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Mike Reiss Patriots chat transcript

Friday Jan. 12, 2007
Mike_ReissJust back from practice. Going to get settled for a few minutes and then we'll roll.... From being here at Gillette Stadium the last three days, you can feel things building in the team's locker room. It's interesting to watch how the players get themselves motivated, and the Patriots appear to be rallying around the idea that the Chargers have done a lot of talking this week. Richard Seymour, for one, noted that the Patriots have heard a lot of trash talking from San Diego. If you're a football fan, I don't know how you can't be excited about this matchup. Several of the things the Chargers do well, the Patriots counter with something they do well. It's a matchup of force vs. force in many respects. The team is flying out today, which is a bit of a change from the norm.
Mike_ReissP.S. -- Fullback Heath Evans returned to the media-access portion of practice today after missing the last two days. He's questionable on the injury report due to his shin.
dave122Many people are giving the special teams edge to the chargers because they have a more experienced kicker. wouldn't you rather have Gostkowski, who has no history of blowing a kick in the playoffs and has a proven leg on kickoffs?
Mike_ReissI'd rather have the kicker who has been there in a prior season, even if that performance wasn't one to remember.
patriotsgirl_23Few things!...First its seems obvious that the running game will be a huge far as throwing screens. it seems that from what I have read that we will see Maroney for that... who do u think is better for the screen pass...faulk or maroney??...and could we perhaps see Graham or Watson on the screen???...and if the patriots do go on to the next round will we see Harrison or is his season over??
Mike_ReissAs for the screens, I'd expect to see Maroney and Faulk, with Maroney on early downs and Faulk on third down and obvious passing situations. As for those tight end screens, I'd also expect to see those, more from Graham than Watson. As for Harrison, he still has a chance to suit up, but I'd guess it would have to be the Super Bowl for him to have a chance.
Jimbo57I have a tackling technique question that has been bugging me. Belichick is very smart about taking away a team's options and making them one-dimensional. Why can't he teach a defensive player that if a running back is running straight at him and an open field tackle has to be made, the defender should make the first move and force the runner to go to one side and not give him the option to choose one way or the other?
Mike_ReissI'm not sure about the actual technique that Belichick is teaching them this week, so I can't give you an accurate answer on this one. What I can say is that one theme in the locker room this week has been "rally around the ball -- we need all 11 guys." That has been a point of emphasis.
ChrisHi Mike -- Do you at all believe the Pats O-line may be underrated and the Charges defense may be slightly overrated by the national media for this contest? Much has been made of their 61 sacks this season, but 14 of them came against the hapless Raiders and another 5 came agains the Browns. Neither of these teams have remotely the quarterback or o-line the Patriots have and when you remove these numbers their sack totals are merely above average. The Pats have faced tough, pressure oriented defenses in the playoffs before (Carolina, Titans) and seem to manage the line pretty well. Thoughts?
Mike_ReissOverrated, underrated, I don't know. I think the Patriots' offensive line has been inconsistent this season, but has played some of its best football in recent weeks. I expect the line to be challenged in a big way, and I'm not sure how they'll respond based on the body of work this season. If they hadn't been so up and down in pass protection, I'd be more confident from a Patriots perspective.
DonPatsMike, There have recently been some reports that Tedy Bruschi is about to retire ? What are you hearing ?
Mike_ReissHaven't heard anything on that one.
DonPatsI believe the key to this game will be giving Tom Brady enough time to throw. Do you feel Brady will get adequate protection from his offensive line (especially from the tackles) ?
Mike_ReissAgain, tough to predict, but I do think Brady will get rid of the ball quickly, and that's a big part of this, too. I don't expect him to be sitting in the pocket, having time to patiently go through his reads. He's going to have to let it rip quickly, which in turn, will help the line because it won't have to protect as long.
Rodney_HarrisonRecovering nicely here in Atlanta, Mike, and looking forward to seeing you in Miami. . Any indication if Heath's bag was packed for the flight today?
Mike_ReissThanks for checking in Rodney_Harrison. I'd be careful about reading too much into whose travel bag is packed, but Evans's bag was indeed packed. He was also at practice today.
gradmanmaineMike, What is the offensive strategy for the Pats to win? Dink or dunk? Smash it down their throat? Also, what is your take on the confidence of the Pats right now? Finally, what is up with Heath Evans? Who would play in his place if he is a no go?
