I know I am stating the obvious, but honestly, how bad is the talent around Cam Newton? This past weekend showed exactly how inept our WRs and TEs are. Look at Tom Brady's success this season when you provide talent. By no means am I saying Cam shouldn't share a little blame, but man is the offense terrible. No one can get any separation. I don't see why we don't bring up the young WR on the practice squad. If we lose to the Bills, it may be time to put Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry on IR and bring up the young WRs.
I don't necessarily disagree with your assessment of the receivers and tight ends. The Patriots simply don't have enough talent at those spots and the inability to consistently get open has been apparent. I think Newton bears more responsibility for these shortcomings than you are giving him credit for, however. You bring up Tom Brady this year but what about what it looked like in New England in 2019. By no means was the offense great last season but it didn't look like it has over the past three games either. Newton has been slow to go through his progressions and his passes have often been off target. Some of those have led to the interceptions, like the one he threw behind an open Edelman against the Niners that wound up getting picked off on the deflection. To answer your specific question, though, what receivers from the practice squad to you feel would help? Isaiah Zuber has been on the roster for a couple of games and made some plays. Mason Kinsey and Kristian Wilkerson are also current members of the practice squad. It's highly unlikely these players are going to represent an upgrade in any discernible way. These are developmental pieces, some of which will come and go during the season. Zuber will likely get another opportunity to contribute at some point but the options within the team are quite limited at this point. And regardless of the options, Newton will need to play better.
Bill Belichick does not like to pay more money for a player than he needs to and that is part of the reason why Tom Brady left. When I see all of the weapons that Tom now has on Tampa Bay at every offensive position and compare that to what the Patriots have, I wonder how Tampa manages to stay under the salary cap. Granted some of our players opted out of the season but given our lack of playmakers for WR, TE, where is all of the money getting spent?
Don't confuse actual dollars and salary cap dollars. They are not the same. The Patriots have plenty of room under the cap. Most estimates have the Patriots with about $23 million in cap space. So if there are players the Patriots deem worth investing in there is plenty of room to do so. But with the team at 2-4 and struggling to create anything offensively it might make more sense to look ahead to the future. If a player who projects to be part of the 2021 team and beyond becomes available then I feel that would be worth the investment. There are always ways to maneuver cap dollars around in a manner that allows teams to fit in various salaries, and that's what Tampa Bay is doing now. It's a team built to win now with a 43-year-old quarterback so there's not a lot of concern about the cap in the future. The Patriots are in more of a rebuilding mode so the mindset is different.
At the outset of Sunday's game, Jimmy Garoppolo ran over Ja'Whaun Bentley for a first down. It was a symbol for the game and the team's heart. Bentley, a 255-pound linebacker, should have flattened the QB and prevented the first down. Tackling in general was lousy. Pursuit was slow, bad angles taken. That has nothing to do with our offense's issues. If we're going to have to endure a mercurial quarterback, Belichick's inscrutable idea of what constitutes a wide receiver squad and only limited options of how to move the ball and score points, then at least let's play with fire and heart. I can stomach a poor record -- given the offense -- but how about some pride? My question: have the players -- in the way they perform, not in what they say -- reset their expectations to mediocrity?
Only the players themselves can answer that question. I think it's fair to ask, particularly of veterans who have been around and been part of some championship teams. Again, only the individuals know if there's been a reset of any kind, but it would be easy to envision a veteran who understands what championship teams look like feeling like this team is lacking in some areas. Obviously they're all professionals and should be expected to compete at the highest level but sometimes that's easier said than done. As for the play in question early in the game, I credit Garoppolo for a tough run and finding a way to get to the first down sticks. Should Bentley have made the play? Absolutely. But I don't think it was any lack of heart that caused him to miss the tackle.
There's talk that both Sam Darnold and Jimmy Garoppolo may be available via trade. Would the Pats look at either one since everyone thinks Cam will not be affordable? Would it make sense to give up a third pick for one of these guys? Then maybe add a good WR via trade this year as well (Julio Jones, John Ross or Kenny Stills)?
After the beating we took from the 49ers, do you think it's time to begin the rebuild, sell off some assets, gather draft picks and maybe pick up some players for next year. We clearly don't have the players to compete against the better teams we saw it last year with Tom but if you see Tom with the Bucs and the players he has around him it's a completely different story.
