Patriots Mailbag: James White To Finally Be Unleashed For Playoffs?

The New England Patriots wisely took it easy on their bye week.

With top players like quarterback Tom Brady, wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, left tackle Sebastian Vollmer, safety Devin McCourty and defensive end Chandler Jones, dealing with various ailments, the Patriots held two walk-throughs this week without any padded practices.

That way, the Patriots were able to stay on top of their game mentally without taking the physical toll of practice. The Patriots likely will ramp up the intensity next week as they prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs as they hold practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag:

@DougKyed Who do you expect to get the bulk of the carries during the playoffs?
— @R_CIII
The short answer is Steven Jackson.

I believe the 32-year-old veteran running back proved Sunday he has enough left in the tank to be the Patriots’ “big back” in the playoffs, allowing Brandon Bolden to play on special teams and James White to serve as the “sub back.”

The longer answer is, I don’t believe the Patriots will or should run the ball very often. They also proved Sunday they aren’t adept on the ground even when the opposing defense stays in nickel against bigger offensive sets. The Miami Dolphins were in sub packages against the Patriots’ two-tight end set, and the Patriots still averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry.

Jackson actually ran pretty well and did a nice job of picking up yards after contact. The Patriots’ offensive line is the issue, and I wonder if they try to solve it over the next week by rearranging some pieces. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to see rookie David Andrews at center, allowing Bryan Stork to play right guard and Josh Kline to stick at left guard.

Rookie guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson have provided hope for the future, but I’m not sure they’ve proven they’re ready to start on a playoff roster.

@DougKyed Are we better off with Peyton Manning starting for the Broncos?
— @PlanetWalter
Patriots fans seem to think so. I don’t really know. Obviously, Brock Osweiler was able to beat the Patriots in Denver, but he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, which is why the Broncos presumably went back to Manning. (Although now Osweiler reportedly has an MCL strain in his right knee.)

Manning has more playoff experience, even if some of it isn’t so positive. I think there’s a chance the Broncos lose in the divisional round of the playoffs regardless of who starts at quarterback. And even if Manning plays well in his first playoff game, there’s no guarantee he’d play well against the Patriots.

He was terrible this season, but who knows which Manning will suit up in the playoffs?

@DougKyed Manning getting a pass on HGH in media. Your thoughts if Brady was accused of this. Media tidal wave?
— @rankjas
Probably, and it’s mostly because of what the general public considers a culture of cheating within the Patriots organization. Deflategate wouldn’t have been as big a deal without Spygate preceding it.

I also think the Manning HGH scandal isn’t being blown up to the same degree as Deflategate for a few reasons:

1. The story stems from Al Jazeera, which fairly or not, isn’t considered as reputable as the outlets reporting Deflategate.

2. The scandal is four years old. If Manning was accused of taking HGH this season, it would be a bigger deal.

3. The HGH scandal broke prior to Week 16 of the regular season, not directly after the AFC Championship Game as Super Bowl hype is starting.

4. Perhaps most importantly, Manning has a better relationship with many of the news outlets covering the story.

I’m not saying any of this is fair, but that’s why it’s not being blown out of proportion. And, for the record, a PED scandal should be a much bigger deal than potential general awareness of deflated footballs.

@DougKyed who had a worse injury crisis this year: the pats or wwe
— @lobster_dog

Well, John Cena joins Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Sting, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd and Nikki Bella, among others, on the WWE’s inactive list.

That’s the equivalent of the Patriots trying to play without Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Sebastian Vollmer, Patrick Chung, Justin Coleman and Danny Amendola — oh wait. That happened this year, albeit not at the same time.

It’s really, really close, but I might have to go with WWE. They don’t have the Patriots’ depth on the active roster, though they might with some savvy NXT pickups.

@DougKyed thoughts on griffey jr not being unanimous?
— @PointlessDude
It’s absolutely bizarre some Baseball Hall of Fame voters feel compelled to leave deserving candidates off their list because they don’t want the player to go in unanimously. Hopefully, this inane practice ends as the generation of BBWAA members change.

I’m just excited I was able to watch a Hall of Famer like Ken Griffey Jr. play as often as I did. I grew up in Seattle and was able to watch countless Seattle Mariners games at the Kingdome. Griffey is my favorite athlete of all time, and he obviously was worthy of a unanimous vote, since he was nearly universally beloved.

@DougKyed top 5 kids sports movies
— @lampy
1. “D2: The Mighty Ducks”
2. “The Sandlot”
3. “The Mighty Ducks”
4. “Rookie of the Year”
5. “Little Big League”

Why aren’t these movies made anymore? If I write one, are any producers interested in making it? Can someone get Disney on the line for me? I’ll have some free time in July.

(In looking up the box office gross of the five movies above, I found out it inaccurately says “Little Big League” is 180-minutes long on Wikipedia. How funny would it be if “Little Big League” was a three-hour movie?)

@DougKyed Do you like the cold? Because I love it.
— @DnioyoTwit
Not really, no. I like being warm.

I’ve greatly appreciated trips to warm-weather climates in consecutive years. Really hoping we get San Francisco or Arizona in December or January next season.

@DougKyed go to town spa order?
— @lokooko
Thick crust, half bacon, half meatball, burnt edges.

I also recommend getting thick crust, double cheese, extra crispy, though.

@DougKyed cool! I know its a week away but what do you feel are we going to see on offense? 3WR sets (JE11) or more 2TE with the Oline down?
— @LTizzel32
I would guess they’ll run more three-receiver sets. They might try to establish the run early, but they’ve been so ineffective that they might as well play to their strengths. With Edelman back, that certainly will be in the passing game.

I wouldn’t be surprised if White becomes a little more unleashed at some point in the playoffs. I think he’s a weapon that hasn’t fully been utilized yet in the passing game.

I’ll admit to being wrong about White here too. I doubted him after he was so underused last season and the beginning of 2015. He’s proven to be dangerous after the catch, as evidenced by his 68-yard reception in Week 17.

@DougKyed Bobby Heenan is obviously the GOAT manager. Who’s second?
— @itsthenewmanium
Paul Heyman is probably No. 2. If we’re only talking about 90s WWE managers, though, Paul Bearer is behind Heenan, then Mr. Fuji, Jimmy Hart and Jim Cornette.

Heenan is not only the best manager, he’s also the best color commentator.

@DougKyed I’m not sure what to think about WWE making a run at Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles. Afraid they’ll blow it somehow. Thoughts?
— @bwompbwomp
Oh, they’ll definitely screw it up somehow, but I still love the idea of bringing in the Bullet Club.

Ideally, they bring Finn Balor up to the main roster with Styles, Nakamura, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, which then sets up a feud between Balor and Styles. Somehow, someway WWE will make them all jobbers within a year, though.

WWE has the potential and the medium to be so, so much better, but it’s not and probably won’t be until Vince McMahon hands over the reins.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Dec 20, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) runs the ball against Tennessee Titans cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (24) in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Titans 33-16. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

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