FOXBORO -- Every Friday Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry will 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 first Bag of the season's second half . . .
TC: Not a horrible question, Jason. Talking about it with some folks this week, there’s been no legitimate late-game urgency to deal with aside from the first game of the season. As I’ve mentioned a few times, the Patriots are playing more against their standard of “how it oughta look” than merely to win games. They won’t be in bad shape. But they need a pushing. And they will get it this week, I think.
TC: Hiya, Earl!! I think you have to tack on some real good pitch-and-catch by opposing quarterbacks and receivers as a factor as well. We don’t see the kind of secondary busts we did from 2009 until the arrival of Aqib Talib in 2012, that’s for sure. But I think it starts with up-front pressure. Then scheme as called by Matt Patricia. Then not winning 1-on-1 on third down. Ride it out, Earl. It’s not as bad as it seems, it’s just one of the few things that’s operating at a C-level so it stands out.
#FridayBag the 2nd CB spot has been a bit worrisome; it is more on Ryan and Rowe, or is it lack of Front7 pressure? Solutions?— Earl Mangovich (@EarlofMangwich) November 10, 2016
@tomecurran any chance of Jets SNF game getting flexed out to an afternoon game?— John Carpenter (@John_Carpenter1) November 10, 2016
TC: Definitely better matchups out there that weekend: Chiefs-Broncos, Bengals-Ravens and Panthers-Raiders are all up that weekend. But the New York market and the national pull of the Patriots may make NBC hesitant to pull the ripcord on Jets-Patriots. Additionally, how will all the Jets fans in the league office feel if Gang Green gets spurned for playing like ass? Gotta figure that in.
#FridayBag Patriots going forward with the second half of the season what position is the weakest link?— gillwho? (@sarim0t0) November 10, 2016
TC: Linebacker. Defensive coordinator. Linebacker because of the depth and experience issues. With Jonathan Freeny on IR and Jamie Collins in Cleveland, the Patriots are trotting out just one linebacker with experience dating back as far as April – Dont'a Hightower. Between Barkevious Mingo, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and – I’m suspecting – Rob Ninkovich, they have shuffling to do. Meanwhile, Patricia just hasn’t shown an ability to switch quickly enough to address issues in-game and the disappointing work of Jamie Collins has to in part visit on the people responsible for giving them their duties.
TC: I do. Known the man 30 years. A member of the South Shore Landolfi family, five boys who were forerunners of the Gronkowskis.
you have a friend with the same name as mine?— Michael Landolfi (@landolfimd) November 10, 2016
MG: Ambrose, thanks for checking in. I expect we’ll definitely see more of Mingo, what with Jamie Coillins now plying his trade in Cleveland. That said, I don’t think he’s the first option. I think that guy is Elandon Roberts. I also think there’s a strong possibility that the three-safety defense becomes your de facto defense, with Chung playing closer to the line of scrimmage more often than not. Thing about Mingo is, he is built like a move tight end. Or a small forward. He doesn’t have that requisite beef to be a normal linebacker/end. I would guess he’s around 225 pounds or so at this juncture. That’s crazy light.
Should we expect more reps for Mingo in the second half of the season? Can he play with a hand on the ground?— Ambrose (@denverfog) November 10, 2016
MG: Oh, Mike. How I wish it would, but I think the plan will be similar to what they have employed against these more mobile QBs, and that is to muddle the rush, stay very discipline within those rush lanes and never, ever over-pursue Wilson so as to keep his legs from becoming even more of a factor than they have been. But, yes, this offensive line is the worst of an opponent the Pats have played thus far. Just a jumbled mess. As for Graham, Aqib Talib drew him for much of that game in 2013 and Graham was also limited with an injury. Based on Monday night’s performance, I’d say he’s back and back big but I don’t think this is an assignment for Malcolm Butler. Maybe Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe on occasion, but I’m guessing McCourty and Chung draw the bulk of the duty, at least early on.
