Patriots Mailbag: 2016 Squad Showed Unlimited Potential In Week 1 Win


September 16, 2016

It’s always fun to find out how the New England Patriots will talk up their next opponent.

This week, the Patriots, led by Bill Belichick, can point to the Dolphins’ Week 17 win over the Patriots and act like this year’s Miami squad is just as dangerous as the one that went undefeated in 1972.

It’s a testament to Belichick, and his ability to make players buy in, that the Patriots talk up their opponents so convincingly.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

@DougKyed what’s the biggest take away from week one? #Patriots
— @JCheatwood2
The biggest takeaway is Jimmy Garoppolo is a legit NFL starting quarterback.

Beyond that, this team has almost unlimited potential. They beat a Super Bowl favorite without Tom Brady, Dion Lewis, Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder and Jonathan Cooper, all of whom are expected back this season. Their defense held last season’s top-ranked offense to 21 points and under 350 yards. They’ll dominate lesser offensive teams, and that might start this week against the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots’ offense kept up with the Cardinals, despite a lack of turnovers from their defense, and they’ll be exponentially better with Brady, Gronkowski and Solder, let alone Lewis.

The Patriots had some issues running the football, but even those should clear up when Solder and Cooper are back, and especially when Lewis is healthy. People might have laughed at Boomer Esiason’s proclamation that the Patriots could go 16-0, but it’s really not that wild.

Belichick the general manager did Belichick the head coach a real solid in putting together this roster, which is among the most talented of his Patriots tenure.

@DougKyed Why are the color rush jerseys so ugly
— @pg1495
I’ve done a 90-degree turn on the Patriots’ color rush jerseys. I thought they were boring at first, then I saw them in person and liked them.

I like that they’re the same design as the throwbacks but with the colors rearranged.

I have a theory on why they didn’t go red with the color rush jerseys: I believe the Patriots want to change their uniforms, but they’re waiting until Tom Brady retires or leaves the team. And when they change them, I believe they’re going to go back to red. And I don’t think they wanted to introduce the red jerseys now or come up with two different designs.

@DougKyed what is the plan for DJ Foster? Is he still not 100%?
— @bobbyblanco1
He’s healthy, but the Patriots don’t need to activate four running backs on game days. I believe the Patriots like him, but they might not be ready to trust him in a regular season game just yet, since he missed so much of the summer.

@DougKyed does Mingo Start if Hightower is out?
— @patsfan71284
I don’t think he’ll start, but I could see him getting snaps on defense, which he didn’t in Week 1. With another week under his belt, I could see him taking on a small role, whether that’s as a pass rusher or in coverage.

I believe Jamie Collins, Shea McClellin and Jonathan Freeny will start at linebacker if Dont’a Hightower is out.

@DougKyed How about James White last week? Made some awesome plays. Seems like he’s under the radar with all of the other storylines.
— @bwompbwomp
He definitely showed off some improved quickness. I still worry a little bit about carrying a running back who can’t really carry the ball. White had one carry for four yards in that game.

The Patriots don’t really have a back on their active roster who can spell LeGarrette Blount right now. I’m not sure Brandon Bolden can be trusted with backup early-down reps.

They do, however, have Bishop Sankey sitting on their practice squad.

@DougKyed #Dougmail Do you think this period without Brady will benefit the coaching staff?
— @MrQuindazzi
I think it will benefit Josh McDaniels and could, once again, get him hired as a head coach. McDaniels last was hired for a head coaching gig after leading Matt Cassel to an 11-5 record. If Jimmy Garoppolo gets out to a 4-0 start, McDaniels could be coaching the Tennessee Titans or Detroit Lions next season.

@DougKyed how was the patriots offensive line so effective against Arizona?
— @cfloyd38
The Patriots used some design plays — either screen or fake screens — to throw off the defensive line. Garoppolo also got rid of the ball quickly, and they blocked well.

Let’s go rapid fire:

@DougKyed When Brady and Ninko return, who do you feel makes way for them ?
— @EdwardPettman
I’d look to the offensive line and at linebacker.

