Is there a chance that a short passing game might be installed? Pierre Strong and J.J. Taylor could be the receivers for Mac Jones. It would be similar to Tom Brady utilizing Kevin Faulk and Shane Vereen in the past.
Losing James White to retirement and then Ty Montgomery to a knee injury hurts the options in the short passing game to the running backs, but the vast majority of the Patriots air attack involves short throws. Jakobi Meyers had 13 targets in Pittsburgh and most of those came on underneath throws that allowed the Patriots to move the chains. He opened the game with a pair of shallow crosses in front of the coverage that resulted in first downs. Jones also threw to Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson twice each and the tight ends also were targeted a total of four times, most coming underneath. The production wasn't there for the tight ends but certainly the short passing game is what the Patriots offense is based on. It will be interesting to see of Taylor gets elevated off the practice squad to add a dimension to that, but regardless Jones will always utilize those short throws to get the ball moving.
In watching the game against the Dolphins I think the defense made a solid showing and looked pretty decent. Had it not been for the strip sack fumble, the breakdown on that fourth down-play with :18 seconds left in the half and that pass interference interception, this game may have had a whole different outcome with the Patriots leaving Miami with a win. I still am not comfortable with the back end on defense and would really feel much better if the Patriots could somehow add (via trade perhaps?) a shut-down cornerback and possibly another disruptor on the defensive front line. Do you see this as a possibility and foresee any defensive players that might be on the trade block on other teams? Is my assessment way off base here? I am not too concerned with the offense. Everyone is trashing them as average but I am pretty happy with their running backs and am hoping when Tyquan Thornton returns he will get to see some game action. Wouldn't it be great if the Patriots could get another Brian Waters pick up to shore up that offensive line? Not comfortable with injury riddled Trent Brown and I think it's about time to cut bait on Isaiah Wynn. He just cannot stay on the field. Interested in hearing your expert thoughts and assessment.
I know this is the explanation that Bill Belichick used after the Dolphins game and I feel he did it do help try to instill some confidence in his team. But in reality it's a very optimistic look at the game. Basically it's like saying if you eliminate all the good plays Miami made and the bad ones the Patriots made the outcome might have been different. That said, I do feel there are some things that need to improve and if that happens we'll be looking at things in a much more positive light. The offensive line had a couple of breakdowns and one of them led to the strip sack. The problems seemed to involve communication errors so there's at least some hope that those can be rectified and the results will improve. In Pittsburgh there weren't any glaring communication issues and therefore the protection improved immensely. As for getting difference-making playmakers at this stage of the season that would seem highly unlikely. Brian Waters was signed as training camp opened after he was released in Kansas City. Not many high-caliber players like Waters are available at that point. Acquiring a shut-down corner during the season would be awfully difficult to do. I agree they could use another corner to improve the secondary because the challenges on the back end will increase when the Patriots start to face more talented quarterbacks. Overall I'm with you 100 percent here, but expecting to improve by trading for stars is tough.
Any chance we can retire the all blue high school uniforms?
The NFL allows teams to change their primary uniforms only once every five years, so it will be at least another two seasons before you can get your wish. I guess it's possible that they stop using the blue on blue look and wear different pants combinations but I don't think there are plans to do that at this time. To be honest, I don't love the color combinations the team has used ever since changing from the base red that was in use from 1960-1993. I always preferred the red, particularly the sets used in the late-1970s, but they don't consult me on these decisions. We will see if the Patriots decide that another change is in order anytime soon.
Brenden Schooler seems to have a knack for finding the football. Do you see him getting more reps?
I think Schooler is exclusively a special teams player at this point and I don't see him getting any reps on defense. He played mostly safety during training camp and that is probably the deepest and most talented position on the roster at the current time. So, I don't really see a need for injecting him into the mix with Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers already in place. But if Schooler shows some development it's possible that he could see an increase to his role.
