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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: 10+7-12=3-0

New England continues to win despite a strange set of circumstances at the quarterback position over the first month of 2016. Plenty of questions about that position and many more fill out another undefeated edition of Ask PFW!

Hey guys, I know we are in the mist of the 2016 season, but I have some interesting thoughts about the 2017 free agency and would like to know what you think. I would trade injury-prone Gronk, trade Jimmy G, not re-sign Vollmer, sign-and-trade injury-prone Hightower, which will bring in high level draft picks (1st, 2nd, 3rd rounders) not to mention free up money to re-sign all the other free agents. Gronk is just too unreliable and plays only 10 - 12 games a year. We can get a high return on him now! We could re-sign Collins, Sheard, Butler, Ryan, Bennett, Long...etc. What are your thoughts? Go Pats!!
Mel B.

I'm sorry, you lost me at trading Gronk. The guy missed a couple weeks with a hamstring injury. For the record, he's averaged 13 games played in his six seasons, playing at least 15 games in four of the six years. Sure, he's had injury issues. I think that comes with the position he plays and the style he plays. But, I would never choose to move on from the guy I believe to be the most important non-quarterback in New England and maybe all of football. Hey, maybe that's just me. Unless you are talking about the franchise tag, I don't really understand your sign-and-trade plan for Hightower. That's more an NBA thing than an NFL thing. And, if you are talking about the franchise tag, I'd be worried that means Collins hits the open market, gets a massive offer and is long gone. At this point it does seem more likely the team will trade Garoppolo – ideally for a first-round pick but that might be a stretch given the limited market and fact that a team would also have to give him a big contract. I am all for the team re-signing Hightower, Sheard, Collins and Butler. I don't think there is much of a chance of Ryan returning because I think he'll get a big offer in free agency that neither I nor the Patriots will think he's worth. Really, though, I can't get past you wanting to trade Gronk. That's just blasphemy. 
Andy Hart

If the Pats play Edelman at QB against the Bills and win, in your mind would this serve as retribution for Deflategate and also do you think Ryan would be released?

I don't think anything can really serve as retribution for the mud that Tom Brady and the Patriots have been dragged through in the Deflategate situation. It certainly doesn't return the first-round pick or fine money, either. But it would be a nice feeling to get through the month-long Brady suspension with an undefeated record and the fill-in QBs getting the job done. As for Ryan, his team's win last week probably bought him at least a few more weeks regardless of what happens this Sunday. Although if he watches a slot receiver play quarterback and beat his team it might drive he and his long-haired brother to insanity, if they haven't already reached that point.
Andy Hart

With no 100% healthy QB for week 4, and concern over putting Edelman in that position, do you think BB will go outside or look to someone like AJ Derby who is more familiar with the system?
John DuBois

The easy answer to this is that the injury report will be out on Wednesday and that will give us a slightly better understanding of the quarterback depth chart. Since it's Tuesday and the Patriots have not brought in another quarterback I get the feeling there is some level of hope or expectation that either Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett or both will be healthy enough for Sunday. That would leave Edelman, at worst, as the backup. If both are ready, that should be enough to get through one more game before Brady returns. I have said all along I hate the idea of Edelman playing quarterback. Not only does it remove the team's most productive receiver from the offense – many tell me he's the most important Patriots player not named Brady – for the game but, given the increased chance of injury a player faces when playing an unfamiliar position, puts him at risk moving forward as well. I don't think the risk vs. reward is worth it. But that's just my opinion. I would actually prefer to see Derby as the backup/emergency guy given his lesser role in the offense, even though he was moved from QB in college for a reason and doesn't know the New England system as well as Edelman. But as the week goes on, the likelihood that the team signs an outside QB goes down and the chances that at least one of the young backups is healthy go way up.
Andy Hart

As the season progresses, do you see an opportunity for Barkevious Mingo to get more snaps as a situational pass rusher? He showed a nice burst in the preseason game against the Giants. At this time, he is basically a special teams player. Thank you.
Gary Madera