@DougKyed Gronk and Hightower status for Sunday?
— @RobJohnson1145
I think they both sit.

@DougKyed Thoughts on CJ Spiller. Any chance NE sign him?
— @erickperdigao
There’s no room for him with Blount, Bolden, White and Foster on the active roster and Sankey on the practice squad.

@DougKyed sup?
— @June__NYC
Watching “Thursday Night Football.” About to eat a donut from Country Kitchen.

@DougKyed Best place you ate at AZ? Also I won a JG10 jersey from my buddy who is a cards fan. Good investment or temp jersey? ??#Patriots
— @Tav2real
1. Probably In-N-Out, but Old Town Gringos in Scottsdale was good too.

2. Depends on how Garoppolo plays in the next three games. If he’s good, I don’t think they’ll be willing to part with a potential franchise quarterback.

@DougKyed Have you ever asked belichick a question that annoyed him?
— @Bobeaster
Annoyed? I’m not sure. Elicited an aggravated response? Yes.

@DougKyed. First player activated from PS?
— @Fourrings

@DougKyed what’s so bad about a strawberry
— @salazar034
Strawberries, like all fruit, are heavy in sugar, and therefore carbs. But, Google is telling me a single medium strawberry has four calories in it. That’s the equivalent of two Tic Tacs, or less than a piece of mint gum.

I can understand Tom Brady not eating cheeseburgers, ice cream or donuts. But strawberries?

@DougKyed do you think Hightower is worth a big contract even though he’s good to miss 2-4 games every season?
— @ToriGrignon
I do, but the injuries certainly lower his value and therefore his price tag. You basically have to assume Hightower will miss a handful of games with injuries. Other teams also would likely discount him because of the nagging injuries.

@DougKyed who is the best patriots player under 25 years old
— @VagmiTheBoss
That’s a good question. Here’s the whole list:

DT Malcom Brown
RB D.J. Foster
CB Cyrus Jones
CB Jonathan Jones
LB Elandon Roberts
DT Vincent Valentine
QB Jacoby Brissett
CB Justin Coleman
DE Trey Flowers
DT Anthony Johnson
OL Ted Karras
LB Brandon King
OL Shaq Mason
WR Malcolm Mitchell
SS Jordan Richards
CB Eric Rowe
OL Joe Thuney
C David Andrews
LS Joe Cardona
TE AJ Derby
OT Cameron Fleming
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
RB James White

Brown, Mason, Thuney, Andrews and Garoppolo are starters, while Coleman, Flowers, Cardona and White play major roles.

I’ll go with Brown, but Thuney already is really close. Garoppolo could enter the conversation after another game like last week’s.

@DougKyed what if Jimmy goes 4-0 plays like last week? Like it or not it’s a QB controversy yes no ?
— @njjosselyn
Not this year, but maybe two years down the road. Bill Belichick already said Brady will be the starter in Week 5. He won’t go back on that, and he won’t allow a quarterback controversy to become a distraction.

When Garoppolo’s contract is set to run out is a different story. It will be fascinating to see what happens in the next couple years if the Patriots don’t trade Garoppolo in the meantime.

@DougKyed was that really tom brady who called on @Toucherandrich ?
— @TheSanch12
This one?

No way. Know how I know? Because I watched when Brady hosted “Saturday Night Live”, and based on that hour and a half of television, I don’t believe there’s any way he could keep up a fake accent that well for a minute and a half. The first two words of the call sounds like Brady. After that, nah.

@DougKyed which Patriots player receives the most undeserved hate that you hear from the wonderful world of Twitter?
— @PatriotsInform
Probably Logan Ryan. I don’t think casual fans understand how difficult it is to play cornerback in the NFL. Quarterbacks complete over 60 percent of passes, and fans get mad when cornerbacks allow 50 percent of receptions.

Rob Gronkowski, surprisingly, is up there too, because of his injuries.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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