'It is what it is'
Boston Globe Patriots writer Mike Reiss checks in every Tuesday with his take on the Pats. Ask your question now, and come back next week to see if it was answered. What follows is the second half of Mike's mailbag this week. Click here for the first portion of the mailbag, which deals with fan noise at Gillette Stadium.
My question is about injuries and how diligent the media really is in trying to separate Bill Belichick's smokescreens from reality. The media is our eyes and ears in the locker room we can only get information from you all. I can't express how absolutely frustrating it is to hear stories all week about Kevin Faulk missing practice and possibly reading into the re-signing of Michael Cloud as a sign that Kevin re-injured his foot -- which were totally wrong. Is that a mistake, is it lazy reporting or just the nature of football injuries? Another example is that we didn't hear boo all week about Nick Kaczur or Artrell Hawkins being hurt until the day before the game -- were these last second injuries they got while packing their bags to Buffalo? We did hear quite a lot about Pass and Daniel Graham being at practice every day -- turns out that didn't mean squat! Shouldn't the media be our eyes and ears on stuff like that and be able to say hey they are out there but don't look ready.
Gary Thiessen, Alexandria, Va.
It's frustrating for the media, too. A couple of things to keep in mind: the media's attendance at practice is most often only for stretching and special teams drills, which is usually the first 15 minutes of practice. So when we're reporting a player was at the first portion at practice, we're not passing along inaccurate information. It's not easy to tell a player will or won't be able to play based on what we see at this portion of practice. For example, I saw Nick Kaczur walk through the locker room last week, with no shoulder harness or anything restricting his injured shoulder. Still, based on that observation, I don't feel strong enough to report that Kaczur looks like he will or won't play. Also, the additions of Kaczur and Hawkins to the injury report were reported on Wednesday. Finally, as you know, Bill Belichick is extremely tight-lipped on injuries and won't reveal anything more than the league requires. That trickles down to the players as well, which makes it a difficult task for the media to report injury information. As Belichick would say, "it is what it is", and as a media member we work with the guidelines presented to us.
Can you explain the rule on crackback blocks? As you can imagine, I'm confused about the penalty they called on Tom Brady's block during Deion Branch's reverse.
Rob McDonagh, Medway
According to the rulebook on NFL.com, the following is the definition for a crackback: "[players] who take or move to a position more than two yards outside the tackle may not block an opponent below the waist if they then move back inside to block." In the case of Brady, he was two yards outside the right tackle, and he did block below the waist while turned to the inside of the field as the play went to the outside. Based on that definition, seems as if referee Bill Carollo was correct on the call.
What happens now if the Pats lose to Tampa Bay and the Dolphins come to town on the last week of the year and beat us. Saying they win the rest of their games.
Gary Goodwin, Rockledge Fla.
As long as the Patriots beat the Jets, they win the AFC East. If the Patriots lose their remaining three games, and the Dolphins win their remaining three games, the Dolphins would win the AFC East.
I'd really love to hear what Tully Banta-Cain has to say about his role this season. I expected (relatively) big things from him this season. He always seemed to be a pretty sure tackler on special teams, and I saw a pretty impressive burst off the line from him during the preseason. If I recall, most of his time in the preseason games came as a defensive end in the 4-3 pass-rushing alignment (mostly left side), or the outside linebacker position -- you know, second half scrubs time. That's why I thought it was a bit surprising to see him playing next to Green or Vrabel in the same alignment as an interior lineman (usually with Colvin and McGinest as ends).
Banta-Cain answered the question last week in the Patriots' locker room: "This year has kind of been a little different than other years. I played a lot more defense my first and second year than I've played this year. But this year I had an injury at the beginning of the season. So, that kind of hindered me a bit. Now I'm just at a point where I'm trying to play consistent ball wherever they put me. I'm still learning, still trying to get better. I keep a positive outlook on it. Would I like to be playing more than I'm playing right now? Of course. But whatever is best for the team, I have to do it. Hopefully next year, I'll play a bigger role. We still have the rest of this season to see how things turn out."
How is Ellis Hobbs doing? I saw that he was injured near the end of the game, and Troy Brown was inserted in his place. Would the Patriots over .500 if they had Peyton Manning at quarterback?
JJ Redington, Burlington, Vt.
From what I understand, Hobbs is fine health-wise. He didn't finish Sunday's game in Buffalo but has in good spirits after the game, as well as the morning after. He might have been banged up, but I don't believe it's anything long-term.
