Patriots Mailbag: Injuries On Offense Leaves Uncertainty In Chiefs Matchup


Jan 15, 2016

What an absolutely bizarre week for the New England Patriots.

Bill Belichick had a black eye, Chandler Jones was rushed to a hospital, Rob Gronkowski practiced, then was missing, practiced again and then popped up on the injury report with multiple ailments. All the while, only one player came off the injury report despite a bye week and just two walk-throughs last week.

Either the Patriots are playing mind games going into their divisional-round playoff matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs — who could blame them with how Jeremy Maclin’s knee/ankle ailment has been handled? — or the Patriots’ injury situation really is at a critical mass.

Before a Patriots star is abducted by aliens, let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

@DougKyed Will C. Jones be benched for a series or is this game too important? Thinking of Welker’s feet comments b4 Jets playoff game
— @saitooo
I believe there will be some punishment for Jones on Saturday. The Pro Bowl defensive end embarrassed the organization and made the team deal with an unnecessary potential distraction days before the team’s postseason opener. So, I think Belichick has to do something to show his team this type of behavior is in no way tolerated.

Beyond the obvious, the Patriots have been able to stay away from situations involving the law in recent years. Linebacker Brandon Spikes was accused of leaving the scene of a crash this June and was released by the team the next day. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was arrested on suspicion of DUI in July 2013 and was cut last offseason.

Jones wasn’t arrested, but reportedly using a drug that would put you in risk of having to go to a hospital shows poor decision-making. Jones handled the backlash correctly by standing in front of reporters and apologizing to fans for the mistake, but Belichick showed in his news conference Thursday morning that he wasn’t pleased to be talking about the situation.

@DougKyed can the Patriots trade for a number 1 pick?
— @kyle082313
They can, but if it’s a higher pick than where they finish, the pick would drop down to their slot in the draft because of the Deflategate punishment.

So, say they win the Super Bowl and hypothetically would be slotted into the 32nd pick in the draft but trade with the Minnesota Vikings for the 23rd overall pick in the first round, that pick would drop to the end of the draft.

@DougKyed How should the Pats try to attack Kansas City’s Physical secondary especially Marcus Peters and Sean Smith?
— @Abdullah12
I think they’re pretty well set up to attack the Chiefs’ secondary with Edelman and Danny Amendola, both of whom do their best work in the shallow part of the field and over the middle.

Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters and veteran Sean Smith are bigger players who can get physical at the line of scrimmage and play off-coverage to prevent the deep ball. Neither Peters or Smith is overly quick or shifty. It would be surprising to see Patriots “X” receiver Brandon LaFell have a big game.

Edelman typically lines up outside, so he’ll match up with either Peters or Smith on most snaps. Chiefs safety/slot man Ron Parker likely will spend most of the game on Amendola.

Gronkowski is banged up, and it seems like Peters and Smith could be tough matchups for the tight end regardless, since they’re big, strong and fast. When Gronkowski plays in the slot or inline, then All-Pro safety Eric Berry likely will cover him.

Edelman, if 100 percent, should have a big game. Running back James White also could be solid out of the backfield.

@DougKyed With Maclin slowed by an injury, which KC WR will the Patriots have to focus on?
— @JimGilhooly1957
None, I guess? Albert Wilson and Jason Avant aren’t exactly keeping defenses up at night, and Chris Conley could go off for a big play or two, but he’s young and inexperienced.

Tight end Travis Kelce is the Chiefs’ biggest weapon, so that’s likely who the Patriots will key in on. They’re well-positioned to defend him with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Jamie Collins on defense. The Patriots were third in receptions and yards allowed to tight ends this season, according to Pro Football Central’s Evan Lazar.

@DougKyed how big of a role do you see Edelman playing snap count wise?
— @Joey_ThePanda
He said this week he plans to go “full throttle,” so I tend to believe him. I don’t think there’s any reason to hold him back when it’s do or die time for the Patriots. He’s nearly nine weeks removed from surgery for a six-to-eight week injury, and he’s moving well at practice.

@DougKyed – Where do you see McDaniels & Patricia coaching next season ?
— @LukeTansley2
I wouldn’t be surprised if Josh McDaniels leaves for the Tennessee Titans.

I think Patricia sticks around, though I guess I wouldn’t have be shocked if he had left for Lions, who announced Jim Caldwell will remain as head coach.

