Patriots Mailbag: Potential Aftermath Of Tom Brady-Bill Belichick Rift?

You might not know it from following the New England Patriots, but there’s a game at Gillette Stadium against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday.

In a perfect confluence of events, no one seems to be talking about the actual game between the Patriots and Bills this weekend. The Patriots just played the Bills three weeks ago, Buffalo is not a very interesting team (despite being in playoff contention), the game falls on Christmas Eve and, oh by the way, there’s drama between the Patriots’ legendary head coach and quarterback.

We’ll kick off this week’s mailbag with that controversy, but then we’ll get into actual football.

what did you get me for Christmas?
— @wilroache
A mailbag. Let’s go.

Thoughts on the Brady/Guerrero/Belichick love triangle?
— @TheDTSB
It’s definitely a juicy story, but it would be far more interesting if Jimmy Garoppolo was still a member of the Patriots rather than tearing it up for the San Francisco 49ers.

There would be legitimate rumblings that Tom Brady could be traded if Garoppolo was still on the team. But there’s no way the Patriots are rolling with Brian Hoyer and a rookie without Brady.

So, what’s the potential fallout from this scandal? Is Bill Belichick going to resign because Alex Guerrero is still hanging around? Probably not.

It has to be irritating to the Brady camp that Guerrero has to fly separately to games, can’t stand on the sideline and can’t treat players other than Brady at Gillette Stadium, but it’s a short walk from Gillette Stadium to the TB12 center for Rob Gronkowski and any other Patriot who wants to be treated.

I think this is a fine middle ground for the Patriots and Guerrero/Brady to reach. I understand why everyone is making a big deal of it. It is a big deal. I just don’t know what the end result possibly would be, though.

I also think Belichick is in the right if Guerrero really is clashing with the training staff and doctors, who are far more qualified at their jobs than Brady’s “body coach.”

There have been countless freezing cold takes predicting the downfall of the Patriots throughout the years. They survived the distraction of a star tight end committing murder and still won the Super Bowl a year later. Will this, of all things, be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back? It seems unlikely, right?

Biggest off season priorities?
— @gmolloy
Getting Brady’s successor, rift with Belichick or not, is definitely up there. I think the smart move would be to draft a quarterback in the first round so they can use the fifth-year option, if need be.

They also desperately need to acquire more talent at linebacker. Dont’a Hightower is a constant injury risk, and the Patriots can’t get down to the likes of Elandon Roberts, David Harris, Marquis Flowers and Trevor Reilly again. I probably would try to draft a linebacker with the 49ers’ second-round pick.

The Patriots need to figure out what’s going on at left tackle, too. Nate Solder is a free agent, and Antonio Garcia is missing the entire season on the non-football illness list. They have no idea what they’ll get out of him next season.

Beyond that, they’ll need pass rush help, whether that comes from the guys on injured reserve or from the draft/free agency.

How much improvement can be expected in the run defense?
— @Fourrings
A considerable amount when Kyle Van Noy and Alan Branch return from injuries. Eric Lee, while solid as a pass rusher, is a liability against the run. So is Marquis Flowers when he’s on the field.

Van Noy can set an edge, and Branch is a massive presence up front. Run defense might not be a strength of the Patriots in the playoffs, but it won’t be nearly as bad as in Week 14 and 15 against the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.

@DougKyed In your opinion, do you think Eric Lee is an upgrade over Marsh ? If so, how?
— @socoolsoco
In this system? Yes, because he’s more controlled as a pass rusher. Marsh was running past quarterbacks and allowing them to scramble out of the pocket. He also, like Lee, couldn’t set the edge.

Lee has been more productive as a pass rusher.

Why cant Bill B get coach of year nomination? Out coached everyone. Moulded this team into legit Superbowl contender AGAIN! Just sucks that he never gets recognized for what he does. Coach of year every year
— @JaegerWalter
For some reason AP NFL Coach of the Year has become a “Most Improved” award. It always goes to the coach who pulls the most improvement out of his team. I don’t agree with it, and it’s why Belichick only has won three times, which is the same amount as Chuck Knox. Belichick should have more Coach of the Year awards than Knox.