Yes. The more comfortable Mingo gets in the system the better his chances of having at least a sub role on defense. There is no question he was fun to watch in the preseason finale and showed physical skills. But, he does have a decent number of guys ahead of him on the depth chart. As the season goes on and injuries become an issue, though, I would expect there will be chances for him to try and prove his worth on defense. But we do need to remember that he's only been in New England and learning the defense for about a month. He missed a lot of reps this offseason that can't be made up. Still, I'll be surprised if Mingo doesn't have an impact on defense at some point this season. It's a long year.
Andy Hart

I'm not buying this cute idea of having Julian Edelman at QB, and I don't think the great Andy Hart is either. So, if neither Brissett nor Jimmy G can play Sunday, who can the Pats bring in? Perhaps a Matt Flynn or Ryan Lindley; both spent some time on the roster?
Jessica Czisack

You are right, I am great. (Sorry, I answered that like Donald Trump might.) Oh, and I don't buy/like the idea of Edelman at QB. Seems like nothing but trouble, even if it would lead to some fun highlights and analysis. As I said, the longer we go without a QB signing I take it as a sign that at least one if not both of the young backups will be good enough to go. And one of those guys at some lesser health is probably better than the street guys you mention coming in and trying to run a crash course to refresh the offense. I get the feeling Garoppolo will be the starter, but that's just my gut after a week-plus of time for him to heal. The quarterback position has been utterly entertaining all year in New England, what's one more week of it?
Andy Hart

Some national media pundits are singing endless praises to Patriots and I don't care about any of it. Patriots deserve praise for starting 3-0, but they have beaten some paper contenders so far. Meanwhile, our arch-nemesis in Denver is quietly 3-0 with a rookie QB beating quality teams at home and on the road. And they have a defense, including the guys in secondary who abuse the opposing receivers and punish them for every catch, while our secondary does not have a single enforcer, just a bunch of nice guys trying to do their job. And when we play them, our offensive guys get beat, and I don't understand, why BB will not bring Rodney Harrison-type player in the secondary to do what Patriots used to do - instill some fear which the Broncos copied from us, and they may end up getting back-to-back SBs because of their aggressive and punishing D?
Jack Drebin

I don't think the Broncos success is based on their safety play or big hitting in the back end. Rather, I think they put together a well-round defense that has one of the better pairs of cornerbacks in the game matched with a pass rush led by one of the best impact, front-seven players in the game today. I also don't know that Harrison's style translates to the way the league has trended in recent years. I think he would be penalized endlessly. There is no question he was great for his time, but the game has changed in a direction that I don't think he would have loved or necessarily fit in with. Patrick Chung is probably the Patriots best hitter in the back end. Jamie Collins adds some hitting ability and energy. But, playing defense in the modern NFL, especially in the back end, is as much about matching up athletically with the offense as it is setting a physical tone. Like it or not. And, I'm not ready to crown Trevor Siemian and the Broncos just yet.
Andy Hart

Hi from the Isle of Man. With Brady and Ninko due back after week 4, who do think are most at risk of losing their roster spots? I'd hate to think AJ Derby and D.J. Foster are at risk but looking at the inactives in Week 3, I'm worried. Gronk was very limited and they still had Derby inactive and Foster got 4 snaps in week 2, with two targets and a carry but was then inactive in Week 3. Are they seriously at risk or is just that with a rookie at quarterback the game plan for Week 3 was for power rushing with blocking ability more important? What do you think and who do you think is at risk? With such a talented roster, I can't see anybody clearing waivers to get to the practice squad. If Brady and Jimmy are both healthy, might they try to use the thumb injury as an excuse to store Brissett on IR?
Len Carmody

Hey guys. First off, I am a big fan of PFW all of the way from WA state. I know that this was mentioned a few weeks ago but as things get closer to Tommy Terrific's return (along with Ninkovich) who do you think may be taken off of the active roster to make room? Since this was last discussed, I haven't seen too many updates on injuries. And just to clarify, anyone that they release with the intention of reaching the practice squad would still have to pass through waivers first, correct? Once again, I appreciate the help. I hope to end up in Foxboro one day!
Travis K.

