Super Bowl? What Super Bowl?
The NFL's showcase is in Tampa, but mailbaggers still focused almost solely on the Patriots
FROM BOSTON TO TAMPA -- It has been four weeks since the Patriots' 2008 season ended on that wind-whipped day in Buffalo, but the intensity of interest doesn't seem to be subsiding among the team's fan base.
With three hours to spare on a Monday morning flight from chilly Boston to steamy Tampa, I opened my laptop wondering what type of questions would fill this week's Patriots mailbag.
The depth and volume shouldn't have surprised me.
While the Super Bowl participant Steelers and Cardinals are taking center stage in the NFL this week, there is no doubt in my mind what football-minded fans who visit Boston.com want to talk about: It's the Patriots.
This week's mailbag has a little bit of everything -- including coaching staff changes, potential draft choices, draft philosophy, and possible free-agent targets.
On a personal note, I thought it was neat to see the other mailbags on Boston.com over the last week. It's nice to have such solid first cousins as Ask Amalie (baseball, Red Sox) and Ask Fluto (hockey, Bruins).
On to the questions ...
Hey Mike, the big question going into the offseason now looks like how the Patriots are going to fill the coaching holes on offense and special teams. What's the word? Does Belichick have a secret pipeline of internal candidates? We don't hear anything about interviews with external candidates. So where's the help going to come from?
A: Here is what we know at this point: The Denver Post reported that former Broncos special teams coach Scott O'Brien has joined the Patriots, presumably as special teams coach. The Globe Christopher L. Gasper reported that receivers coach Bill O'Brien is moving to quarterbacks coach. With these moves in mind, the Patriots would still have the positions of offensive coordinator, receivers coach, tight ends coach and defensive backs coach unfilled. Three of the team's coaching assistants from 2008 -- Josh Boyer, Brian Flores and Shane Waldron -- are likely being considered for a few of those roles (not offensive coordinator). Perhaps there's an external candidate or two out there, but I'm not anticipating any big names at this point.
Mike, why are so many Patriots coaches leaving this offseason? Are they just looking to advance their careers and don't think they can do so by staying with the team? Do they see the team in decline? Have Bill Belichick and the Krafts alienated a lot of them? Also, do you think Matt Cassel is really going to remain Tom Brady's backup or will the team trade him for draft picks? I can't see him staying for more than a year as QB2 and predict that he'll be traded before summer camp.
Max, Washington, DC
A: On the coaches, I think it's a combination of factors, Max. With someone like Josh McDaniels, I think it's clear his move to become Broncos head coach is about career advancement. It sounds to me like tight ends coach Pete Mangurian's move to become Buccaneers' offensive line coach is similar. My hunch is that Mangurian saw the way things were headed -- he wasn't a clear-cut choice to become offensive coordinator -- and made the move to join Raheem Morris's staff. When Mangurian was head coach at Cornell, Morris was on his staff, so the two have a past connection that is surely part of the move as well. On special teams coach Brad Seely, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that finances were also a factor in his departure, the Patriots making him an offer that didn't match up with the offer in Cleveland. Career advancement seems to be part of it, too, as he received an upgraded title of assistant head coach. Finally, with Dom Capers, my take on that one is that he was eyeing a coordinator position. I don't think it was a situation where Bill Belichick and Capers didn't get along. I'd add that I do think they have contrasting philosophies and Capers was probably seeking a spot where he could implement more of his philosophy. On the final part of the question, regarding Matt Cassel, my prediction is that he will be traded, but that is just a hunch and a lot of things still have to fall into place.
Mike, has there been any confirmation from the Pats that Scott O'Brien was in fact hired as special teams coach? I realize the Pats usually don't make big announcements, but I've checked the coaches listed on the Patriots website and it has been updated each time after McDaniels, Seely, and Capers left, but O'Brien has not been added as special teams coach. Just wondering if it actually happened.
Adam, Burlington, Ontario
A: There has been no official announcement at this time, Adam, but it is my understanding that O'Brien has already taken part in some meetings with the Patriots. It might just be a matter of dotting I's and crossing T's, and waiting for the rest of the staff to come together to solidify roles.
Is it about time to bring Troy Brown into the coaching ranks? It seems to me he could be a very capable receivers coach.
Peter, Rossville, Ga.
