Mike Lombardi twice held postions under Bill Belichick, first when Belichick was the head coach with the Cleveland Browns and most recently from 2014-16 with the Pats. He was Senior Personnel Executive for the Oakland Raiders for nine years, constructing teams that won three AFC West Championships and made an appearance in the Super Bowl. He recommended Dion Lewis to Belichick in 2014. That worked out pretty well. Belichick raved about Lombardi to NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran in 2016, saying "Mike's...one of the smartest people I've worked with. He was huge asset to me for the two years he was here...he studies football and he knows it very well."
Point is, when Lombardi has something to say about personnel, it's probably worth a listen. On the The Ringer's GM Street podcast, Lombardi was critical of tight end Rob Gronkowski, among others.
On Gronkowski, Lombardi said "Gronk doesn’t have the same quickness that he once had... Gronk is more of a builder of speed now. People are playing for that, so none of those underneath routes really apply to Gronk. It’s got to be throws up the field. That limits what you do offensively." Gronkowski has been consistently double-teamed through three weeks and after a characteristically explosive Week 1, he has just six catches for 66 yards in the last two games.
Lombardi also believes the Pats can no longer play Dont'a Hightower at linebacker. "They need to play him down at defensive end. Just make him a nickel rusher. Put his hand in the dirt and make him a nickel rusher because that is the only thing they are going to be able to get out of him."
As far as replacing his guy Dion Lewis, Lombardi doesn't seem too high on James White and Sony Michel. “I don’t see Sony Michel replacing Dion Lewis right now...They need someone they can swing the ball to and make somebody miss in the flat and get 15 yards... They don’t have that. James White is a catcher. James White goes down too easily. He’s not a runner. He is a catcher and if he has space to run he’s effective. If he doesn’t have space, he’s not getting any extra yards. That’s the problem.”
Now for the positive spin - Lombardi expects Edelman to come back and provide the offensive production that Amendola gave last season. He also said the hope is that Josh Gordon can replace the deep threat that was Brandin Cooks in 2017. The Patriots offense is build on trust, and it's clear Tom Brady hasn't quite established that with his weapons yet.