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Mon., Aug. 31, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EDT
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Tue., Sep. 01, 2015 11:55 AM to 2:00 PM EDT
Ask PFW: Cutting to the chase
With Armond Armstead now not available for a while, as well as Cory Grissom, do you believe Marcus Forston is now a lock to make the roster?
I’ve thought for some time that Forston had a very good chance to make the roster, but the loss of Armstead (NFI for at least six weeks) and Grissom (IR) certainly makes his chances even that much better. Depth on the interior of the defensive line is an issue right now. Joe Vellano got the start at defensive tackle and played a lot in the third preseason game, so maybe that undrafted rookie has a chance to stick as well. I also wouldn’t be surprised if another defensive lineman, maybe a veteran, was brought in at some point, maybe after cuts. They already made a move in that direction by reportedly claiming undrafted rookie Gilbert Pena off waivers from the Packers. But right now, Forston seems to be the top guy behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly on a very thin (ironically!) defensive tackle depth chart.
Hey guys, love the work. I know I may be going out on a limb with this, and I must admit, I'm not usually one to hit the panic button. BUT... I see Steve Gregory getting a lot of 1st team reps in games. I think Adrian Wilson hasn't impressed quite the way he was expected to thus far, and Tavon Wilson (who I was hoping would win the starting job this year) has just been terrible. I know it’s early in the season, but I saw more than I wanted to of Gregory last year, and it’s obvious the Pats did too as evidenced by all the SS help they brought in this offseason. If he's still winning the starting reps, is it a good idea to bring in early cuts from other rosters? Giants Kenny Phillips is available, and so isn’t Tom Zbikowski. Tom is no superstar, he's struggled in this league some, but he offers some special teams depth and could possibly help at safety. Kenny Phillips has a knee that’s questionable, but honestly, I'd rather see Kenny out there with double pegged legs then Gregory anymore. Your thoughts on adding SS help from the NFL scrap heap, AKA the free agency list?
The safety spot next to Devin McCourty certainly remains a question mark. A big part of that has to do with the Wilsons. Adrian hasn’t been too impressive this summer and could very well have lost more than even the skeptics expected when New England signed him. Tavon has seemingly not taken the big jump that many hoped he would in his second season as a second-round pick. Tavon looks the part, but has never put it together on the field and has been passed up this summer in terms of reps by rookie Daron Harmon. All that said, I’m not as down on Gregory as many fans seem to be. I don’t think he’s a great player, but I also don’t think he’s the abysmal player that many portray him as. I love the idea of Adrian Wilson being a big hitter and tone setter in the back end. But even after watching him in practice all summer and preseason, I’m not sure he has enough left from his once-elite skills. All that said, I don’t see anyone out there right now who would add significantly to the mix in the back end. Worst come to worst, it is back to Gregory. But unlike you, I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world.
I love these, “Do you think Brady could…” questions. As impressive an all-around person as Brady is, I think he could do almost anything after his playing career and be successful at it. That could include business, politics, acting, coaching and whatever else he might be interested it. But given his commitments to his family and his desire to have a large family, I’m not sure the time-consuming life of coaching is really in the cards for No. 12. Coaching in the NFL, or even in college for that matter, takes a huge commitment and can put a stress on family life. I’m not sure Brady would be looking to lead that life when he’s done playing.
Regarding the Detroit game everyone is talking a lot about the drops. But I was more concerned with the O-Line. When we played the Ravens last year Tom had people in his face most of the game. Same thing happened against Detroit. It seems when the NE O-line faces Pro Bowl caliber D-Lines they don't look so good. It was hard to tell who was playing in the game at O-Line. Was that the starting line? If so is anyone else concerned?
