Official website of the New England Patriots

live
Patriots Monday (WEEI Simulcast) Mon Dec 04 | 08:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Unfiltered Mailbag: How should the Patriots treat the trade deadline?

Coming off a big win over Buffalo, the Patriots have some decisions to make in the coming weeks.

Pictured in graphic: Patriots TE Mike Gesicki (88) celebrates his game winning TD against the Buffalo Bills.
Pictured in graphic: Patriots TE Mike Gesicki (88) celebrates his game winning TD against the Buffalo Bills.

What a win. Always fun to pull an upset like that and beat the Bills. Now I'm not crazy. I know this is probably just Any Given Sunday but it is nice to see some fight. My question is if they were to pull another on Sunday, are playoff hopes back on? Personally I don't think they can sneak up on Miami after Miami had a tough loss, but that was at least fun to watch and I'd love to fight for playoffs all year opposed to tanking. Schedule lightens in November. Plus, when has tanking ever REALLY worked? Bengals, Jaguars. Sort of, I guess. Story still be told but I want Super Bowls and both Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, everything I read says their weaknesses is going through progressions and that just screams bust to me for at least one. Thoughts?
JJ Barnes

It was a great win over a quality opponent and I totally agree with you that watching quality games like that is much more enjoyable than the alternative. The Patriots have been competing for the most part this season but the difference on Sunday was that they executed much better than they had in prior games. If that is an indication of how the team will play going forward, then absolutely another win this week over Miami would go a long way to getting them back into the picture. We shall see if they can perform on a consistent basis moving forward. But I'm 100 percent on board with your views on Sunday, and if the Patriots beat the Dolphins I think there will be some folks looking at the second half of the season in a different light.

It's clear the Patriots have not drafted well. Do you think Cole Strange is another example of 1) a player that was over drafted and 2) not an NFL starter? Seems like they could have had Strange in a later round and drafted a more legit first-round talent. The offensive line has been terrible for many years, filled with has-beens and journeymen. Do the Pats not value the position (like others) or the team building philosophy doesn't fit anymore with the O-Line, especially tackles?Mark Wright

I wouldn't say that Strange has not proven to be an NFL-caliber starter at this early stage in his career. He played well at times as a rookie, and admittedly struggled at other times, but overall he showed the ability to play at this level. However, I do agree that he was a reach to select in the first round and if he was taken, say in the fourth round, I don't think he would be scrutinized as much. There's no doubt that the offensive line has struggled in recent seasons, and I think there are many reasons for that. First they've lost some talented players in Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. Also, young drafted players such as Strange and Isaiah Wynn haven't fit in as well as the coaches certainly hoped when they arrived. And you can't discount the loss of not only Dante Scarnecchia, one of the most respected offensive line coaches in league history, but also coaches like Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo. That's a lot of attrition over the years and that has led to some struggles recently.

Everyone is putting lots of blame on the bad start on Mac Jones, and crying for a new QB. The real problem is the offensive line. If the Pats draft a tackle in the first round that player will help the passing game, the running game and that will result in a better defense. Dante Scarnecchia is no longer coaching as we all know, so you cannot plug and chug any longer on the OL. Drafting a CB or QB will only help one phase of the game. Only at tackle can they help three phases of the game. Please Bill, draft an OT.
Vincent Marani

Clearly the offensive line has been a huge part of the problem but it hasn't been the only problem. The receivers haven't been great and the quarterback hasn't been great either. And you can't suggest that a tackle will improve three phases of the game – including defense. If you do that then why doesn't a quality corner help the offense? Why doesn't a quality edge rusher help the running game? It doesn't work that way. Obviously you want as many quality players as you can, and the Patriots need some help at tackle and I'd be surprised if they don't address it in the offseason. How they address it will be interesting to watch because if the Patriots wind up with a top five pick I would not be in favor of taking a tackle. There will be some intriguing quarterbacks and receivers available, and the offensive line can be addressed later. But that's a long way off at this point.

What's was the difference in this week's offensive line play and why did Mac Jones have more time?
Andrew M.