Should pass rush feast on depleted Seattle OL? Will they use same approach on Graham as they did in 2013?— Mike Procopio (@mikeprocopio) November 10, 2016
why doesn't the NFL have half teams on bye wk 7 and half wk8? Some teams have bye in wk 3. No balance with current system.— Dennis Hogan (@hogandp) November 10, 2016
MG: Dennis, the answer is probably more complicated than the one I’m about to give you but here goes anyway…THEY’RE STUPID!!!
MG: I highly doubt that he would be, Justin. His coverage has never really progressed the way the coaching staff anticipated so while I could see them matching up a handful of times, I don’t think it would be a regular occurrence. I think it will largely be the two safeties, with a sprinkling of Ryan/Rowe.
If Jamie Collins was still on the team would he be on Graham this week or would McCourty/Chung draw that responsibility?— Justin (@Millerman213) November 10, 2016
MG: Justin…it’s Belichick, hands down. You have to draft and develop players. You have to sign players when every other team has money. And you have to do it in the salary cap era (yes, there are some ways around the cap but eventually you have to pay). I don’t say that to diminish what Saban has accomplished at ‘Bama. His teams are so well-prepared, and even though he’s a hard-ass, he recruits like a boss. You could make the argument that Saban is the second best coach in football, period. As for Bill’s best disciple, I’d put my money on Ozzie Newsome. I know he’s not a coach, but there was some overlap in Cleveland and Newsome’s Ravens have consistently been one of the better teams in the AFC. Again, not a coach, but damn, most of Bill’s underlings there haven’t really panned out -- Crennel, Weis, Mangini, O’Brien, McDaniels on his first tour. That list isn’t pretty.
more impressive accomplishments - BB in NFL or saban in NCAA? saban notwithstanding, who is BB's most accomplished disciple?— Justin Dowling (@Zbone12) November 10, 2016
MG: Junk fish…I was just wondering if Richard Sherman might see more of Chris Hogan for that very reason, to eliminate the big passing play that has been a nice part of the offense here in the first half of the season, but then I thought to myself, “it’s Chris Hogan, not Randy Moss,” so I’m not sure if that makes a ton of sense. I also think the Pats are perfectly content to work the underneath against Seattle or anyone else because that’s where Tom Brady feasts, and he’s got some very talented players to work that area as well. Plus, Hogan just missed practice with a back injury, throwing his availability into doubt.
think we see any deep balls this week from TB, or a replication of the SB plan to beat cover 3? "Nothing vertical"?— The Grand Jordanian (@junkfishjordan) November 10, 2016
MG: I think there’s a chance, but don’t ask me to handicap it (I’m a terrible gambler). In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the opener in Arizona. Obviously not nearly the amount of time to scout and prep, but giving this coaching staff that extra week to gear up for a big game is never a detriment. The one thing I would caution is that while this may not be the Seattle team people remember from the Super Bowl a few years back, they still have some very talented players capable of making game changing plays. Will that travel for Seattle on a short week? We’re almost there… https://twitter.com/DavidVuPham/status/796787871524888576
Mike, W/two weeks to prepare for Seahawks do you feel Sunday could be the Pat's most cohesive game for both offense/defense?— Bob Snowdon (@SnowdonBob) November 10, 2016
MG: 1. Hightower. Brains of the front 7. Skilled at a variety of tasks. Physical. Respected. 2. Butler. Playing like a No. 1 corner. Those guys aren’t easy to find. Also, a tone setter with me of his tackling/big hits. Sneaky like that. 3. Tell me the opponent and I’ll tell you who slides in to the 3rd, 4th and 5th spots.
How is Brissett recovering from the thumb surgery? Is he the most likely guy on IR to return?— Arjuna Ramgopal (@ArjunaRamgopal) November 10, 2016
MG: Arjuna, spoke briefly with Brissett and he indicated that everything was going quite well. Pats love the kid’s work ethic, and I could absolutely see him being the player to come off IR.