against NE.

Mike_Reiss: I think they'll see what type of pressure they can get with the standard four rushers, but will be quicker to turn to pressure than they were in the last meeting.

bean__Guest_: mike, what's your take on brady's injury? is this hype or what?

Mike_Reiss: Won't be a factor in the game.Mike_Reiss: I do think it's a newsworthy topic, bean_guest, but I think he'll play and will be effective.

Tommy_C__Guest_: The Patriots run defense has been outstanding in the playoffs. How do you see it matching up against Jacobs and Bradshaw? 2 very good backs.

Mike_Reiss: I think that matchup will be competitive, and will come down to tackling. Jacobs is so big that he bounces off, and runs through, a lot of tackles. I'd give the slight edge to the Patriots right now.

chatsay__Guest_: Have the Pats jam receivers on the line of scrimmage this year? (I haven't seen it) Will they use it against the Giants?

Mike_Reiss: Very little. I'm not privy to their defensive plan, but if they need to bring Rodney Harrison down to support the run, I would think they won't jam, because there will be less support behind them. And I expect them to have Harrison in a support role early.

Shino__Guest_: Do you have any thoughts about replacing some of our linebackers next year? Shouldn't BB be aggressive in recruiting some defensive players like he did last year?

Mike_Reiss: Not too many thoughts, Shino, but the name Clark Haggans caught my eye. He plays with the Steelers. Outside linebacker. Nine-year veteran, I believe. Thought he might be a possible target.

jaguarhead__Guest_: Who starts Gaffney or Stallworth?

Mike_Reiss: Gaffney. That's been the way it's gone in recent weeks, so I'll go that route.

dan__Guest_: Has matt Light commented on Umenyiora's accusations of his dirty play

Mike_Reiss: I didn't see Light in the locker room today. He might have commented and I could have missed it. Don't think it's being treated as a big deal.

tfindian__Guest_: Is the stadium in Arizona a dome? Even if it's not, the Partriots should have a greater advantage in warmer weather because of their speed, right?

Mike_Reiss: The stadium is a dome, with a retractable roof, tfindian.

Mike_Reiss: Sorry to cut it short, but will answer a few more before heading out to practice...

kayakrguy__Guest_: Mike, Brady seemed in a funk in the Chargers game....ditto for #81---just ran to locker room at end--your take on that going forward?

Mike_Reiss: I don't think it will be an issue, kayakrguy. Saw Moss in the locker room today and he was giddy.

jaguarhead__Guest_: So, will Stallworth be back next year? $6 million is due him right?

Mike_Reiss: If he comes back, my feeling is that it will be as part of a different contract than the one he signed to come here. I'd lean in the direction that he'll be elsewhere next year.

Phil_from_Brighton__Guest_: You wrote earlier that Jacksonville and San Diego played Randy Moss in two distinct ways. Yet, he was pretty ineffective for both matchups. Does the credit go to both defenses for good execution?

Mike_Reiss: As Bill Belichick has said, a defense can pretty much take away any player it wants, but the question is the other areas in which it becomes vulnerable. I'd put the Jaguars in the category of zeroing in on Moss and leaving themselves vulnerable on short routes (Welker, Faulk). The Chargers played it more straight up, so I'd say the credit there needs to go to the Chargers for winning the one-on-one matchup.

Spock__Guest_: What key matchups will Brady and the offense look to exploit against the Giants?

Mike_Reiss: I'd say it would be the receivers testing the secondary down the field, as long as the protection against pressure holds up.

Carlos85409__Guest_: Take your binoculas with you so you can see what the "ankle" looks like.

Mike_Reiss: You got it, Carlos85409. I'm going to head on my way now.

Mike_Reiss: Thanks to everyone for chatting. We'll have plenty more on Boston.com and in the Boston Globe in the days leading up to kickoff. Enjoy the day.