There a few factors that came into play in the overall offensive improvement against the Bills on Sunday and specifically with the offensive line. First, the Patriots were able to get the lead early and weren't forced to play from behind as has been the case in every game other than the Jets this season. Not chasing two scores was a big help in slowing down the Bills pass rush. Bill Belichick and the coaching staff also made a move in sliding Mike Onwenu out to right tackle in place of the struggling Vederian Lowe, and kept rookie Sidy Sow at right guard. Cole Strange also returned from injury and took the left guard spot. That's probably the best group of five the Patriots can play, and it resulted in more time to throw for Jones. But the last point I'd add is the play calling of Bill O'Brien, which allowed Jones to consistently get rid of the ball quickly on short throws that relied on yards after the catch. All of that added up to the best offensive performance of the season by far.

The performance against the Buffalo Bills revealed surprisingly to us all that this New England Patriots team and the coaching staff still have a lot of fight left in their hearts. Would you agree with me that it was completely unexpected and that it is deserving of a lot respect in regards to them being able to pick themselves up of the canvas remembering that they have put themselves down there over the last few weeks?
Marc Saez

I would agree totally that the win was unexpected but the effort did not take me by surprise at all. I don't think the team's effort could be called into question very often if at all this year. I feel like the team has fought hard more often than not but simply hasn't played well enough to win. Against Buffalo the performance was much better and the result was a hard-fought win that came down to the final play. But I wasn't surprised that the coaches and players continue to be professional and put everything they have into trying to succeed each week.

I have come to the conclusion that Mac Jones is not our best option at QB. Players like Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor and N'Keal Harry have rejuvenated their careers with a better QB. This proves to me that our problem is the QB and his leadership/abilities (or lack thereof.) Do you see the Pats trading Jones away before the Oct. 31 deadline, or just continuing the suffering and hoping for a high draft pick?
Rick Morgan

In fairness this post came in before Sunday's upset win over the Bills in which Mac Jones led a last-second touchdown drive to win it. However, that doesn't make the bulk of this message any more accurate. First, Agholor and Smith have been solid complementary pieces for their respective teams since leaving the Patriots. Harry is pretty close to being out of the league after bouncing from Chicago to Minnesota and being on the practice squad. That said, I don't see the Patriots opting to trade Jones at this stage since he's not enjoying a particularly good season and would be getting sold at his lowest value. I feel the Patriots will see if Jones can build off Sunday's performance and establish himself as the starter heading into next season.

You guys do a great job. Always enjoy your insight every week. That being said, I'll keep it short and sweet. Will Bill Belichick be the Patriots coach next season?Jeff Drzadinski

Thank you for your work answering our questions … I enjoy learning about the team. There's been lots of talk about replacing Coach Belichick, especially on talk radio. I just think it's a big mistake, for Robert Kraft and the Patriots franchise. Losing Tom Brady to a Tampa Super Bowl winning team, then losing Bill as he breaks Don Shula's record with another team (Giants, Cowboys, Browns)? And they could still be mediocre. Offense needs the overhaul, an OC, someone who is going to be here for three years-plus to develop the quarterback they draft/develop. Surround the QB with offensive weapons WR, TE, and big investments in the offensive line.
D. Fav

I like your style, Jeff. Kill us with kindness before sending a rocket shot question to answer. My simple answer would be I'm not sure … lol. My gut instinct today would say, no, I don't believe he will return. I have no insider information on the matter and I don't pretend to know what is going to happen. As for the Shula record, certainly it will be a great accomplishment for Belichick but as a fan I honestly couldn't care less if he breaks it with the Patriots or with some other team. Belichick will be 72 next April and at some point the Patriots will need to move on.