These two posts came in from the same person but obviously a few days apart. The first came last Friday and the second in the aftermath of Sunday's loss. My feeling is the second post is the way to go, and honestly I'd feel that way even the Patriots beat the Niners on Sunday. I don't feel adding a big name wide receiver will have a huge impact on the offense at this point. I feel the offense needs several additions and those are unlikely to be acquired at the trade deadline. So even with a win I don't like the idea of sacrificing a high draft pick to pick up a wide receiver – as was the case last year with Mohamed Sanu – makes a lot of sense.
As for the quarterbacks, I'm not sure the Jets or Niners would accept a third-round pick for Darnold or Garoppolo. I feel like the Patriots need to use a high draft pick on a quarterback in 2021 and start the process of developing one for the future. I'd certainly take Darnold if he indeed becomes available but there's a lot of factors involved there, not the least of which involves the Jets willingness to trade him to the Patriots. And I don't see Garoppolo leaving San Francisco.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this question is related to the lack of form recently. The Patriots had to practice outside of their facilities because of players (and staff?) testing positive for COVID-19. Consequently, they could not prepare and practice as they normally would have. In your opinion, how much did this influence the poor performances we have witnessed during the last couple of games? Or are the Patriots currently not talented enough? How valuable was it to keep locker room leaders like Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty to be in a better position to get out of this slump?
Greetings from Norway
Trygve Johannes Lereim Saevareid
The inability to practice sufficiently leading up the Broncos game no doubt had an impact on their performance against Denver. I don't feel that was a big part of anything that happened against San Francisco, however. All of the teams are dealing with the inconveniences that have been created by the coronavirus. Practices have been cancelled and meetings have been adjusted, not to mention meals and locker room activities. It's been a difficult process for the entire league. Has it impacted the play of the field? I'm sure it has but for the most part it's been the same for all teams. It certainly helps to have veterans like Slater and McCourty around, but it's a difficult task to be sure.
Is anyone else in Patriot Nation still cheering Tom Brady as he makes his geriatric pursuit for yet another title, record or, gasp, another Super Bowl ring? If you watched any of Tampa Bay's game you saw a familiar sight, the master dropping bombs into the waiting hands of multiple receivers and playing at a level some other QBs can only dream of. My final question … are you happy now?
These are questions I guess each individual fan needs to answer for themselves. Personally, I've watched Brady's games so far and haven't really been invested too much either way. I knew he was great when he was here and nothing that's happened so far in 2020 has changed my opinion of that. I don't really care if the Bucs win or lose, though, so it's not the same for me as it was the last 20 years. I know a lot of Patriots fans are rooting just as hard for Brady to win now as they ever have, but some are also rooting against him. Now that Tampa is adding Antonio Brown I may find myself rooting against him in the future, but to this point I've watched only in passing and haven't really ben affected either way.
The Pats are losing in exactly the way that I hoped they would. They have taken the worst beating from COVID of any team in the NFL. They haven't been able to practice for the last three weeks. They were missing three starters from the offensive line. They played Kansas City without Cam Newton, and yet they are looking good in losing games. And they are saving a ton of salary cap money from the highly paid players who opted out of the season. To top it off there are some young guys stepping up and looking good for next year. A middle of the round draft pick is a real possibility, perhaps higher, if the problems persist. (Not practicing takes away BB's greatest asset: his ability to develop schemes that compensate for absent players.) The only big question is whether Cam Newton will be the long-term fix at QB. If not, they should have the ammunition to move up to take a QB at the top of the first round. They haven't packed it in, but they have not made any big deals to replace the guys they lost. It looks good for the future, and if Cam stays, the future could be next year. I'm not ready to make any predictions, but hey, that's your job.
It's also my job to try to break down things as objectively as possible and this is by far and away the rosiest of outlooks I've seen on the Patriots currently situation. The Patriots had more players opt out than any other team. Beyond that, they've been impacted pretty much the same as every other team has by COVID. The Patriots missed less than two weeks of practice, not three. They practiced heading into the Kansas City game and lost Newton, which was obviously huge, but they did practice. They then missed practice time heading into the Broncos game and lost Shaq Mason and Byron Cowart for that game. They practiced in full for the Niners game and currently aren't dealing with any new positives. The Titans had more than 20 players and staff test positive, didn't practice and had to play games anyway. Several teams have been forced to shut down their facilities and miss practice, and many of those teams have been without personnel for games too. It's a terrible situation for the entire league, not just New England. I agree the Patriots missing practice time hurts the team more than most due to Belichick's penchant for preparation, but if there was more talent on the roster it wouldn't be as big a deal. As for the future, Newton currently doesn't look like the answer and a mid-first-round pick doesn't represent "ammunition" to move to the top of the first round to take a quarterback, so unless the losing continues it will be tough to get in the top five.