A: Peter, I'm not sure if Troy Brown's feelings have changed on this, but as recently as this past summer he wasn't interested in the grind of coaching. These NFL coaches sacrifice a lot for their jobs (e.g. family time) because they regularly work 16-20 hour days during the season. I remember asking Troy about that last summer and he wasn't interested.
Considering the loss of Scott Pioli and the name Nick Caserio being thrown around, why hasn't the relatively unknown but somewhat unsung hero of Patriots scouting Ernie Adams been offered Pioli's job?
Calvin, Winnipeg, Manitoba
A: Calvin, it seems to me that Adams generally likes to stay in the background, and thus the job might not be the right fit for him. I do think it's smart to mention his presence, as he seems to be a key person behind the scenes.
Hi Mike, one of the things people have tossed around the past couple of seasons is the idea that cutting Richard Seymour would create significant cap space because he has a significant cap cost. Even in your statement on the offseason, you mention that his cap cost is over $9 million. The problem I'm having with that is when it comes to releasing Seymour, about two-thirds of that cap is sunken and would cost against the cap if he's on the Pats or not. According to Patscap.com, releasing Seymour would only create $3,371,720 in cap room (cap room that 12 players on the team exceed with their cap numbers). That kind of distinction really needs to be made for people to have the proper understanding of what cutting Seymour from a financial point of view would mean for this team. Can the Pats get a better contributor than Seymour for $3,371,720? That's the question when it comes to releasing him.
A: Well said, Nate. That's taking things to the next level. Patscap.com, which has been referenced here before, is a nice resource for fans looking for a greater understanding of the salary cap. It is maintained by a knowledgeable Patriots fan and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the financial side of the team. The other point that I'll make with Seymour comes on the heels of a piece I wrote with former Patriots special assistant/secondary coach Dom Capers in Sunday's Boston Globe. I respect Capers' history in the game and his knowledge of defense. One aspect that he mentioned was his feelings that the strength of the Patriots' defense is at the line of scrimmage. It was a good reminder to me that while starting linemen Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren don't necessarily produce catch-your-eye type of stats all the time, their ability to carry out what coaches are asking them to do is the foundation on which the defense is built.
Hey Mike, my question is regarding the collective bargaining agreement. In 2009, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons. In the uncapped year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons. Does this mean that instead of Logan Mankins becoming unrestricted following the '09 season, he would not be so until after 2010? Ditto Stephen Gostkowski and Ellis Hobbs. In the uncapped year (2010), teams can also designate an additional franchise or transition player, as opposed to the one they can designate in 2009. Does this mean that the Patriots can use the franchise tag to help retain both Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour? If this were true, it would certainly help the Patriots, with so many top players possibly headed to the market.
James, London, England
A: The answer is "yes" across the board here, James. The uncertainty as to what type of market the teams will be operating is a major reason I think this upcoming free-agent market will be quieter than normal.
With mock drafts starting to make the rounds, it looks like Detroit and KC will pick up QBs in the 1st round. Wouldn't it be smarter for one of these teams to trade for Matt Cassel in exchange for a 2010 second-round pick and a conditional pick (we know the Pats love stockpiling)? Considering these teams could pick up a top 5 offensive tackle instead and pay a QB who is already in the league the same money as one of the 2 untested prospects (Mark Sanchez and Matthew Stafford). Also when trading picks in the NBA, they can be lottery or top 10 protected. Is that something NFL teams can do (i.e. -- we trade for the Lions 2010 2nd round pick -- top 10 protected and if not automatically get their 2011 2nd rounder). We all know the Pats never use all their picks, and after the Fins turnaround -- aren't teams saying, "why not us".
Adam, Orlando, Fla.
A: A lot of interesting things here to digest, Adam. One of my first thoughts is to be careful in making any definitive judgments about what teams will do based on mock drafts. But in terms of Detroit and Kansas City, I remember an interesting discussion with a general manager about the concept of "positional value." This is something that some teams keep in mind when stacking their draft board, the idea that certain positions carry more value -- and naturally, quarterback tops the list. The problem is that there seem to be as many quarterback misses at the top of the draft as there are hits. With this in mind, I think teams like Detroit and Kansas City will naturally ask themselves the following questions: 1) How does Cassel compare to Sanchez and Stafford?; 2) Can we afford to pay both Cassel AND a top-5 pick? Moving on to other parts of the question, yes, I believe picks can be protected if they are conditional in nature. Finally, I like the mention of the Dolphins in regard to the decision between taking a quarterback at the top of the draft or an offensive tackle. The Dolphins took the safe route last year, going with left tackle Jake Long over quarterback Matt Ryan. For one season, it looked like the right decision. But my question over the long term is: "Given what we know now, would they have been better off with Ryan?" That's a lively debate and I see merits to both sides.
