New England Patriots fans have waited in anxious anticipation for the last year — and more so the last two months — to see what exactly their team has in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
They’re about to find out. Is he the starter of the future? Trade bait? Just a guy? His toughest test comes Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, but after four weeks we’ll have a pretty good sense of Garoppolo’s future with the Patriots and in the NFL.
Read this week’s mailbag while you continue to count down the days until the Patriots’ season opener against the Cardinals.
@DougKyed if Hightower is playing on the edge on 1st or 2nd down, who plays next to Collins? Mingo?
Dont’a Hightower was playing strong-side linebacker on the line at times in the preseason. I would expect Jonathan Freeny to be the third linebacker/second inside linebacker to begin the season, but Barkevious Mingo and Shea McClellin have the potential to fill that role in the future.
Mingo offers the most upside in that role because of his Jamie Collins-esque explosive athleticism. The Patriots might feel McClellin is a stouter run defender, however.
@DougKyed Do you think the Patriots will be more “run heavy” in Jimmy G’s first game on the road?
If Dion Lewis was healthy and on the active roster, I’d say yes. But with LeGarrette Blount, James White, Brandon Bolden, D.J. Foster and a possibly shaky offensive line, I’m not sure it would be too smart to go overly run-heavy.
The Cardinals’ offense also is pretty high-powered, and while the Patriots’ defense should be one of the best in the NFL, trying to play catch-up with a backup quarterback isn’t wise.
I think the Patriots should go with a fairly balanced attack.
@DougKyed can Pats manage a 2-2 start to the season?
Yes. I might be delusional, but I still think they go 3-1. (Spoiler alert.) I think the Patriots are going to lose Sunday night, but I believe they’ll beat the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.
I think the Patriots’ defense is being overlooked, and I still expect Garoppolo to do well, despite that big, bad Tom Brady banner hanging over Gillette Stadium.
@DougKyed #maildoug guys who comes of the roster when Brady and Nink are back ? Plus you would hope they would eventually add a receiver?
There could be injuries by the time Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich’s four-game suspensions are over, so this issue might not even be relevant by that time. Looking at the roster right now, I could see an offensive lineman or linebacker come off the roster. Perhaps rookie guard Ted Karras, one of the backup offensive tackles — Cameron Fleming or LaAdrian Waddle — or rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts.
I think the Patriots are fine at receiver right now. Malcolm Mitchell is getting healthier, and Devin Street is a pretty solid reserve on the practice squad.
I’ve been covering this team on a day-to-day basis for four seasons now, and every year fans think they need receiver help. When will fans start begging for Terrell Owens or Randy Moss? That’s my favorite time of year.
@DougKyed “how does Jimmy cope with the fact the banner is a huge distraction and is clearly put up by Tom because they hate each other”
I appreciate your sarcasm, Ryan.
The Brady banner and No. 12 over the lighthouse is a little strange, though. The Patriots have always preached team first, and now there’s a gigantic banner of an active player, and his number, hanging inside the stadium.
@DougKyed with Gronk not 100%, does AJ Derby get some snaps this year with Bennett?
He might have to. If Rob Gronkowski doesn’t play against the Arizona Cardinals — a real possibility — Derby would likely get a ton of snaps with Martellus Bennett.
I actually wonder if the Patriots’ decision to carry four tight ends is related to Gronkowski’s health to enter the season.
Let’s go rapid fire:
@DougKyed who starts at RG this week?
My educated guess is either Shaq Mason or Ted Karras. I’m not sure if Jonathan Cooper is ready yet.
@DougKyed We’re probably gonna lose on Sunday, huh?
Yeah, probably, Walter.
@DougKyed Sunday score prediction ?
Cardinals 24-20 (ducks).
@DougKyed who do you think the inactives will be on Sunday night?
I’ll go with:
RB D.J. Foster
LB Elandon Roberts
OL Jonathan Cooper
OT LaAdrian Waddle
LB Shea McClellin
TE Clay Harbor/Rob Gronkowski
S Jordan Richards
@DougKyed if Jimmy goes 4-0 do the patriots have a perfect season?
Yes. If Garoppolo leads the Patriots to a perfect record, Brady probably will break the single-season touchdown record in 12 games.
@DougKyed What are your favourite toppings on pizza?
My go-to is bacon, but I like meatballs and linguica too.
I once ate at an Italian restaurant that had pizza and spaghetti and meatballs on their menu. I asked if I could have a meatball pizza, and they said they couldn’t do that. I’ve never been more confused.
@DougKyed over/under on the number of Uggs-filled couch photos Brady will post on game days week 1-4?
I’d set the over/under at 1.5 and take the over. I don’t think Brady will be able to help himself. What else is he going to do for four weeks other than post endless Facebook statuses?
Brady is going to be like your aunt on vacation.
@DougKyed Hogan or Amendola first to 40 catches?
@DougKyed could this be a break out year for Chris long after three injury plague seasons? Who will patriots line up outside as receiver
I believe it will be a re-breakout year for Long, and he has four games to start as a chance to truly prove himself while Rob Ninkovich is suspended.
Hogan, Gronkowski, Bennett and Julian Edelman all will line up outside early in the season. Mitchell should receive some reps, as well.
Cardinals strong running game is a factor. Will the Patriots use the big D-Linemen like Branch and Brown a lot?#MailDoug
We might even see some alignments with Alan Branch, Malcom Brown and Vincent Valentine on the field at the same time in a three-man front.
It will be extremely difficult to track their defensive personnel changes. The Patriots’ defense will be predictably unpredictable this season.
@DougKyed who’s gonna be better at baseball, Tim Tebow or Shaq Thompson?
That is a tremendous question. Thompson went 0-for-39 with eight walks, 37 strikeouts, a stolen base and three runs in 47 plate appearances in the Boston Red Sox’s rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate.
I believe Tebow will receive more than 47 plate appearances, which means he’ll probably get a hit, which means he was better than Thompson.
It’s OK, though. Thompson is a much better football player. (That sentence should go over well with Tebow fans.)
@DougKyed did you adopt a kitten just so you could name him harambe?
No, but we did adopt a male kitten so we could name him Harambe.
@DougKyed How many PPV’s in a month is too many PPV’s?
Two WWE pay-per-views a month are too much, ESPECIALLY during football season. I can barely keep up with one PPV a month. I don’t know if I’ll even watch Backlash.
Thumbnail photo via Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports Images