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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: TEs, Gronk's weight and more

Tracking tight ends and dealing with Rob Gronkowski's future highlight this week's mailbag.


Is Rob Gronkowski's weight loss an indication that he is committed to his retirement or is it a man who lost half a step trying to get it back and more for next year? I believe he is retired but in my heart I would love to see him for another year or two.

David Brown

I honestly don't believe his weight has much to do with his decision at all. If Gronk decided at some point that he'd like to return, it wouldn't be that difficult for him to add some bulk to his frame, especially considering his strong work ethic when it comes to his condition. If he looked overweight and out of shape that would be a much bigger hurdle for him to climb if he intended to return. In terms of his future plans, I won't pretend to know what he's thinking but I believe he is retired and enjoying his decision. I don't expect him to return this season, but by no means would I guarantee that.

Paul Perillo

Do you see any reasonable chance to trade for Evan Engram or O.J. Howard and what would be the cost?

Gregorio Ladeira

I think both of those players are part of the future for their respective teams and I would be surprised to see either dealt anytime soon. Both players are still on their rookie contracts and have been reasonably productive in their two seasons of work thus far. It wouldn't make much sense for the Giants or Bucs to deal affordable players who have been contributing. Some have speculated that Tampa might be willing to deal another tight end – Cameron Brate. He wouldn't cost as much in terms of trade compensation but the Bucs might like the depth they have at the position and keep them all. Nonetheless, tight end is a spot the Patriots will continue to look to bolster.

Paul Perillo

When will the Patriots go to the White House (if they go)? It is Gronkowski's last chance to celebrate a championship there and he seemed to have a lot of fun the last time. At least it was a lot of fun for us fans.

Steve Radke

There has yet to be any announcement from the team in terms of a potential date for the team to visit. At this point it would be quite difficult in terms of logistics to make it happen, but some have speculated that perhaps the Patriots could schedule it to coincide with their trip to Washington the play the Redskins on Oct. 6. I'm not sure exactly how that would work or if would even be possible, but to this point the team hasn't been able to nail down a date that works for all parties concerned.

Paul Perillo

I know this is a backward looking question, but is there really that much going on to discuss right now? So my question is, how has the missed intentional grounding call, which should have resulted in a safety in the Super Bowl, not gotten any attention? I'm referring to the play just before Johnny Hekker got the record for longest punt in a Super Bowl, when Jared Goff was in the end zone with imminent pressure closing in and he threw the ball into an area with no receivers and it landed behind the line of scrimmage. If you want to double check, look at 6:50 of the official NFL highlights on YouTube. Regardless of the end result, it happened at a time when the game was still really close, and it was completely blatant from what I saw, and yet nothing. The commentators said nothing in the moment, no tweets by any big names, no coverage from any of the various sport media outlets, complete silence. How has this been some completely ignored, despite the recently heightened talk of improving officiating, particularly on plays that could influence the outcome. As Patriots fans, would all should be well aware of this sort of thing being called in a Super Bowl from the second match up with the Giants.

Mike Aboud

I did exactly what you told me to do and I went back and watched the play again, but I saw things a little differently than you did. You are correct that Goff was under pressure and that his throw did not reach the line of scrimmage. But you failed to mention that Todd Gurley was in the area of the pass near the sideline about 5 yards beyond where the ball landed. Clearly, Goff threw the ball away in the direction of Gurley, and even though the pass had no chance of being completed it was certainly close enough to Gurley to wipe away any potential grounding call. These penalties can be judgment calls and I guess the official could have ruled it grounding but I can certainly see why he didn't in that case since Gurley was in the vicinity. I'm not sure why this play would stick with you so long as even you mentioned that it was fairly irrelevant. On the play when Brady was called in Super Bowl XLVI there was no Patriots receiver anywhere in the area – and I still think it was a surprising call considering grounding is called so infrequently.

Paul Perillo

I have not heard anything on Jarrett Stidham's progress, how is he picking up on the offense? Is he showing any flashes in becoming a replacement for Tom Brady in 2-3 years down the line? Do you think he will make the roster or be on the practice squad or neither?

Michael Velasquez

We haven't seen Stidham do anything as of yet with training camp still a few weeks away. At that point we'll get to see him run the offense, make his reads and throw the football on a more consistent basis. At this point we've watched a couple of practices in shorts and T-shirts so there really isn't much to be learned in that setting from an evaluation standpoint. Stidham appears to throw the ball well and not surprisingly seemed to hold it a bit too long at times during the spring practices, which is to be expected as a rookie. In terms of this season, he will be on the roster along with Brady and likely with Brian Hoyer returning as the backup. As a quarterback and a fourth-round pick, Stidham isn't going to make it to the practice squad so unless he is injured he will be on the 53-man roster.