Mike, Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith is the Patriots' selection in many mock drafts so far that I've seen. I'm concerned about his height, especially with Ellis Hobbs already on the roster. Is there room for both on the roster at 5-foot-9? Also, did Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite show enough at the end of the year to be counted more reliably next year? Wouldn't it make more sense to grab James Laurinaitis (who many think may still be available for the Pats) or Brian Cushing (who reportedly looked great at the Senior Bowl workouts and was the best at dropping into coverage)?
Joel, Portland, Maine
A: Ideally, Joel, I think Belichick would prefer a big, sturdy, physical corner that has the fluid movements of a 5-foot-9 corner. The problem is that those players are rare. Just because a player is 5-9 doesn't mean he can't play big. One example is Darrell Green, who is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. So while I think height is important, it's not always a deal-breaker. In terms of the specifics of Smith, Laurinaitis and Cushing, this is where I usually make a disclaimer that I don't know enough about these prospects to answer definitely. I say that because I just don't want to feed you a bunch of uninformed chatter. What I can say is that I am in the process of trying to get up to speed on these players, and I do that by trying to watch them on the field (e.g. Senior Bowl), reading about them and listening to knowledgeable people like Mike Mayock of the NFL Network. So for now, I'll keep it to more generalities (e.g. I'm not sure Laurinaitis is a good fit for 3-4 teams that play the Patriots' style). In terms of Wheatley and Wilhite, I think they showed enough to believe they'll contribute next season, but I still believe the Patriots need to keep adding to the position. I'd put linebacker and defensive line in the same category. Overall, I think the Patriots need to think defense, defense, defense in this draft.
It seems many Patriots fans consider the linebacker positions a critical need, even after the performances of Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton this past season. One line of thought is the rapid decline of Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel along with Adalius Thomas's apparent propensity for injuring himself have left the franchise in a tough spot. Most fans are looking for a big-time, pass-rushing LB in the coming draft. My question is, with the addition over the past year of six rookie linebackers, is there any hope the solutions to these apparent problems might already be in the pipeline? We know Mayo and Guyton can play but what does the front office think about the futures of Shawn Crable, Vince Redd and Darrell Robertson? Those are three huge, fast players -- the kind coach Belichick seems to prefer.
A: Tom, I think the need at linebacker is more on the inside. Mayo is obviously a stud, and while rookie Gary Guyton showed promise, the question now is: "Can he do it consistently?" We know Tedy Bruschi is closer to the end of his career than the start. On Crable, Redd and Robertson, I think the jury is still out, and thus, if the opportunity is there to land a stud pass-rushing outside linebacker, I believe the Patriots would take the plunge.
I find people's lack of faith disturbing! Have they forgotten "The Patriot Way" ... get our own guys, train them up, play to win. Our D is really good as is -- to get back to elite status we need to build through the draft, not with overpaid free agents. With that said, Pioli knows who we value thus far in the draft. Do you see the Chiefs beating us to some picks? I know this sounds crazy, but do you see the Pats drafting a QB, assuming Cassel will be traded near-term?
Aroon, Orlando, Fla.
A: I'd disagree with one part of the question, Aroon. I personally don't think the "D is really good as is." They ranked 26th on third down and 31st in the red zone, and I'd think those are troubling statistics to any coach. I expect some changes because I can't imagine that sits well with Bill Belichick. Where I do agree with you is the approach in fixing it -- I think they'll shy away from high-priced free agents and look to the draft, trades and moderate free-agent options. On the Chiefs, I believe they will be targeting a similar player to the Patriots, so yes, I could envision them beating the Patriots to the punch in some cases. Even though the Patriots drafted Kevin O'Connell in the third round last year, I'd endorse the drafting of another QB because my feeling is that QB development is smart NFL business.
