Looking out for No. 2
New Boston Globe Patriots writer Mike Reiss check in every Wednesday with his take on the Pats. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
As an unabashed Doug Flutie hater (I think he's one of the most overrated athletes in sports), do you think some fans will be calling for Flutie to come in every time Brady throws a pick? Do you see him as a distraction and more importantly, do you think he should be No. 2 over Matt Cassel?
Aaron Gouveia, Bourne, MA
A: I think the fans are smart enough to realize that Tom Brady is the teams quarterback and that Doug Flutie is here as an insurance policy. Flutie is the better choice for the No. 2 job right now because Cassel still has a lot to learn at this level. When the 49ers decide not to start the top overall player in the draft, quarterback Alex Smith, its one indication of how big a jump it is from college to the NFL.
Do you think there is any chance that Doug Flutie will join the coaching staff when his playing days are over?
Rob Dwane, Swanzey, NH
A: Here is Fluties answer from the locker room on Tuesday: Ive seen the job and I dont want it. I know the hours involved, and when Im done playing I want to relax and enjoy myself. Will I coach? I might help out at the high school level somewhere and have fun with kids. I dont know that I want to be in the office 16 hours a day (like an NFL coach). I know I would enjoy parts of it, but I think would enjoy being around the kids more.
It seems like quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels is making the play calls. I know he's young, but is there some reason the Pats wouldn't just name him offensive coordinator? Do you think this season might be a long interview/training period for him? Who gets the job if Bill doesn't like what he sees?
Mike Shea, Washington, DC
A: The Patriots probably didnt name him offensive coordinator because with that title comes a burden of expectations at an early point in his career. Im guessing the way Patriots view it is that the media will be firing shots at him every time a play is botched, so by not declaring a true coordinator, those shots are all aimed at Bill Belichick. Receivers coach Brian Daboll or tight ends coach Pete Mangurian would be other choices for the coordinator spot.
If you had one game to win and you could choose either Brett Favre (in his prime) or Tom Brady as your quarterback, who would you choose?
John A, Boston
A: These questions are always fun to answer, John. Ill take Brady. Mentally, I think hes on another level.
Here's an idea: With so much depth in the defensive backfield and so many questions at linebacker, why don't the Pats move Rodney Harrison to linebacker?
Dan Riley, Vista, CA
A: Rodney was asked about this in the locker room on Tuesday and here is his response: In my position, the way I play, I consider myself a defensive back, safety, as well as a linebacker at times. In certain defenses we play, I am a linebacker. I look at it like Im a linebacker who can run. You never know. I dont have the size (to play linebacker at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds), but one day if I ever decided to play it, I think I am capable of playing it. Id probably have to put on 20 pounds.
My question is about Richard Seymour's contract. Did the Pats wave the last year of his rookie deal when they gave him a raise this summer?
A: They didnt tear up the last year of the contract, JB. In this past Sundays Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo reported on Richard Seymours contract. Here is the link (its toward the bottom):
The league seems to have rewarded teams who have built new stadiums by allowing them to host the Super Bowl (see Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit, Washington). Some past and future locations seem a bit impractical. Our owners did the right thing: the Krafts built a beautiful facility with minimal burden on taxpayers. Question: Why didn't Bob Kraft push to host the big game? The logistical problems can't be much worse than Jacksonville or Detroit. Besides, where is it written that football's greatest game shouldn't be played in "football weather"?
Neal Baker, Santa Fe, NM
A: The NFL has been reluctant to host the Super Bowl in the Northeast because of weather concerns. If it comes to this part of the country, the first stop would probably be New York. I just dont see the Super Bowl coming to New England.
What are the chances of the Pats keeping Jason Anderson? Is he practice squad material at this point? He has shown some raw skill and has good size - something in which the Pats always seem interested.
Dave St. Jean, Athol
A: Jason was cut by the team on Tuesday, but still has a shot at landing on the practice squad.
Since Rosevelt Colvin is finally healthy again, what are the chances he'll see significant time at MLB rather than OLB?
Brian Chamberlain, Natick, MA
A: Rosevelt is solely an outside linebacker. While the Patriots always look for position flexibility from their players, they havent tried Colvin in the middle, and I dont believe they have plans to at this time. Middle linebackers generally need to be run stuffers - able to shed blocks and make tackles -- and Colvins strength is more in his ability to rush the passer.
Cutting the Pats roster from 80 to 65 players seems relatively painless; going from 63 to 53 appears almost impossible without releasing some quality players. Do you anticipate any well-known veterans to be cut (WR, OL, etc)? How about draft picks from the last couple of years (Bethel Johnson, etc)?
