Patriots Mailbag: Will Josh Uche Be An In-House Fix To Defensive Issues?

The Patriots need a linebacker with Josh Uche's combination of size and speed

The NFL schedule gods didn’t do the Las Vegas Raiders any favors this week.

The Raiders played Monday night in their new stadium in Las Vegas and now must travel across the country to play the Patriots in New England less than six days later. It seems the Raiders have been giving some of their more important players a break from practice this week.

Running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Darren Waller and left tackle Trent Brown didn’t participate in practice Thursday.

It’s tough enough to play the Patriots. Now, the Raiders must do it on short rest.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

@mc_collumb
How big of a role will Josh Uche have in this defense once he is healthy?

I’d like to see him take on a starting role at inside linebacker. He did, however, pop back up on the injury report Thursday with a foot issue.

Uche has a lot of potential, and the Patriots could use his combination of speed and size at linebacker.

By the way, don’t believe Uche’s listed weight of 226 pounds for a minute. He looks just as big as the rest of the Patriots’ linebackers. He looks 240 or 250 pounds.

It’s fine to have the speed of a safety like Adrian Phillips at linebacker and the size of someone like Ja’Whaun Bentley in the middle of the defense. But safeties can’t effectively fill rushing lanes, and Bentley struggles to move sideline to sideline.

Uche could be a great in-house fix to some of the Patriots’ biggest defensive issues.

@riraho5
The Patriots refused to make drafting a TE a priority for many years – then last year they finally draft two guys essentially off everyone’s TE boards. Now one is hurt and one hasn’t rec’d a target thru two games. Thoughts?

My thoughts are that it’s been two games.

Here’s the full list of stats recorded by rookie tight ends this season:

Harrison Bryant: two catches, 19 yards
Adam Trautman: one catch, 17 yards
Cole Kmet: one catch, 12 yards
Josiah Deguara: one catch, 12 yards

That’s all, folks.

So, let’s not panic just because Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene trail those rookie leaders by two catches and 19 yards. Tight end is a tough position to learn in the NFL, and Asiasi and Keene are trying to transition to the pros without spring practices or preseason.

Be patient.

@swirley0813
What do you think the odds are that Cam is a Patriot beyond this season? I know it’s only been two games, but I’m beyond impressed with his performance, presence, and leadership. #MailDoug

Pretty good, since the Patriots have the option to franchise Cam Newton after the season. That’s kind of their ace in the hole.

I’d be surprised if an extension is reached soon. It would be smart for both sides to give it a little bit more time before doing something rash.

I would be surprised, at this point, if Newton isn’t back next season, however.

@FrogmanRecovery
Do you believe the Pats will trade for a WR? Also what’s the most awkward moment you’ve had with a player?

The odds of a trade are always lower than the odds of no trade. So, ultimately, the smart answer is no.

I definitely wouldn’t be shocked if the Patriots wound up trading for a wide receiver. But it’s far from a foregone conclusion. The fact that Newton likes the weapons he has matters too. It’s not like they have a quarterback constantly begging behind the scenes for upgraded weapons.

And I once asked center Bryan Stork 10 questions in 55 seconds. It was back in 2015 when Stork returned off of injured reserve and was forced to move to left tackle.

I asked Stork, a high school tight end, if he ever missed catching passes.

“A couple times,” was Stork’s answer.

@dpaul_333
Who is the bigger focus Waller or Josh Jacobs for Bill/ how do they neutralize them?

I would probably say tight end Darren Waller, though I could certainly understand if the Patriots stack the box and try to slow down running back Josh Jacobs.

As for Waller, I think we’ll see a combination of cornerback/safety Joejuan Williams (with help) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore covering the big, speedy tight end. Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and Terrence Brooks also could get some reps against Waller, but I think Williams and Gilmore are the best matchups for the Patriots.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@tstorm81
Why don’t the Patriots start jc Jackson over Jason McCourty? Seems like they see some issue with jc that we don’t see?

It’s mostly a man vs. zone coverage issue.

@wickedperk
Are we bullish on the Celtics chances to come back from down 3-1?

No. Wednesday night was really disappointing.

@mikemagz07
How did you feel when Belichick stone walled you, when you questioned him not calling a timeout after the Edelman catch in the 4th?

FWIW: I was also screaming at my TV for him to use that timeout. #GoPats
It was fine. It comes with the job description.

And I wasn’t even questioning him. All I asked was if he considered taking a timeout. It was an odd moment made stranger by video conference call.

@joshchase23
Do you think we will add a pass rusher and/or do u have hope that they’ll start getting pressure on QBs

I’d like to see what Uche and Anfernee Jennings can do before the Patriots look for outside help.

@ortizwalkoff
Would you have run the same play the Pats ran on the final play against Seattle?

I would have. The Patriots had converted on 7-of-7 short-yardage situations in their double jumbo formation. Make the Seattle Seahawks prove they can beat it.

@HerbertBurner
How’s life Doug #maildoug

Pretty good.

@DaCiderEarl
How do you see Sony Michel in this offense?

Not for long.

If Michel doesn’t improve this week, then Damien Harris has to start as soon as he’s healthy enough to return off of injured reserve. The Patriots need to see if they have an upgrade at running back.

@STIsmail
Any idea on when Olszewski and/or Harris returns, and who goes to make room?

Don’t forget that defensive tackle Beau Allen also can return off of injured reserve.

I could see running back J.J. Taylor, linebacker Cassh Maluia and cornerback Myles Bryant being sent back down to the practice squad.

@PatsMemdotcom
Is Michael Onwenu being groomed to replace Joe Thuney after his inevitable departure in free agency?

Onwenu might be groomed to replace Marcus Cannon at right tackle. He’s looked legit in his position switch.

@Ciaran__McG_
Who’d come out on top… Our run offence vs Our run defence

Is Newton running? Then the run offense.

Is a running back carrying the ball? The run defense.

@mailliam18
How do you pronounce “Eluemunor”?

UH-lou-min-orr.

@Prostarr27
How short is Sony’s leash right now?

You know those retractable leashes? It’s in all the way and wrapped around your wrist a couple of times.

Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots

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