Some writers have opined that Bill Belichick is satisfied with average to below average cornerbacks, as he now has with the likes of Ellis Hobbs, Lewis Sanders and Deltha O'Neal, rookies Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley. And seeing how he quickly he allowed Ty Law and Asante Samuel to go elsewhere after they showed the superior talent that he does not want to pay for, the present group is acceptable. His theory, I suspect, is he will spend the extra on linebackers and d-linemen to exert the needed QB pressure to neutralize the opposing team's passing game. That may have worked for a while, but is now catching up to team, and Bill Belichick. Penny wise and pound foolish. Your thoughts?
A: John, I think it's been noted here in the past that I feel the Patriots made a mistake with Asante Samuel, mainly that they could have locked him up to an extension in 2006 before his price rose to astronomical levels. Knowing what they know now, I believe the Patriots would have done that. So I don't buy the idea that Bill Belichick is content to play with average to below-average cornerbacks. I don't think this is a situation where he simply said "Oh, just another corner, we can get by, just let him go." I think he factors in a mix of talent, economics and other roster considerations when coming to those decisions. I would acknowledge that he probably views defensive linemen as higher on a "positional value" chart, so if it came down to a choice between a dominating lineman or a shutdown corner, my hunch is that he'd take the lineman. But I think we saw this year how not having consistent, solid cornerback play hurt the Patriots. I don't think Belichick is blind to that.
Hey Mike, what's your assessment of James Sanders? His contract is up and the Patriots have a decision to make on him. We all know pass defense hasn't exactly been a strength the past couple seasons, but I don't know how much blame falls on Sanders for that. Usually it's Hobbs or O'Neal. He makes an occasional interception, but is usually invisible (which can sometimes be a good thing). Are the Patriots going to lock him up long term or look at a free agent like the Rams' Oshiomogho Atogwe? Clearly Sanders isn't exactly the second coming of Ed Reed, but is he solid enough to get an extension?
A: Mike, I think Sanders is a great locker-room guy and an effective starter who aids the overall communication on the back end of the defense. On the downside, I think he sometimes takes bad angles while attempting to make tackles, which has hurt the Patriots at times. He's also not a speed burner. I don't envision him as the type of player that the Patriots will extend themselves financially to retain. So if the numbers are reasonable from a team perspective, I think they'd be glad to have him back. Time will tell if the sides are on the same page with that. On Atogwe, as we saw at Gillette Stadium this past season, he is a ballhawk. I don't envision the Patriots getting into a bidding war for him.
Mike, do you think LaMont Jordan will be back next year? When he was healthy this year, I thought he was productive. Will the Patriots keep five RBs next year or try and stay with four?
Bobby, Orlando, Fla.
A: Bobby, I'd put him in the same category as safety James Sanders. I think the Patriots would welcome him back, but my hunch is that they won't extend themselves financially to make it happen.
Mike, it was obvious that the TE corps in New England has not been meeting the standard of play that the unit used to achieve during previous stints of the Bill Belichick era. Given the situation in KC last season regarding Tony Gonzalez wanting out via a trade, what are the chances if he still is looking for the door that new Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli reaches out to Bill and Co.?
Chris, Westfield, Ind.
A: I agree that the Patriots need to address the tight end position, Chris, but I don't see Gonzalez as the answer for a few reasons. First, I don't believe Pioli will trade one of the few assets he has on the roster. The Chiefs did that last season with Jared Allen, and while they received a first-round draft choice as part of that deal, I thought it was a poor decision. Pioli knows he has a young team, and he'll need veteran leadership, so I can't imagine he'd trade Gonzalez unless he's getting a first-round pick and I don't see the Patriots paying that price. From the Patriots' perspective, tight ends Benjamin Watson and David Thomas both have contracts that expire after the 2009 season. With that in mind, I think what they need is a younger tight end that will be under contract through 2012, which will help their longer-term forecast.
What are the chances that this offseason we see the Pats make a play for someone like Ray Lewis? I see linebacker as a big concern for the Pats D along with the secondary, and believe that Lewis alongside Mayo, Thomas, and Vrabel would settle any linebacking concerns.