This week will be a good test against an improving Tampa Bay team. Might the Pats be peaking at the right time with four wins in the last five games or have they just played weak opponents? Also, how serious is the injury to Tom Brady?
Jim Curley, Seminole, Fla.
We'll have a better gauge on whether the Patriots are peaking or not after Saturday's game, because the Buccaneers are a solid opponent. The Jets and Bills are two of the worst teams in the league right now. However, I do think we can conclusively say the Patriots are gaining confidence, which is always important. As for Brady, speaking on Boston sports radio station WEEI on Monday, he indicated the injury wasn't that serious.
I can't get over how week in and week out we have guys who come up limping, hurt, left off the active roster, etc. Certainly one positive is that we have been forced to build a young, decent defensive backfield with Hobbs, Samuel, Wilson, and Sanders/Hawkins/Stone. Hopefully we will be able to sustain this group through the years and allow the team to get younger (via draft) at linebacker. Our great group of linebackers only has a couple of season left in them. Can you think of any area of greater concern?
AJ Jain, Bronx, NY
I still think the secondary is a concern and will need some reinforcements. Because Eugene Wilson offers some position flexibility, I envision the Patriots selecting either the best cornerback available or the hardest hitting safety with one of their first choices in the draft. Infusing some youth at linebacker will also be a priority.
I am sensing that the D is finally coming around and the intensity of play is definitely there. Do you know of any changes in their approach that may have taken place? I don't believe that Belichick has given Mangini as much control over the D that Romeo had. Do you think any of that has changed, or just the opposite, has BB taken back more?
Steve Haldeman, Westminster, Vt.
The big change I see in their approach is their ability to stop the run. The Patriots now rank 11th in rushing yards allowed per game (104.8), which is a major improvement from just five weeks ago (27th in rushing yards allowed per game). By stopping the run, it has helped the team create more obvious passing situations, and allowed them to pressure more in the last few weeks. The team hadn't been as aggressive in the rushing department prior to the last two games.
Who has the most number of AFC East division championships?
AJ Jain, Bronx, NY
Using CBS Sportsline.com as a reference, it looks like the Dolphins have 12, the Bills have 10, the Patriots have eight, and the Colts (no longer in the division) had six.
With the short week this week, how does that affect preparations? Do the players lose their day off? Just wondering how things work in this situation. Also, how do you think that the team will finish up, as far as their record goes?
Ben B., Douglassville, Pa.
The players will still have two days off (Monday, Tuesday), but will lose a day of practice preparation at the end of the week. Usually, Saturday would be a day for a final walkthrough. Instead, that walkthrough will take place Friday. I think the Patriots will finish 10-6 and win the AFC East.
Mike, this question concerns Vince Wilfork. I don't understand all the nuances of his position, but reviewing the game stats I realized that he was not involved in a single tackle all afternoon. Is this necessarily a negative, or does this mean he was attracting a lot of blockers allowing unblocked defenders to make the tackles?
Chris Salvato, Scotia, NY
Last week, Bill Belichick went into depth about the role of defensive linemen in the Patriots' base 3-4 defense. One of his comments was that a lineman in a 3-4 will usually have less stats (tackles, sacks) than a lineman in the 4-3. Wilfork's job as a nose tackle is to occupy multiple blockers and let players behind him remain free to make plays. The best measure to gauge Wilfork's effectiveness is by looking at the opposing rushing attack -- Buffalo had 14 yards on 12 carries. That means Wilfork had a solid day.
Looking ahead, if the Patriots beat the Jaguars (fifth seed) in the first round of the playoffs and the third seed lost to the wild card team would the Patriots still play the Colts in the second round or would they play the 2nd seed?
Ron Brill, Canyon Lake, Calif.
The NFL re-seeds for the divisional playoff round, and under the scenario above, the Patriots would play the No. 2 seed. No matter what, the Colts (no. 1) would play the worst remaining seed.
What did you think of Tom Ashworth's job at left tackle during the Buffalo game? I thought he did a great job there, and hope he holds the position until Light is ready to come back. Nick Kaczur doesn't seem to have the quickness needed to play LT at the NFL level, and seems to give up a lot of pressure on Brady. Ashworth performed much better vs. Aaron Schobel than Kaczur did back in the first meeting with the Bills.
Teddy Twenties, Melrose
Ashworth did a nice job, but I like Kaczur there for the long-term. While Kaczur has had a few bad plays in each game, he's generally held his own and has a bright future ahead. Ashworth seems like the ideal swing tackle, a solid player who contributes on both sides of the line when called upon.
