FOXBORO -- Every Friday we take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as they call it.
Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. But for now, have at the Patriots vs. Patriots South edition of the Bag . . .
Pete! What I see is a player who’s playing equal to -- if not better -- than the guy on the other side, Stephon Gilmore. I see the same passion I’ve always seen. I’ve seen the same willingness to stick his nose up in there on running plays. I see the same quickness. What’s missing may just be confidence. I think Malcolm lost it somewhere during the course of training camp -- I think it was that week in West Virginia with the Texans -- and he’s still struggling to get it back. He said all the right things yesterday. He’ll get plenty of snaps Sunday. Let’s see what it looks like.
Hey, Chris. Thanks for chipping in. My thoughts on Wise are well-documented, so in response to your question? What do I think that teams are game-planning around him? Smart. It's a small sample, but he already has seven total quarterback pressures (two sacks, four more quarterback hits, one hurry), which is one more than Clay Matthews, the same number as Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, and one fewer than Oakland's Khalil Mack. He's not at the level of those players yet, but if you're a coach and you're ignoring that kind of production through a couple of games . . . that's on you. I think his length, the leverage he uses as a pass-rusher and his relentlessness should only continue to lead to more results. It looks to me that the Patriots have found a solid No. 2 to pair with Trey Flowers. Somewhere, Arkansas coach Brett Bielema is smiling.
Dave. Davey. David. Little premature, no? Solder missed all of the preseason, so the way I look at his play now is just that: It’s the preseason. He’s going to have to adjust to the speed and he’s going to have to make modifications to his technique. If this is still going on in a couple weeks, then the Pats may have a problem. It’s just too soon for me to go there now.
Unless the Seahawks fall out of contention, I'd find it really hard to believe that they'd deal Graham during the season -- especially to another contender. Never say never with the Patriots, but the base salary ($7.9 million) and the cap hit ($10 million) also seem like non-starters to me. Then there's the scheme fit. Graham's talented, no doubt. But he might have to be used in more of a receiver role here in New England. He's improved as a blocker, but he still seems to fit the profile of a big wideout than a true tight end.
Vincent, the kid wants to play. I’d like to see him play.
I'm still going wide receiver, John. I think Rob Gronkowski will lead the team in touchdown receptions by season's end, but I'm not sure he gets much help adding to that number from his fellow tight ends. Between Cooks, Dorsett, Chris Hogan, Amendola (who has been used extensively in the red zone the last few years) and Malcolm Mitchell if/when he returns, that group should still lead the pack.
Jacob, they should. It’s a no-brainer. We talked about it all summer, even after the Edelman injury. But then what did they do Week 1? The only sense it made was that Amendola was the one player creating real separation that night, but too bad. Come up with a better plan. Create more opportunities for the backs. That’s what they did in New Orleans. Hopefully they’ve learned their listen. Save that guy for January.
It's still very early in Dorsett's Patriots career, obviously, so I think it's hard to try to extrapolate what he's done in two weeks and say, "THIS is who he is." However, in my time talking to him since he's arrived, I'll say that he's struck me as someone who has worked diligently off the field to make sure he's up on everything he needs to be up on. Living at a hotel. Nose in the playbook. His best fit in this offense would seem to be in a Cooksian role, at the "X." He and Brandin Cooks are very similar in terms of their body types and athletic skill sets. I was interested to hear Tony Romo's take during the Saints game, when he said he thinks Dorsett might have a little more "wiggle" than Cooks. Maybe that leads to more work in the slot, where short-area quickness is paramount, but right now he looks like an outside-the-numbers guy with the ability to be a little bit of a gadget player -- jet-sweeps, some work out of the backfield -- due to his speed.
Yes, I do. It would appear as if that troublesome knee, one that gave him trouble back in college, is going to remain an issue for Mitchell as a professional. They could use him going forward. He works the boundary better than any player on the roster.
The Patriots could try to go heavy and run the ball. If Cameron Fleming is out there at right tackle, that would make sense as he looks to me like a superior run-blocker than pass-blocker. However, I think the plan is going to be similar to the one they used in last year's divisional round. I anticipate the Texans will load up the short-to-intermediate range of the field with defenders and force the Patriots to go outside and deep. It won't look pretty, but the Patriots will take what they're given. Expect a bunch of targets for Cooks, Dorsett, and possibly Gronkowski outside the numbers. Brady had a rough day against Houston in January, but was able to pick up yards with chunk plays and I think he'll have to do the same again this weekend.
See the above, Steven! And if you're interested in a little more detail about why this Texans defense is such a difficult matchup for the Patriots, both Tom E. and I have you covered. Curran wrote about why the Texans have the "blueprint" to make life tough on the Patriots. I took an in-depth look at one of Houston's toughest defensive packages, which we should see plenty on third down.
I’d rather freeze my nuts off, Gary.