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Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Putting the 2020 Patriots over the top

Fan questions answered in this week's Patriots Unfiltered mailbag.


The Patriots seem to be struggling (and have been) at WR and RB. It's definitely not an easy fix either way at this point in the season, but IF you could get a SUPERSTAR at one of those positions but not the other, which position would you choose, WR or RB? (I'd say RB.) -@ChadXMartin

I'm going with wide receiver because I'm still interested to see Damien Harris, who will be eligible to start practicing after this week's game against the Raiders. While both Byrd and Harry made some big strides in the second game of the year and Edelman showed he's still as clutch as they come, I still think it's a big need and there's isn't much waiting in the wings, other than Gunner, who is also on IR through this weekend at least.

But I also think there's room to allow these guys to grow. Jakobi Meyers chipped in a nice catch against the Seahawks as well. If there's one thing we can feel good about after this loss, it would have to be the development of the passing game. Maybe we give them another couple weeks, see what Gunner and Harris can do when they get back and then re-evaluate. –Mike Dussault

If we're to play in January, what are the key games on the schedule? Bills both ways? If so, what can we take from competing against Russell Wilson for when we confront Josh Allen? -@PaulHawkes14

The road to the playoffs will always start through the division, so those games against Buffalo are looming even larger now that we've seen the Dolphins and Jets start off winless. There are some parallels from Wilson to Allen, though Allen has far more inconsistency and not as much escapability as Wilson. The Patriots defense is far more likely to let Allen make downfield throws than Wilson, who they significantly altered their defensive approach to counter by mixing man and zone coverage.

Against the Bills I think the Patriots will stick to their heavy man schemes in an attempt to force Allen into mistakes. But there's no question, Allen has talent with his arm and legs, and if he can put together a clean game, he'll make life very tough on the Patriots defense. –Mike Dussault

How do you feel about the offensive play call? It seemed like many of the 3rd down calls never really gave the Pats a chance to get the first. Do you see this changing as the season goes on? Are you surprised by the lack of TE use? I expected Asiasi to be involved in the passing game a decent amount, but that hasn't been the case yet. -@ThePatriotsGuy

I was good with the final play call. Win or lose the game with your best player, in a situation where he was nearly unstoppable in the first two games of the season. I just enjoy the parallels between this play and what the Seahawks did at the end of Super Bowl 49. The Patriots handed off to Lynch and if they had lost trying to throw it to someone else I think there'd be a mountain more of criticism than letting Newton do his thing.

The only thing I do wonder is if they still had the pass play they scored on by throwing to Jakob Johnson, maybe that could've been an acceptable alternate. But outside of having another one of those fakes off of the Newton keeper, I don't think they should've overthought it.

I am a little surprised we haven't seen Asiasi catch a pass yet, they need more production than three catches in two games from the tight end position. Especially when you consider the success Newton had in Carolina with Greg Olsen. It's a complementary position to Newton's style and the Patriots could get far more out of their offense if someone like Asiasi, who has good hands, starts contributing up the seam. –Mike Dussault

Does Seattle's explosive plays on offense concern you about the Patriots defense? Why was Gilmore so overmatched? -@Kevin230346

They do, but at the same time, that's the best deep ball thrower in the league and we got blasted just like Atlanta got blasted and it still was a winnable game. The margin for victory was incredibly narrow, but I do think the Patriots secondary is better than what they showed against Wilson.

What is a little troubling is that there weren't really any surprises. They knew what was coming and they just couldn't figure out how to stop it, and that goes for the front of the defense as well. To shut down Wilson you need a masterfully executed gameplan for 60 minutes. If you only force him to seven third downs you're just not being effective enough on early downs. That's what they'll have to correct first, and I think they will correct it, especially as younger players develop experience. -Mike Dussault

Pats need a true WR 1. Who can they target in a trade: OBJ, Allen Robinson? - Should the Patriots bring in Stephen Hauschka to kick? It makes sense. - Where is Asiasi? - Patriots need some D-Line help. Damon Harrison? Someone else? - Cam Newton extension? -@PatriotsNews247

I don't think it's looking good for popular picks like OBJ or Robinson, but I'd still say it's a pretty good bet that they make a move for someone. They just might wait a couple more games to see exactly what they need.

I would absolutely bring in local native Hauschka, unless the Patriots truly believe in Justin Rohrwasser, which I think they do, or at least will give him the next shot if and when they're done with Nick Folk. With two missed kicks in two games, they'll make a move at some point and maybe sooner than later.

I'm all for getting Asiasi more involved and would love for him to emerge as a weapon for Newton. They need more.

Guy didn't have a good game against Seattle, but I've liked Byron Cowart's progression the last two weeks and Beau Allen has to appear at some point. I'd wait until we get a look at Allen before making a move -- a trio of him, Guy and Cowart would probably be enough.

Cam Newton extension, yes, let's do it right now! –Mike Dussault

Linebackers... trade for a KVN type? -@MMMX_R

I've really liked what Chase Winovich has done this year and John Simon still might be the most solid member of the front seven. The wild cards are Calhoun, who had his first sack against Seattle, Copeland and the rookies. I'm still not sure on any of the backups and rotational pieces right now.

I'd lean more toward a rangy inside 'backer than an outside/inside hybrid who is more strong than fast. –Mike Dussault

At this point, what would you say is our one true strength and one true weakness and how do you think we could solve that one key thing to maybe have everything click into place? -@ClazzyClare

One true strength I think is Cam Newton, because as he goes, for better or worse, is probably how the Patriots season will go. The offensive line was excellent in pass protection though didn't have their best run blocking game. They're in the running for biggest strength when they put it all together. Secondary is still a strength but it sure didn't look like it last night.

Weakness is tough to pin down. After the Miami win we would've said passing offense but now that's not the case. Defensively, winning the line of scrimmage could be the thing that sticks out as the season goes on, and that's even with some promising performances from some young players.

The biggest thing is it's still early. They've been lucky as far as injuries so far. If that continues we should see significant development and perhaps emerging strengths and weaknesses that we've haven't even seen yet. –Mike Dussault

The front couldn't get pressure or stop the run last night. Which of those issues could be Achilles heel for the D? The run D would seem to be the easier fix but are there any good options out there to plug that hole (pun intended). -@The_MagnetMG

I think the Patriots were a bit overwhelmed with their gameplan defensively. They were spinning the dial but never all ending up on the same page outside of a few nice plays. There are certainly teams that can beat the Patriots with the run, just like the Titans did last year. But I think for the most part you're going to live or die with the athleticism in the front seven on passing downs. They need a new generation of clutch finishers and two games into the season we're just starting to get a sense of who these Patriots are. -Mike Dussault

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