Posts Tagged ‘Patriots Chat’

Patriots Chat: Chris Price

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Thanks to Chris Price from the great Patriots Blog It Is What It Is for stopping by and chatting about the Patriots and the NFL Draft. Make sure you follow him on Twitter as well.

Much is made each year about Coach Belichick’s penchant for moving around on Draft Day, especially down. Do you see the Patriots staying put this year, or even moving up?

I think they’ll stick with their first round pick at No. 22, but they could make some moves involving one of their three second-round selections, either using some of them to trade up to a later first-round spot or an earlier second-round spot if they think some other team is going to take a player they may be after. I don’t think, however, they’ll take any one of those first four picks and try and move into this year. This year’s draft is deep in areas of need for the Patriots, and they are going to need those this year.

The Patriots have struck gold with some undrafted free agents (Guyton, Hoyer…) and late-round picks (Cassel, Edelman…) in the past few years. To what do you attribute the success of the Patriots at finding the proverbial diamond in the rough?
The Patriots remain one of the best teams in the league at finding players who fit their system. They almost never try and place a square peg into a round hole. And in a copycat league, they also make sure to think non-traditionally when it comes to guys like that — witness what they did with Edelman.

New England is both heralded as a team that holds “character” on a pedestal, but also took chances on Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, and others. In your opinion, how much does character play a part in the Patriots draft process?
Interesting question. A couple of points: I think character does play a part in the Patriots draft process, but it’s not the end all and be all. They will take a chance on a guy in the draft if there are a couple of minor questions about his character–and they might do that with Dez Bryant or Sergio Kindle, two guys two have been linked to the Patriots by several draft gurus but have some red flags in their past. But also when you look at most of the character guys they took chances on, it’s important to remember they were already established in the league and they were acquired, not drafted.

If the Patriots stick at #22, give us who you would pick – both for the offense and the defense.
I think the Patriots need to target a pass-rusher, one of those 3-4 OLB/DE conversion types. Kindle is certainly a candidate to be there at No. 22 if they decide to go in that direction. (I would also look for guys like Brandon Graham–if Graham is there and selected, it would represent a bit of a departure for them because of his size–when it comes to his look, he’s more Elvis Dumervil than Wille McGinest, and they have rarely gone after those smaller pass rushers/edge guys.) If they go for offense, I think a pass-catching tight end is also high on their list of priorities, and Jermaine Gresham of Oklahoma would be a good fit. My “NFL Sunday” partner Christian Fauria made a good point when he said the Patriots like to pair up a veteran and a youngster or someone who is new to the system at tight end, and the combination of Crumpler and Gresham would certainly fill the bill there.


Patriots Chat: Shalise Manza-Young

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Shalise Manza-Young, spectacular New England Patriots reporter, was kind enough to take a few minutes to chat with us about the Patriots off-season so far, as well as the NFL Draft. You can read Shalise at Boston.com or follow her on Twitter.

What have you heard, if anything, about the health of Wes Welker? What’s your take on when he’ll be able to return to the team?

I haven’t really heard anything directly myself. The timetable for an ACL is around nine months, and Welker’s surgery was on Feb. 3, which means nine months is Nov. 3. As a receiver, and as the receiver Welker is with the cutting and juking and such, his recovery will take longer than Brady’s. Personally, I think it will be Thanksgiving at the earliest before we see him on the field trying to play. And don’t forget, he also underwent the rotator cuff surgery, so he’s rehabbing two things.

With the Patriots taking care of their own this off-season, rather than going for other big name free agents, do you feel that the Patriots front office feels that this team can win the Super Bowl with a few minor tweaks through the NFL Draft?
I’m not sure if that they feel the team as it is now can win a Super Bowl, but I do think they felt that because of the CBA rules and UFA/RFA changes that some of the best free agents who were available were their own guys, so they made the effort to retain them. The chances of the Pats (or any NFL team for that matter) finding four or five players in the draft who make major impacts as rookies are extremely slim, so you can’t count on the draft to improve your team that dramatically until two or three years down the line.

In your opinion, what has been the most underrated transaction so far this off-season for the Patriots?
To me it was re-signing Leigh Bodden. Once they franchised Vince, things that were said on both sides made it pretty clear he would be staying in New England (and really, with the number of teams now playing a 3-4, the Pats had no choice). But Bodden was another story — they have traditionally put a price tag on cornerbacks, and if you want more than that, they let you go. So while Bodden didn’t get a king’s ransom, they certainly did right by him. He’s pretty young, a good locker room guy and with another season in the defensive system I think he’ll show improvement above the better-than-solid season he gave them last year.

Are you surprised by the Patriots bringing in a guy like Dez Bryant for a visit, or are they just doing their due diligence?
I think it was a due diligence thing, and I go back to Brandon Meriweather for this one. Meriweather was considered a punk and a risk when the Pats drafted him because of the shooting incident and his actions during the UM-FIU brawl. But Bill Belichick spent time with Meriweather pre-draft, made his own assessment of the young man, and Meriweather has been a model citizen since coming here. Does that mean Bryant’s story ends the same way? No, but it shows New England will take a chance on a kid considered a risk if they have a good feeling about him.

