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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed May 29 - 04:00 PM | Thu May 30 - 09:55 AM

Ask PFW: Does Brady not trust his receivers?

Fans' questions answered in this week's PFW mailbag.


What is with all receivers not named [Julian] Edelman or [Kenbrell] Thompkins? Are they being so well covered that Brady does not throw to them? Are they not getting open? Does Brady not have trust in them? All of the above? It appears that Brady is locking on receivers (and TEs) this year rather than "looking off" defenders and throwing to the open receiver.* *Bob Bennett

First, that's been a bit of an issue for Brady in recent seasons, not just this one. Second, Thompkins? He was inactive against Minnesota, so, Brady wasn't targeting him that day. Edelman, for sure, along with Rob Gronkowski, are Brady's go-to guys. They run the best routes and have the best hands. And the rest of the crop hasn't really proven themselves yet – Brandon LaFell hasn't made enough plays to gain Brady's trust, Danny Amendola isn't getting many reps thus far, and Aaron Dobson has been active for just one of the first two games. Brady had more talented players at receiver in previous years, so, it was easier to spread the ball around because there were more reliable contributors on the roster. That's not the case these days, so, he's sticking with who he can trust most. Erik Scalavino


Team photographer, David Silverman, offers his best photos from the New England Patriots game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, September 14, 2014.

I follow the PAC 12 [Conference] a lot and was excited when the Pats took [offensive lineman Cameron] Fleming out of Stanford in this most recent draft. The Stanford line has been unreal recently... Now that [left guard Logan] Mankins is gone, I'm encouraged to see Fleming is getting some run. Can you comment on what you've seen and heard about Fleming (the player, not the person/personality) since he's been a Patriot?* *Ben Gregory

Well, Mankins' departure has nothing to do with Fleming's playing time in the first two games, as they play different positions. Fleming is a tackle, where Mankins was predominantly a guard in his Patriots career. The rookie has been used as the extra blocking tight end (reporting as eligible) on a number of running plays, but has yet to see any extended regular season action at either tackle position. He hasn't made any glaring errors, save a false start penalty late in the Vikings game. He's been a quiet contributor thus far, but the coaches obviously feel confident putting him out there in those situations, which is about what any rookie could reasonably expect just two games into his pro career. Certainly, the head coach was eager to offer Fleming plaudits when asked about him on a media conference call yesterday. Fleming, safe to say, is off to a good start.* Erik Scalavino*

Hi guys. Wondering about the latest updates/status of 2014 4th round choice, center Bryan Stork? Brad Dawson

Stork was inactive in the opener at Miami, but dressed for the Vikings game. Other than that, not much to say about him. He was injured early in training camp and missed most of the preseason. He's yet to do anything of significance. Erik Scalavino


How much responsibility does [Vikings QB Matt] Cassel bear in his interceptions [against New England in Week 2]? It seems to me that two were really bad choices throwing too far and into too much coverage but the others – the tipped ball caught by Easley and Revis' interception were bad luck and a receiver who 'gave-up?' Finally is [running back Brandon] Bolden history after Week 4 when two starters get back after suspensions? Or will he last that long? He hasn't done anything to impress me.* *James Siegel

I'll start with your second question, James. New England has two players on suspension at the moment, yes, but only one of them could reasonably be considered a starter. That would be cornerback Brandon Browner, although his role is very much debatable after what we saw of him in the preseason. The other player is second-year wideout Brian Tyms. While Browner will still have a job in Foxborough when his suspension ends, it's not as much of a guarantee for Tyms, although he showed me enough in the summer to warrant sticking around in some capacity. Bolden could be a candidate to be tossed from the 53 to make room for either of those players, but so could someone at their respective positions – wide receiver and cornerback.

As far as reviewing Cassel's performance, this is a perfect opportunity for me to remind you about my weekly in-season feature on called Performance Review (sponsored by Bridgestone). I watch the game film and break down all the key plays. This week, that included all of Cassel's mistakes. You'll see that while Cassel bore some blame in some circumstances, it wasn't always entirely his fault. Give it a read. Erik Scalavino

In the game vs Minnesota, all three phases of the game were very, very good. The defense just exploded after last week's disappointment. However, for the offense, I still feel we need that big, speedy down the field wide receiver. Any idea when Aaron Dobson is coming back? Thanks! Vikram Sakotai

Either you're being sarcastic or just weren't playing close enough attention, but Dobson was active against Minnesota. I can't blame you for not really noticing, however, as Dobson only caught one pass for 13 yards. He'd have been easy to overlook. Erik Scalavino


Bill [Belichick] said, regarding his 200th win: "...maybe other than Curly...'. Is there a specific reason why he was not looking up to him?* *Peter Asenbaum

After beating Minnesota in Week 2, Belichick is now tied with Marty Schottenheimer for fifth place all-time among NFL coaches in terms of wins as a head coach. Don Shula is tops, followed by George Halas, Tom Landry, and Curly Lambeau. All except Lambeau were coaching during Belichick's lifetime, which may explain why he said, in his post-game remarks, "I'd say really all of them, other than Curley Lambeau, I have looked up to as a kid and admired and maybe borderlined worshiped." Perhaps he said this because he never actually saw Lambeau coach. No one followed up with him to clarify what he meant, but that be a reasonable conclusion to draw. Erik Scalavino

I hope this doesn't come off as a stupid question but it's one that I'm struggling with. Being that Brady was less than spectacular at throwing the ball "deep" last week, and I recall him missing a wide open Julian in the AFC Championship game down field, is that something that they work hard on in practice? Or do they just work on what they are good at like short yardage plays. And the other thing that bothers me, why are they so conservative on third and long plays? They never even try to get it. It's always a screen or a draw and at this point it won't fool anybody. Please help me! Christian DiLuzio

The Patriots, like every team, work on every aspect of their offense, including deep balls. The nature of those plays makes them one of the hardest to execute in football, however. Brady has never been especially adept at completing downfield passes, but it's not because he and his receivers don't try.

As far as third downs, perhaps the play calling is conservative, but every play is called with the idea that it can score, or at least pick up a first down. Not every play is conservative, either. Check out Edelman's 44-yard pickup on 3rd-and-14 in the Vikings game, for instance. Neither a screen nor draw. *Erik Scalavino

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