I think Rosevelt Colvin's play the last couple of weeks has been terrific, yet I haven't heard many comments regarding his play. He is starting to look like the dominant pass rusher he was in the past. Of course, the Pats have also blitzed more the last couple of weeks as well. Do you agree?
Kurt Pitz, Oxford
Definitely agree. Here were some of Belichick's comments on Colvin from his Monday press conference: "I think he played well at the end of last year and I think he built on that performance in the last, maybe, quarter, third of the '04 season. He came into camp this year with a lot of confidence knowing that he had done that last year. I think he's had a really good year this year from the first day of training camp all the way through preseason. He's been solid. His play has improved in every aspect. His play against the run. Coverage. His play against the pass. Awareness. Communication. So I think that he's playing pretty well. That's due to his diligence, hard work, and perseverance. He deserves a lot of credit for all of that. He's done it himself and he's overcome a significant obstacle. Very significant."
I understand that it is highly unlikely, but I was hoping that you could go over the scenario that would have New England the No. 3 seed going into the playoffs as opposed to the No. 4 seed. The reason for my inquiry is based upon the fact that I feel there are a few teams out there that could give Indianapolis real trouble in the playoffs. Hoping that another team might be able to knock off Indy before the Patriots get to them. I think Kansas City and Pittsburgh, and possibly San Diego -- with smash-mouth offenses -- could give Indy fits. Thoughts?
George Corriveau, Waltham
The Patriots could move up to the third seed if Denver loses its three remaining games (at Buffalo, vs. Oakland, at Oakland) and the Patriots win their remaining three games. Or if Cincinnati loses two or more of its final three games (at Detroit, vs. Buffalo, at Kansas City) and the Patriots win their final three games. Naturally, these scenarios are unlikely. I would have thought a smash-mouth team might have given Indianapolis problems before the Colts powered past Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.
How did the NFL come up with 53 as the maximum number of players each team can carry on their respective rosters? Is there some significance to 53 as opposed to some other number?
Mike Burns, Turnersville, NJ
A: According to NFL senior director of player personnel Joel Bussert, the answer traces back to 1993. At that time, NFL teams had 47-man rosters, and teams could activate 45 players on game days. In addition, teams had five flexible reserve activations -- so they could place players on injured reserve for short stretches of time and bring them back later in the season. In 1993, the NFL competition committee recommended to take those five flexible reserve activations and make them permanent roster spots -- upping rosters from 47 players to 52 players. Because they were unsure how things would unfold, they decided to create one more roster spot, which is how we've arrived at 53 players. The thinking on the change from 47 to 53 players was that it would allow teams to have more flexibility on a week-to-week basis. By adding those roster spots, the NFL changed its reserve rules, so when a team places a player on injured reserve, that player is now lost for the season.
With all the injuries that have decimated many teams over the past few years, has the NFL ever considered increasing the rosters by maybe five more players? I have stated this for years and believe it could prevent teams from being wiped out early and enhance overall continuity and player opportunity. Thanks
Mark, Eastampton, NJ
A: This has been discussed several times, but would have to be cleared by owners. Increasing roster spots means increasing the money paid out by owners. Rosters have been set at 53 players since 1993.
Do you ever get any type of evaluation about the practice squad players and their development? I believe P.K. Sam and Bam Childress are both members. Who else and what are their prospects for next year?
Ed Boyce, Lancaster
A: The Patriots' practice squad currently consists of safety Ray Ventrone (Villanova), linebacker Eric Alexander (LSU), offensive tackle Wesley Britt (Alabama), offensive guard Ryan Krug (UConn), defensive lineman Santonio Thomas (University of Miami) and receivers P.K. Sam (Florida State) and Bam Childress (Ohio State). Bill Belichick has answered questions about the development of some of these players over the last few months, although all would have to be considered long shots to earn roster spots next season.
I saw in the recent mailbag that you answered about the bands on the biceps. What about the hands forming a triangle after a TD? Is that religious?
A: Several players in the Patriots' locker room had no idea what the triangle meant. Receiver Michael McGrew, who is on injured reserve, said one possibility is that the triangle is the symbol used by rapper Jay-Z -- and is the sign for dynasty.