Why did the Pats bother drafting Kayshon Boutte? Why have him on the active roster if you're not going use him? Sure Week 1 wasn't that good for him as the X receiver playing in place of DeVante Parker. Yeah he didn't get both feet down at key moments. But X receiver also isn't his game. He's more a Z or slot receiver. BB seems set on playing JuJu Smith-Schuster when he simply can't get open and even when he does he either doesn't catch the ball or does for minimal gain. The season is basically lost already so why not play Boutte and all your young guys for that matter and see what you have in them. Boutte has talent, so why not give him a chance?
Leif Santana-Perez

Overall I would tend to agree with you about all of the young players at this stage. When possible, I'd like to get as many of them some experience and see which ones show promise for the future. That said, I haven't really seen a whole lot from Boutte since he's been here and it has almost nothing to do with not getting his feet in bounds in Week 1. He didn't do a whole lot during camp other than some minor flashes here and there. He had a nice catch and run for a touchdown in the preseason, but also failed to create much separation during those games as well. He's also dealt with hamstring issues all season and currently landed back on the most recent injury list. But again, I agree with your overall point and I'd like to see him getting some of the reps that are going to the veteran receivers. We'll see if any of that changes at some point down the road.

I know we have 10 games left but it looks like the two QBs will be out of our reach, is there much point in trying to aggressively pursue one of these QBs moving up with the offensive roster that will be around them. Would it be better to have Mac/a vet like Kirk Cousins next year and take an elite tackle/receiver with the pick available rather than betting the farm on a guy who will be in the same situation as Mac? No elite WR or OT will be available in free agency. All the good teams right now built a team and then found the guy.
Damon Momoz

I really disagree with the majority of this post. First, why will the Patriots not be in position to select one of the top quarterbacks if they so choose? Many draft experts expect three guys – Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Michael Penix – to go quickly in the draft. What if the Patriots really like one of those guys and have a chance to pick him? Second, the only really good team that built the team before finding the guy to play quarterback is San Francisco, which shows just how difficult it is to construct it that way. The Niners made no fewer than a dozen excellent draft picks before inserting Brock Purdy into the mix and now they are arguably the best team in football. But that's not how Buffalo, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville did it, and that's just to name a few. All of the those teams drafted a quarterback – most of them quite high in the first round – and then added talent around them. I don't mind the idea of keeping Mac Jones or signing Cousins if better options don't exist, but at this point anything is in play.

My question is about the practice squad. It seems that we add and subtract players from it weekly. Do all teams do this? It seems practice squad players for the most part are young players who might benefit from a year of practice and continuity in a system. It seems the constant shuffling defeats that purpose.
Badax Michaud

Most teams use their practice squad as an added layer of depth, and many teams have both young developing players and veterans who can fill in when needed. The Patriots have used both thus far this season, and I don't really see how this impacts any of them in a negative fashion. Jeremiah Pharms, as an example, has gotten some limited reps on the game day roster as a young developing defensive tackle. How has this defeated the purpose of helping him improve? Unfortunately injuries are a major part of the NFL and the Patriots have been no exception. The practice squad is a great way to have some players available to fill in who are already up to speed on the team's offensive and defensive systems. That's the way most teams utilize their practice squads.

I watch all the Pats games as I have for years and years. After every game, all the press attack Mac Jones for bad play. Mac didn't allow Dallas and NO to score 30 plus points, I believe that was the defense. Also, there are many other QBs in the league that had poorer performances than Mac. I know that it is very hard to throw the ball from the seat of one's pants or be responsible for an interception that is deflected by your own receiver. Why are you guys always dumping on Mac? That in itself has to be demoralizing for him. Why can't you all back off and be more supportive.
John Maybrey

Well, for starters it's not our job to be cheerleaders for Jones or anyone else for that matter. When the team plays well it's our job to analyze it and explain why. When it plays poorly, well, it's our job to do the same thing. He played very well in the win over Buffalo and that's what we analyzed. Jones played poorly in both the Dallas and New Orleans games, especially the former. It's a big part of the reason Bill Belichick removed him from both games. And although the defense did not play great in either of those games, the offense directly allowed three touchdowns (two against Dallas, one against New Orleans) so saying they allowed 30-plus points is factually incorrect. I understand that fans want Jones to succeed and honestly when that happens it makes our jobs much easier, like Buffalo. But when it doesn't we can't just pretend that it did. Jones has dealt with a lot of problems on offense and some of them aren't his fault, but he's also not played very well for the most part.