After week 4 against the Bills, who do you see being cut from the roster to make way for Brady and Ninkovich?
Joshua MacMinn

Though there is a good chance the league gives the Patriots a one-week roster exemption for the players returning from suspension, this is a great question. Clearly Brady will be added to the roster for the Browns game and will start in Cleveland. Bill Belichick told us that before training camp even started. Given Ninkovich's summer triceps injury, he could use the exemption, though. Either way, two guys will clearly have to go in the next week-plus. Brissett's reported thumb injury could pave the way for him to land on injured reserve, as the Patriots have only carried two quarterbacks the last couple years. Certainly defensive lineman John Hughes, the former Browns lineman reportedly signed this week to replace Anthony Johnson, could be a candidate to have a short stay in Foxborough. Derby, who's been inactive two of three weeks is also an option. So, too, is linebacker Elandon Roberts, who seems to have a limited role as he was active but did not play in Week 3. There is also the chance that another injury pops up this week that could play a role in this decision. 
Andy Hart

As much I am long-term Patriots wagoner, I still wonder, what happened in KC when Patriots were humiliated or when they allowed three special teams TDs against the Eagles at home? Sure Patriots lose games, but why how do such breakdowns occur that not even the G.O.A.T. coach can prevent them?
Collin Daring

It's called football. It's why they play the games. The fine line between winning and losing in the NFL is just that damn close. And it doesn't take much in certain scenarios, for a loss to get out of control. That's just the reality, even if it doesn't come to fruition too often under Belichick's watch. No coach, player or team is anywhere near perfect. It's like the Punnett square we all learned about in biology class. Belichick's Patriots are the dominant trait and most often win out. But, sometimes the recessive opponent wins the day. So be nice to your blonde-haired cousin who doesn't fit with the rest of the family.
Andy Hart

Some commentators are saying that even if Patriots go 3-1, no big deal and they should be proud of it. Well, sure, but do we want to lose to Rex & Co at home? Besides, what about "onto the Bills"? Why should Patriots take a long-view and not do the best to win the next game? And if it takes placing Brissett on IR and bringing in say Yates to QB, I think they can get the job done. Besides, they need a QB who is healthy enough to practice all week. So which QB would you start?
G. Drebin

Big week for the Drebin family here at Ask PFW. Could Frank be next? Anyway, be clear that Belichick and the Patriots will do everything they can to win this week. Don't make assumptions on the quarterback position based on what have been very much varied and inconsistent reports regarding the health of Garoppolo and Brissett over the last week-plus. Belichick has more information and will put that to use in his decision making. I'm assuming Garoppolo is going to be ready to play, maybe Brissett too. Would a 100-percent T.J. Yates on a crash course in New England be better than the two banged-up Patriots? It doesn't seem like that's the case the way Belichick has handled the situation. I tend to agree with him. If his guys are good enough to play then they are good enough for now.
Andy Hart

Alright guys! I read Ask PFW every week and I look forward to it. Last week's Ask PFW seemed like it was a bit short. Enough questions about our QB issues. That topic gets plenty of coverage. So let me give you a question that will make you type a bit more. My question for you...can you provide your assessment of the different free agents that we signed this year - Bennett, McClellin, Cooper, Harbor, Hogan, Long, Mingo, Rowe and Johnson? I may have missed some. Looking to see who you think was a good move based upon their performance so far, who shows the most potential and any longevity with the Patriots past their contract. Thanks fellas!
Steven Isenhour

Sorry about last week, I'll have to tell Erik Scalavino to try a little harder. Or, maybe we can bring in a free agent writer to push him a little bit on the PFW depth chart! Assessing the free agent additions (and trades, which brought Jonathan Cooper, Martellus Bennett, Mingo and Eric Rowe) are probably a bit premature at this point. But hey, they call me Mr. Premature. (Why is everyone laughing?) I think Bennett has been the best addition, followed closely by Chris Long. The two veterans have played well and filled in for key missing veterans. Bennett, in particular, has had varied roles through three weeks and succeeded in each of them. Long has shown he has more than just something left in the tank at end. Chris Hogan would be next in line as he's been a solid fit in the offense and I think before the year is over he's going to have some real big games in his new uniform. After that, I'd say it's a bunch of incompletes or even disappointments. Cooper missed all summer to the foot injury. Though he's returned to practice, he's inactive each week. Is that due to health or is he simply not one of the best seven active linemen? I'm starting to think it could be the latter. McClellin has been a guy that I've not seen much from to prove his value, even dating back to the summer. Given the $3.5 million guarantee he was paid as a free agent his suspect start is disappointing, but he still has plenty of time to pay off. Harbor has been a depth guy, while Mingo has been just asked to play on special teams after his late arrival. Rowe was an even later arrival and has been hurt. Anthony Johnson flashed a bit as a nice summer and early-season story, but he was also cut this week.
Andy Hart

