Patriots with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNBoston.com New England Patriots blogger Mike Reiss stops by to chat.
Reiss joined ESPNBoston.com in September 2009 and is a native New Englander. He first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004.
Send your questions now and join Reiss Thursday at noon ET!
Mike ReissGood afternooon and welcome to today's chat. A reminder that Patriots LB Brandon Spikes is scheduled to chat at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.com.
Mike ReissAs always, impressed with your interest and dedication. Sleepy time on the NFL calendar and I enter the chat to see a full queue of questions. Thanks for that. Here we go.
Robert Everts (New York, New York)What game on the schedule excites you the most in the upcoming season? Also, what needs to happen in order to bring Andre Carter back this year?
Mike ReissRobert, the game that excites the most: Week 3 in Baltimore. From being around Tedy Bruschi, and hearing him talk, there is nothing quite like going into a visiting stadium and quieting the crowd. That could be one of the most electric road environments in recent memory based on what happened in the AFC title game, and I'm interested to see how the Patriots handle it. I look forward to that greatly. As for Andre Carter, the first thing is getting him to the point where he can pass a physical.
Chris (Pitt)Any word if Welker will have a new deal by Monday will Hightower be signed on time
Mike ReissChris, my sense is it's a longer shot at this point, but you always leave the door open because a deadline like this can lead one side to come off its line to spark a compromise. Still a possibility. On Hightower, I believe he will be signed in time, yes.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)Do you think that the 2012 New England Patriots will be like the 2007 New England Patriots, but this time win the Super Bowl?
Mike ReissChris, I don't think we'll see a duplication of the '07 Patriots, and some of the records that team set. But in terms of Super Bowl hopes, I view the Patriots as one of the NFL's best, so I would pick them right now (with the understanding that health/injuries, and how the roster evolves, is impossible to predict right now).
Dave Barry (Briarcliff NY)Hi Mike. Belichick typically hates dealing with the media and publicity of any kind. This usually hold true for his players as much as it does for him. How do you think he feels about Gronks offseason media blitz? As long as his production continues I'm sure it'll be tolerated, but what happens if there's a drop off? Thanks for taking my question.
Mike ReissRight on, Dave. I made this point on a radio spot Wednesday. The Patriots just signed Gronkowski to a contract extension through 2019, and if they had any concerns at this point, you'd think they would have been addressed before that deal was consummated. So I think they are fine with it, as long as he's putting in the work and doesn't "damage" the Patriots brand.
MarkJ (Japan)Mike, Patriots have hired three scouting assistants whose names happen to be Simms, Groh, and Lombardi. I am curious to know 1) what exactly duties of scouting assistants are and 2)how the hiring process usually goes. Are they going to hire someone like Reiss someday?
Mike ReissMark, the scouting assistants are at the entry-level. Their work can vary -- some scouting, some assisting the coaching staff in compiling data etc. Our own Field Yates, on ESPNBoston.com, held that role with the Chiefs and I think you see in his "Scout's Notebook" series that it's pretty impressive stuff. As for the hiring process, I'm not privy to that information, but I would imagine networking and connections are very important. As for hiring me, there will be no application sent in from this address. Married, great wife, two kids I want to be around as much as possible. Tough to do that in that business. ... But if they're looking, I'd heartily recommend Mike Rodak. He's going places!
Tron (Waltham, MA)Hey Mike, Seems like outside of the Patriots, the AFC east will be stacked with strong defenses. From a season-long prospective, do you think this could benefit the Patriots? My line of thinking is that going up against strong defensive teams on a regular basis will give the coaching staff and Brady a lot of film and preparation so that come the playoffs (if things goes as planned) the offense will be more comfortable against strong fronts like those of the Giants, Cowboys and Ravens. What are your thoughts?
Mike ReissTron, when I think of defenses in this type of scenario, I look at it a little differently. The main thing I look for is where are the matchups that could hurt you, and how does the strength of the opposition's defense tie-in to your weaknesses. The Steelers are a good example to me. Historically, they've been a tough defense. But for whatever reason, the Patriots' offense has had its number in my view. Good matchup for New England. In the end, I do think being battle tested helps. The Giants of last season are a good example of that in my view.
Neil (South Boston)Hi Mike - been out of the loop for awhile - hope all's well on your end. With training camp right around the corner, I was wondering what the various dates are for roster cut downs? With all the talent that Pats accumulated in the offseason the cuts will be interesting to watch. Thanks.