While I’m not overly concerned, it was a little disappointing to see the Patriots offensive line get pushed around so much in Detroit. That was the starting offensive line, of course right now that includes Will Svitek rotating with Dan Connolly at right guard. And the action did take place against a very good, athletic Lions defensive line. But the Patriots have invested a lot of draft picks and money to put together their own line. The group is very solid, but has struggled at times against certain defensive fronts. That was the case in Detroit, both in terms of run blocking and pass protection. Given all the other changes on the offense, I’d like to see the offensive line take the next step and truly become an elite unit that can be counted on each week, even in tough matchups. That wasn’t exactly the case in Detroit but we’ll see if it improves moving forward. I know Logan Mankins has talked this spring about doing better as a group in such matchups, specifically in terms of being able to run the ball against some of the league’s better run defenses.
Would you think the PATS might be interested in kicking the tires on Kickalicious? He actually showed a good strong leg and made some 50 yarders in Detroit...
I think that the Patriots are pretty settled right now at kicker with Stephen Gostkowski, even though he didn’t have the best summer. If the team had any concerns or was looking for competition I think you would have seen another kicker brought in much earlier than this point. Havard Rugland – the real name of the man known as Kickalicious – is certainly an intriguing modern day internet sensation. He didn’t make it with the Lions, but I urge everyone who hasn’t seen his trick kicking videos to look him up on YouTube. You won’t be sorry.
At this point it certainly seems that undrafted free agent Kenbrell Thompkins has the chance to be the biggest impact rookie receiver for the Patriots. He’s been the most consistent in that group this summer. He’s been working almost non-stop with the top offense. He’s made plays underneath the defense and, last week in Detroit, showed the ability to get off the line, get behind the defense and make plays down the field. On defense, as I’ve said all along, I think it’s important that Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower make big strides in their sophomore seasons. I think Jones has the ability to become an impact playmaker who could very well alter the entire defense. Hightower has the versatility to be an incredibly useful force all over the defensive front. If both guys can show big improvements I really think it will go a long way toward improving the defense as a whole.
Every time I hear about training camp and watch the preseason games I hear that Jake Bequette is underperforming and that we should just cut him already. What I don't understand is that if he produced as highly as he did in the defense-rich, NFL-ready conference of the SEC and was given a redshirt year to gain muscle and work on learning film why beat writers and analysts are so inclined to write him off so quickly. This is a player after all who has similar measurables to J.J Watt and should be able to spell Ninkovich as an end of the line 'backer. Thoughts on his possible role this year or do you think he's going to get cut?
I was very much in the camp that Bequette could be an early impact player when he was drafted last year based on his work in the SEC. But it just never came to fruition. For the better part of the last year he’s failed to show up much – even in practice field reps. He’s even talked recently about his own slow progress trying to get to the point where he can contribute. The fact that he has similar measurables as other elite players, like Watt for example, is irrelevant. Many guys have the same height and weight, but that doesn’t make them the same type of players. Given his complete inability to show up on either the practice field or the game field, as well as the fact that rookie Michael Buchanan seemed to be ahead of him in terms of reps this summer, I do think there is a chance that Bequette could be cut in just his second season. Theoretically he would seem to be an option as a sub rusher and backup defensive end. Unfortunately we’ve never really seen a single sign of that theory coming to reality.
What are the chances that Aaron Dobson becomes the number two receiver, due to the emergence of Kenbrell Thompkins?
This question could be read two different ways, and I’m not sure exactly what you mean. Are you of the belief that Dobson was going to be the No. 1 receiver and Thompkins has pushed him down to No. 2? Or, are you thinking that Thompkins has elevated to No. 2 and you wondering if Dobson could work his way back into that role? See my confusion? Anyway, I’ll simply run down the depth chart as I see it. I know some people don’t consider a slot guy to be a No. 1 receiver, but that’s what I’d call Danny Amendola (just as I thought Wes Welker was the Patriots No. 1 receiver in recent years). After Amendola, it looks like Thompkins will be the other starter and has the chance to be the No. 2 target at receiver. Dobson is probably next in line, although he still clearly needs to work on getting more separation in his route running and becoming more consistent. Hope that answers your question!
