Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Kicker concerns, love for the defense and a 2020 draft pick reset

20190917-UnfilteredQandA-PDC

Watching the Patriots defense is really impressive and with each shut down performance I think it is an indictment on Matt Patricia and how he ran the defense while he was here. Granted we have a bit more talent on that side of the ball then in 2017, for example, but I thought Patricia through the years just played the odds, allowed the other teams to rack up a ton of yards and then stiffened in the red zone and forced field goals, hoping our offense would answer with touchdowns. I don't think this strategy was smart, I think it wore down the defense with being on the field so much, and it clearly didn't work in the SB with the Eagles. There's no way that happens with Flores defense or the current Mayo/Belichick defense. I'm pointing the finger squarely at Patricia given what I'm seeing now. Alan Bernstein

I think it’s a fair assessment, at least starting in 2013 when it felt like the Pats actually had enough talent on defense to compete for a Super Bowl, and even then they didn’t peak until 2014. Prior to that it was still full rebuild mode, as it’s tough to be that aggressive when you just don’t have the horses. In 2018 the number of blitzes with six or more defenders tripled and the number of three-man blitzes was cut in half. So our eyes were not deceiving us, Flores was far more aggressive than Patricia was. This year they haven’t had to rely on big blitzes as much because they’re winning by just sending the standard four rushers. We’ll see how that continues to play out. Super Bowl 52 is a bit more haunting now imagining what could’ve had they sent their front after Nick Foles far more than they did. Mike Dussault

Is it time to look for a replacement for Gostkowski? He has missed PAT's and short field goals consistently and it will really hurt come playoff time.Hugh Smilestone

What's going on with Stephen Gostkowski? There didn't appear to be any problem with the holding on his missed kicks in Miami, so is there a physical/mechanical issue to his problems? I think this is unlikely as the hooked and pushed kicks, or is it something mental? In this past couple of seasons he's been accurate, but not 100%, nailed-on guaranteed accuracy on his kicks. This inaccuracies in, so what would it take to make him kick as accurately as Justin Tucker? Something as simple as a new song or is it more fundamental and something which can be coached or worked on with a sports psychologist? David Beckett

It’s never a good thing to miss three kicks in a game but there just isn’t a viable option to consider at this point. Just look at the Jets who had to sign a free agent off the street as their kicker woes far trump the Patriots. A team like them would kill to add Gostkowski right now. Still, the misses this season, going back to the preseason, are concerning. It’s worth mentioning that Gostkowski has a new holder in rookie Jake Bailey as well. That might be enough to argue for giving him a bit more time before we all freak out. But at this point, 14 years in with Gostkowski, kickers should definitely be on the Patriots’ radar next offseason in the draft. Mike Dussault

I am puzzled: why Newhouse, who was doing ok on the right side, moved to the left where he played very poorly, while Cunnigham was put on the right side having solid experience as a LT? Sarik Gaston

Bill Belichick was asked about this on his Monday conference call and he specified that though Cunningham played left tackle for the Cardinals last season, he had spent most of training camp working on the right side. Newhouse came from Buffalo under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll so he had more familiarity with the Patriots system and terminology. He’s also the more experienced NFL player, hence why he started on the right but flipped to the left when Wynn went out. Belichick felt like both players did pretty well considering the circumstances. We’ll see how they manage this week as Marcus Cannon could return. They also reportedly signed another tackle, Caleb Benenoch, per Ian Rapoport today. Mike Dussault

Tom Brady is the GOAT. When a game is well in hand, why does Brady continue to play? I understand he is the team leader and always wants to be part of the game at all times....but what if he gets hurt? Never mind the obvious issue with Tom being out...he isn't giving his backup any snaps. I love the ride we are on with the PATS, maybe I need to let it go and enjoy the game and just enjoy the level Tom plays...but I do think about it at times. Sharon Hunt

I don’t think any of us like leaving Brady out there when the game is out of hand, but this is how Bill Belichick has always been. This past week against Miami was special as well because it seemed like playing the entire game was a focus all week after they blew last year’s game against the Dolphins on the last play. It’s hard for us on the outside to totally grasp the coaching methods of Belichick, but there’s a reason for everything he does, even if it doesn’t make sense to us on the outside. He’s always been willing to take the risks that come from playing his best players in all situations. Mike Dussault

I watched this play again on NFL network and I had the same reactions I had when I watch it initially -

Great play - but I still think the ball was fumbled by Bailey through the end zone which was not the call. Is it just me as that would have altered the outcome. Your thoughts?Charles MacDonald