Looking at the offensive line, which side do you think is performing better? Seems like Kaczur and Mankins are playing pretty well (guess it pays to draft for guys w/mean streaks) but the right side still seems unstable with false starts, and silly penalties. When Matt Light comes back, I could see Kaczur fitting into RT but looks like that may not be until next year. At any rate, I hope the line is stabilized by the playoffs.
Mike Luster, Amherst, NH
A: Don't think one side is that much better than the other right now, Mike. Neal (right guard) has been exceptional on tight end screens, making the key block to set up a few long gains on that play. Mankins and Kaczur have hung in admirably as I believe they are the only rookie combination on the left side of a line in the NFL. When Light comes back, I envision Kaczur moving to right tackle.
What are your thoughts about Eugene Wilson anchoring the secondary now that we are several games removed from Rodney's injury and now that the Patriots seem to have a stable starting four back there?
Bruce Wolf, Tyngsboro
A: Wilson has the most starting experience of the four starters in the secondary, so he'd be a natural choice. But more than any one player stepping up in the secondary, my feeling is that the Patriots' front seven has to anchor the secondary. By creating pressure, and shutting down the run, they make it easier for the secondary.
Even though "every game is important," isn't it possible that Belichick is treating some of the games like "extended spring training"? For example, the Patriots were destroyed by San Diego, but Miami beat them. Isn't Bill trying out different things and different players along the way in non-essential games to try to get his squad straight. With all the injuries, the regular season has to be a continuation of spring training, doesn't it?
Milton Arbogast, Setauket, NY
A: Some e-mailers have brought this up and I just don't think it's the case. Prior to Sunday's game in Buffalo, Belichick spoke how this was the season of truth and the truth is that the Patriots had been wildly inconsistent. More than anything, my feeling is Belichick wants the team to play consistently coming down the stretch -- so it's more about that and less about an "extended spring training" type of approach.
If the Pats clinch, will we get to see Doug Flutie and other backups play, so that some of the banged up starters can recover?
Bob Warren, Delray Beach, Fla.
A: The Patriots can clinch with a win, or a Dolphins loss. So after this week, there will be two games remaining. In the event they clinch, I would expect the Patriots to lightly pull back on some starters, with Tom Brady being one of those players. The key will be allowing the players to continue the positive momentum they've built, while also balancing that for the stretch run. As a likely No. 4 seed, the Patriots would have to win three games in three weeks in the playoffs, with the final two most likely on the road. That's why I think a slightly reduced load for some starters (i.e. Brady, Dillon, Branch) would be in order.
I want to be wearing my scouting hat during the upcoming bowl season. I figure I should keep an eye on Notre Dame and Fresno State, especially their linebackers and defensive backs. Any other teams/positions Pats fans should observe extra carefully? Also, nobody says much about the job Russ Hochstein has been doing. I'm shocked at how good he's been. I thought Koppen's shoes would have been too big to fill. What's your take?
Elliot Kramer, Montreal
A: Keep an eye on Iowa, where Kirk Ferentz -- an assistant under Belichick with the Browns -- is head coach. Ferentz is known as a fine offensive line coach, so lock in on the line. Agreed on Hochstein; he's filled in admirably for Dan Koppen.
What is the status of Bill Belichick's contract? I've heard that we have him through next season; is this correct? Should we expect an extension in the offseason? I would hope after all of the success in the past years that there would be a snowball's chance that Robert Kraft would let him go. PS: Seattle over Indy next week.
Gerald Myers, Rehoboth
A: Belichick's contract is one of the closest kept secrets in the NFL. When he signed his last extension, it was through the 2006 season. There has been no announcement of another extension, although it's possible it has been completed and only a few people know about it. My feeling is that Kraft knows Belichick is the most important person to the football operation, and will work hard to keep him for the immediate future. And a lot will depend if Belichick himself wants to continue coaching the Patriots.
If I may, I'd like to expound a bit on the overall qualifications in arguing for Gino Cappelletti's deserved -- in my eyes, at least -- induction into the Hall of Fame. I'm curious if the "veteran" NFL reporter with whom you conversed was aware that Gino also played a significant amount of wide receiver and that his production numbers include 292 receptions, nearly 5,000 yards receiving, and 42 career touchdowns. He was no Lance Allworth but his standing as the No. 1 scorer in AFL history -- and how he achieved that distinction -- as well as his versatility surely warrants further consideration by the Hall's respective committees.