How difficult would it be to sub OG Jonathan Cooper for OT Marcus Cannon on running plays? It seems like Cannon is always standing around out there, indicating (we think) that he has missed his block. With Vollmer likely out for the season, do we not need a better solution than OT Cannon? Is there any chance "mountain of a man" OT LaAdrian Waddle can get coached up to play right tackle in time for the playoffs? He has looked very stiff out there when I was watching him. What about substituting "Road Grader" OG Jonathan Cooper on early downs to help with the run? Is there any way to get Cannon off the field without making things worse?
Ralph Colucci

First, we all need to come to grips with the fact that Belichick and the Patriots like Cannon and think more of him as a player than we all do. That's the simple reality of the situation. No, I don't think it's possible to have a run/pass platoon at right tackle. That would be a huge giveaway to the defense. I also don't think that Cooper is a tackle at this point in his career. Heck, we don't even know if he's a guard worthy of breaking the lineup. As for Waddle, he's an interesting guy. Almost immediately upon arrival he saw reps at left tackle late last season as a waiver-wire pickup from the Lions. Now, he's been inactive, including a week of Cameron Fleming playing left tackle. I find that whole situation curious. Either Waddle has regressed since last year or Fleming, who was cut last summer and then returned to the practice squad and eventually active roster, has shown much improvement over the last year. The bottom line, though, is that the Patriots think Cannon is their best choice at right tackle when Sebastian Vollmer is out of the equation. It's been that way for years and doesn't seem like it's going to change, regardless of what we outsiders might think.
Andy Hart

Hey Guys. Something I've always wondered about is how teams protect their playbook. With a constant flurry of roster activity how do teams make sure players aren't copying their playbook and bringing it with them to their next team? Is it simply an honor code or is there something in place to prevent this?

Nowadays, with many teams putting playbooks on tablet computers, the issue has changed. Now, teams can erase those tablets remotely at any point they need to. I also do think there is some type of honor code. A player who tried to photocopy a book in the old days and then bring it to his next employer would be seen as a bit of a security risk in my opinion. It's kind of like if someone cheats in a relationship. If they do it with you, what makes you think they won't also cheat on you? Now, if a playbook is simply lost and found somehow, I think teams would put it to use. But I don't think too many borderline roster players are trying to bring playbooks with them from one team to another. It would probably be frowned upon by all involved. And now tablets have changed the process as well.
Andy Hart

Hello writer guys. Love reading your articles on my breaks, just wondering after a few years ago when the consensus was the Patriots "HAD" to draft a tight end because of Gronk's injuries, would you say the recent release of Amaro and Seferian-Jenkins and lack of great production in that draft class post Ebron has vindicated the Patriots scouting. These were players we were heavily linked with yet we took Easley (Bust I know) and Jimmy G who looks great value for the 62nd pick now. Thanks.
United Kingdom

Certainly the production or lack of it that those high-profile tight end prospects have had in the NFL makes any team that didn't select them look better. And the Patriots have done fine without another tight end, thanks in large part to the fact that Gronkowski has had two pretty healthy seasons with more than 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns. Hard to argue that Easley was a good pick on any level given how quickly he was jettisoned from Foxborough. So New England didn't miss on a tight end but rather a defensive lineman. And the team's kept winning. That's what matters most.
Andy Hart

The Patriots could have much better RB choices, overall, and their ignorance on improvements upon the RB position continue to bug me.
John Moore

