Patriots

Friday Bag: How will addition of Floyd help make up for loss of Gronk?

Friday Bag: How will addition of Floyd help make up for loss of Gronk?

Every Friday Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry will take your Patriots questions (Giardi is sitting this one out) 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. Let's get to this week's . . .

TC: Great question, Sull. I would say we need to read the tea leaves on that and make some logical inferences. Why do they want Jacoby Brissett to practice with the team down the stretch? Why have they taken him on road trips even while he was on IR? Why did they use their IR return on Brissett? They must think that Brissett is not just a “someday” option but perhaps a “sooner rather than later” option. And that tells me that the Patriots foresee an offseason in which they move Jimmy Garoppolo. I don’t think the Patriots will trade Garoppolo just to do it. They’ll want to get fair return on him and if they don’t, they can still keep him through training camp and into the regular season. The Patriots don’t have to sweat it. But if some team gets a pile of adversity dumped on it at the quarterback position – like happened with the Minnesota Vikings when Teddy Bridgewater went down and Minny traded for Sam Bradford – then the Pats are in a position of real strength, Garoppolo goes and Brissett becomes the No. 2.

https://twitter.com/IKON_INC/status/809526264511991808

TC: John and Andy, really interesting to watch the upper body strength and handfighting ability of Floyd while the ball is in the air. He is a big, strong kid. Not the most graceful receiver and – from what I learned from people covering the Cardinals – not the greatest blocker. There’s no reason to overthink it, though, and try to make Floyd work in a tight end role. He’s an outside receiver primarily who can work the deep middle. A long-strider like him is unique in some ways. He won’t have the change of direction ability that Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell have, but he’ll have greater top-end acceleration than they do as you can see in his clips. Long story longer, Tom Brady mentioned a couple of weeks ago after Gronk went down that it’s not always about having 1-for-1 replacements when somebody goes down but finding the right mix of five skill guys on the field now that one has been taken out.

TC: Hello, Ed . . . The Patriots don’t normally box themselves in too much in terms of setting an expectation before they’ve had a chance to see how many checkpoints a player can pass. If Floyd walks in, grasps the offense and concepts, gains the trust of Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels in a wide-range of routes and responsibilities, then he’ll be more than just a safety net or a player who can execute just a handful of plays. If not, then he’ll be relegated. I imagine he’ll get some chances to show his capability in the final two weeks of the regular season. Then, with a likely bye week in the first week of the playoffs, he’ll have a further chance to bone up. I think there’s potential for a handful of impact plays from Floyd before 2016 ends, yes.

https://twitter.com/claaky23/status/809544500959907841?lang=en

TC: Weis was on Friday morning with Kirk & Callahan. He said he hasn’t spoken to Floyd since his Monday arrest. Weis did say that Floyd will understand 75 percent of the Patriots offense and language from the time he spent playing for Weis at Notre Dame. I’m sure that if Belichick hadn’t spoken to Weis prior to this week about Floyd (and Belichick wouldn’t reveal if he did on Friday morning) he has at some point so that he’s comfortable Floyd can have upside for the team despite his off-field issues.

PP: Hey, David. I'd guess it'll fall to either Julian Edelman or Patrick Chung. At this point, I'd be surprised if Cyrus Jones continued to be run out there. I think everyone would. But he had a history of ball-security issues before last week, and they continued to go to him. Did his Monday fumble finally cross the line for the Patriots, or will they take the same approach with him in Denver? I'm not expecting it, but just be prepared (physically, emotionally, etc.) to see him there again. They clearly want him to succeed in that role, and they've already given him multiple chances. What's one (or several) more if they think he just needs a boost of confidence?

PP: I think they would have by now if they felt like they could use him, Big E. Looks like they're prepared to roll with Martellus Bennett, Matt Lengel and Cameron Fleming in that role for the remainder of the year. At this point, the Patriots have plenty of receiving options in the passing game so Pettigrew would have a hard time fitting in. However, if Bennett were to miss any time down the stretch, that'd be a different story and maybe they'd give him a look. 

PP: Probably had him signed up for a full course load as early as yesterday, Boomstick. Kidding aside, Floyd is no Randy Moss. That's obvious. But he does provide the Patriots with a physical, outside-the-numbers receiver the likes of which Brady has really never played with before. Moss' skill set was so unique that the Patriots shaped their offense around him, which won't be the case with Floyd, but Floyd's uniqueness will make his fit in New England a fascinating one to track.

PP: Seems unlikely Faneto. Curran reported on Thursday that there was nothing imminent between Hester and the Patriots. Call it a tire-kicking. Hester is 34 years old and has five fumbles this season, making him not much in the way of an upgrade over Jones. 

PP: Hey, Tyler. I know on the defensive side of the ball, when new players come in, they're often only asked to learn that week's game plan and then progress on a week-to-week basis that way. Without the benefit of OTAs or training camp, there's simply not enough time to digest everything. I'd think a similar philosophy applies to the offensive side of the football, though there's verbiage and concepts there that a receiver would have to figure out before taking the field. Luckily for Floyd, he should have a head-start on understanding the playbook -- at least if you believe what his college coach has to say

PP: In 2014, the Patriots beat the Broncos in their regular-season matchup, 43-21. But you should feel better about the offensive line this year versus last year, Colin. While Scarnecchia's return is a big reason for why you should be more confident, he's only part of the equation. Credit has to be given to Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason and David Andrews for having improved over the course of the season. The unit's health and continuity over the course of the year has been immensely important to their success as well. Nate Solder's presence on the left side after missing most of 2015 will be especially key in keeping Von Miller from becoming a game-wrecker. Those two have had their share of battles in the past, and while Miller is one of the toughest assignments in the league, New England is better suited to deal with him this year than they were last year when Solder was on the shelf and an injured Sebastian Vollmer took his place.

