Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Brown in town, reaction to opener

20190910-UnfilteredQandA-PDC

I wonder how Antonio Brown will take to the Patriot way. Nine million dollars guaranteed is a big gamble, but I do trust in Bill [Belichick]. He will lay it out to AB and it is only a one-year [deal]. Rick Malec

Why would you reward Antonio Brown’s bad behavior by signing him hours after being released for acting out? Get your priorities straight. Carl Smith

While I would like to see AB playing for the Patriots and winning Super Bowl #7, I have major Qs: 1) Does AB even want to play? 2) If he does, can the Patriots give him the guaranteed money? 3) Would [QB Tom] Brady want to make pals with a guy who made a fiasco with his former QB? 4) Having two reclamation projects to deal with, will Bill Belichick risk AB taking [Josh] Gordon down the wrong path and thus losing both receivers? What’s your biggest Q? Stan Cohen

This is just a sampling of the many questions we’ve received over the past few days regarding Brown. Many of them were not fit to print, given the language used. As you can see, it is truly a mixed bag of reactions.

I can distill my questions on this subject down to two: Can Brown pick up the Patriots offense, and can he adhere to the team culture in this building? If the answer is yes to both of these, my guess is his signing will be considered a success by most observers, including many of those fans who are reacting negatively to this move by New England.

A number of other players of questionable character or motivations have come through this organization over the years. Some have worked out well, others haven’t. Now that he’s here, Brown deserves a fair chance to prove himself. From a football perspective, the Patriots don’t have much to lose by bringing him on board. If he doesn’t assimilate to the culture here, he won’t be around long. If he does comply, he could put himself and the club in a stronger position to succeed on the field. Erik Scalavino

Do you think, with the addition of Antonio Brown, that the Patriots will feature more 4-WR/1-RB looks this season to spread the defense? I sure would like Brown, [Julian] Edelman, [Josh] Gordon, and [Phillip] Dorsett, [RB James] White or [Rex] Burkhead all out wide with [Sony] Michel or White/Burkhead in the backfield. Blake Stewart

Brown’s abilities give New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels enviable options with which to experiment. We could see any number of variations of personnel groupings with all the talent you just named. Erik Scalavino

Think AB will return kicks? Daniel Watts

Wouldn’t rule it out entirely, because Brown has experience in that regard. However, I’d prefer his focus be on offense, at least for now. I’m comfortable with rookie Gunner Olszewski fielding punts, based on what I’ve seen from him thus far, and kickoffs that are returnable are fewer and fewer these days. So, it doesn’t really matter much who’s back there for those. Erik Scalavino

Looking ahead, if AB does not stay with the Patriots for next season, will the team be eligible to receive a compensatory pick? Wilson Campos, Brazil

I believe so, provided he’s here for the entire season. I’d caution you that you’re thinking much too far into the future, though. As always, you should be focused much more on the here and now. Let’s see how this unfolds in 2019 before we start thinking about next year. Erik Scalavino

Great game on all sides of the ball against a good [Steelers] team Sunday night! What is your predicted record for the Patriots? Do you think they can finish out being the best team in the league, given our easy schedule? Dylan Damewood

My prediction is the same as it is every year: 12-4, since that tends to be the average outcome for the Brady/Belichick Patriots. I’d also advise you that schedules that look “easy” in Week 1 aren’t always the case in Week 12 or thereabouts. There are still many challenges ahead: Kansas City, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, for example. Sure, they made it look easy against Pittsburgh and might end up being the best team in the NFL yet again, but the reigning champs have a lot more to prove and a lot more work to do to get back there. Erik Scalavino

Great win! Exciting signing of AB! But [right tackle Marcus] Cannon’s [left shoulder] injury is upsetting, partly because Marcus has been injury-prone his entire career and at 31, I don’t understand why BB was trusting him to last a season? It is very good that they brought OT [Korey] Cunningham from Arizona who plays mostly left as I understand? Still, I wonder… Who will play the RT now? Brian Berk

Prior to Sunday night against the Steelers, Cannon had been relatively free of health concerns for most of the past few seasons. It’s unclear at this early stage what exactly Cannon’s injury is, but ESPN cited an unnamed source today who claims the issue should not keep Cannon out of the lineup for very long. If he’s out of commission for any length of time, however, o-line coach Dante Scarnecchia has some shuffling decisions to make.

When Cannon left the Pittsburgh game in the latter stages, he was replaced by left guard Joe Thuney, with newcomer Jermaine Eluemunor stepping into Thuney’s place. Cunningham was inactive against Pittsburgh, or else he might have been called upon. With starting center David Andrews already gone for the season, does replacement center Ted Karras stay put there, or does he move over to left guard while Thuney occupies the right tackle spot? And if so, who becomes the starting center?

In my estimation, Scar would like to limit the number of roster moves he has to make. So, I’d expect Thuney to go back to left guard, Karras to remain at center, and Cunningham to move into the right tackle spot if Cannon is unable to go this week against Miami. Erik Scalavino

I would like your thoughts on who will step in for Andrews given his talent, experience and leadership on the o-line.? [Russ] Bodine was brought in, then let go. Steve Kistner

My belief remains, as I alluded to above, that the interim center job is Karras’ to lose. Overall, I thought he had a solid start against Pittsburgh. He had some consistency issues with his shotgun snaps, which Belichick agreed could have been better, but by and large, the o-line didn’t miss Andrews much with Karras playing in his stead. Erik Scalavino

Interesting that the Patriots are not kicking the tires on some of the recently released tight ends. Including Dwayne Allen. He knows the system and is out of work. Any reason why the Patriots didn’t consider bringing him back? Mark Wright

New England regularly works out available players at every position. So, for all you know, they already have inquired about any number of tight ends, including Allen. Given the state of that position on this roster right now, I’d be fully in favor of bringing back Allen, a very likeable guy who filled a specific role on this team the past couple of years. Erik Scalavino

I see a little of JE11 in Olszewski. He’s not as strong and skilled as Edelman, of course, but I think he could develop. The fact he played in the coverage and return teams, as well as WR and DB, in the fourth preseason game was not just fun to watch, it was impressive. And maybe I’m seeing into things, but giving him #80, the number of Troy Brown and Danny Amendola, just makes me think Bill is going to have fun plugging him in over time. What do you think, am I too high on this kid or do you agree he can make an impact sooner rather than later? Jason Rubin

Olszewski’s underdog story is a good one, and he seems like a genuine, affable young man. Your jersey number theory might be a bit much, but yes, I agree that he has some talent that New England might like to develop. Erik Scalavino

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