A: A few questions on Ray Lewis came into the mailbag over the last few weeks, but I don't see the fit, from both an economic and long-term perspective. Lewis is going to command some significant dough, and my feeling is that any investment the Patriots make should go to nose tackle Vince Wilfork first. I'd also hesitate to offer a lucrative contract to a 33-year-old linebacker. I'd think the Patriots would want a younger option.
Hi Mike, I know this player has been discussed in your column before, but do you think the Patriots might inquire about Lito Sheppard again? In Sunday's Boston Globe football notes, I noticed the blurb that said he was 4th on the Eagles depth chart ... is that a skills erosion or result of being in the dog house/being unmotivated? Could we be looking at a potential "Randy Moss" type steal here?
Mike, Greenwich, Conn.
A: Good thought, Mike. If I'm the Patriots, I'd inquire about Sheppard. I think he can still play and got caught in a numbers crunch this year. I think that numbers crunch probably affected his approach/motivation, which might raise a flag or two. But overall, if Sheppard is available for a mid-round draft choice and he's willing to honor his existing contract, I think that's a deal worth making.
Jason Taylor had a disappointing year for the Redskins in 2008. One year removed from being NFL Defensive Player of the Year, that cannot be how he wants to be remembered. One year of help for the Patriots while younger players develop?
Pete, London, England
A: Pete, if the Redskins cut Taylor, my answer would be absolutely, assuming the contract numbers would work on a one-year type of deal. Taylor might be in a position where he's willing to play for a team-friendly type of contract to be in a winning situation. He's spoken admirably of the Patriots and Bill Belichick in the past. I know Taylor battled through some injuries this season and didn't perform up to his own expectations, but I think he can still play. I think he'd be a fantastic addition.
Hi Mike. Let's say Brady's rehab goes well and he's ready for the beginning of camp and the Pats do franchise Cassel. Also, they sign DeAngelo Hall to solidify that aging defense with a much needed very good veteran DB and/or maybe one pass rusher via trade. What should they look for in a trade for Cassel? Benjarvus Green-Ellis looks to be a promising star, so should they also trade away Laurence Maroney since he doesn't ever seem to be healthy? There are some very good pieces available this year and time is running out.
Christian, San German, Puerto Rico
A: Christian, the Patriots aggressively courted Hall in the regular season when he was cut by the Raiders, so one might assume that interest might carry into this offseason when Hall is a free agent (assuming it's not a blockbuster-type contract). In terms of a Cassel trade, I think the Patriots will be looking for a first-round draft choice. Will they get it? I'm not convinced. In past mailbags, we've also discussed the possibility of a player-for-player trade with Cassel, with someone like Lions linebacker Ernie Sims a possible target. On Maroney, I'm of the thinking that I'd give him another shot to emerge in 2009. I don't think he'd net enough in a trade to warrant making that move.
Mike, you have mentioned several times in your weekly mailbag that Cassel's trade value should be two second-rounders, and that the market was set by the Matt Schaub trade from Atlanta to Houston. Mike, Matt Schaub started one game the year before he was traded to Houston. Cassel will garner a 1st round and a 3rd round pick. Why would anyone take a chance on Mark Sanchez, Matt Stafford, etc. if you have a proven NFL asset available for trade? Schaub is not the correct comparison. San Fran at 10 would be a great trade.
A: It's a fair point, Tim, and in the end you may be correct. But I'm going to stick with my original thought. I'm just not convinced that when I peruse the possibilities that a team would give up a first-round pick for Cassel, and my opinion is based on a few factors (e.g. economic, other roster conditions). In this case, you're not just trading the pick to acquire Cassel but you also have to pay the big contract. When I think of San Francisco, for example, I put myself in the shoes of personnel chief Scot McCloughan and say "We have Shaun Hill and need to rebuild other areas of the roster, so is it worth giving up the 10th pick and paying a big bucks contract for Cassel?" I think McCloughan would answer "no" in that scenario. He might also have some cold feet from his failed free-agent signing of Tully Banta-Cain, which was a reminder that how a player performs in the Patriots' system doesn't always translate to another team's system. Of course, it only takes one team to take the plunge, so predicting this type of stuff is tricky. If we're talking about a 2010 conditional draft choice that could turn into a first-round draft choice, then I'd be more inclined to go along with that.
What is the realistic return for Tom Brady? There are rumors of him not returning at all in 2009/2010, and that Matt Cassel is the future.