This isn't a question, but I thought it was interesting given that LeGarrette Blount leads the NFL through three weeks with 298 yards rushing. James White has been more than good enough as the passing back working with two different quarterbacks. I don't believe a lot has changed with Blount. I think he is who he is. He's a guy that has a lot of short runs and then tends to break off one big one if given enough carries. Given the changes at quarterback the Patriots have probably had to have more faith in Blount and given him more carries than would be the case if Tom Brady were in the mix. Blount and the line have been good enough and done the job at the ends of games when needed most. Still, I think there is plenty of room for improvement at the running back position and the ground contributions early in games. I also wouldn't rule out seeing Bishop Sankey get a chance at some point during the long NFL season. But right now, Blount has done the job. Maybe we should hold off on the criticisms for at least a couple weeks.
Andy Hart

With stellar playcalling and several years since his little dictator act and Tebow pick at Denver, it's pretty clear that Josh will be hotly pursued in the offseason for his second go at HC. Where do you think that's most likely? Normally I would think that Stan Kroenke would want a new face for Kroenke World in LA (possibly taking Brady?) but didn't they just extend the mediocre Fisher? Jags are tiring of Bradley, Colts are desperate to move on from Pagano, and then there's Bobby Quinn as GM in Detroit. And who replaces Josh. Concerned about a drop-off— that there's an inevitable step down. One example— the storyline on Brissett was that he was NOT like the recent run-option QBs like RGII and Kaepernick, that at NC State, he only ran as a last option, that he preferred to stay in the pocket. O'Brien HAD to be thinking that. And then Josh-Bill dial up multiple designed runs and QB draws just for Brissett? I'm in awe. Great that he's the first black QB for Patriots— but is that accurate? Didn't Bishop start at all in 2000 when he was ahead of Brady on the depth chart? You guys are great, thought the video pregame show before the Color Rush Thursday game with that guy covering the Texans was great. He was very insightful, and questions were great. So much better than just having some homer spouting platitudes.
Pete Clark

Whoa, that's a long email! I do think Josh McDaniels continues to add to his already impressive resume. And I would assume this could be the year that he gets another chance as a head coach. He deserves it. Like Belichick in Cleveland, I'm sure McDaniels learned a lot in Denver that will better prepare him a second time around. He must be careful to pick the right spot for him, though. Certainly the two places I think are top considerations are Detroit and Tennessee, both led by former Patriots personnel men. Both have quarterbacks that McDaniels can work with. Both have what I think are journeyman head coaches ready for a change as the team wants to turn the corner and build something. I think Tennessee, where McDaniels would work with Jon Robinson and Marcus Mariota, could be the top spot. I'd also put Indianapolis as a possible spot, but more of a longshot given potential concerns that I would have, looking from afar, with the ownership and GM. Jacksonville is another possibility with strong offensive talent that just can't turn the corner and win. I also wouldn't rule out spots like Buffalo, Cincinnati or even L.A., regardless of what Kroenke has to pay to make it happen. Yes, Brissett was the first black quarterback to start for the Patriots, Bishop never started a game.
Andy Hart

Is there any chance that someone like Mr. Kraft, Tom Brady or even Bill's [girlfriend] can convince Bill that he seriously needs a wardrobe upgrade? Seems he has been wearing the same old long sleeve dress blue shirt all season long, that is whenever he is not dressed in his sweats. Come to think of it, who is the most dapperly attired NFL coach anyway? Thanks.
Derrick Vendettuoli

No chance. Belichick has made it this far with his own unique "style" and I can't see him changing it any time soon. Successful old dogs don't learn new tricks, no matter who is trying to train them! As a guy in his late 30s who still has his Structure 6-button polos from high school, I can appreciate a man with questionable fashion sense who sticks with what he's comfortable with. Leave Belichick alone! As for the best-dressed coach in the NFL, I defer to Erik Scalavino on these types of questions. He said it's Pete Carroll.

