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Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Adding Sanu, other moves and more

New England Patriots/David Silverman
New England Patriots/David Silverman

Nice win but Jets had patchwork offensive line, and prior teams had no QBs or offensive playmakers to evaluate how great the Pats D is. IMHO, the first game to get a feel for it might be the next one, and a real test would come against the Ravens. Do you see Pats going 9-0 or 8-1 before the bye?
Alex Sherkoff

While it’s largely true that the Patriots haven’t faced any offenses that would be considered among the game’s elite, it’s also true that the Patriots defense is completely dominating. The Jets looked fairly competent at times offensively the previous week against Dallas in the first half when they scored 21 of their 24 points. Sam Darnold threw for over 300 yards and the Jets moved the ball. None of that happened against the Patriots and Darnold looked completely overmatched. The Patriots defense deserves more credit for that than you are giving them. I don’t see Cleveland providing much resistance this week as the Browns have really struggled on offense this season as well. Baltimore on the road might be a test, but if you want me to look ahead and project I’m saying 9-0 at the bye and then we’ll see how things unfold from there.
Paul Perillo

Regarding the trade for Mohamed Sanu, the price seems a little high for a guy who ranked 55 playing in the second-ranked passing offense, but I’m OK with that because it would be a shame to waste this defense because the offense ran out of weapons so paying a bit over the odds is fine.
Len Carmody

A second-round pick for a decent but declining WR?! That's about what the Patriots got for a franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo and even less for another franchise QB Jacoby Brissett. Are you impressed?
Ken Kannapan

I agree with your overall assessment: a second-rounder does seem a little high but the pick will be late in the second round and Sanu does fill a need. Bill Belichick has been searching for a complementary piece to work from the slot over the middle and Sanu fits that description. He tried to get him in the offseason before making pitches for Adam Humphries and Cole Beasley, two other slot types. Sanu might allow Julian Edelman to work more on the outside and stay away from the constant pounding he takes across the middle, which should help him stay healthy while he deals with a chest/rib injury. Your point about the offense missing a piece is valid as well, particularly in light of the dominant play of the defense. I agree the deal made a lot of sense.
Paul Perillo

How many wins all-time does coach Belichick have? According to my math and including postseason wins and his time in Cleveland, BB has 299 wins. I haven't heard a peep about him achieving 300 wins though, so am I off?
Hermey

Your math is correct. After the Monday night win over the Jets Belichick stands at 299 wins including both his time in Cleveland and the postseason. With a win over the Browns on Sunday, Belichick will post win No. 300. Something tells me you will be hearing plenty about that in the coming days.
Paul Perillo

Throughout Rob Gronkowski’s last years with the Patriots, he was dominant yet also often injured. I wonder, what would happen if with four second-round picks (DBs Tavon Wilson, Jordan Richards, Cyrus Jones, Duke Dawson), Belichick chose to spend at least one pick on TE to backup Gronk?
Stan C.

It all depends on the player they took. Drafting a backup tight end for the sake of taking one doesn’t necessarily change anything. If the player Belichick chose turned out to be a solid addition, then the offense would have another piece. Looking at some of the tight ends drafted early in the third round over the past several years there is a mixed bag. I used the third round because most of the second-rounders were off the board before the Patriots picked so they weren’t options. Some panned out like Vance McDonald, Austin Hooper and Dwayne Allen. Others like Troy Niklas, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Clive Walford and Nick Vannett haven’t done much. So to answer your question, drafting Hooper instead of Cyrus Jones obviously would have been a better pick. But taking Walford over Richards wouldn’t have done much to change the current landscape. In general, I agree with you that tight end is a position that probably could have used some attention during the later years of Gronk’s tenure, and there have been plenty of mid-to-late-round picks that could have helped. But it’s tough to argue with the results Belichick has produced both in terms of the roster and the won-loss record.
Paul Perillo

Chase Winovich has been really impressive. His play making is exceptional for a rookie and he is only playing about half the snaps on defense. He is my early pick for Patriot rookie of the year. Time will tell just how good he is, but he reminds me of Junior Seau. Quick disruptive, elusive and great instinct. Why did he fall to 77 in the draft? Seems like a real steal by BB. If he stays healthy, can you see him as an All-Pro a few years down the road? How many sacks does he finish with this year?
Rick Malec