How do you explain the number of very good X-Patriots who do "so-so" for their new teams after leaving New England? The likes of Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, David Givens and Deion Branch come to mind. On the other hand, average players seem to blossom when they arrive at Foxboro. Wes Welker is a great example. What is it about New England that does this and how much credit does Bill Belichick get?
This is a common question and I don’t really agree with your depiction of the situation. Though they were aging players at the time they left New England and on the back-end of their careers, both Law and Milloy had very productive seasons in their post-Patriots careers. The two other guys you mention, both Givens and Branch, got injured when they left. Givens had a career-ending knee injury. And Branch actually had very similar numbers in Seattle when he was healthy – without Tom Brady – that he had in New England. But, in general I do give Belichick a lot of credit for getting the most out of his players. He does a good job of putting them in positions and roles to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Not all teams and coaches do that very well. I also give him credit for doing a good job of scouting his own talent and knowing what value it has and when to move on from it.
Can you see Kenbrell Thompkins being the future of the New England Patriots? I'm asking because he's played very well this preseason and looks like a great target for Brady. Should I be worried about our offense this year? Or is our defense as really good as they say it this year? Help me out #patriotnation
Let’s not put the cart before the horse with Thompkins. He has had a very impressive summer, especially for an undrafted rookie. But anointing him the future of the Patriots is a bit much. Let’s wait to see what he can do in actual game action, against top defenses and schemes. We all know the offense is in a bit of a transition and that Thompkins is one of the many new faces who’ll be counted on to contribute. The offense is not the sure thing it has been in recent years. But with Brady at the helm alongside Amendola and a returning Gronkowski there is still plenty of reason to believe the offense will be a productive unit, even if it’s not quite as elite as it has been of late. As for the defense, I’m not sure who is saying how good it is going to be for New England this year. The unit clearly has the potential to be better, but like Thompkins, there is plenty left to be proven when the actual games begin. The biggest questions come in the back end and with the pass defense. I certainly think the defense should be better, but given its struggles in recent years the unit still has to turn potential into reality on the field before we’ll know for sure.
Hi guys, With the uncertainty at the WR position, with the recent release of Donte Stallworth do you think we'll make a play to pick him up, given his familiarity with our system or merely stick with the rookies and develop them? Would still love to see us pick up Dallas Clark if the price is right. What are your thoughts?
I think Belichick and the Patriots have clearly decided they’re willing to go with the rookie receivers. I also don’t think that Stallworth has much left and is probably at the end of his career at this point. Maybe if an emergency were to crop up at receiver during the season, Stallworth would be an option thanks to his familiarity. Otherwise, let’s see what the young receivers can do. They certainly have much more of an upside than a fading veteran. I’d say something similar at tight end with a guy like Zach Sudfeld. Let’s see what he can do before we try bringing in veterans whose best days are clearly behind them. I also like the depth at that spot with a guy like Daniel Fells, who’s still in the prime of his career even if he’s not the pass catcher that Clark once way in Indy.
Hi guys! Greetings from Italy. Love your work...I have my idea on Tebow: I think that the real reason to keep him on the roster is to practice against the read option offense. Maybe we'll use him in other situations (special teams, blocker, water boy...) during the regular season to justify his roster spot .Your thoughts?
This has been a common idea with people struggling to figure out what Tebow’s role might be in New England. While he’s certainly an experienced guy running the option, he’s not exactly similar to some of the read-option guys making headlines in the league. Guys like Russell Wilson and RG3 are more athletic, speed-based runners than Tebow. Tebow is unique athlete at the quarterback position whose running is based on his power more than speed. So while he does offer some ability as a scout team quarterback to run the option, I’m not sure that would be enough to keep him on the roster, especially since the Patriots may not face too many read-option guys this season depending on how the QB battles work out in Buffalo and New York. If Tebow does make the 53-man roster later this week, I think we’ll all continue to debate what exactly his role will be with the team – both short and long term.