Thomas F. Ingram, Tucson, Ariz. (formerly South Boston)
A: The reporter was aware of Cappelletti's contributions as a receiver. He just didn't feel they were strong enough given that Cappelletti's primary position was kicker. There is only one kicker in the Hall of Fame, Jan Stenerud. Also, there is a feeling by some selectors that the AFL was inferior to the NFL. This was evidenced by the fact some AFL records weren't initially accepted in the NFL. Cappelletti has a chance for entry into the Hall of Fame as a "veterans" selection, although I'm told that list of candidates is quite long at this time.
Not so much a question as a humble opinion. You asked regarding the Hall of Fame: "Do you say yes to a kicker and no to a player like former Redskins receiver Art Monk, or Giants linebacker Harry Carson?" I say, yes you do ... say yes. Reason being is that kicking is a factor in the game, a relatively large factor because he actually directly produces points and often can be the difference in winning games, overtimes and even Super Bowls (thanks Adam). So shouldn't the best kickers be honored? If you can argue that Art Monk isn't Hall of Fame caliber at his position, and that there are other wide receivers that are better candidates, then that's a fair argument. You shouldn't judge a kicker against Art. They factor in differently in the game, but they both DO factor in.
Sandeep Parikh, Los Angeles
A: Good point, and I should clarify that I passed on that question about Gino to two veteran reporters (one last week, one this week) who know a lot more about Hall of Fame credentials than I do. They were simply explaining some of the debate that takes place between selectors. I'm not a big Hall of Fame guy, and quite frankly, haven't been around long enough to have an opinion that carries much weight on the subject.
There has been a lot of talk about the lack of black coaches, and before, quarterbacks. I also notice a lack of black kickers, especially placekickers. Have there been any in the NFL?
Malcolm Wong, Tokyo
A: Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri was quick to point out Danny Kight, who isn't currently playing but was previously a kickoff specialist for the Colts and Ravens. He couldn't think of any other black kickers.
Assuming we make it to the playoffs but not to the Super Bowl this year, are the Pats going to be in a position to make the improvements they need to make for next season to remain competitive, or is our moment passing?
Jason Rubin, Melrose
A: Absolutely, the Patriots will continue to be competitive. They have a few important things going for them: good talent evaluators, good coaches, and a top-of-the-line quarterback. With those three elements in place, the Patriots should remain competitive.
Mike, I'm curious to know your thoughts on the Patriots defense showing confusing fronts to the opposing QB and coaches. This seemed to be a large component of their success last year and has been missing for much of this year. In the Jets game, the Patriots were successful at rushing the passer, but I didn't read anything about confusing fronts being in place. Confusion seemed to have been a Belichick trademark, however I'm wondering why this has been absent this season. Is this attributable to Crennel? Harrison's absence, Bruschi/Ted Johnson/Phifer's absence, or something else? If it was attributable to multiple factors, which do you feel are the stronger ones?
Scott Krause, New York, NY
A: Excellent observation and something Rosevelt Colvin touched on in recent weeks. He said the team was previously struggling to get the basics correct, and when you can't ace the basics, you can't be playing exotic schemes. The Patriots started to show some more of those schemes against Buffalo this past Sunday.
I love the NFL offseason (draft, free-agency, etc.) and am always looking ahead. What are you thoughts on Willie McGinest and his $8 million cap hit? What is Corey Dillon's contract bonus situation? Is there a chance they would cut him and bring in a younger, cheaper replacement? Do you think the Patriots will make a run at John Abraham? I think his athleticism would be a great fit in the Pats defense.
Chris St. John, Ayer
A: The actual cap hit for McGinest is $8.32 million and my feeling is that he'll have to restructure that number to return to the team. This is sort of similar to the Troy Brown situation prior to this season. Dillon's contract calls for a $3 million bonus and a $3 million base salary. His cap hit would be a manageable $4.3 million. I don't think the Patriots would cut him, although they might bring in another back to lessen the load on Dillon. With Abraham, the Patriots are well stocked with top players on the defensive line (they'll probably seek depth, not superstars) and I see them spending their money elsewhere.
Do you think the Patriots will take a look at Reggie Wayne when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season. He has excellent hands and great speed and I really feel like the Patriots have missed David Patten because of Patten's speed even though he's had a lousy year in Washington.
Anthony Powell, Boynton Beach, Fla.
A: Don't think the Patriots will make a run at Wayne, but instead focus on re-signing David Givens, who is a free agent after the season. I believe the free-agent receiving corps is somewhat thin this year, so players like Wayne and Givens might not even hit the market, because their teams could work harder to keep them off the market.
