PATS REPORTER

Perry's Mailbag: Examining Stidham vs. Hoyer; Where Patriots rank in AFC

PATS REPORTER

I can't make a coherent argument in favor of Brian Hoyer. 

The benefit he had over Jarrett Stidham going into Monday's game in Kansas City was that he was the safer option. Then he turned it over twice and his brain shut off at what most football experts would consider a fairly inopportune time as the clock wound down at the end of the first half. 

Stidham provides more physical ability (he completed two scramble-drill throws for a combined 42 yards at Arrowhead Stadium). Stidham was more consistently accurate Monday (he had three passes dropped) despite getting third-string reps since the middle of training camp. In my opinion, even if the Patriots do nothing more than hold walkthroughs over the weekend before their second straight Monday game, Stidham will give the Patriots a better shot to win. 

Even if it's a toss-up, the Patriots should roll with Stidham just to see how he performs after an adverse week. There's something to be gleaned about a young quarterback in the system. Gather information. Good or bad. That's the path that makes the most sense to me. 

In case you needed to brush up on how Cam Newton could potentially be available, we've got you covered here.

When you hear that the Patriots came back with nothing but negative tests in a given day, those tests do not include Newton, Stephon Gilmore or Bill Murray. It's unclear how they're testing at the moment. 

 

With Newton, it might not matter. He can return Monday -- so long as he gets clearance from the league and remains asymptomatic -- because that will be 10 days removed from his first positive last Friday. After 10 days, the test results become obsolete. Why? Some people will continue to yield positive tests for weeks and weeks after being infected, even if they are no longer infectious. After 10 days, the NFL has deemed it safe for asymptomatic players to return. (Confused? Here's that link again.)

Harry, you're a sweetheart. Doing fine. Hope you're well, pal. The Bag community? The best. 

To your questions, I can tell you that after talking to several people around the league this week . . . it's going to take more than a couple teams having COVID issues for the NFL to consider canceling the season. It's going to take more than a couple teams having COVID issues for the NFL to consider delaying the season. It's just not on the table right now. 

And an important note here from our friend Judy Battista at NFL Network: Even if the Patriots pop up with more positive tests in the next few days, if those tests are produced by individuals considered "close contacts" of already-infected players, Monday's game will not be delayed or postponed. In that case there might be some risk of playing a player who's been infected and hasn't yet tested positive. But CDC data suggests that most secondary infections -- if there were any that took place on Monday or Tuesday morning, when the team traveled to and from Kansas City with Gilmore -- would have occurred by Monday.

Let's go in order here, Boom. With Dalton Keene, it might be Year 2 before we see consistent returns from him. He was ruled out with an injury for the first two weeks of his rookie season. He's been a healthy scratch for the last two. I wouldn't rule out a special-teams role for him this year. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that he could see fullback snaps if Jakob Johnson was ever forced to miss time. But, for now, it looks like it'll be an uphill climb for Keene to become a consistent contributor. 

With Devin Asiasi, there's a much clearer path to action. For a couple reasons. No. 1, he played almost 30 snaps two weeks ago against the Raiders. Though he came back the following week and played only eight, the only thing keeping him from a couple dozen more snaps is Ryan Izzo. Whether it's been as a receiver or as a blocker, Izzo has been underwhelming. Asiasi has real talent. After the bye week might be a good time to get him more involved if he's as comfortable with his assignments as the Patriots would like.

OK, Anthony! I'll bite! Chiefs have to be up there. So do the Ravens. I'm putting the Steelers at No. 3 because I think they're pretty well-rounded. I'd have the Bills and Patriots as close for that fourth spot. The Bills get the ever-so-slight nod,  but I'm not sure their *good* wins were as impressive as the Patriots *good* losses, if that makes sense. What's the better indication of a capable team? Beating the Raiders on the road (as the Bills did) or almost beating the Chiefs on the road with backup quarterbacks (as the Patriots did)? Buffalo's win over the Rams was nice, but that was one that they tried their best to give away. I think a regression is coming for both Josh Allen and the rest of that team. Still, they're No. 4 for now. The Patriots are No. 5.

 

With a month of games in the books, nothing's changed for me since preseason. I have the Patriots as a 9-7 team and in the playoffs. I still have them winning the division, too. Yes, I know the Bills record. And no. I will not back off that prediction until it's mathematically impossible NOT to back off it. I'm unbackoffable on this.

I've long been WHOLEHEARTEDLY OUT on fun, but because you asked... Marcus Smart (6-3, 220 pounds) would be a Patrick Chung/Adrian Phillips/Kyle Dugger safety-slash-linebacker hybrid. Can't shoot his way into trouble on that side of the ball. Jackie Bradley Jr. (5-10, 196) would be put right to use as a receiver and kick-returner. I'm making Patrice Bergeron a quarterback. I have no idea if he can throw a football. Just a leadership-quotient thing for me.

I think they'd listen to calls, Ed. My question would be . . . How many teams really feel as though they're desperate for a guard at the deadline? How many teams should feel desperate for a guard? That's a different story. But I think most coaches look at that spot as a fairly easily-replaced one. If there is a taker out there, I'd assume the Patriots would be more willing to deal Joe Thuney. He's their best offensive lineman, but he's set to hit unrestricted free agency next offseason. Mason has three years left on his deal. The Patriots would get a third-round comp pick if Thuney signs elsewhere, but that wouldn't come along until 2022. If the Patriots can expedite that return and trade him for a third (or better) this season, I could see them making that move. Onwenu has been that good.

Yes. As long as he's asymptomatic, those negative tests are 24 hours apart, and if he gets clearance from the league.

If you're a stickler for competitive balance, this ain't gonna be the year for you. Lots happening around the league that isn't fair. But when both the owners and players have lost boatloads in revenue this year, they aren't going to turn away fans wherever they can get them. 

Is that smart? To pack a stadium with potentially-infectious fans? Not according to medical experts I've heard from. Won't stop 'em, though. 

 

That they don't love him at center. He came in as a guard. Got work as a center in camp. Ferentz clearly ahead of Froholdt there, though. If for some reason the Patriots need to look beyond Thuney, Mason and Onwenu at guard and Froholdt still isn't playing? That's not a great sign. What would be interesting would be if the team liked Justin Herron enough that -- if a need at guard arose -- they played Herron there over Froholdt. Or if they put starting right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor inside and kept Herron at right tackle. Lots of combinations for coaches for Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo right now. Not sure how many people would need to go down before Froholdt became a top option.

They have some good young players. It looks like Drew Lock won't be able to play. Lock's replacement, Brett Rypien, is a player I actually liked as a Day 3 draft pick back in 2019. He was unbothered by pressure, almost to a fault, at Boise State. If the opposite of "happy feet" are "sad feet," his feet are in a deep depression. That may be working against him as a pro. Out of 37 quarterbacks who've taken at least 30 dropbacks this season, he ranks 36th in quarterback rating under pressure, per Pro Football Focus. (Shockingly, Cardinals young starter Kyler Murray is 37th.)

Tight end Noah Fant and KJ Hamler are both banged up and missed two days of practice. That helps the Patriots, too. But left tackle Garrett Bolles, rookie receivers Jerry Jeudy and running back Melvin Gordon are all legit pros. Bradley Chubb had a ridiculous 10 pressures against the Jets last week, including three sacks. Justin Simmons is a more-than-capable safety. There's talent there. I'd say so long as the tackles can contain Chubb, and so long as the secondary can tackle (both Gordon and Jeudy) they won't have much of a problem Monday.