Mike_ReissOffensive strategy will start with the running game. Have to establish the run, and stay out of second- and third-and-long. As for the team's confidence, I'd say it's high. They've said nice things about the Chargers this week, but I sense they believe they can beat them if they play to their capabilities. As for Heath Evans, he's battling a shin injury. He's questionable (50-50 chance to play). If he can't play, I'd expect to see some tight ends lined up in the backfield as lead blockers. Possibly a reserve lineman like Russ Hochstein, too. They also take a hit on kickoff return. But if I had to guess, I'd say Evans will play.
TommyBallgameMike, enjoyed your work all year, thanks. I think the Pats should open up as they did against the Jets, multiple receivers, open it up. Very important to score first in this game to put some pressure on Rivers/Marty. What do you think?
Mike_ReissIn terms of scoring first, I ranked that as one of my three keys to this game. Make the Chargers come from behind. One coordinator I spoke with this week mentioned that would be a big advantage for the Patriots, and I went along with it. As for opening with 3 receivers, that does put some added stress on the line to protect without help from a tight end on one side. My thought would be to open with two tight ends for the help in protection, and try to pound the ball a bit on early downs.
garehow many turnovers do you think the pats can get away with without losing complete control of the game?
Mike_ReissI'd say the differential would have to be minus-1 to have a shot. I was hoping to look at that later today, and the correlation between turnovers and winning in the playoffs.
cappats_in_indyMike, I'm not that worried about LT...I'm concerned, but not worried. Belichick will at least find a way to slow him down. I'm really concerned about our offensive line holding up. Light doesn't handle speed rushers well. What do you think?
Mike_ReissI wouldn't simply dismiss LT like that. This is a special player, and even if Belichick and his staff come up with a great plan, it takes execution to get it done. As for Light, I expect him to have help from tight end Daniel Graham.
fendawgMike, I know you addressed this in your mailbag but wanted to agree with the emailer that I was very impressed with C. Jackson's play Sunday. Although he caught no passes what he did show was he has mega potential as an WR. Brady needs to get the ball out faster and farther for this guy. CJ really fights for the ball ( unlike D. Gabriel). Speaking of the latter, I noticed he was back playing for the Raiders. Do the Pat's still have to give the Raiders the draft pick? Rhetorical question really. Somehow doesn't seem fair.
Mike_ReissJackson was in for three plays on Sunday and had two balls thrown his way. To me, that was an indication of how the coaching staff views his playmaking ability. That being said, it was too small a sample for me to be impressed with his performance. He did make a nice play to break up an interception. As for Gabriel and the fifth-round pick traded to the Raiders, former Oakland coach Art Shell had previously mentioned to the Oakland press that the Raiders keep that pick.
pats_all_the_wayHey Mike, against a team like the Chargers with a great RB and a great TE would you agree that strong safety might be the most important position on the field in run support and pass coverage? How are the Pats going to overcome the loss of Harrison?
Mike_ReissAssuming a team plays a base defense, I would agree. But don't be surprised if cornerback Chad Scott is also an integral part of whatever defensive plan the Patriots employ to limit Gates's effectiveness. He's the team's biggest defensive back and I sense the team has something up its sleeve with Scott in mind.
MrinalDo the Chargers really have the extra offensive power to down the Pats?? I mean is there a weakness in that team that can be exploited?
Mike_ReissEvery team has weaknesses in my opinion. As for the Chargers' weakness, they don't have too much speed on the edges at receiver. They also have a rookie at left tackle making his first career playoff start. Some would say that's a weakness as well, although Marcus McNeill has had a terrific rookie season. Also, quarterback Philip Rivers is making his first career playoff start. You never know how someone will respond in those situations.
StuckinJerseyHey Mike. Of the potential Pats' free agents next year, which ones, if any, do you think management will try to keep at all costs? Or is this the era of anyone is dispensable?
Mike_ReissI'd put Daniel Graham atop the list, because the "all all costs" would be around $4 million with the franchise tag. I think the team would do that. I don't think this is the era in which anyone is dispensable.
boston_in_ncHi Mike. Are you in San Diego currently, and has Rodney Harrison been around the team this week? Anything to suggest he's out for the playoffs, ie., he's on crutches or has a big brace on his knee?
Mike_ReissNope. I'm still back in Foxborough. Fly out to San Diego tomorrow. The team leaves today. As for Harrison, he hasn't been around the team this week as his wife was expecting their second child.
Mike_from_the_capeMike I've predicted a 34-21 Pats victory, I believe it wil be a high scoring game, what do you think ?