I think this is a year Belichick should win it, but he won’t. It probably will go to Sean McVay or Doug Pederson. I think Doug Marrone should be in the mix, as well.

We all know Home Alone is your favourite film. But what are your next four Christmas films in order? #maildoug #top5
— @x_Wonder_Woman_
I’ve been waiting for this question.

1. “Home Alone”
2. “Christmas Vacation”
3. “The Santa Clause”
4. “Home Alone 2”
5. “The Muppet Christmas Carol”

Honorable mention: “The Night Before.”

Let’s go rapid fire:

Who do you see as the favorite to replace josh mcdaniels or Matt Patricia if they decide to become head coaches?
— @NPlatz
I’m on the record as saying I don’t think Josh McDaniels leaves, but Chad O’Shea would be the in-house candidate. They also could snag Bill O’Brien if he gets fired as head coach of the Houston Texans or Brian Daboll from Alabama.

It’s insane if O’Brien gets fired, by the way. It was in no way his fault that the Texans bottomed out this season.

I would expect linebackers coach Brian Flores to be the next defensive coordinator if Patricia leaves.

@DougKyed Is Jacksonville going to end the Patriots’ hopes of defending their title?
— @Philostopher_
With Blake Bortles at quarterback?

Can you breakdown film on Mathew Slater and show why he is a Pro Bowler. Some stat geeks at PFF think he’s overrated.
— @UltraHokage
Bill Belichick actually did that on his “Belichick Breakdown” this week. He highlighted Matthew Slater beating a double team to make a tackle on a kickoff.

I think it’s a little silly that Slater made the Pro Bowl after playing just seven games, but he’s definitely still playing at a high level.

What is your opinion on Brady’s recent decline in performance being related to no pressure of Jimmy G breathing down his neck?
— @agiamminonni6
No, I’d say it has much more to do with his Achilles injury. He looked fine in the final minutes of Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, though, didn’t he?

Brady also has been removed from the Patriots’ injury report and is back to being a full participant in practice. So, that’s a good sign.

Why isn’t there a designated holiday for Patriot fans? Asking for several friends. 🤔 And if you had to choose a day which would it be? 12/12, 11/11, even add calendar days to one month for 87 days… just a thought. 💭
— @Tav2real
Shouldn’t it be March 28?

Being a first time dad, have you given any thought as to which type of cookies you will be leaving for Santa on Christmas Eve?
— @DTFisher4
Maybe some snickerdoodles? Could just go with the classic, chocolate chip. Definitely something homemade.

There will be no milk, though. Milk is bad.

Edelman back for super bowl?
— @617NDC
No. Julian Edelman was placed on injured reserve Sept. 2. He would have needed to be placed on injured reserve Sept. 4 or later to be activated this season.

@DougKyed – How do you see Mike Gillislee being used this week? Big opportunity for him against former team.
— @TherealFTown
I think he’ll take over Rex Burkhead’s reps as the Patriots’ short-yardage back. I could see him spelling Lewis for carries in the middle of the field, as well.

Would anyone be completely flabbergasted if Gillislee goes off for 100 yards this week, though?

It’s a double revenge game for Gillislee. He’s exacting revenge on the Bills for letting him go and on the Patriots for deactivating him for six straight weeks.

Sup?
— @June__NYC
I just wrapped a bunch of presents, and now my back is creeky. I’m old.

If Rudolph the red nosed reindeer decided to go to Alex Guerrero, would Santa Claus have a problem with that?
— @bubbalame
No, but Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen couldn’t visit him in Santa’s workshop. They’d have to walk across the North Pole to get treated by him.

#maildoug Does Bill Belichick eat too many nightshades?
— @MrQuindazzi
Hmm, you might be on to something here, Mr. Q. Maybe Belichick is a big fan of portabellas, and Guerrero’s influence had them removed from the Gillette Stadium cafeteria.

@DougKyed who asked Belichick that weird question hypothesizing if Brady were his adult son (or something like that), which Belichick called “inappropriate?” #MailDoug
— @jCacc44
When it doubt, it’s Mark Dondero from WPRI in Providence.

Wrap the gifts or use a gift bag? #MailDoug
— @JimGilhooly1957
Always wrap. Gift bags are no fun at all.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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