Winovich has done a nice job in limited duty thus far, taking advantage of some opportunities and finding a way to get to the quarterback. I think it’s way too early to be making the bold projections for him that you are. Junior Seau is a Hall of Famer who excelled for almost two decades. I don’t think it’s fair to compare a part-time rookie, who is actually playing a little more than 31 percent of the snaps, to one of the best defensive players of all-time. I don’t feel Winovich has that type of athleticism and explosiveness to his game, and as a rookie he’s still learning the nuances of the defensive system. He’s off to a promising start and if he keeps taking advantage of his opportunities I think his future will be bright. He currently has four sacks and I could see him adding a couple to that total based on the confusion the Patriots are creating up front each week. It’s been a lot of fun to watch.
Paul Perillo

With the percentage going against you being successful on an onside kick, I would like to know why you don’t lay the football flat on the tee and kick it like that? If the ball is kicked on either end, it will squirt and bounce a lot more erratically than your normal end over end onside kick. Sure, you might not get it every time, but the percentages would go up that you would. Send me a couple tickets when you use this idea and you're successful.
Dan Bummer

Some kickers have tried different ways of positioning the ball on the tee, including your suggestion of placing it flat. The ball basically rolls when kicked like that and doesn’t necessarily bounce erratically as you state. But the bigger issue with onside kicks is the new rules instituted that prevent teams from overloaded one side of the formation and having the kick team get a running start. Forced to remain still until the ball is kicked and having a limited number of players on the side of the kick makes it extremely difficult for a recovery to occur regardless of how the ball is kicked. If placing it flat helps, then I’m all for it. But my guess is the restrictions will make it just as unlikely that a recovery will take place. If Mike Nugent tries your method and it works, I’ll do my best about the tickets!!
Paul Perillo

We know it's difficult, or realistically probably impossible to replace Gronk. Have you taken a look at Ryan Griffin? He appears to have a lot of potential and seems like he would fit in well with New England.
Steve Longland

Would there be any interest in trading for Austin Hooper to help with TE depth even with the current addition of Ben Watson.
Ryan Plourde

With trade deadline coming I’ve heard an interesting trade option that I’d love to see happen. Patriots love Alabama players, O.J. Howard to the Patriots would be huge. He is not being used much in Tampa. What do you think or know of Howard to Patriots.
Marco Silveira

Of these three options, Griffin would appear to be the lone realistic option and I’m not sure even he would qualify. All three players are affordable, and in the cases of Hooper and Howard young and talented. Griffin is a veteran who was available in the offseason and the Patriots didn’t really make a push to grab him. I think the Jets would like to keep him for the rest of the season to help Sam Darnold’s development. Hooper is one of the better young tight ends in the game and I would think the Falcons, although clearly out of it, would like to re-sign him as part of their future. The Patriots reportedly inquired about Howard but were told he was not available. There’s still a week to go before the trade deadline and often what we hear from teams is posturing but on face value Howard is not available. Again, I would think the Bucs would like to keep him as part of their future as well.
Paul Perillo

I have been hoping for a Trent Williams trade, knowing full well that Isaiah Wynn may be back to play by the Eagles game. My reasoning is thus: Joe Thuney is as good as gone. Too expensive to sign as he hits free agency. See Logan Mankins, Trent Brown, Nate Solder. This would leave a big hole next year. While the Pats did draft a couple of offensive linemen this year, they are injured and may never show enough to make the team. So, very possible we have a hole next year. With Williams I believe it is solved this way. Trent becomes this year’s starting left tackle. Wynn, with his quick feet and upper body strength becomes your left guard. Thuney moves to center replacing a willing but talent challenged Ted Karras, solidifying the entire line. What is your opinion, knowing that Williams will not be cheap if even available?
David Brown

I would love to add Williams but I’m not sure there’s enough money to do so, and I’m not talking about cap money I’m talking about actual dollars. Moving around salaries and converting them to bonuses cost money, as would a contract for Williams, who is looking for more than the $11 million he was supposed to earn this season. If they could somehow swing a deal (it would cost at least a first-round pick) I don’t mind your moving pieces up front, but I’m not sold Thuney is as good as gone. It may turn out that way but you only mention offensive linemen who signed elsewhere. What about Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon and David Andrews? All three were extended so it’s possible that Thuney could be added to that list. If not we’ll have to see about the rookies, particularly Yodny Cajuste, who we haven’t seen play as of yet. No need to assume an overhaul is necessary at this point. If Williams can be added, then absolutely I’d be for it. But assuming Wynn comes back I don’t see the need as being dire at this point.
Paul Perillo

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