With the success that Georgia players tend to have in the NFL, why do you think Bill Belichick tends to avoid drafting them? The Pats have had some very productive Dawgs, yet lately they seem to get passed over come draft day. Do you envision a scenario in which BB hands over the GM duties?
Joe Johnson

I'm not sure why there would an assumption that Belichick is not interested in players from Georgia. He's drafted several players from there over the years, and in 2018 he took a pair of Dawgs in the first round in Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel. He also took Malcolm Mitchell in the third round in 2016 and his starting center, David Andrews, is also a Georgia product. I don't think there is any validity to the assertion that he passes over Georgia players on draft day. I'm sure he's had the opportunity to take more in recent drafts and hasn't, but I can assure you that isn't due to some aversion to their players. As for taking away the general manager duties, I think the more realistic option is all or nothing. Asking him to suddenly step aside and take orders from someone else seems like a dysfunctional approach. If you want him to stay and coach the team my guess is he will need to continue to be in charge of the personnel.

Is the team playing poorly this year to get top draft choices for next year's draft? It now seems obvious to me that coach Bill Belichick had been riding on Tom Brady's coattails all those years. Clearly, we need to get another top-notch quarterback. Signing someone fresh out of college would most likely be better than what we presently have. Preferably someone with more confidence would be great.
Dan Nadeau

I don't think the team's poor start has been intentional in any way. Belichick is 71 years old and I don't think he'd want to completely start over at this stage of his career. There have been mistakes made in terms of building the roster and actually on the field in terms of strategy, but I don't feel any of the losing has been part of a concerted effort to grab a high draft pick. Now, if the Patriots wind up in that situation at the end of the season, I would definitely want to draft a young quarterback and see what's available.

First, does Matt Patricia get a little pass for last year at this point? He wasn't the perfect answer but also maybe not as incompetent as advertised? Also, I really hate the Brady vs. Belichick argument and the conversation that the Patriot Way no longer works. They both were great for each other (neither was the GOAT in 2001) but here is what I think is what made it work. Belichick is a great coach, Brady was a great QB but more importantly he was a great on the field leader who held his teammates accountable and has the ability to do so. I really think that is what is missing. Belichick and O'Brien have not forgotten how to coach but what is missing is a player who completely buys in and holds everyone accountable and that is why we do not have the attention to detail that is needed for excellence. The last two years of Brady's tenure when Brady and Gronk were not fully bought in, we're not so good either. Thoughts?
Eric Shorey

Well, if Brady and Gronk weren't fully bought in during their last two seasons together then I wish today's team would try the same approach. Their final two seasons were 2017 and 2018. The Patriots went to the Super Bowl in both seasons, losing 41-33 to the Eagles in the first and beating the Rams 13-3 in the second. Even in Brady's final year, without Gronk, who had retired, the Patriots went 12-4 before losing in the first round of the playoffs. I feel your description of the success grossly undersells Brady's contributions to the winning. You make it sound like any quarterback with good leadership skills could have enjoyed that kind of career. That's not the case. As tremendous as Belichick is as a coach, it took a lot more than leadership from Brady to put the team over the top and win six titles. Both were excellent and both were instrumental to the winning, but Brady was much more important than you made him out to be.

With the recent injury to Jimmy Garoppolo do you see the Raiders making a trade for Mac Jones? He seems to be at his best with Josh McDaniels and feels like his time in New England is over. If so what trade value would he have?
Steven McLeod

I'm not sure if the Raiders would have any interest in Jones but even if they did I don't think now is a great time for the Patriots to trade him. Jones isn't playing well and his value right now is probably as low as it could be. Maybe McDaniels would give an early Day 3 pick for him, but even that would be no sure thing. Trey Lance went from San Francisco to Dallas for a fourth-rounder, but he really has never stayed healthy long enough to play. So, the Cowboys were dealing for him based on potential. Jones has been the quarterback for two-plus seasons and starting with the last half of his rookie season his play hasn't been overly impressive. Maybe Jones can rebound over the second half of the season, like he did against Buffalo, and if the Patriots want to move on during the offseason perhaps his value would be a bit higher.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

Related Content

Advertising

Latest News

Presented by
Advertising

Trending Video

Advertising

In Case You Missed It

Presented by
Advertising