Mike_ReissAlso high scoring. I picked the Patriots to pull the upset: 34-31.
bubbagreekMike, in watching the practices this week, how intense is the focus for the Pats?
Mike_ReissAll we get to see is stretching, so it's hard to measure intensity that way. In the locker room today, however, I had a brief exchange with Richard Seymour. His answers to questions were much more clipped than usual and I asked him if he was angry. "Just business," he said. "Like Sunday." That was an indication to me that their game faces are already on.
TDWhat is the latest you've heard about Rodney? Is he definitely done for this year? Is he under contract for next year?
Mike_ReissThe latest I've heard on Rodney Harrison came from his agent, Steve Feldman, yesterday. Feldman said Harrison is rehabbing and did not suffer a slight tear to his right ACL.
DenverPatriotHey Mike. Having seen the Chargers out here in Denver a while back, I am excited to see the pats have this opportunity this Sunday. I am nervous about Harrison being out for this game and any potential playoff games. Do you think we can be physical enough at that position from here on out?
Mike_ReissWhile I think the Patriots lose a tone-setter and crucial experience with Harrison out, James Sanders has been solid in his place. He's brought a physical presence. I don't think physicality will be an issue at that spot.
TDWhat player that hasn't received a lot of press leading up to the game (Brady, Seymour, Wilfork, etc.) may have the biggest impact on the outcome for the Pats?
Mike_ReissI haven't judged the press clippings, but I'll say Chad Scott. Something tells me he's going to be part of a unique defensive plan against Antonio Gates.
HartLeeDykesHi Mike, what are your thoughts about Bill deploying an unconventional Defensive look to help with run support & short/mid (Gates) yardage passes. Say a 2 DT, 5 LB set?
Mike_ReissI'd be very surprised at that. I think Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour all need to be on the field for this one. They are the foundation for that defense.
RonBurgundyHi Mike, I think outside of turnovers the key to this game will be play inside the Red Zone. I am rather surprised that this has been somewhat overlooked. It seems inevitable that SD will move the ball between the 20's but if the Pats hold true to form and stiffen up we should be in good shape. Having said that I can't find the Red Zone efficiency #'s online anywhere.
Mike_ReissBelichick said the team was working on the red zone today. The Chargers' offense ranked first during the regular season with 42 TDs in 62 trips. The Patriots' defense ranked second with only 12 TDs allowed in 35 trips. On the flip side, the Patriots' offense ranked fifth with 36 TDs in 60 trips, while the Chargers' defense ranked 29th with 27 touchdowns allowed in 47 trips.
Zeke_MowattMike, it seems the Chargers biggest weakness is Rivers inexperience and lack of poise. He has been rattled easily in their past few games. What do you think the Pats will do to rattle him?
Mike_ReissFrom a very basic standpoint, try to get him in second- and third-and-long and bring different pass rush looks so he doesn't know where the pressure is coming from.
HBScreenAllDayAny chance Belichick gets in touch with Rob Ryan down in Oakland?
Mike_ReissI don't think so on that one. I'm not sure that's a conversation that has taken place very much since Ryan left.
NEfaninDallasI love my Pats, but I just have a bad feeling about this weekend, especially because of injuries and such. Anything you can do to calm my nerves?
Mike_ReissThis is a prideful group with a veteran core, and probably the best quarterback in the game leading the way.
HBScreenAllDayLooking back at the game last year, NE had some success with a Shotgun/No Huddle attack...I'm thinking we see it again, a la Minnesota...your thoughts?
Mike_ReissThe plan in Minnesota was a four-wide, spread-the-field attack, not necessarily no-huddle. I just don't see them leaving the offensive linemen out on an island like that against a team that blitzes as much as the Chargers do. I'd tend to think they'll stay base, with two tight ends on the field most of the time.
Tom_From_Hooksett_NHHey Mike, do you think the Chargers will open up throwing, testing our secondary, in order to open things up for LT?
Mike_ReissBased on some of the comments from Marty Schottenheimer, it doesn't sound like they plan to alter much, so I'm expecting the run first, which sets up a dangerous play-action element.
TDWhat are your thoughts on "Lights Out" Merriman - entertaining or annoying? He seems awfully full of himself to me, I hope Brady & Co. crush him, then send him some popcorn to watch the AFC championship game.
Mike_ReissTerrific player. Had one scout tell me before the draft last year that he was off his team's board because of non-football-related stuff. Haven't seen enough of him to say whether he's entertaining or annoying.
