While New England Patriots fans would probably prefer to have their playoff picture cleared up, Week 17 certainly is more interesting than usual this season.
The Patriots need to win to shore up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. A loss to the Miami Dolphins and a Kansas City Chiefs win over the Los Angeles Chargers would mean the Patriots would be playing wild-card weekend. That creates a tough road to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots certainly could use a bye week before the postseason begins to get players like Julian Edelman, Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty healthy. In order to earn it, however, the Patriots will have to try against the Dolphins.
Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.
Will sanu develop to be worth the 2nd round pick and become the red zone target we?re desperately missing?
I still have faith in Mohamed Sanu. And keep in mind that he’s signed through next season. So, even if he doesn’t develop as expected before the end of the season, there’s still next year.
Sanu showed a lot of promise against the Baltimore Ravens, but then he got hurt. I think that set him back, and now he’s making up for lost time.
The relative emergence of N’Keal Harry could limit Sanu’s targets, but it also might take some pressure off of him. I think we really might see some training wheels come off during the postseason. I wouldn’t worry too much about Sanu’s field awareness (failure to pick up first down) or the block he missed on Harry’s end-around against the Buffalo Bills. Sanu is a pro. Those seem like isolated incidents.
I don’t believe Sanu will be much of a red-zone target, however. He’s never caught more than five touchdowns in a season. Sanu is more of a possession guy, while Harry is probably more of the red-zone option.
What needs to happen for the Patriots to make a deep playoff run?
They have to keep playing like they did Saturday against the Bills. I’m not sure if a performance like that will be enough against the Ravens, Houston Texans or Chiefs, but it will kind of have to be. Everything finally seemed to click in that game, and I think that was the offense perhaps playing to its highest potential.
The defense has to keep making plays, special teams have to be solid, and guys like Sanu, Harry and Sony Michel have to play their best football of the season. It’s possible for the Patriots to make a deep playoff run, but there’s also a reason why the Patriots aren’t odds-on favorites.
. Any concerns about the WRs for playoffs? #MailDoug
Definitely. Julian Edelman is hurt, and Sanu, Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Phillip Dorsett have been, at best, inconsistent.
I like that the Patriots have allowed Sanu and Harry to leapfrog Dorsett on the depth chart, however. Those guys simply have more potential, and they need to keep getting more and more reps to finish out the year to get them ready for the postseason and even next year.
Which coaches from the current staff do you see leaving the Pats after the season? #MailDoug
I don’t think we’ll see quite the mass exodus that occurred last season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels finally took a head coaching job. Maybe the Dallas Cowboys? I also wouldn’t be shocked if director of player personnel Nick Caserio and/or director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort leave for greener pastures.
The Patriots otherwise have a lot of younger or more veteran coaches on staff. Wide receivers coach/special teams coordinator Joe Judge could wind up interviewing elsewhere, but I couldn’t see him being hired away just yet.
Do you think that NE should draft an OT in the earlier rounds of the 2020 draft, or should wait to see what Cajuste brings to the table?
I don’t necessarily think it would hurt to draft another offensive tackle early, but it is worth seeing what Yodny Cajuste can offer. Cajuste was a third-round pick who will wind up missing his entire rookie season, and every practice session, with an injury suffered before the draft. So, the Patriots don’t really know what they have there, but they liked him enough to use a Day 2 pick on him.
Cajuste was really good at West Virginia, and without the injury, he probably wouldn’t have fallen until late in the third round. So, the Patriots either have a steal in Cajuste or maybe they wind up getting nothing out of him. He has potential, however.
Let’s go rapid fire.
Best part of covering the team? @DougKyed #MailDoug
Just watching football for a living. It probably sounds as sweet as it is.
Greg Schiano had a short stint here, but do you think that he has left an imprint on this defense with his tough coaching style?
I don’t think the Patriots held a single practice with Greg Schiano on staff, so I don’t think most of the roster, outside of the Rutgers guys, can be classified as Schiano men.
Now that Zion is a complete failure in the NBA should the Patriots sign him to a futures contract? #MailDoug
Best gift you got for Xmas this year #MailDoug
A vintage University of Washington National Champs sweatshirt from 1991.
R u going to c jumanji at the theaters ?
Nope, but I saw “Frozen 2” in theaters with my 2-year-old daughter on Thursday. She loved it and sat through the whole thing like a champ.
Who would be an ideal opponent for the Patriots in the divisional round if they end up getting the bye?
I would say the Bills, since the Patriots know they can beat them.
Latest report, if true, states league is doing everything they can to connect Bengals vid to football operations and even getting frustrated that they can’t. It seems league is out to get Pats but is that the truth? #maildoug
That was odd phrasing that the NFL was “frustrated.”
How was your Christmas?
Great! My daughter had a ton of fun opening presents and seeing all of her family members.
Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, and Malcolm Mitchell walk into a bar, who does BB buy a drink for?
is Brady vs Garapolo going to happen?
That’s probably the most intriguing potential matchup. The Patriots have to play better, though.
Turkey of Beef for Christmas Dinner?
We had ham.
Doug — If the *Patriots* arent willing to re-sign an aging Tom Brady to a large, possibly long term contract — then why would *another* team, with no emotional or historical connection, be willing to do it?
That’s a good way to inject some juice into your organization, immediately become playoff contenders and sell tickets. I see a lot of reasons to overpay a legend like Tom Brady.
How many Christmas presents were from santa vs mom and dad? Semi-new parent needs to know correct ratio for next year. #MailDoug
Growing up, we opened presents from family on Christmas Eve and presents from Santa on Christmas morning. We had our daughter open presents from mom and dad and from Santa on Christmas morning, and it was split pretty evenly. Santa got her most of the fun stuff, while we got her some toys and some clothes.