Mike ReissWelcome back to the loop, Neil. The roster cut from 90 to 75 is Aug. 27 (after third preseason game). The roster cut from 75 to 53 is August 31 (after fourth preseason game).
munchkin (glenwood springs, co)Mike, there are a number of pundits calling for the Bills to supplant the Patriots as winners of the AFC East. Granted, they attach the label of "surprise" pick to that choice but it reeks of wishful thinking to me. If Brady stays healthy this year the Patriots offense is going to be very difficult to defend. With the proven weapons they have at WR and TE and a backfield with the potential that Vereen, Ridley et al. offer, it will be very difficult for any team to outscore the Patriots. Buffalo has put together some very nice pieces on defense but I don't see them outscoring the Pats. Stevie J, Freddie and CJ are nice pieces but coupled with an inconsistent Fitzpatrick they will not be able to put enough together against an improved Pats D. This, of course, is a very biased opinion. Yet one that I believe is rational. The Pats are going to score a ton of points this year. There will be no let up games.
Mike ReissMunchkin, I'm not buying the Bills' hype. I do think it's good for the league when a small-market team like the Bills is good, and spending time there and seeing what that franchise means to the community, there is a part of me that would feel good about their success. But the reason I am not buying the hype is that I think it's all front-loaded. It's easy to get swept away by the big-money Mario Williams signing, but have they adequately addressed their depth issues? I'm not sure, and to me, that was one of their top issues last year (big drop-off when going from 1st unit to 2nd/3rd units). Also, is Ryan Fitzpatrick the QB to lead you where you want to go? Much uncertainty on that one.
Joe (Wayne NJ)The Patriots have a ton of cap room left this year. With a team that, on paper, looks well-rounded, versatile, and deep with competition for players at nearly all positions, it doesn't seem like that 11 million will be spent elsewhere besides potentially resigning players. In your opinion, what happens next? Do they sit on this cap space or extend people now? I know the easy answer is to say lock up welker, but as much as i want welker around, based off the gronk deal, now is the time to extend hernandez and chung. If both have strong years, their stock will only go up, and welkers stock really cant go up much more at this point in his career. Nows the time to strike bargain extensions with these two before hernandez breaks out even more and demands a huge contract on the market. Worry about welker after this season, whether it be tag next offseason, extension, or let him walk. Thoughts?
Mike ReissJoe, I think they'll want to leave themselves some flexibility obviously. Also consider that cap space can be rolled into the next season so there is an element of strategic planning, long range, in play. As for Welker next year, I wouldn't tag him again, but I'd try to keep things civil so he could be re-signed on the open market if he's open to a return. Dangerous, for sure, but can't extend to $11.4m for him if I'm in management's shoes.
john (baltimore) [via mobile]Will the patriots sign any other player
Mike ReissI believe they will John. Andre Carter would be my best guess.
Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, Florida)Mike I actually think the Patriots toughest game this season is going to be against the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans both have really good pass rushes that can create havoc and get to Tom Brady?
Mike ReissBoth tough games, but from a Patriots perspective you have to like those will be at home in December. Also, it's Houston's third straight road game. Tough stretch for them.
Steve (San Diego)Hey Mike! Given the emerging reliance of the sub defense in the NFL, can you offer a Sub-Defense depth chart for the Pats? Thanks!
Mike ReissLet's do it Steve, focusing on a potential dime package. I think you can do a lot of different things up front, so don't hold me to this, but this was off the top of my head.DL: Fanene/BequetteDL: Wilfork/LoveDL: Ninkovich/Scott/JonesLB: MayoLB: HightowerCB: McCourtyCB: DowlingCB: ArringtonS: WilsonS: ChungS: Gregory
Jason (Boston, MA)Hi Mike- Would you be able to give us a general update on the status of the Patriots running back core? A little while back I heard that Vereen was getting some looks as a starter. What about Ridley? We all know that the passing game has the potential to be incredible, but is there also the potential for a solid run game with the current crew?
Mike ReissAbsolutely Jason. The one thing I'd say is that it's probably misguided to label the backs "starters" or first-unit/second-unit. They'll all play, likely as part of a committee. A player like Danny Woodhead, for example, played seven snaps against the Colts on Dec. 4, then the next week against the Redskins he was on for a team-high 35. That's the way the Patriots roll. I'd expect them all to contribute, with Ridley and Vereen at the head of the line.
Tony (Los Angeles)Possible injuries aside, my only real concern is the offensive line. Brady and the offense has been successful over the past 10 years+ b/c Brady has had time. When he hasn't we don't win. How is the new offensive line progressing and what's your feeling about this year's group?
Mike ReissI agree with this, Tony, although the defense would also be on my radar. How is the O-line progressing? Considering Vollmer wasn't on the field in the offseason, and neither was Mankins and Waters, it's very much in question right now.
Sean (Hudson MA)Hi, Mike. I understand Hernandez stands to make "only" $700,000 this season and the Pats have around 10M of cap space available. Will Pats make a move to lock him up long-term? Also, what is Hernandez's state of mind right now - frustrated at the discrepancy between production and wages or is he patiently waiting for his contract to expire? It must be hard to watch Gronk pick up a large payday and not get one of his own. Thanks!
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