AsanteMike, I want money, lots of it, am I going to get it here? Will they franchise me if i try to get it elsewhere?
Mike_ReissHi Asante. I think the franchise tag is going to be around the high $7 million mark. I don't think you'll get tagged. My hunch is that you will receive a larger offer in free agency than you will get here.
mike_2is all the bulletin board fodder that has been provided by the chargers going to motivate the pats like it has in the past?
Mike_ReissI've noticed that this week. I don't think it will make much of a difference once the ball is in the air, but it has provided a spark in their preparations. In the end, it will come down to who executes better on Sunday, as Tom Brady said as he headed out to practice today.
Junior_SeauMike, do you see the D line having the biggest impact on Rivers or Tully and/or Rosie coming up bigger vs. the SD line?
Mike_ReissThe d-line makes more plays than Banta-Cain and Colvin on a consistent basis. So I'll take the d-line.
GrahamCrackerHow confident are you about Gostkowski's kicking ability going into the playoffs?
Mike_ReissHe had a solid performance last week, but still hasn't been put in the position for a game-winning kick. It's an unknown.
jj_2can and will the pats use any of their 2006 cap space leftover money to sign samuel or graham?
Mike_ReissThat deadline to use the cap space has passed.
Yukon_CorneliusWill they involve Dave Thomas a bit more this week?
Mike_ReissThomas played 33 percent of the snaps last week. I'd expect about the same this week.
Junior_SeauMy first observation on defending the SD Offense is similar to the Indy offense in 2004. Keep them off the field. Run and short pass with Dillon, Maroney and Faulk. Gobble up the clock. Any thoughts?
Mike_ReissThis would be my plan of attack. The Chargers rank 7th in rushing yards allowed per game, but 20th in rushing average allowed. If I was offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, I'm pounding with Dillon and Maroney early, then getting Maroney the ball more as the game progresses. Maroney took 16 of the 26 second-half snaps last week, and I expect him to be a difference maker on Sunday.
BopesLooking ahead, as always, how do you think they will try and replace Samuel if/when he leaves? Via draft, free agency (thin and bloated market as it is), or maybe Willie Andrews? I just don't see why they wouldn't at the very least try and make a competitive offer to the ONLY defensive player over the last two years that makes any game-changing plays...
Mike_ReissThey still might make a competitive offer to Samuel, but the parameters have changed since talks began. The price has gone up. This is the personnel side of football in a nutshell. When are you proactive? When are you reactive? Had the Patriots and Samuel's side been more proactive at the start of the year, it might have been a done deal. But the Patriots probably wanted to see more of Samuel to know exactly what they had. Now that they've seen it, and Samuel has stepped up, the price has gone up and the team is in the reactive stage. Because of that, I see Samuel getting a bigger offer on the market than he would get here.
JulioMike, do you see Maroney or Dillon having more of an affect on this game?
Mike_ReissMaroney. More touches = more chances to make big plays.
Johnny_BostonThe Merriman/Light and Phillips/Kazcur matchups are not good for us. Do you think they'll double team Merriman and chip Phillips on most/all passing situations?
Mike_ReissYes. I think the tight ends will be key in this game, and that's why you pick them in the first round, as the team did with Daniel Graham and Benjamin Watson.
micahaelI predict Rivers to throw 2 costly interception, will this happen ?
Mike_ReissHe's only thrown nine on the season. The Chargers' 15 turnovers are the fewest in the league.
Tully_Banta-Cash_InHey Mike, I've been playing at a pretty high level recently. I even got some props from the national announcers last weekend. Am I going to cash in this offseason? Am I worried about that at all?
Mike_ReissWith more 3-4 defensive teams out there, I think you'll see a nice market for your services. But I expect you back in New England.
BuckAt this point in the season, who is your Patriots MVP?
JulioIf this game gets close will we see Vrabel score?
Mike_ReissI don't think they'll use Vrabel as an extra tight end. He's playing in a lot of pain now, so I think they'll restrict him to defense.
TerpsForPatsWhat do you think will happen in the Colts-Ravens game?
Mike_ReissI like the Ravens. Colts have been a different team on the road this year.
GCCWhat are the special teams like for San Diego?
Mike_ReissThey have a Pro Bowl coverage player in Kissim Osgood. Kickoff return ranks third in the league, punt return 17th. Kickoff coverage ranks 12th, punt coverage ranks 15th. Field goal kicker hasn't missed at home and punter is also excellent. Have a great weekend everybody. Thanks for chatting. We'll do it again next week.
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