Patriots Mailbag: Offense Must Become Less Predictable Without Julian Edelman


Nov 20, 2015

I’m kind of mad at the NFL.

Why did they wait to unveil their crazy “color rush” uniform idea until after BOTH of the Patriots’ Thursday Night Football games? It would have been really fun to see the Patriots in either all red, all navy or all silver uniforms, and now we’ll have to wait until next year.

That being said, the Jaguars’ color rush uniforms Thursday night were an abomination.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag:

@DougKyed Do you expect the offense to revert to more of a run based/PA style with less spread now w/o Edelman?
— @TheDTSB
I think they need to run the ball more, but they also need to focus on being less predictable. It’s pretty obvious the Patriots are going to run the ball when they have a three-tight end set, and it’s obvious they’re going to pass when James White is on the field with three wideouts.

They already became more predictable when running back Dion Lewis was lost for the season, because he couldn’t be covered by a linebacker.

I think they need to start designing more runs that work to White’s strengths, and they need to keep getting Blount and the reserve tight ends involved in the passing game.

The Patriots could get by with being obvious when quarterback Tom Brady had a bevy of options, including wideout Julian Edelman and Lewis, to target, because they’re so good at getting open. Now that those two are out of the offense, it’s not as easy to hit guys like Keshawn Martin or White on every throw. So using deception, like setting up play action with the run game, will be important.

@DougKyed Do you see a role for Joseph Fauria at all this year. I like him for the Pats when he came out of college.
— @jojoboxer23
The Patriots have been looking at free agent tight ends all season, so it’s certainly possible. I think Scott Chandler has been a slight disappointment, though we’ll see if he can step up with Edelman and Lewis out, which opens up for opportunities for everyone.

Fauria was definitely a touchdown machine as a rookie, but he fell off in his second season. An injury would probably have to occur for him to be promoted.

@DougKyed Belichick knew exactly what he was doing letting Revis/Browner go, has the DBackfield surprised you this season?
— @JefFullerMyself
It has surprised me a little bit. I certainly didn’t expect to see safety Patrick Chung lining up at cornerback and shutting down Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

I did expect cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan to be solid, though. The Patriots are set with their No. 1 and 2 corners, but the No. 3 spot will get tested Monday night if Justin Coleman can’t play with his hand injury. Rashaan Melvin likely will get the first crack at the job, but if he falters, I wouldn’t be surprised to see safety Devin McCourty move down to one-one-one coverage against wideouts, meaning more snaps for Duron Harmon and Jordan Richards.

@DougKyed what other new england reporter do you have the best relationship with?
I like all of the Patriots’ reporters, even Jeff Howe and Mike Giardi.

My desk in the Gillette Stadium workroom is closest to’s Kevin Duffy and the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels, so they’re the reporters who have to hear all my inane #hottakes throughout the day. (Qdoba is better than Moe’s, for example).

Everyone’s great, though. I have no complaints about my colleagues. ESPN’s Mike Reiss might be too nice, though. He makes the rest of us look bad.

@DougKyed What’s the talent difference between chris jones/dane fletcher and the guys they would replace? Is it worth bringing them in?
— @tony_yassa95
It’s my understanding Dane Fletcher will be activated, if not by Monday then early next week. I think it’s worth seeing what he can do at the No. 3 linebacker spot over Jonathan Freeny. I also expect Jon Bostic to keep getting more reps with Jamie Collins still nursing an illness, though.

I have no insight on Chris Jones. He’s a great player who has been a solid pass rusher in the past for the Patriots, but I’m not sure where he fits into the Patriots’ current defensive line. The Patriots are going five deep at defensive tackle already, and Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga and Akiem Hicks all are playing well. Jones’ skill set is most similar to Easley’s but there’s no reason to take snaps away from the 2014 first-round draft pick in obvious passing situations.

Jones isn’t quite as stout against the run as Brown, Branch, Siliga and Hicks, and carrying six defensive tackles seems overkill. The Patriots must decide on Jones and Fletcher shortly after the Bills game. I think Jones is definitely worth being activated onto the roster. I’m just not sure where he fits.

@DougKyed is Chris Harper starting Monday’s game against the bills?
— @poststephens
If Keshawn Martin can’t play because of his hamstring injury, then the third wide receiver spot is down to Harper and Dobson, and I think Harper might fit Edelman’s old role better, because he has experience outside and in the slot, while Dobson only can work outside. Edelman spent 51 percent of his passing snaps in the slot, so his role requires versatility.

