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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 23 - 02:00 PM | Wed Apr 24 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Receiving criticism

Given the injuries and ineptitude at times on offense, fans send in plenty of critiques and concerns about New England's pass catchers in this 2-0 edition of Ask PFW.


We keep hearing about how the Patriots have not been able to develop young receivers since the Branch and Givens days. After watching the Texans rookie receiver yesterday I asked this question. At what point do they adjust the system to get something out of these young players instead of sticking to a system that only seems to work with veterans? Unless they will be willing to go after the Mike Wallaces (just an example) of the world in free agency there is no way they will ever have an elite veteran receiver again.
B. Royster

Clearly the frustration with the receivers is boiling over these days in New England and all of Patriot Nation. Make no mistake, there is good reason for that. But I'm not ready to say the team has essentially no idea what it's doing developing receivers and putting an offense on the field. The New England system has undergone numerous changes over the years. And young players have shown the ability to fit in at various times, sometimes very quickly. That includes guys like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman. But there have also clearly been too many young players who've just failed to do anything. The question is whether that's an issue in how those guys were used or whether it's a scouting issue as to bringing those eventual failures to the team in the first place. It certainly seems like the latter. It's not like Chad Jackson, Bethel Johnson, Brandon Tate, P.K. Sam and others have gone on to find huge success elsewhere in other systems. Given the success the Patriots offense has had for nearly a decade, I'm not ready to say the system needs to be changed dramatically to suit the current young receivers. The onus is on them to get up to speed and do their jobs. Although clearly the coaching staff may need to tweak things some to allow that to happen. It's a work in progress. That's all it is right now and that's not something Patriots fans are used to witnessing with Tom Brady's offense. It's also not something Brady is all that experienced in working with.
Andy Hart



With Wes getting it done in Denver and Amendola proving to be as fragile as predicted does everyone at PFW regret Wes going? Also do you think we are going to have to do some wheeling and dealing before trade deadline to bring a decent veteran presence at WR??? Keep up the good work!!!*
*Gary Waldron

I was not really on board with the Welker loss this spring. I know there were clear issues with timing and the difference between the two sides' views of the slot receiver's value. Still, I would have liked to have seen him back and wasn't sure Amendola was just going to slide right in and be the perfect replacement. His injury history was a concern for many fans, and myself. Welker's durability was even more impressive than his production over the years. That said, if Amendola can get/stay healthy, I actually think he could be a highly productive and different factor on this offense. We saw that on opening day. But that's a big IF right now. I don't think there is a lot that can be done to significantly upgrade the receiver position at this point. Somebody could very well be brought it, and that may even be likely, but that doesn't mean that player will immediately grasp the system and have a positive impact. I still think this offense will be much better with Rob Gronkowski back and whenever Amendola is healthy. Then, it's up the rookies, or at least one of them, to get their act together and be a contributor with some sort of consistency.
Andy Hart

With all the injuries, one of the young players is bound to step up. Out of these players (Thompkins, Dobson, Boyce, Develin, or Sudfeld), who do you think will help the offense the most in the next couple of weeks?
Michael LaRocco

I think the two most likely candidates are Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Thompkins was targeted 21 times in the first two games. So clearly they think he's worthy of the invested of opportunities. He just needs to start taking advantage of all those. That diving attempt at a touchdown against the Jets would have been a boost to his stats and probably his confidence. Dobson got off to the impressive start with a touchdown on his first career reception, but it was down hill from there. He made a lot of plays on the practice field this summer, but has struggled to bring that to the game/preseason field. I really think one of those will step up, maybe as soon as against the Bucs. As for Josh Boyce, I still t think he's probably going to be a situational contributor as a rookie with some "shot" plays, including deep balls and end-arounds. His production will probably come in flashes.
Andy Hart


I have a couple of questions this week. 1. Due to the injury to Amendola do you think the Pats would consider putting him on IR designated to return? If they did do you think Josh Cribbs would be someone the Pats might go after to temporarily add stability to the WR position? I believe they had an interest in him during free agency. He would bring in kick return abilities as well as a more stable option for Brady whenever the rookies are having a hard time. 2. Do you see the Pats making a trade for a position of need? If so what position do you think we have enough depth to trade a payer from and what position do you think we need more depth at? Thanks for taking my question, go Pats!*
*Kerry Brown

