Do you think Bill Belichick and the Patriots would be interested in picking up Vincent Jackson before the trade deadline barring any salary cap implications?
With the way Brandon LaFell has emerged in the passing game in recent weeks I'm not sure the Patriots need to target a wide receiver at the trade deadline. Obviously Jackson is a more gifted receiver than LaFell, or anyone else on the Patriots current roster, but getting him up to speed on the system and earning the trust of Tom Brady wouldn't be easy. Jackson has great skills but also has some off-field issues to monitor as well. He also has base salaries of almost $10 million each of the next two seasons. I really like the idea of bringing such a big, athletic target onto the team but I don't think pursuing him is worth it at this time.
I question Bill Belichick's offseason personnel decision to spend close to $20M on Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. I would not have done that because it was pretty obvious to me even then that an aging big bodied Browner, who had not done much for two years is not going to be great, and aging Revis after major surgery is not worth $16M. I would have signed a quality corner for $10M and spent the remaining money on a quality strong safety and defensive lineman and Pats would have been better off. Do you agree?
I actually disagree strongly. I think Revis was the best free agent signing this team has ever made. And not to pick nits with you but he's on the books for $12 million this year, not $16 million. Browner I'm less enthusiastic about but he still adds talented depth to the cornerback position so I like the idea of signing him as well. Defenses need depth in the secondary in order to succeed against today's efficient passing games. Adding Browner and Revis to Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington made a lot of sense then and watching the group play together it makes a lot of sense now. I would like to have added a safety to the mix but I can't complain about the additions the Patriots did make. We'll see how the group develops together as Browner is just getting started but I like the group as a whole.
Watching the Dolphins and even the dreaded Jets play, I have to say that both Ryan Tannehill and even Geno Smith look like they are improving every game, record aside, and I wonder if our divisional dominance may end soon unless we get help especially on defensive line.
If by soon you mean this year I just don't see it. Obviously at some point the Patriots are no longer going to rule over the AFC East but I don't see it coming to an end anytime soon. Tannehill and Smith remain painfully inconsistent and that's the difference between being a good quarterback and an also-ran. They fall into the latter category with their penchant for turning the ball over and lack of consistency. On a particularly week they may be capable of putting strong games together and posting a win but over the long haul Tom Brady has shown time and again that his "bad games" will be few and far between. That's why the Patriots have treated this division like their own personnel dictatorship and that will continue at least through the end of this season.
As we all know the trading deadline is around the corner. Do you see the Patriots go after a running back and a wide receiver? I would like to see C.J. Spiller and Vincent Jackson in Patriots uniforms. What are your thoughts?
Well, Spiller broke his collar bone in the Bills win over the Vikings so he's not getting traded and I've already discussed Jackson – very talented but expensive and risky. Instead I'll talk about the positions rather than the individuals. As I mentioned earlier I don't feel wide receiver is a huge need at this point. While the individual targets may not be as talented as a guy like Jackson, I feel Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and hopefully Aaron Dobson can provide enough support for Brady to continue to be productive like he's been in recent weeks. The running back spot is a different story. I do feel Belichick should be in the market for a back – whether it be through trade or free agent pickup. In fact I wouldn't be opposed to calling on a pair of former Patriots in LeGarrette Blount and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Either would some depth and give the team an experienced inside runner, which is lacking without Stevan Ridley. Blount hasn't gotten a ton of carries with the Steelers and perhaps they'd be interested in dealing him for a low-round pick? Stranger things have happened.
The trade deadline is approaching soon, and I was wondering what your thoughts were as far as a possible trade for running back, linebacker or other might be. We thought the Patriots needed wide receiver help earlier, but now running of the ball, in both directions, seems paramount. How about an interior defensive lineman as a possibility?
Do the Patriots need to add a capable player on the interior of the defensive line? Casey Walker is a backup. Injured Siliga if and when he returns is not a solution either. Besides obviously playing well at other positions, Patriots may need a quality interior defensive lineman to help stop the run and help rush the passer because that would allow them to use lighter Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich to play outside more. Do you think there may be a capable player with reasonable contract some team may want to trade say for our extra fourth and, if needed, also seventh-round pick?*
I agree with you about wide receiver – not as big a need as it once appeared. I already discussed running back and I agree with you there as well. Linebacker is an awfully thin position for the Patriots at this point. I'd like to see Belichick find one who can be relied upon as depth, especially with Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower already missing time this season due to injuries. Deontae Skinner shows some promise but there is a definitely need for help. Same could be said about the defensive line, although Sealver Siliga should be able to provide some help down the stretch when he's eligible to come off injured reserve/designated for return. But I could see Belichick looking to add some depth and size to the front after the Jets pushed them around a bit last week.
Why have the Patriots not brought James Anderson back in? He impressed me in preseason, and I was quite upset when he didn't make the 53-man roster, but with Jerod Mayo out he could provide experience, depth and ability in the linebacker position.
Anderson signed with Tennessee before Week 3 and has been with the Titans ever since. I, too, was a bit surprised he didn't stick with the Patriots in training camp because I felt he showed some ability, particularly as a coverage linebacker. But obviously the coaches felt differently and decided to let him go. I think he would have represented some quality depth, which the team could use at this point, but he's with Tennessee now.
During the Jets game Geno Smith pitched to Michael Vick, who looked like he was going to throw. The Patriots got a flag for defensive holding. Once Smith pitched to Vick doesn't it become a run play and defensive holding does not come into play?*
First, it doesn't automatically become a run play because the ball is pitched and it was clear that Vick wanted to throw the ball on that particular play. Second, even if it were a simple pitch to Vick with the idea of a run that wouldn't wipe away a holding penalty. Defensive players aren't allowed to hold whether it's a run or a pass. Occasionally defensive linemen are guilty of holding the offensive linemen on running plays as they attempt to clog a hole with a blocker or open up a lane for a fellow defender to find the ball carrier.
Have the Patriots brought in any snappers lately for a look. It seems this year Danny Aiken is off to a poor and inconsistent start. If it wasn't for Stephen Gostkowski our kicking game would be left in the gutter. Although the Patriots are still finding ways to win right now, his poor play can lead to valuable points in the playoffs.
Aiken has had some periods of inconsistency, which was evident when Belichick initially cut him coming out of the preseason. He also had a bad snap on the first punt of the season that helped the Dolphins block Ryan Allen's kick, then had a low snap on Gostkowski's only missed field goal of the year in Buffalo. It's possible that the Patriots will look to move on from Aiken but in general he's gotten the job done. Not out of the realm of possibility that he'll be replaced but at this point I'd say the team has more pressing needs.
I see the WR group is starting to show up minus Aaron Dobson, maybe he's still battling a lingering injury or something, although LaFell and Edelman have really come to life. I'm not saying we need to add a star WR but how about another complement like David Nelson or Austin Pettis. I like Nelson he has a really good history being a standup pro plus we could steal another ex-Jet player.
Nelson definitely has the reputation of being a standup guy and a great teammates but he's not really all that good. He has great sized at 6-5 but his production hasn't been that strong. He had 36 receptions last year with the Jets and had just eight this year before being released. His best season came in Buffalo in 2011 when he caught 61 balls for the Bills. He may be worth taking a flyer on as an extra body but as I've said earlier I don't see wide receiver as a huge need at this point in the season. I don't have much interest in Austin Pettis since he's another slot-type receiver which the Patriots already have an abundance of.