I've been a Patriots fan long enough to remember days like yesterday on a recurring basis. Can the Cam Newton experience please end? The job of QB1 should be handed to Jarrett Stidham and stick with him.
There's no question that Newton hasn't played well and at some point if that continues Belichick will likely make a move. But I'm not sure things will look any different. During the two games we've seen Stidham play, things haven't looked good. He's thrown three interceptions in those appearances and has now tossed four picks in 27 career attempts. I would agree he should continue to get time to develop so the team can get an idea if there's some talent there worth working with in the future. But in terms of getting things right for this offense, I'm not sure Stidham is the answer.
With the team's recent struggles all the way around, if you were Belichick what you would do at the trade deadline? Trade away players like Stephon Gilmore and Joe Thuney for draft picks or wide receivers or use draft picks for the offense?
I've been firmly in the sell camp for a couple of weeks now and I continue to believe that. I don't want to trade players just for the sake of making trades, but if a teams is looking to deal a first-round pick for Gilmore I'd do it. If I could get a third for Thuney, I'd do that as well. I'm not interested in acquiring a wide receiver, unless it's a young player who is under contract for the future and might be part of the rebuilding process. I don't want to surrender any draft picks for veterans unless it's to add youth and the future. I'm not suggesting the Patriots should be looking to deal everyone but I'd rather be selling than buying at next week's deadline.
Why are the Patriots this bad? Because Bill Belichick's drafting over the past 10 years, especially on offense has been this bad. Is PFW finally going to call it?
Yes, we've been very reluctant to point out the fact that the drafts haven't been up to par as of late. Thank goodness you're here to set us straight. There have been many questionable picks, and some of those have been in the first round. Dominique Easley, Malcom Brown, Sony Michel and N'Keal Harry are all first-round picks and all have struggled. The Harry pick in particular hurts because the team is badly in need to receivers and so many chosen after him in 2019 have been productive. A lot of people, including me, have often pointed to the presence of Tom Brady for covering up a lot of these weaknesses in the past. Now Brady is gone and the quarterback lay hasn't been great and we're seeing some of these shortcomings. Belichick has proven his ability to put together a winning program for 20 years and there's reason to think he can't do it again. But the lack of young players emerging has been a big part of the problem in recent years.
What happened to James White against the Niners? Julian seemed out of it, emotionally and intensity wise. Is he trying to play through pain or is it the system change?
White missed a couple of days of practice last week and it was listed as not injury related. I haven't seen any reports explaining his absences, but it's certainly possible he was dealing with some family matters in the aftermath of the tragic accident that claimed his father's life and left his mother in the critical condition. As a result, perhaps Belichick felt White wouldn't be a huge part of the game plan against San Francisco. He didn't get many snaps and had just one ball thrown his way. Again, not saying this was the reason but it could be a possible explanation. As for Edelman, I agree he just hasn't looked right. I'm not sure if it's physical or what the issue is, but we're not used to seeing him be a non-factor as he has now for several games. Of course, nothing has looked quite right offensively in a while.
Everyone on planet knows we need an outside WR who can actually get open down the field and make defenses not stack the box as they are now. Our offense is stagnant and predicable without that kind of player. If reports are correct, Michael Thomas may be available for a trade, imagine him on the Patriots? Acquiring him would put the Pats back in the Super Bowl hunt. New Orleans would require something big to make that move, I say a first-round pick and Stephon Gilmore. What do you think it would take to get this game changer?
Cheers from Delray Beach, Florida
I don't think there's any chance such a trade would occur. The Saints need to get Thomas back in the fold but physically and emotionally and I can't see Sean Payton dealing him. I also don't think he fits the description that you're talking about anyway. He's not a deep threat, stretch the field type at all. He's a big-bodied wideout who runs slants and in-cuts as effectively as anyone in the league. He's tough and durable and catches a ton of passes. But he's not a speed burner who opens up the field underneath. He would obviously help the offense and he's under contract for several more years but he's a huge part of New Orleans' offense and the Saints need to get him back on the field. Trading him doesn't make a lot of sense for the Saints.