Paul Perillo

My question is about the coach of the year. Who picks this? Belichick has not won it since 2010 but the Patriots have clearly been the dominant team in the league since 2010. So it must be that the Patriots have an incredible roster full of future Hall of Famers that any coach could lead to success? But wait, how many players had the Patriots in the top 100 this year? And with Gronk gone, Brady is the only certain Hall of Famer on that team, so what is the justification for Belichick not having received the award since 2010?

Len Carmody

Frankly, there is none. Belichick has been the best coach in the league for two decades and yet has only won the award three times. There's no question that Brady's presence makes it tougher for Belichick to win the award, since some voters no doubt believe others could win with the greatest quarterback of all time. The Associated Press, which is comprised of a panel of 50 writers who vote on the various awards. It's also a regular-season award so the playoffs don't factor into the equation. Last year, as an example, an argument could be made that the Patriots 11-5 record wasn't really anything special in terms of what was expected. But you are correct in saying that the Patriots roster is not littered with future Hall of Famers and the remarkable consistency that Belichick shows each year really should be recognized more often than his three awards show. He's the best coach in football and really could win the award every season.

Paul Perillo

I was wondering whether you could clarify the tampering procedure. I understand that the Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans and then withdrew them, but why isn't the league investigating on their own? Should it really matter whether the Patriots have dropped their complaint?

John Peters

Of course it should matter that the Patriots dropped their complaint. If the Patriots are comfortable with the resolution of the matter then why should the league continue to exhaust resources looking into it? It would seem the Patriots wanted to point out a clause in Nick Caserio's contract that prevented him from speaking to other teams, so when the Texans sought permission the Patriots wanted to make sure this clause was recognized. Once the Texans backed away, there was no need to continue with the tampering charges. It will be interesting to see if this matter is now closed or if the sides will look into other ways to make it work in the near future.

Paul Perillo

Do you think the next quarterback for the Patriots is already on the roster, or will they grab one in free agency or the draft in the future?

Dante Coppola

The quarterback question is a tough one since we haven't seen Stidham play yet but my guess is Brady's successor is not currently on the roster. Brady will likely play at least a few more years and has stated several times that he intends to stick around into his mid-40s. He will be 42 in August, so that would mean a minimum for three more seasons. That would be time for Stidham to develop, but I feel the next guy might wind up being a free agent who can bridge the gap between the time Brady hangs them up and whenever the Patriots can find the guy they really want. I'm not sure Stidham has the ability to take the reins, although he will have plenty of time to prove me wrong.

Paul Perillo

Need a question to fill up the dead time until camp begins? I often wonder why the Patriots struggle against teams like the Carolina Panthers. Not that Carolina is bad, but they do not seem to match up well. Same with Jacksonville last year. Is there something about their defense that poses a problem for BB and the Pats? Or is it just that even the Patriots have days where nothing seems to go well.

Rick Malec

There are probably some very specific traits that teams have that cause some problems for various teams. By no means am I a football coach who has the ability to determine game plans and schemes but we've seen teams that have been able to pressure the quarterback up the middle without having to blitz causing Brady and the offense some problems. Both the Panthers and Jags were able to do that in the games you mentioned. I also feel that Belichick generally does better against teams he sees more often, and he doesn't go against the Panthers and Jags on a regular basis. But honestly I feel both of those teams are pretty talented and when they're playing to the ability they're capable of causing problems for a lot of opponents. Matchups can often determine how a game unfolds and there are likely certain ones that cause more trouble for New England than others. Fortunately there aren't many based on the results of the last 20 years.

Paul Perillo

My question is how we performed last year on third-and-one and fourth-and-one compared to the rest of the league? Is it an area that needs improvement? One thing I've noticed is a high number of throws on third-and-one. Who is making those calls? Tom Brady or Josh McDaniels?

Marc Smith

The Patriots faced a third-and-one situation and ran the ball 30 times in 2018 and managed to convert 23 of those for a conversion rate of 77 percent. New England had the most third-and-one rushing attempts and conversions in the league. One fourth-and-one, the Patriots went 3-for-4 when rushing. As for the air, the Patriots only attempted six passes (18th in the league) and completed three of them (19th) for first downs. On fourth down, they went 2-for-3, ranking seventh and sixth in the league, respectively in those categories. Josh McDaniels is generally the play caller but Bill Belichick will sometimes instruct him when he wants to run or pass, and certainly whether or not to go for it on fourth down. Overall, the Patriots face these scenarios more often than other teams and that's likely why it feels like they haven't been successful. But overall the short-yardage performance of the team is about average. Sony Michel was solid near the goal line but struggled at times, managing just 12 conversions on 17 third-and-one rushing attempts. It's definitely an area the Patriots would like to improve upon in 2019.

Paul Perillo

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