First, the Patriots cannot put Amendola on IR with a designation to return as that can only be done with one player per team per year and New England already used that slot on running back Shane Vereen. So Amendola will have to remain on the active roster, otherwise he'd have to be put on IR and be lost for the season. As for Cribbs, I'm not sure he's the answer for a number of reasons. He had knee surgery this offseason and some questioned whether he ever regained his speed before he was cut by the Raiders. Cribbs made his name as a kick returner and never really established himself as a consistently productive receiver. He topped 20 catches in just three of eight seasons, with a high of 41 in 2011. I don't see how he'd be any real upgrade, especially given that he'd have to learn the system and build a rapport with Brady on the fly. Finally, I think the Patriots lack depth at a number of positions, including receiver, tight end, defensive line, linebacker, cornerback and safety. I don't see a lot of guys they could unload in a trade save for maybe a backup running back or disappointing defensive end Jake Bequette. We know Bill Belichick is always looking to upgrade his roster and hasn't been afraid to make a trade. If that happened, though, it might be a deal for draft picks only.
Andy Hart

The truth always comes out, that Tom Brady cannot succeed unless he has capable receivers who do what he wants and more. I am no fan of Manning, but I am convinced that Peyton would have gotten more production out this group Brady has so far.
Jake Norton

I have seen Brady produce in a variety of ways over the years with a variety of different talent around him. That started early in his years and continued into his time as one of the game's truly elite passers and a record-breaking quarterback. Manning has done the same. When, though, have we seen Manning produce without weapons around him? He always had, at the very least, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne or Demaryius Thomas as Pro Bowl talent. Maybe Manning would have gotten more here in the first two weeks, but I doubt it. More likely I think we'd be seeing a lot of what we all refer to as "the Manning face" as he struggled to get on the same page with young guys and deal with injuries to his expected top talent.
Andy Hart

Hey guys. I was wondering what your projection is for the team's record after Week 6. I can see them going 4-2, 3-3 at the worse. I feel that the Bucs game at home is winnable. And I feel that out of the Falcons, Bengals, Saints, one of those games we can win. I can see the offense improving dramatically by week 4-6 as Gronk will be back by then. And if the defense can perform against the quality opponents, I see that 4-2 is not out of reach at all after week 6.
Nore Vong

Prior to the season starting I thought that there was a good chance the Patriots would be 3-3 after six games, with the upside at that point being 4-2. Nothing I've seen has made me change my mind on that. So I agree with your assessment. The 4-2 will certainly be more attainable if Gronkowski is back on the field and making his usual Gronk plays. That will certainly be important against the Bengals, as I think the offense has a major challenge in trying to keep up on the scoreboard with potentially high-scoring attacks in the Falcons and Saints. Even with the low point totals allowed over the first couple weeks, I'm not ready to say the Patriots defense is going to do that every week against far more talented and diverse offensive attacks.
Andy Hart

Why isn't Leon Washington returning kicks over Blount? Hasn't he been one of the more reliable kick returners in recent years? Also, why not bring Branch back to help "mentor" these young receivers who seem obvious to need some "veteran" leadership a la Alge Crumpler to Gronk/Hernandez a few years ago?
Kyle Witkoski

Washington has been listed on the injury report with a thigh issue. I think that's probably been a factor in his being inactive in Week 1 and then not returning kicks four days later against the Jets. I think when he's healthy you will see the veteran back deep, as he did lead the NFC in kickoff returns for the Seahawks last fall. I don't think the Patriots really have the luxury to have a "mentor" on the roster right now given the injuries and uncertainty all over the team. And I don't think that Branch really has much to offer on the field at this point. I'm sure it would be great to have Branch in the meeting room and around these young players, but I think the roster issues (Amendola, Gronkowski, Slater injuries, etc.) are too tight for such a role at this point. The rookies are going to have to get it together with the coaching and teammates they have to work with as it is.
Andy Hart



Hey Guys. With all the issues the Pats are having at WR, why didn't Josh Boyce see the field on Monday night? Both Dobson and Thompkins were struggling, so I expected to see more of Boyce. Why do you think he didn't get any playing time? Thanks.*
*Bob Malloy