The Titans and Lions both have front-office connections to the Patriots. New Titans general manager Jon Robinson was in the Patriots’ organization from 2002 to 2013, most recently as director of college scouting. Bob Quinn was with the Patriots from 2000 to last Friday, when he was hired by the Lions as their general manager.

@DougKyed today is Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s 62nd bday Hoooooooo! Who’s you all-time fav wrestler?
— @BillyJenkins
My favorite era is the mid-’90s, so I’ll probably go with Shawn Michaels, who I dressed up as for Halloween this year:

Bill Barnwell is Sgt. Slaughter in that picture, for the uninitiated.

@DougKyed did you punch belicheck?
— @oko
Sources say I did not. I didn’t give him any Sweet Chin Music either.

@DougKyed With the Patriots not having 1st rounder in draft and with need for WR will they look to be aggressive/different in Free Agency?
— @Cudge86
I think they’ll definitely look for a wide receiver either early in the draft or in free agency. I’ve mentioned him before, but Mohamed Sanu seems like he would be a perfect fit for the Patriots. He has the size, agility and versatility the Patriots look for in an outside receiver, plus he has the Rutgers pedigree.

Check out Sanu’s measurables coming out of college compared to LaFell’s:

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 12.32.57 AM

That’s actually kind of freaky how close they are. Sanu also has much larger hands (10 1/8 inches vs. 8 3/4 inches.)

Sanu’s production in the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense has varied based on the health of Marvin Jones. Sanu’s best season came in 2014, when he had 56 catches for 790 yards with five touchdowns.

@DougKyed why do people always overhype games like the chiefs defense is good but no where near the Seahawks defense.
— @NickCalabrease
Call me crazy, but I think the game is being hyped because it’s the playoffs.

You’re right, though, the Chiefs defense isn’t as good as last year’s Seattle Seahawks squad, but the Patriots also are sufficiently banged up enough that this game could be very close. It’s nearly impossible to predict how this matchup will go because there is so much uncertainty surrounding the Patriots.

If the Patriots’ offense can be 80 percent as good as it was to start the season, they should win this game easily. But that depends largely on the health of Edelman and Gronkowski. And until we see them on the field Saturday, we won’t know.

If Edelman were the only question mark, I’d be more comfortable with saying the Patriots should easily beat the Chiefs. But now that Gronkowski is sitting out of practices, reportedly going to hospitals and dealing with multiple injuries, there should be a little less confidence.

@DougKyed mailbag: What O-line combination to see start vs. KC?
Any chance we see Stork slide to RG?
— @irish_pats
The safe bet is we’ll see Sebastian Vollmer at left tackle, Shaq Mason at left guard, Bryan Stork at center, Josh Kline at right guard and Marcus Cannon at right tackle. I think the smarter move would be to put Kline at left guard, rookie David Andrews at center and Stork at right guard. We’ll see which is the plan of attack Saturday.

@DougKyed what’s your call on Denver vs Pitt? Pats should be rooting for Pitt right?
— @cheeseboy325
Yes, Patriots fans should definitely be cheering for the Steelers. Patriots fans might think the Steelers are better than the Broncos, but it’s close, and playing a home game certainly wins out in this scenario. The Patriots want the AFC to go through Foxboro.

@DougKyed how is your dog
— @patsfan120
Thunder is great! Thanks for asking.

He can jump through hoops now:

#ThunderAussie finds new ways to impress me every day. #ProudBrother

A video posted by Doug Kyed (@dougkyed) on

@DougKyed Which Patriot would make the best Jedi?
— @Kid_From_Quincy
You mean other than this guy?
Danny Amendola
Photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Edit via yours truly

@Dougkyed think Eric Berry is distracted by a possible matchup with the Broncos if they beat the Pats, cause he don’t mess with no horses?
— @BigRigStuff
I’m not sure that’s weighing heavily on his mind this week.

But I’d like to take a moment and say how incredible it is to see Berry playing at such a high level after beating cancer. That guy is amazing.

@DougKyed what is really going on with Gronk?!?
— @umichfan54
That’s a great question, and it’s possible Gronk doesn’t even know what’s going on with Gronk.

Only Belichick truly knows.

@DougKyed who wins the Royal Rumble?
— @JeffWIIM
Brrrrrrrrock Lesnar. I hope.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) on the side line during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium. The Green Bay Packers won 22-11.
Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey
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