The New England Patriots’ schedule gets more difficult after the bye, but it also becomes slightly more normal.
The Patriots only have one more night game scheduled through their final seven weeks. And at least six of their seven final games will be played on Sundays. Their Week 16 game against the Buffalo Bills actually doesn’t have a set day or time. It could be flexed from Sunday, Dec. 22 to Saturday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET, 4:30 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. A decision will be made before Week 11.
The Patriots’ schedule was all over the place from Weeks5 to 8 when it went from a Sunday afternoon game to Thursday night to Monday night to Sunday afternoon. It’s been difficult to keep track of what day it is for everyone involved.
The Patriots have a tough slate upcoming when they face off against the Philadephia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Bills before the Miami Dolphins come to town in Week 17.
Let’s get into the bye week mailbag:
What are the chances Pats try to trade for OBJ next year?
I wouldn’t be shocked. I’ll say that.
The Patriots would essentially be acquiring Odell Beckham Jr. on a four-year, $60 million contract if they traded for him next offseason. That’s a crazy bargain for a player of Beckham’s talent level. Michael Thomas just signed a five-year, $96.25 million deal. Thomas, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Adam Thielen, Sammy Watkins and Jarvis Landry all make more than $15 million per year.
So, yeah, the Patriots would be crazy to not want to add Beckham. They’ve shown interest before, and Beckham clearly loves Tom Brady. He gave him goat shoes this season. Have you ever given goat shoes to anyone? Exactly.
And the feeling seems to be mutual. Brady usually gets out of dodge after a game. He stuck around long after the Patriots played the Browns to talk to Beckham in the halls of Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots signed Antonio Brown this season. So, nothing is off the table, and I’d say Beckham is at least a possibility if the Cleveland Browns would be willing to part with him so soon. It doesn’t seem like things are going great in OBJ’s first season with the Browns.
I wouldn’t rule it out. The Patriots like him, and he likes the Patriots.
Who is the Most underated Pats player this season?
My top options are wide receiver Julian Edelman, guard Joe Thuney, cornerback Jason McCourty and cornerback JC Jackson.
All four players have been very good this season and haven’t got their just due with other Patriots receiving more hype.
Edelman is on pace for career highs across the board. Thuney has been the strongest offensive lineman in an otherwise underperforming group. McCourty is letting up a 62 passer rating this season. Jackson hasn’t let up a catch since Week 5 (!). He’s allowed a passer rating of just 12.2 as the Patriots’ No. 4 cornerback.
I’m tempted to go with Thuney because he’s a full-time starter, though Jackson is very close. Jackson is letting up just 10.7 yards per game. He leads the NFL in cover snaps per reception, yards per cover snap and passer rating allowed. He hasn’t let up a touchdown and has two interceptions.
You know what? Screw it. I’m going with Jackson. He’s having a crazy season while flying very far below the radar.
How are they gonna fix some of the run defense issues
Well, it helps that they aren’t scheduled to face off against Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson nor a player like him again. There are simply no players like Jackson. And if they do face the Ravens in the playoffs, then they likely would start off and stay in nickel and dime defenses rather than run the 3-4 they began with in Week 9’s loss.
Other than that, I think they simply need to be more disciplined. They have the pieces in place with a big, talented defensive front. They just need to get off the field on third down better.
How do you think nkeal Harry will fit in with this offense once he get a chance to play
He’s a prototypical X-receiver, so that would certainly be the position he would play. He fits in well with Edelman and Mohamed Sanu because they both play in the slot and as Z-receivers. The Patriots actually need an X-receiver, because Phillip Dorsett also is best suited to play the Z role.
Harry just needs an opportunity. If he comes in and shines, then it will be tough to take him off of the field, and it would help in the trust department with Brady. I think by the end of the season, we’ll see Harry as a starter with Dorsett reduced to a backup role. Harry just needs to pass Jakobi Meyers on the depth chart and get active first.
Can/will the Pats get the running game going or will they rely on Brady’s arm?
I think they’ll have to rely on Brady’s arm, but I also think they’ll improve their rushing attack. Getting Isaiah Wynn back at left tackle will be helpful in getting the ground game going. I also think using running back James White as a ball-carrier more could help.
At the same time, I can’t see the Patriots running game being as good as it was in 2018. So, Brady and the passing game will need to step up.
What’s the deal with Harry!
It’s an honor to receive a question from Jerry Seinfeld.
I’m assuming you’re asking why Harry wasn’t active in Week 9. I think the primary reason is the Patriots planned to use the same personnel for the entire game. The Patriots stuck with a running back, tight end and three wide receivers for every play. Edelman and Sanu and tight end Ben Watson played every snap. Dorsett played all but one snap when he came out with an injury. That was Meyers’ lone snap.
So, the Patriots clearly didn’t have a spot for Harry if Meyers only played one snap. The Patriots usually switch up their offensive personnel packages more.
The run game seems to really be inconsistent without a fullback. Do you think the team will try to find a replacement before the playoffs or keep plugging other players into that spot? #MailDoug
I think they should continue looking for a fullback. But if a switch to more of a zone rushing scheme with White and Rex Burkhead carrying the ball works, then maybe they won’t bother. It’s going to be tough for Sony Michel to get going without a fullback, however.
It’s interesting to me that the Patriots were going to let Jakob Johnson take over the fullback role but haven’t shown interest in adding a veteran option like Tommy Bohanon.
I want to see offensive lineman James Ferentz used at fullback more. He has one snap at fullback, and it went for a touchdown. He’s an undersized, athletic offensive lineman who’s willing to do anything. Why not give him more reps as a lead blocker?