Hal Bent, East Taunton, MA
A: There are always a few surprises, Hal. Last year, I remember being surprised when the team cut cornerback Terrell Buckley. So yes, I anticipate at least one well-known veteran to be cut. Not sure exactly who it would be, but receiver David Terrell who was projected for the No. 3 spot when signed could be the player. As for draft picks over the last two years, I think Bethel Johnson will be kept in some form, as will fellow receiver P.K. Sam. There seem to be some questions about both of those players, and the logjam at receiver with Deion Branch, David Givens, Terrell, Andre Davis, Troy Brown, Tim Dwight, Sam, and Bethel Johnson (likely PUP candidate). Of those eight, itd be hard to imagine more than six on the roster.
Why do the Pats seem to play Denver every year and seem to play in Denver. Plus last year we played the Colts at home and play them at home again this year. Last year we played the Steelers in Pittsburgh and this year we play them there again. Could you please explain? Second question is could you explain a players pay during training camp and when do the players start collecting his contact pay?
Bill Fennell, Acton, MA
A In 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 teams with the addition of the Houston Texans, the league introduced a new scheduling formula. Here is how scheduling works:
1) A team will play its three division opponents home and away (6 games).
2) A team will play four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).
3) A team will play four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).
4) A team will play two intra-conference games based on the previous years standings (2 games).
So to answer the first part of the question on how Patriots/Broncos, or Patriots/Colts, or Patriots/Steelers seem to happen with regularity, it could fall under numbers 2-3-4 above. For example, in 2006, the Patriots are pre-determined to host Indianapolis because the AFC East is playing the AFC South. Also in 2006, the Patriots are predetermined to host the team in the AFC West that finishes in the same spot in the standings. So the only way the Patriots would play Denver in 2006 is if the teams finish in the same position in the 2005 standings. Im saving the second part of your question and hope to answer it next week.
What is up really with Duane Starks. They spent a third round pick on this guy and is it me, or has Benjamin Watson failed to establish himself so far this camp? One other question -- with the Patriots blessed with depth on the d-line and d-backfield, what are the chances of some creative not 3-4 or 4-3, but 5-2 alignments?
Gene Fein, Lenox MA
A: Duane Starks has been sidelined by an undisclosed injury. Meanwhile, Benjamin Watson drew raves from head coach Bill Belichick after his performance in Fridays preseason game against Green Bay, so it looks like hes begun to establish himself. On the creative alignments, Im sure the Patriots have some packages that would feature your thought, but over the long haul, teams would probably be able to exploit the lack of an extra linebacker on the field.
What will happen when the salary cap ends (2007?) Will the league revert to the pre-cap system, or will a new cap be instituted? Will any new agreement have to be agreed upon by the NFL player's association? What do you think is likely to happen?
Thomas M. Bond, Hopkinton, MA
A: If the salary cap ends, teams will be able to spend without restrictions and the leagues competitive balance would be in jeopardy. The only way this happens is if the league and its players cant come together on an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, and I think they will ultimately do so. The big holdup now is that NFL owners cant agree on how to share revenue theres a divide between small-market and big-market clubs. Owners meet again Sept. 14-15 in Atlanta to keep working on the issue.
What NFL compensation will we get for the loss of Joe Andruzzi and David Patten? Also, I think this is Troy Brown, Tim Dwight and David Givens last year here. How do you feel about it?
Matthew Mackinnon, Norfolk
A: Teams are awarded compensatory draft choices for free agents lost to other teams, but the value of those choices isnt determined until after the season. The leagues management council has a formula to determine the value of those picks based on salary, playing time, and postseason honors. As for if this is the last year for Troy Brown, Tim Dwight and David Givens in New England, all have contracts that expire at the end of the year. My guess is that at least one of them is back in 2006.
Four of the first six games are on the road, including Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Denver. Dropping a few on the road could put this team at .500 at the bye-week. What, if any, have you heard from coaches, players et al to suggest that the team could rebound from a rocky beginning to the 05 season?
Scott Matson, Somerville, MA
A: The Patriots always talk about one game at a time so you seldom hear them talk about a rocky beginning to the season. But privately, at least one player has acknowledged that the start of the season is a real big test.
Ellis Hobbs gets written up constantly in the press with potential. What impact will he have on the secondary this year? Belichick and the crew appear to have directed a lot of energy into avoiding last years crisis. With the same starters do you think that be true?