One last thing – give us your prediction for pick #22. Pick the player or make the trade.
For the sake of the team and its fans, I hope like heck they at a minimum stand pat or maybe move up — not move down. That said, at number 22 I’m taking Sergio Kindle (Texas) if he’s there — physically he fits New England’s prototype for OLBs and Belichick has a great deal of respect for Texas DC Will Muschamp, who used to coach under Nick Saban.


Five Questions for WEEI’s Christopher Price

Friday, September 11th, 2009

I’d like to thank Christopher Price for answering our questions for him about this upcoming 2009 Patriots season. He has some great insight — make sure you catch his show from 9am-Noon on WEEI this Sunday.

1. With the apparent change in defensive scheme compounded by the large amount of turnover, is this too much change defensively for the Patriots? When do you see the Pats D finally hitting their stride?

There is a lot of change on the defensive side of the ball — four big contributors from last year (Seymour, Harrison, Vrabel and Hobbs) are all gone, and a fifth (Bruschi) — who didn’t play a whole lot but still commanded tremendous respect in all corners of the locker room — is gone as well. However, there are still some great players in that locker room — if they stay healthy, I believe Thomas and Mayo are primed to have Pro Bowl caliber seasons. Wilfork has few peers across the rest of the league. Warren can be a dominant force. And Sanders has quietly emerged as a stabilizing presence in the secondary. Those five guys will have a lot on their plate — almost all of them will have added responsibilities in some way or another this season. However, if they can step up and assume the leadership roles that the departed players had filled (and many of them, like Sanders and Mayo, have already done just that), I think the Patriots will be OK.

That being said, I think the days of the Patriots winning games with their defense are truly done. These are not going to be the 2003-2004 Patriots where they can win games 13-7. I think this year, we’ll see an awful lot of 31-28 scores, where the Patriots will simply outscore the other team with a once-in-a-generation offense. As for the defense hitting its stride, I’m not really sure about that one. I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of overly dominating defensive performances from New England this year. But Belichick has always said that you have to be playing your best football from Thanksgiving on, and that’s going to have to be the case with this defense.

2. With Josh McDaniels in Denver, the Patriots are left with no true offensive coordinator. Will Bill O’Brien do enough this year to warrant a promotion in 2010?

That remains to be seen. However, O’Brien has done a lot to make this offense his own, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be on the same track as McDaniels in the next year or so. Throughout the spring practices and summer camps, I saw him as a very hands-on coach who commanded the full attention of any player he spoke with. On and off the record, the players genuinely respect him and his football knowledge. Tom Brady speaks very highly of him, and it certainly looked like he was the guy who was in command of the New England offense throughout the preseason.

3. Now that Scott Pioli has moved on to redder pastures, does Coach Belichick have an effective counterpoint in the front office? Good or bad, it seems like the Patriots have lost some of their patience with their personnel.

I honestly believe the counterpoint for Belichick in the New England front office is Floyd Reese. I see him as a consigliere for Belichick, a senior confidant who spends his time whispering in Belichick’s ear and isn’t afraid to tell the head coach exactly what he believes. Belichick greatly respects his football knowledge, and holds his opinion in high esteem. From what I can see, Reese has quickly become a very integral part of the New England front office. He was the guy who negotiated all the rookie contracts, and agents have spoken with him say he’s a tough but fair guy to deal with. Nick Caserio may eventually grow into the same sort of role, but right now, I’d say Reese is Belichick’s right hand man.

4. What weakness that we don’t see now will rear its head before the season is over?

Great question. I don’t know if it will end up being a weakness per se, but when it comes to overall unknowns at this point, I keep coming back to the secondary, specifically cornerback. They made wholesale changes and added some interesting parts, and they will be better than they were last year. I think Leigh Bodden is going to be a really good pickup — his time in Cleveland with Romeo Crennel gave him the experience in a Belichick-style system. He seemed not to have any problems picking things up this summer. But there are still a ton of questions, and if they suffer their usual season-ending injury to a corner that seems to happen every year, there could be some serious issues. No one knows if Shawn Springs has anything left in the tank — he didn’t play enough in the preseason to get a real read as to where he might be. Can Jonathan Wilhite make the leap this season? Can Terrence Wheatley shake off a miserable preseason and get back on the same track he was last year as a rookie when he was asked to cover Marvin Harrison? Can Darius Butler give you anything?

5. The CBA isn’t even close to being done at this point, and an uncapped year seems imminent. Since the Patriots are usually ahead of the curve – What are the Patriots doing now to prepare that no one else is?

Another great question. I think the best example can be seen in the fact that they’re not handing out a whole lot of lengthy deals. You never know when the landscape is going to change, and how the rules might change along with them.

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