Patriots Mailbag: Jabaal Sheard Could Still Earn Future Role On Defense

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Get ready to hear this many times before Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. kickoff: The New England Patriots can clinch a winning record for the 16th straight season with a Week 11 win over the New York Jets.

That’s just absurd.

And it’s why criticizing Bill Belichick, even when he counfounds fans and the media by trading Jamie Collins or benching Jabaal Sheard, is so complicated. Would I have traded Collins or benched Sheard? Not a chance. Does Belichick know what he’s doing? To quote the podcast “Pardon My Take,” uhhh ya think?

With that being said, watch above, read below. It’s mailbag time.

@DougKyed Do you think the Pats might cut Sheard before the end of the season if he does step up his game?
— @Meepein
I might live to regret saying this, but the fact that Sheard still is on the roster is a good sign for his future status. I don’t believe the Patriots would keep him around if they didn’t plan to use him. That in turn would make him a distraction to the rest of the locker room.

I also believe Alan Branch’s reported suspension could re-open a role for Sheard in a trickle-down effect. He’s not a 6-foot-5, 350-pound defensive tackle like Branch, but New England likes to use Sheard as an interior pass rusher. When rookie defensive tackles Vincent Valentine and Woodrow Hamilton were injured and inactive earlier in the season, Sheard was used heavily inside.

If Branch’s suspension sticks, and if the Patriots don’t intend to sign a veteran backup, Sheard could be an emergency interior player in that situation. New England obviously likes his and Trey Flowers’ playing strength enough to use them inside.

Sheard was spotted in the Patriots’ locker room Wednesday but politely declined to speak to the media because he was feeling under the weather. He said he would speak later in the week, which could come Friday.

@DougKyed has anyone helped their odds of being resigned by NE than Harmon? By being solid, limited S depth behind him & others regression.
— @realnesportsfan
I think Marcus Cannon has helped his odds of being re-signed even more than Duron Harmon. Patriots fans were panicking over Cannon being the starting right tackle, but he’s playing like one of the best at his position in the NFL after dropping weight this offseason.

I think Cannon, Harmon, LeGarrette Blount, Dont’a Hightower, Martellus Bennett and Malcolm Butler have only helped their chances of being re-signed.

@DougKyed M. Mitchell was impressive not only in receiving but also blocking. Do you see him overtaking Hogan as WR2?
— @mjmed11
I fully expect Chris Hogan to regain his role as a starting wide receiver in the Patriots’ offense when the returns. Hogan struggled in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks, however, when he wasn’t on the same page as quarterback Tom Brady going deep and on a back-shoulder route. Let’s blame that on Hogan’s back injury for now, but if it continues when he’s no longer injured, then it would be possible for Mitchell to surpass him.

Mitchell hasn’t been without his own mental errors. He also wasn’t on the same page as Brady on a deep pass earlier this season, and he was made inactive in the next week.

@DougKyed Do you think Caserio is possibly leaving after this year? Belichick made a point yesterday to note he is a GM candidate #MailDoug
— @KMA164
I think the job would have to be really, really appealing for Nick Caserio to leave. He’s seen other executives leave the Patriots and struggle, and some of that is because those general managers haven’t been on the same page as their head coaches.

If offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Caserio could leave for the same team at the same time, it likely would be an appealing situation for both John Carroll grads. That’s just a guess, however.

@DougKyed #DougMail Which defense was better last Sunday, the Patriot’s of 49er’s? I say 49er’s- come at me
— @MrQuindazzi
Mr. Q, come on.

The Patriots allowed 17 points, including seven in garbage time, and the 49ers’ offense was averaging 20 in their last three games entering Week 11.

The 49ers allowed 30 points to a Rob Gronkowski- and Hogan-less offense, and New England was averaging 30.7 in their last three games entering Week 11.

So, the Patriots held the 49ers three points under their average, while the 49ers held New England to .7 points under its average without two of its best targets. And the game was played under crappy conditions, so fewer points were to be expected.

The Patriots struggled in run defense, but the 49ers were even worse. And I thought New England made strides in its pass rush and coverage. The Patriots recorded five sacks to the 49ers’ one and allowed just 5.1 yards per passing play while the 49ers let up 6.7.

New England’s offense obviously is much better than the 49ers’, but those numbers aren’t even close.

@DougKyed As a reporter doing find it frustrating when BB gives his vague answers? Ex; Jabaal Sheard, healthy scratch
— @rankjas
Obviously it would be helpful if Bill Belichick expounded more, but I think we’re all pretty used to it. We still have to ask questions about subjects like suspensions, benchings and trades, because it’s our job, but you go into the questions, no matter how they’re worded, knowing you might not get much of a response.

I didn’t think Belichick would say much earlier this season when I asked him about Michael Lombardi, and whether we could take the former Patriots executive’s word as gospel. Belichick wound up heaping praise on Lombardi, and it was a very quotable exchange. You never know what’s going to happen, so you might as well still ask.

@DougKyed Pats taking it safe with Gronk or is there really something wrong?
— @jack_roos86
Well, reports say he either has a punctured or perforated lung, so that sounds like something that I wouldn’t partiularly want to be going through.

Let’s go rapid fire:

@DougKyed #maildoug favorite thanksgiving desert
— @dawes_matt
Let’s go with the pumpkin pie. My wife makes a chocolate pumpkin pie that rivals the classic, though.

@DougKyed If you could only eat one Thanksgiving food item tomorrow, which would it be and why?
— @PP_Rich_Hill
Probably pumpkin pie? I really, really like green bean casserole, though too. Those crispy onions are delicious.

@DougKyed how is harambe? #maildoug
— @erickperdigao
He’s doing great. He’s big enough to jump on counters, though. Classic cat stuff. Right now he’s asleep.

@DougKyed is whose locker is closest to TB12’s?? & which movie you like better …Air Force One or The Fugituve?

( ya, I love Harrison Ford
— @papatimber99
Jacoby Brissett is on one side, and Malcolm Mitchell is on the other.

The Fugitive.

@DougKyed when will I get a girlfriend Doug
— @nlnbsmith
Tomorrow or the next day. I believe in you, man.

@DougKyed I like both white meat AND dark meat on thanksgiving. But will I be sober enough to realize what I’m eating? #maildoug
— @Griffin_1980
Not with that attitude.

@DougKyed Does TB12 have a legit shot at winning MVP this year? Despite play of Derek Carr, Dak P or Ezekiel Elliott
— @rankjas
Definitely. Brady currently is the odds-on favorite to win NFL MVP. If he keeps his current pace, I think he’ll win.

@DougKyed cellphones in the bathroom, yes or no?
— @JefFullerMyself
Is this a serious question? Of course.

@DougKyed last one: is it true that Jets fans eat chicken on Thanksgiving? And serve their potatoes baked instead of mashed?
— @vnyand
Ooooohhhh Thanksgiving burn.

@DougKyed Who is your favourite journalist that covers the Pats (other than yourself)?
— @midclassgangsta
Trags. (WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia.)

I like them all, though. I take no sides in Boston Herald vs. The Boston Globe, and I even like Mike Giardi.

I’m very thankful for all of my colleagues and co-workers.

@DougKyed If London does get a franchise, can I remain a Patriots fan or do I have to support the London team?
— @DannyGodfrey23
That’s a tough one. I say yes. But no one would blame you for picking up the London team. Country pride and all of that.

@DougKyed greatest Survivor Series of all time? Going with 1994’s Clowns R’Us vs the Royal Family.
— @JeremyCorbett1
I’ll go with the four Doinks (The Bushwhackers and Men on a Mission) against Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastion Booger and the Headshrinkers from 1993.

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images

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