This is from the 2005 AFC divisional game against the Broncos, when Ben Watson chased down Champ Bailey as he was returning an interception made in his own end zone. Watson hit the ball out just as Bailey crossed the Patriots goal line and whether or not it went out of bounds or out of the end zone has been long debated. If they had the pylon cameras like they do now it would’ve given us more conclusive proof, but with what we’ve been left with it’s hard to tell for sure. Ultimately the Patriots had a typical big game in Denver, they were flat and made far too many mistakes in what was the first playoff loss for Belichick and Brady together. But yeah, I think it was out of the end zone… Mike Dussault

Matt LaCosse has been out with an ankle sprain for 2 months. He is very well paid and I wonder if he is not rushing to get back to work? Maurice Green

I said after the injury that I didn’t think we’d see him until mid-September so I wasn’t surprised to finally get him back in action against the Dolphins. It appeared to me to be a high ankle sprain and though he didn’t play in a game for over a month, he was only out of practice for a week or so. That’s the kind of injury that can linger so it makes sense they might’ve brought him along a little slower, especially because he is the only tight end on the roster with any NFL experience for the first month of the season. With the explosive receivers and backs it will be interesting to see if LaCosse can capitalize on the lack of attention he’ll get from defenses. Mike Dussault

Could you give us and up-to-date list of the Patriots' 2020 draft picks?Jack Peters

Here’s an unofficial projection of where they stand, including compensatory picks based on free agents that left this past offseason. It’s a pretty impressive haul, especially considering how much trading they’ve done in the past month.

  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd
  • 3rd (compensatory)
  • 3rd (compensatory)
  • 4th (via CHI)
  • 6th (via DEN/Duke Dawson)
  • 6th (compensatory)
  • 6th (compensatory)
  • 6th (via HOU/Keion Crossen)
  • 7th
  • 7th (via ATL)
  • 7th (via SEA)
  • 7th (via PHI)

- Mike Dussault

As I understand it, Adam Butler is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Based on his impressive play last season and in the two games so far this season, would you expect the Patriots to try and sign into an extension during the season, as they did with Jonathan Jones, making him a restricted free agent ensuring a decent draft pick if he goes elsewhere, or let him walk and test the market, perhaps looking to draft a replacement as they may have done with Byron Cowart? David Beckett

Butler had the best game of his career against the Dolphins and drew praise from Coach Belichick on his morning-after conference call. He played in all packages and was equally effective against the run and pass. It would make a lot of sense to lock him up now, as he’s the only potential restricted free agent next offseason that is playing a significant role. But as we saw last year with Jones, the Patriots could tender him at a high level and then give themselves another season to work out an extension. In 2018 the first-round tender was $4.149 million, the second-round tender was $2.914 million and the low-level tender was $1.907 million. Since Butler was undrafted it’s only a first- or second-round question. With the depth they have, like with Cowart as you mentioned, a second-round tender would make sense. Mike Dussault

Over the past 2 years Patriots traded QB Garoppolo and Brissett who are now starters. In turn, they got: (2d round pick - Dawson - 6th round pick to Bills) nothing and Dorsett. "Not ideal". And what about passing on Lamar Jackson who looks a better player than Stidham ever be? – Frank McCormick

Check out NBCSports Boston’s breakdown what the Pats actually got out of those trades. The haul for Garoppolo, prior to this summer’s trades was actually:

  • CB Duke Dawson (traded for 6th round pick)
  • LB Christian Sam
  • CB JoeJuan Williams
  • RB Damien Harris
  • T Yodney Cajuste
  • QB Jarrett Stidham

There’s still a Bears fourth-round pick and the Broncos sixth-round-pick in 2020 to add to this tally. While Dawson and Sam didn’t work out, the four rookies from this year could all still play significant roles. Just Stidham alone winning the backup job is pretty intriguing and though Williams and Harris haven’t dressed in the first two weeks, both are very promising. Expect Cajuste to recover from a quad tear this year and then be in the mix for a tackle job next season. As for swapping Brissett for Phillip Dorsett, it’s taken some time for Dorsett to assimilate but he’s certainly been more valuable to the team than Brissett would’ve been. Mike Dussault

Chiefs have an easier schedule and have the most lethal offense in football. Pats would need everyone, including AB to beat them in AFC title game, especially in KC. Last year it came down to the final drive, and I don't see Mahomes who is playing lights out to go 0-14 in the first half again. Do you agree with the local media proclaiming that "AFC competition is barely there". I sure don't. Alex Konn

I agree that right now in the NFL it’s the Patriots, Chiefs and everyone else. The Patriots do seem far better equipped on defense to deal with the Chiefs this year and many have surmised they added so much second-level athleticism specifically to deal with Mahomes and friends. As for the offense, I agree, they’ll need Brown to truly go toe-to-toe with the Chiefs offensively. Without Rob Gronkowski, the offense just needed another playmaker. Trying to beat KC with only Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and the backs as their true weapons would be a tough task. As for the rest of the NFL, and especially the AFC, it’s hard to see what other challengers have the pieces to hang with the two big dogs. Mike Dussault

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