Andy Hart

So, the new (and old) dig is that our players are only successful in "the system". I believe it was Eric Mangini who once admitted on NFL Network that he got "fired twice running the same system." I would love your opinion on why our players don't get that respect in the media. What is so significantly different regarding the Patriots "system" as far as having 11 guys on the field at any moment ready to play?  I ask because it would seem as though Weiss, O'Brien, Crennel, Mangini, McDaniels, Saban, etc.......they all have the system or had access to it. Am I wrong in thinking that by working side by side within the Belichick coaching room you would have access to whatever secrets exist? The talking points around our club always gravitate back to system players vs. real players. Having seen every game going back Dolphins game towards the end of '93, and seeing the evolution of the current generation, it seems like our players are generally just better prepared than others? The system didn't call a 3rd and 8 run against a front of Brown/Branch last night or fumble 2 returns.
Pasadena Chris

Certainly a big part of the Patriots system revolves around preparation. But, really, the one aspect of the system that can't be replicated is Belichick. I firmly believe that coaching is an art and not a science. There is only so much research and statistical analysis that can be done, at some point it has to be boiled down to one plan and no one does that better than Belichick. That said, I do think the players get some of the credit. New England has its share of Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball. Gronkowski is considered the best tight end in football, maybe of all time. Same with Brady. But Belichick is also a unique talent. He helps to put the talent he has, which is impressive, in the right position to succeed and win.
Andy Hart

Would you rather lose Gronk or Collins and Hightower?
Robert Miles

Collins and Hightower. I've seen the Patriots win plenty with a suspect defense but Gronkowski is the key to the passing game for Brady. But this is a pretty interesting question that could elicit a lot of different answers and analysis. Still, I try to keep big No. 87 at all costs. When healthy, he's as consistent a bet as there is in the game today. 
Andy Hart

What a game, What a team, What a coach!?! Which was the biggest surprise for PFW? Offense, Defense, or Special Teams? I'm going with Special Teams as being closest to perfection. Also, even though Brissett plays were conservative, how much does his value/stock rise from 6 quarters? Aside from Brady's tarnished name, do we wait for a 4th non-Brady led victory before we can laugh at Goodell's punishment because it has only increased the Patriots value?
James Siegel

I thought the special teams effort and execution in the win over the Texans was nearly perfect. Forcing two big plays for turnovers on kickoff coverage was obvious, but Ryan Allen's punting was as good as it's ever been to pull together a complementary, three-phase victory. It was a group effort in the kicking game that's worth all the attention it can get. It is interesting, that Brady's absence has allowed Belichick to find out what he has in Garoppolo and Brissett. He may now have a larger market to make a trade given Garoppolo's success. He may also have a better feeling of comfort with Brissett as potentially the lone backup moving forward if a trade were to happen. Belichick wins yet again, on and off the field.
Andy Hart

Watching Jacoby vs Houston, I was really surprised of how well he played. I will be honest, I didn't see it coming. Which leads me to this. What surprised you most about him? Was there a skill in which you thought he lacked but performed well in on Thursday night? Secondly, can we give Coach Belichick his MUCH deserved NFL COY award? At this point, I just don't see how he wouldn't get it. Thanks guys.
Ajay Salvesen

Brissett's improvement from early August to now is what surprised me most. He clearly has talent and an NFL arm. But he's made huge strides in a short time with relatively limited reps. That's very cool to see and not easy to do. I remember times on the practice field when he couldn't complete short throws to his receivers even when there wasn't a defense. Last Thursday he showed great poise executing the offense in a team win. He wasn't doing what Brady or even Garoppolo would have been asked to do, but he did pretty much everything that was asked of him on that night. It was more than good enough for the win. He's evolution from draft day to now has been impressive. As for the Coach of the Year Award, Belichick is a candidate every year. But I also thin Mike Zimmer in Minnesota and Doug Pederson in Philly deserve some early recognition for what they've done in undefeated starts. If they keep it up, they will be in the mix for the award as well.
Andy Hart

Seems a bit unfair to ask this question now but: who do you think the Patriots organization will struggle more without - Tom Brady or Bill Belichick? Also (and I don't believe this, just keen to hear your views) do you believe that the greatest argument that can be made against Brady's claim to G.O.A.T. is that he has never played under anyone other than Belichick, and that gives him an advantage? Similar to how people argue the case for the Seahawks defense and Russell Wilson. I know it's only 4 games but the way the team wins whatever the situation, this can only help Belichick's legacy, I suppose the question I'm asking is whether it may, ever so slightly, hurt Tom Brady's?
Alex Marr