Paul, with all due respect, don't act like you know what we go through to get out of market Patriots games. You have been in market all of your life and do not understand. The NFL ticket was expensive when coupled with Direct TV and it will be expensive when it is a purely streaming product. The price is so high because the NFL is taking advantage of the out of market fans as well as the network channels force the prices charged to be higher. The NFL doesn't care about its out of market fans! Why does the NFL charge its out of market fans so much to watch games?
This is a topic that came up during our Patriots Unfiltered shows in the past so I decided to include it here in the mailbag this week. It is true I've been in the Boston market all my life, but that doesn't really tell much of the story. Like out-of-market fans, I was forced to scramble for eight weeks a year trying to find ways to watch all of the home Patriots games before I was able to purchase season tickets. When I was growing up through the late-1970s and through the 1980s, the Patriots were routinely blacked out because they rarely sold out the home games. That forced us to find ways to watch games. Mostly that meant not watching at all. I wasn't old enough to watch from a bar, and at the time my family would have loved the option of paying for Direct TV or some other platform where we could watch from our homes. That didn't exist. Yes, these things cost money and it's unfortunate that the league doesn't prioritize its fans, but that's nothing new. I dealt with it my whole life trying to watch Patriots games. At least now options to pay to watch exist.
Any chance we could get Jimmy Garoppolo back from the 49ers? I feel sure he would make a hugely positive impact.
I don't think there was much of a chance of that happening anyway, but after Trey Lance went down for the season with a broken ankle/fibula I'd say that number dropped to zero percent. Garoppolo will now stay in San Francisco for the rest of the season. But regardless it's clear the Patriots are giving Mac Jones the chance to prove himself as the Patriots starter and I can't see Bill Belichick changing course at this point for somebody else. In my view, Jones will get this season and almost certainly all of next season before the Patriots would think about making a change.
This entire offseason, fans and media were asking - what about getting quality QB coaching for the team's key asset - a second year Mac Jones? He is not showing much improvement, if not regressing, and do you wonder if this is going to get addressed this season?
I am definitely one of those who has called for a more experienced offensive coach to run the show for Jones but at this point that ship has sailed. For better or worse in 2022 it will be the combination of Matt Patricia, Joe Judge and Bill Belichick trying to guide Mac Jones through his second season. I found it interesting how much time Belichick spent with Jones on the sideline, and in terms of play calling and game operation I honestly haven't seen many problems through two games. There have been some issues with getting the plays in quickly enough but overall the operation has been OK. It's up to Mac Jones to perform better, and although he didn't play a great game in Pittsburgh I felt he looked more comfortable in the pocket than he did in the opener. If that continues I expect him to improve as a result.
We read a lot about Mac Jones' offseason conditioning and I'm wondering to what extent arm strength can be improved upon through strength conditioning and growing mechanics.
Jones definitely enjoyed a solid offseason helping to improve his body and gaining some muscle. He also worked on his throwing mechanics and seems to have improved in some of those areas. In terms of arm strength I haven't really noticed much of a change specifically, especially when he's forced to move around and make plays off script at times. He's much better when he can throw on time, step into his throws and let it rip. But I don't think he will ever have what most would consider to be a really strong arm. It has improved, but mostly due to his added experience and comfort as an NFL player, which allows him to better anticipate coverages etc. He's still just in his second season so he should continue to get better with time.
I know it has only been two games so far but LE Deatrich Wise has shown bright on the defensive side of the ball. Can you give me your opinion on this and do you know of anything different that he has been doing this preseason that may have helped him sharpen up from previous years and perform at this new and improved level?
I would agree that Wise has played two solid games thus far and has been more productive against the run than I remember him being in the past. I'd actually go so far as to say he's been the Patriots best player over the first two games. As for reasons for the improvement, I honestly have no idea. I haven't heard him talk about any specific things he's done differently this offseason than he has in the past. Obviously one big factor is that he's been healthy for the most part (he did miss a couple of days very early in training camp) and has been able to take part in all the preseason work. Wise has emerged as a captain this season and thus far his play on the field has been worthy of that honor.