I'll be honest, I have no idea. So I'll just pass along Belichick's answer when asked about that very issue in last Friday's press conference the day after the game. Belichick said it was "the way it unfolded" and not something specific to the game plan. "We did all the things in the game, whatever they were, that we thought were best at that time or in that situation. We did what we thought was best," Belichick said. As I've said before I'm not sure that Boyce is ready to be an every-down aspect of the offense, but I would like to see him get a few more chances in the coming weeks.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, thanks for providing this wonderful forum for Pats Fans to discuss our beloved team. Now on to my question/comment. Let's call a spade-a-spade! While Belichick is one of the greatest coaches the NFL has ever seen, he is a colossal failure as a GM. Yes, you may say he's had some successes, but he has consistently blown 2nd and 3rd round picks, which is crippling the progress of this team. All while having one of, if not the greatest QB (Tom Brady) in NFL history. Brady has not consistently had an elite receiver, while other QBs of his level have. As a Pats fan this is very disappointing. This is robbing the team of more Super Bowls. Shame on Belichick. Your thoughts? Thanks.
Mel Buford

I think you are being a little harsh. Clearly Belichick, like all GMs, has had plenty of swings and misses over the years in the draft. I agree that, for whatever reason, he seems to struggle mightily with his second-round selections. But we have to remember that when you take Belichick, you get the whole package. You can't have Belichick the coach without Belichick the GM. And the combination has been as successful as any in the game for the last decade-plus. Plus, I'd urge you to take a look at some of the other teams in the NFL and their GM's decisions. I think you'll find plenty of bad draft picks, questionable free agent moves and cap problems. How many times have we heard it's an inexact science? It is what it is.
Andy Hart

I read an online rumor we are looking to bring back Brandon Lloyd due to the injury situation at WR. While I'm not totally against it, why not bring back Deion Branch or Donte' Stallworth instead? Their hearts are probably in it more
Erik L.

I don't have any interest in Lloyd, and I'm not sure the Patriots ever did either. Plus, he's now apparently given up football to pursue an acting career. Good luck to him with that one! I also agree that both Branch and Stallworth would likely bring far more heart to a return to New England. I'm not worried about their heart, it's their bodies and their abilities that concern me at this point. I just don't think they have anything left to offer.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, greetings from across the pond in rainy Ireland. Just wondering about Josh McDaniels and what your take on him is? Certainly hope Belichick is a long way from retirement but many have touted McDaniels as his future replacement & he certainly is a talented OC. But surely he has had major input into some of the guys that the Pats have brought in, Greg Salas, Brandon Lloyd, Tim Tebow, Danny Amendola. Now I know it is still early days with Amendola but our fears about his injuries have proved right, all these other players have not worked out at all. Just wondering what this tells us about McDaniels if anything & his ability to run this football organization? Cheers.
Rob Masters

I am a big fan of McDaniels' work. I think he's one of the most impressive offensive minds in the game. That said, his track record as a head coach and personnel guy is obviously questionable. I think he was thrown into a situation in Denver that wasn't exactly what he expected when he took the job. That didn't play out well in the end. Back here in New England it's hard to know exactly how much input he's had in some personnel moves, but from afar it looks like he's had a say in bringing in guys he had a history with. But a lot of coaches do that, and to varying degrees of success. Belichick brought a lot of "his guys" with him early in his time in New England and not all of them worked out. I'm also not sold that the organizational plan, if there even is one at this point, is to transition to McDaniels at whatever point Belichick is no longer in power. I think that day is still a ways away and it's not a decision that the Kraft family needs to make right now. That obviously gives McDaniels more time to make his case – for better or worse.
Andy Hart

Andy, I'm wondering if maybe the Patriots should reach out to Richard Seymour, who is still unsigned and I think has something more to give on defense….he knows the system and unless he's completely lost it, should be a big plus. I'm not sure about Brandon Lloyd, from everything I have read, he maybe the wrong kind of influence especially on the young receivers.
Mark, *
*Laconia, NH

I think Seymour probably does still have something left in the tank. But he also probably wants to make decent money and isn't likely ready to take short money to return to New England, a place I'm not sure he left on the best of terms when he was surprisingly traded to the Raiders. And as much as I question the depth on the defensive line, I'm not sure it's the biggest need on the team right now. So investing a couple million bucks to bring Seymour in wouldn't necessarily lead to huge dividends in my mind. I think right now the front seven is the strength of the defense as it is. I'd be more likely to run out and try and bring Seymour back if he was a receiver or a defensive back. But, alas, that's obviously not the case.
*Andy Hart

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