Why do the majority of Boston sports fans identify more closely with the mostly renegade Red Sox players than with the "good guy " image generally portrayed by the Patriots players? I can't believe that the city of Boston prefers baseball over football to the extent that three Super Bowl wins in four years is not held in higher esteem than one World Series win in 85 years.
Jerie O'Connor, Walkersville, Md.
A: This is a debate that often sparks good discussion. Is this a baseball town, or a football town? My opinion is that this is a baseball town, because the Red Sox connect generations. But I'll take the National Football League over Major League baseball seven days a week.
I was thinking about the Patriots drafting defensive linemen when it appeared it wasn't really necessary. Do you think Bill was kind of planning ahead, noticing that his linebackers were getting older, and also recognizing that the chances of getting more linebackers in with the savvy, smarts, and experience of a McGinest, Johnson, Vrabel, or Bruschi are pretty slim. Guys like that just don't grow on trees. So he was kind of setting himself up with a good group of young linemen that he could mold and train, so in the event that he needs to go to a 4-3 in a few years when guys like McGinest start retiring, he'd have the personnel to do so?
Chris Cardello, Atlanta, Ga.
A: The observation is a good one, because the Patriots have used three of their six first-round picks on defensive linemen. But I don't think the Patriots did this to shift the focus from linebackers to the line. More than anything, Belichick believes in having big, strong, physical, athletic players and the only way to get them at reasonable prices is to develop them through the draft. Perhaps no other position commands as high a price tag in the free-agent market than the defensive line. And as Belichick described last week, in a 3-4 defense, "everything starts with the defensive line."
On a realistic basis can our beloved Patriots win their third Super Bowl in a row? I truly believe they can and they will, just something that tells me they are ready, they are starting to peak at just the right time, I believe they are fully capable of winning a playoff game at home against the Jaguars, who I believe they will play. Then they will go to Indy and I really don't feel that Indy is ready for a rematch. After an Indy rematch, which I feel we win, but whoever is left we should beat. Any ideas on an AFC Championship opponent should we make it that far even though the odds are stacked against us. If we get that far, do we win that third title in a row?
Frank Bachman, Hartsville SC
A: Quite an opportunistic scenario here. The Patriots would be heavy underdogs in Indianapolis, although I wouldn't count them out from playing their best game of the season against the Colts. If things unfold this way, I'd expect to see Denver in the AFC Championship. And if the Patriots beat the Colts, I'd pick them to win their third title in a row.
Hi Mike, Why wasn't Bruschi on the Pro Bowl ballot? I really wanted to vote for him, but couldn't.
Shawn Klein, Tempe, Ariz.
A: When Pro Bowl voting began on Oct. 18, Tedy Bruschi was still on the physically unable to perform list. That probably explains why he wasn't on the ballot. I believe the spots on the Pro Bowl ballot are reserved for active players.
Let me start by saying love the blog, keep it up. Also, I must add that I enjoy Coach Belichick's press conferences. What do you think of the following: Move Wilson to corner in place of Samuel, who has become the weakest piece in the secondary puzzle. Samuel can be the third or nickel corner. We keep Ellis Hobbs where he is because he has shown great aptitude, intelligence, and continued improvement. Hawkins plays free safety, calls the "checks" and quarterbacks the defense from that position. Meanwhile, Stone plays strong safety and brings the physical presence and can be the eighth man in the box. Thus, we get back, albeit between two players, the two biggest things we lost when the great Rodney Harrison went down. What do you think?
Ahmed, Los Angeles
A: A well-thought-out scenario, but I'd be hesitant to move Wilson to corner this year. Maybe next year. But I think right now, the Patriots are finding a bit of a groove (albeit against weak offenses) and the less tweaking on the defense, the better right now. I do like this potential scenario for next year, then drafting a hard-hitting safety with an attitude.
I know that there is a lot more time left to go in the season, but could you give us a quick look at where the Patriots would draft if the season ended today and a list of picks they have traded away. Thank you.
Adam Wolf, South Portland, Maine
A: Because the Super Bowl winner drafts 32 and the Super Bowl loser drafts 31 -- regardless of record -- this is a hard question to answer. The Patriots are currently tied with six other teams with eight wins apiece. Depending on tie-breakers, they could draft as high as 16 or as low as 22. They traded away a fifth-round pick to Cleveland, but still have a first-round pick, second-round pick, two third-round picks, two fourth-round picks, one fifth-round pick, one sixth-round pick and one seventh-round pick.