Artie, Wellington, Fla.
A: I wish I had the answer for you, Artie. I don't think it's a stretch to say that it's the No. 1 question on the minds of Patriots fans and the writers covering the team. Until Brady himself says something definitive -- or Robert Kraft or Bill Belichick provides details -- I think there will remain questions as to Brady's progress.
Mike, I've wondered about something ever since Scott Pioli went to the Chiefs. Pioli is probably one of the few people in the world who know the truth about one of the greatest mysteries ever -- the status of Tom Brady. I assume that besides Brady's doctors, Kraft, Belichick and Pioli were the three people who had to know everything about what happened and how he's progressing. Is Pioli required to maintain any form of confidentiality about this coveted piece of information? The Patriots have clearly decided that keeping this information private is an edge for them in their business; if Pioli tells anybody in Kansas City it would most likely become common knowledge pretty quickly.
A: Steve, I'm not convinced that Pioli himself has that information. Pioli also mentioned something at his introductory press conference that caught my attention. Speaking of the Patriots in the context of possibly hiring people away from the organization, he said something to the extent of: "You don't hurt people that you care for." While there are obviously considerations of competitiveness that must be kept in mind, I think he generally meant what he said. So I don't see this as a huge issue. Another question to this week's mailbag concerned what Pioli might do with the Patriots' information on college prospects. My feeling is that this is similar to an assistant coach and a football playbook -- and how playbooks usually follow a coach to his new team (it's why assistants are often locked out of the office as they're close to landing new jobs). I think the scouting information follows Pioli to Kansas City.
What do you think of the possibility, given the Patriots' history, that they keep Matt Cassel and trade Tom Brady even if Brady is healthy? We would definitely get a few more years out of Cassel and his scrambling ability is awesome. Along with those upsides, the trade value for Brady, one would imagine, would be ridiculous.
Wesley, Columbus, Ohio
A: While anything is technically a possibility, Wesley, I'm almost certain that the Patriots are not giving this scenario any consideration. The only way I could see it changing is if Brady himself requested it, and I don't see that scenario unfolding. This question has come up a few times in recent months, and my answer remains the same: Brady is in an elite class when it comes to quarterbacks, and I believe it's a mistake to think that the Patriots could maintain their remarkable level of playoff success without him, regardless of the haul the Patriots might receive in a trade.
Hi Mike, Just wondering on your thoughts as to whether Matt Cassel is getting fair consideration for Pro Bowl status? Kerry Collins has an 80.0 passer rating, 12 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 2,676 yards and 13 wins. Brett Favre has an 81.0 rating, 22 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, and 3,472 yards and 9 wins. Cassel's stats were 89.4 rating, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 3,693 yards and 11 wins. I hate to sound like a homer, but Cassel deserved it over both of them.
A: Tom, I don't think the stats tell the complete story here (I generally think passer rating is a deceptive stat), and I do believe Kerry Collins deserved the Pro Bowl nod. Brett Favre, not so much. So I would agree that Cassel should have been in over Favre.
Mike I have asked this question a few times and no one has answered it yet. Why is it that the Pats have to go to Indy again this year, it makes it three years in the row.
A: Rocky, that's just the way the rotating schedule worked out. Patriots fans might recall that the Colts actually visited the Patriots three years in a row from 2004-2006. In some cases, the matchup has been locked in and pre-determined through the rotating scheduling formula. In other cases, the matchup is because the AFC East team that finished in first place was scheduled to visit the AFC South team that finished in first place, or vice versa. The consistent success of both teams has contributed to them meeting so many times.
Anything about a fine for spearing on Ryan Clark of Pittsburgh for the hit on Willis McGahee? I know spearing when I see it and this guy clearly led with his helmet into the runner's head. This is the same player that decked Wes Welker after the ball had been overthrown in the Pittsburgh game. This guy should have been flagged, maybe ejected, and certainly fined over this hit.
A: Mike, the league is not fining Clark for the hit. They deemed it legal. Here is a blog entry on the subject from last week.
Mike, with the unveiling of the Patriots' 50th season logo, does that mean we will be seeing more of their red jersey, white pants home uniforms that they so proudly wore before the new logo?
A: Yes, Joe, we will be seeing the old throwback uniforms in 2009. I believe the Patriots will be wearing them in two games.