Brady never seems to have anything positive to say about his rookie WR’s when he talks to the media. Shouldn’t he be praising them even a little bit for their hard work? Or is he just pissed that he doesn’t have more veteran star power at this stage in his career? #MailDoug
I don’t know. It’s a little weird. His comments last Friday were really eye-opening. He was talking about Sanu and compared him to working with a rookie.
“So, the good part is that a veteran player, you know how to play football,” Brady said. “It’s not like a rookie that they don’t know what the real expectation is. I mean, he’s been a part of some great offenses, so it’s really incorporating him into what we do and him learning the terminology, so that he can play fast and we can play with anticipation together. And then he’s running the routes where I expect them to be, so I can play with anticipation. And then you gain trust, then you gain confidence. And then once you gain confidence, you can go out and execute really well.”
Keep in mind the Patriots have three rookie wide receivers on their roster in Harry, Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Awkward.
Here’s what Brady said about Harry:
Q: Given the time N’Keal’s missed, would it be too much to expect a lot from him if he is activated and in uniform this weekend?
TB: I mean, whoever’s out there, that’s who I play with. So, I don’t make the decisions, who’s up and who’s down and so forth.
Q: But because of the time missed, would it be tough for him to contribute much in his first game?
TB: I don’t know. You know, it’s tough to project that. You guys can project that. I’m not supposed to be projecting.
Q: You’re the expert, though.
TB: You’re right, but I’m not going to tell anybody what I think, certainly, because I think it’s really up to each individual player, and if he’s active and he gets an opportunity, you’ve got to make the plays. But, I don’t know.
I mean, that’s not exactly glowing or really even promising.
I think Brady would prefer to play with veteran receivers. But the Patriots invested a first-round pick in Harry, and based on raw skill alone, he’s probably the second most talented wide receiver on the Patriots’ depth chart. The Patriots have to see what he can do, and Brady has to give him a chance. This can’t be a Duke Dawson redux where a highly drafted rookie gets redshirted. The Patriots actually need help at wide receiver. Last season, the Patriots were fine without Dawson, who was a second-round pick, never played and then was traded in the offseason.
Let’s go rapid fire.
Hey Doug, what’s your pregame routine? #MailDoug
Nothing crazy or out of the ordinary. I get to the stadium three or four hours before kickoff, prep for our pregame show, shoot our pregame show, go up to the press box, write up inactives, eat, socialize with other reporters for too long, open up a text document to take notes, fire up NFLGSIS.com and then wait for kickoff. Sometimes I eat before inactives. Sometimes I eat after. I’m not a real creature of habit.
How’s your fantasy team doing Doug
I have four fantasy teams, and I’m 4-5, 5-4, 5-4 and 5-4. So, I guess I’m doing slightly above average at 19-17. If you too would like to be slightly above average at fantasy football, tweet me your questions and I probably won’t answer them!
Which 3 Ninjas movie was your favorite?
The first one, though I haven’t watched it in like 20 years.
Who’s gonna be D coordinator 1st Steve belichick or Mayo
That’s really tough. I’d guess Jerod Mayo.
Do you apply heat first then ice? Or is it ice first then heat?
If the AB situation is cleared up would the pats ever pick him back up seeing how they already owe him money ?
Still saying no.
I had a busy day with my daughter, so I’m currently tired and sore. We went out for donuts, I took her to toddler time at the trampoline park, drove to NESN, came home for a bit for a failed nap then went to the grocery store. Jumping on trampolines at 33 years old constitutes a workout.
I’m currently writing this before “Thursday Night Football.”
Is James White starting to enter Patriots Hall of Fame type territory with the level of consistent production he’s providing year after year? If not, how many more seasons of White operating at this level until he would be considered a likely candidate for enshrinement?
I’d say White is a shoo-in for the Patriots Hall of Fame. He’s a legend of this second dynasty.
do you like turkey doug
I do, actually. Thanks for asking, Dave.
Canned cranberry sauce or homemade cranberry sauce? #MailDoug #TeamCanned
Can I like both? Usually we’ll use up the homemade cranberry sauce then have a can on reserve for sandwiches.
Do you see anyone from practice squad coming up to help on OL?
Why does the offensive game plan seem to exclude players on a week-to-week, Meyers, Dorsett, even White sometimes? I find it hard to believe (as some radio hosts seem to) that it’s only about Brady and “trust.” Sanu certainly jumped right in.
I think it’s all about matchups. If the matchup isn’t great for that particular player, then he won’t be a big part of the gameplan.
If Belichick decided to retire after this season, and you had to pick a current NFL head coach to replace him, who would be your top choice? #maildoug
It has to come down to Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan, right? I guess I’d go McVay.
To cover, though? I think Doug Marrone is hilarious.
Does this Team have enough quickness on Offense?
Pats have had Great success with small quick players.
Edelman and White are pretty quick.
Was Sunday’s game an example of not showing your hand because the Patriots still have a 2 game lead for 1st ?
I did find it interesting they stayed in 11 personnel for the entire game.
Who’s the backup kicker if something happens to Folk? Jake Bailey or Mohamed Sanu? On that note who’s the emergency QB if something happens to Stidham and Brady? Edelman, Sanu, or Jakobi Meyers? Just some small fun questions for you Doug 😄 #MailDoug
I would guess punter Jake Bailey is the emergency kicker.
And I would guess Edelman is still the emergency QB. The Patriots have a lot of high school quarterbacks on their team in Edelman, Meyers, Sanu, tight end Matt LaCosse, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and linebacker Jamie Collins. There might be some I’m missing in there too. Out of that group, Collins would be the most fun emergency QB.
What is the best American food the world still doesn’t know?
Massachusetts bar pizza and Rochester, N.Y., garbage plates.
Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images