@DougKyed out of the potential return men (Amendola/Martin/White/Harper) who do you think gets the role going forward? DA seems too risky.
— @PatriotsInform
I agree it’s too risky to have Amendola working as a returner given the health risks and his importance to the offense, but I still expect to see him back for punts Monday.

I wouldn’t be surprised if either Martin or Harper takes over Edelman’s old role when the Patriots send out a deep returner and a shallow man, though. Martin has been practicing punt returns, so he’s definitely in the mix when healthy.

I think someone else takes over for Amendola on kick returns. Chung and White have been practicing in that role. We could also see Martin return kickoffs.

@DougKyed why do we have no mafia?
— @raunkjaar
#BillsMafia #BillsMafia #BillsMafia #BillsMafia

@DougKyed why are you so obsessed with the patriots?
— @CViking83
I’m not obsessed with the Patriots. You’re obsessed with the Patriots!

Rex Ryan is hilarious, and it’s great to have him around because he adds a degree of levity to the typically overly serious nature of the NFL. While on the surface it seemed he took Thursday’s conference call way too seriously, he really didn’t. He wasn’t afraid to make a mockery out of something as inconsequential as a conference call with an opposing team’s beat reporters.

That being said, I think he’ll be a better color commentator than head coach for that very same reason.

@DougKyed You have great hair. No question.
— @DarrylJohnston
True story: My barber started laughing out loud over how long the top of my hair was the last time I got it cut. Just going to keep fading up the sides and leaving the top.

Also, thanks.

@DougKyed name your ultimate New England Patriots Survivor Series team. And who’s the manager?
— @MattyWinPats
Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich. Matt Patricia is the manager.

@DougKyed who is currently the best WWE superstar right now?
— @speedythetruth
Seth Rollins, but now that he’s out with the knee injury, that’s a tough question. It’s probably Brock Lesnar, though that’s kind of unfair because he’s only a part-timer.

Out of the full-time superstars, it’s between John Cena and Kevin Owens. I’m a big fan of Paige and Sasha Banks too, though. I think Dean Ambrose has the potential once he’s used correctly.

@DougKyed What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?
— @mattstdream
Green bean casserole.

@DougKyed #BillsMafia?
— @MichaelN_10
#BillsMafia #BillsMafia #BillsMafia #BillsMafia

In case you missed it on Twitter, I think #BillsMafia is very funny, and I’ve been having a good time with Bills fans this week.

@DougKyed Do you see Pats signing a RB to the 53 or PS soon? I like the three we got, but I think the depth is a tad too thin.
— @socoolsoco
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a running back added to the Patriots’ practice squad as depth at some point. Carrying just three running backs with one fullback on the practice squad seems a bit risky.

I suppose it does help practice squad fullback Joey Iosefa played running back at Hawaii, though. He also has a lot of experience catching the ball out of the backfield.

@DougKyed When will America realize Thanksgiving’s a ploy to get people to actually eat turkey, which is terrible?
— @BenjeeBallgame
Listen, Ben. Turkey is good for you. And it’s delicious with cranberry sauce and stuffing. Turkeys also are violent creatures, and if we stop eating them on Thanksgiving, they’ll probably overtake the world.

Stop hating America.

@DougKyed Real question: What would be the breaking point with the offensive line, whether injury/matchup related etc?
— @BenjeeBallgame
I probably would have said the Patriots would be lost without Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon … but they keep winning. I’m not sure if there is a breaking point, and it will be hugely helpful to have Vollmer and Cannon back.

Being without Edelman could affect Brady’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly, though, which could be an issue. It seems odd, but losing a wide receiver could be the breaking point for the offensive line.

@DougKyed off topic question but going to Gillette stadium and the Hall for the first time monday are there any places you recommend goingto
— @Cameronvogler
You should get lunch at either The Good Food Store in Walpole, Mass., (it’s a deli) or Town Spa Pizza in Stoughton, Mass. (Get the thick crust.)

It will be cold, but Crescent Ridge Dairy in Sharon, Mass., has the best ice cream. Cupcake Charlies, which is located at Patriot Place, is fantastic for dessert, as well.

@DougKyed who do you think is winning the WWEWHC Sunday? Who do you want to win?
— @BryanHodgdon
I think Roman Reigns wins. I hope Kevin Owens or Dean Ambrose win.

I like Roman Reigns, but unless they turn him heel, this isn’t the time to put the strap on him.

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images

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