I think in many ways the Patriots will struggle more without Belichick, whenever he leaves. He is the head of all things football in New England. It's going to take many men – at the very least a coach and G.M. – to replace him when he hangs up the hoodie for good. That's not to say Brady won't be missed a lot as well. Sure, it's helped Brady to play for one great coach in the same system for his career. I do believe guys are hurt by coaching changes and system changes. But Brady is great and always would have been great. Belichick and Brady reached unique heights of success together that neither would have reach alone. But I think Brady would have been a Pro Bowl quarterback and likely a champion anywhere he went. When you really dig into arguments, there is no sure-fire way to anoint the greatest coach or QB in NFL history. There are too many factors. I think Belichick and Brady have very real claims to their respective thrones, but there will always be arguments. It's part of what makes sports so great.
Andy Hart

First off, I am a big fan from Germany, so I hope my questions will be without too many mistakes. The run-game looks better than it was in the last few years. Better O-Line play, but it also seems Blount trimmed down some weight, don't you think? Also I want to ask, what is your (very early after 3games) grade on the free agents acquisitions? For me Chris Long and Chris Hogan seem to be steals for now, while McClellin still seems to try to find his place. Last question is about the future to our QB-situation: Would you try to extend Jimmy Gs contract as soon as possible and maybe trade J. Brissett to a QB-desperate team for a good value (maybe 2nd round)? Or trade Jimmy at the end of the season, for a potential 1st rounder, and keep Brissett as backup? I would prefer the first option. Thanks for your answer, you guys are doing a great job here.
Chris Ha

I don't think a lot has changed with Blount. I think the line has been a little better. I think the situation has changed and New England has needed to stay more balanced with its young quarterbacks, sticking with the run more than would be the case with Brady under center. That's given Blount more chances to produce late in games with some big runs. Give him credit, though, he's done the job when needed to help win games. As I said earlier Long has been one of the better additions and that's been needed given Ninkovich's suspension. Hogan has been solid and I think his role with only continue to grow. As for the QB situation, I don't see any way that Garoppolo would want to sign an extension to be the backup. I assume, given his success in a limited sample, that he's going to want to be a starter somewhere. He did say this summer that you don't play the game of football to be the backup quarterback. I also think he deserves that chance to be a starter. The most likely scenario at this point would be Garoppolo being traded and Brissett developing as Brady's backup for the next few years. It's certainly the simplest of all the scenarios. 
Andy Hart

Hey guys, love the show! Just a quick thought. If given sufficient time and training, what do you think of turning Nate Ebner into a running back? If he can run and take the kind of hits only rugby gives without pads, than I'm thinking he might be an interesting option. Like I said, just a thought. Have a great day and go Patriots!
Jonathan Occhi

I usually shoot these position-change ideas down with dismissive tone. But I'm not going to with this one. I kind of like it. The Patriots are always looking for running backs. Ebner hasn't found a role on defense. We've seen his athleticism on the rugby field. Why not give him a shot? It would be fun/quirky to watch, at least.
Andy Hart

Wondering out loud if the efforts Steven G is putting into his excellent efforts to pin down the Kickoff returners with the 'high long 5-yard line pooch' is maybe impacting his consistency in striking the ball that is playing out with his uncharacteristic field goal misses. It seems his previous accuracy was paired with constantly hammering kickoffs thru the center of the end zone.
Matt Esecson

I don't buy this theory. I think Gostkowski – or #SG3 as the kids call him on Twitter – has dealt with a couple less-than-perfect snaps this summer. He's coming off such a perfect season a year ago that he was due for some adversity. That said, he's still arguably the best kicker in the game today. He's adjusted well to the new kickoffs, booming touchbacks and enticing returns on short kicks. I don't believe that success and effort has hindered his work on field goals. Plus, he is six of seven on field goal attempts this year in the regular season, so let's not make this more than it is. He hasn't been perfect, but he's still damn good.
Andy Hart

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