PP: Mr. Q, Edelman is the kind of guy who won't need much in the way of reaming-out when it comes to his hands. When it comes to fumbles, that's something the team harps on regardless of how well they're doing in that category, and Edelman understands how important ball-security is to his club's overall success. In terms of his drops, he has 9 this season on 118 targets. According to Pro Football Focus, that's a drop rate of 10.23 percent (drops relative to the number of catchable passes thrown his way), putting him sixth from the bottom among receivers who've played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps. Not where he wants to be. 

Gronk question now makes tight end a position of need

Gronk question now makes tight end a position of need

Before free agency kicks off, and before we dissect the top college prospects entering this year's draft, we're taking a look at the Patriots on a position-by-position basis to provide you with an offseason primer of sorts. We'll be analyzing how the Patriots performed in 2017 at the position in question, who's under contract, how badly the team needs to add talent at that spot, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today. we're looking at a position where the Patriots have arguably the best player that’s ever manned it in his presumed prime. But tight end is suddenly a tenuous spot for New England.

OTHER ENTRIES IN THE SERIES

HOW THEY PERFORMED


This became – contrary to the Patriots hopes – a one-man position. Rob Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games. The rest of the tight ends – Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister and Martellus Bennett – combined for 20 catches and six of those came from Bennett who played just two games before heading to injured reserve. Gronk was – and is – the best tight end in the game and one of its most dominating offensive weapons. After losing Julian Edelman in the preseason, the Patriots offense became tremendously Gronk-reliant. They got away with it. But they clearly wanted more from Dwayne Allen than what they got or they wouldn’t have gone after Bennett when he became available.

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018?
Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett, Will Tye, Jacob Hollister

WHO IS NOT?
All tight ends on the roster are under contract.

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED?


Publicity grab or legitimate consideration? What exactly to make of Gronk’s reported dalliance with the WWE and his idle desire to be an action movie star (also reported)? Both have the earmarks of brand-building genius. It’s a page torn from the business plans of Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard or Conor McGregor – ruminating on retirement and expressing interest in other public pursuits exponentially ratchets up public interest in both the main gig and the potential side gig. Gronk himself might not be that savvy and calculating to mildly hold the Patriots fortunes hostage but Gronk Inc. certainly is. Then again, maybe he legitimately is weighing it. The “will he or won’t he” conversation will sustain buzz and has to in some way impact the Patriots’ offseason plans. The presumption has to be that Gronk returns but this is anything but a layup. Which means the need is a Level-8

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY?


There is a nice crop of tight ends hitting the market. Virtually all of them come with the same nagging health issues that Gronk has (had). Jimmy Graham is the biggest name in the group. His tepid blocking skills may make him unattractive to the Patriots, but never let it be said the Pats don’t like to take a flier on a once-electric player who’s on the backside. At 31, Graham’s coming off a 10-touchdown season, though his yards per catch went down to 9.1. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see New England pursue. The Eagles' second tight end, Trey Burton, is 26 and stuck behind Zach Ertz. An undrafted rookie, the kid who threw the touchdown pass to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl is targeted sparingly in Philly but is a smooth player. He also plays special teams (boing!). Austin Sefarian-Jenkins finally got his stuff together with the Jets in 2017 and he’s only 25. He’s no dummy, he’s only acted like one in the past and it seems like he’s got a handle on it now. He’d need face-to-face vetting but he’s got upside. Then there’s Tyler Eifert. Still just 27, Eifert’s played in 10 games the past two seasons and had season-ending back surgery in the fall (it was performed by the same doctor who treated Gronk). He’s played 39 games in five seasons. Terrific talent. Always broken.

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT?


I like this Dallas Goedert kid from South Dakota State. Also, Dalton Schultz from Stanford gets checkmarks as a blocker and competent receiver. Neither of them are first-round prospects at this point. Hayden Hurst from South Carolina and Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews are regarded as the top prospects. Hurst is a very good pass-catcher with a huge catch radius. He’s a 24-year-old former Pittsburgh Pirates draftee. Andrews is smooth as a receiver but not seen as a potent blocker. Same with Mike Gesicki from Penn State who’s the best athlete along with Hurst but doesn’t impress with his blocking.

HOW CAN THE PATRIOTS ADDRESS IT?


Assuming Gronk is returning, the Patriots can go at it a number of ways. There’s not a “can’t miss” prospect out there, so drafting Hurst or Gesicki in the first couple of rounds means they’ll have to live with the shortcomings or hope they can improve them. Given other needs, they may not want to spend on “maybes” near the top of the draft. Too many drafts have been like that, especially with second-rounders. It seems unlikely they’ll be really interested in counting on either Allen or Bennett to provide anything in 2018. If they take a run at the Eagles’ Burton and pay him a crapload, Gronk will lose his mind. Screw it. They should take Hurst. We will change our minds several times between now and April but that’s where we are now.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Julian Edelman posts video of resistance-band training

patriots_julian_edelman_082517.jpg
File Photo

Julian Edelman posts video of resistance-band training

Julian Edelman is grinding.

The New England Patriots receiver, who is recovering from an ACL repair surgery that ended his 2017 season, shared a quick video from his workout on Tuesday. Edelman is shown running with a resistance band and a trainer in-tow.

Edelman has posted a few tidbits on social media to show encouraging signs during his recovery since he got surgery in October after suffering an ACL tear in a preseason game. He was spotted around the locker room a few times during the final weeks of the 2017 season.

"Rehab is a [expletive]. It sucks," Edelman said in November on Barstool Sports' "Pardon My Take podcast." "You go in and you’re feeling decent and then you warm up, you beat it up and then you get stiff again. I mean it’s just a process and you go in six days a week and you’re going into work it, work on everything — your flexion, your extension."