Tom Heneghan, Garden City, SC
A: Right now, Hobbs appears to have earned his way onto the game-day 45-man roster as a kickoff returner and sub corner (on nickel or dime packages). The Patriots have definitely put a lot of energy toward avoiding last years crisis, which is why I think theyll keep six corners on the final roster: Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Tyrone Poole, Duane Starks, Ellis Hobbs and Chad Scott.
My question is about Rodney Harrison's contract. Did he ever get a pay raise like Seymour did?
A: NFL Players Association records show Harrisons base salary increased from $1.55 million to $1.75 million. In NFL terms, it appears to be a modest raise.
I'm confused. During the preseason, I've seen the rookies giving a lot of interviews, but I thought rookies were forbidden to talk to the media. Does that just apply for the regular season? Or is Coach Belichick going soft?
Joe Zeoli, Los Angeles, CA
A: Usually rookies dont talk the night of the first preseason game. Its the veterans way of saying they still have a lot to learn.
Whats the real deal with BB and Parcells? Are they friends? I seem to hear rumors they are not. How could they not be friends after coaching together for all those years? Did the Jets issue really affect their relationship that much?
Kenny Wendel, Raleigh NC
A: I dont think they are friends, Kenny.
Antuan Edwards was cut after sustaining a wrist/hand injury, do the Patriots have to pay his salary for the year or any kind of remuneration?
Dick Brewer, Acton, MA
A: Teams that cut injured players usually do so with an injury settlement. Some contracts protect teams in the event the player gets injured, so they dont have to pay at all, but Im not sure about Antuans case.
One hears quite a lot about how the Patriots "system" is different from other teams. For example, it should be remembered that the Patriots played a 5-2 defense throughout the Super Bowl, a defense that presumably no one had ever seen them play before, yet Belichick said it was something they had done in training camp. Anyway, how is the Patriots system different?
Milton Arbogast, Centereach, NY
A: The Patriots defensive system is multiple, meaning the team has the flexibility to flip-flop between a 4-3 and 3-4 set at any time. The key to this is having outside linebackers who can also function as defensive ends (i.e. Willie McGinest, Rosevelt Colvin, Mike Vrabel, Tully Banta-Cain). Other teams have a similar system, but the Patriots seem to execute it the best.
How do you see the WR position as of opening day? Who might be cut? What of PK Sam and Bethel? Will any remain on PUP for the first 6-9 weeks?
Edward Burkett, Framingham, MA
A: Last year, the Patriots kept six receivers and theyll probably do the same this year. Ill go with Deion Branch, David Givens, Troy Brown, Tim Dwight, Andre Davis and P.K. Sam on the roster, with Bethel Johnson on the physically unable to perform list.
This question is more on the whole NFL, not just the Pats. Why does every coach have his punter boot one down the middle near the goal line? No team uses the coffin corner kick anymore, and it always goes in the end zone. Any particular reason?
Peter Wilson, Jupiter, Fla.
A: Punter Josh Miller was asked about this in the locker room on Tuesday: A lot of it has to do with the referees. When you hit the ball out of bounds, no longer does the line judge make the call of where it went out. It now goes back to the guy who is behind the punter and watching four other things as far as personnel goes. After the ball is in the air, he tries to get in position to make the call. They tell you We look at where it lands. A lot of times it goes out of bounds at one spot and because its a spiral, it cuts back. So where it lands doesnt mean thats where it went out. As a punter, you lose about 8-10 yards on the mark. So a lot of punters feel its better off trying to get the ball downed, than losing 8-10 yards net.
I read the stats sheet on NFL.com after all the preseason games and have notices that Mike Wright has 3 sacks and 8-9 tackles in three games. Is he a sleeper or just a 4th quarter mop up guy?
Steve Reed, Fuquay, NC
A: Mike Wright is a strong candidate for the eight-man practice squad. It would be a surprise for him to land on the 53-man roster, but he could be someone the team works with over the next year with the hope he could emerge as a backup nose tackle in 2006.
Do you think Ty Law will come back to haunt the Patriots before this season is over?
Doug Brooks, Amesbury, MA
A: The Jets are improved, so I think they will give the Patriots a run for their money this year. I still think the Patriots win the division, but I could see Ty coming up with an interception against his former team.
If you were to make an educated guess, do you think Tedy Bruschi will return to play next year, and is the team in contact with Roman Phifer in case they need additional help at inside LB?
Paul Seccareccio, Windham NH
A: I dont think Tedy Bruschi will play this season, and Roman Phifers nameplate remains above his locker, which leads me to believe theyre still in contact with him. Calls to Romans agent havent been returned.