Perry's Mailbag: Does Meyers hold key to Pats' January success?

Perry's Mailbag: Does Meyers hold key to Pats' January success?

In this week's mailbag, we talk about receivers who could key the postseason, whether this is the week we finally get a ton of Damien Harris action, and setting the early table for 2020 . . .

For Jakobi Meyers to be able to reel in all three targets — one in a contested situation deep in Bills territory, one off a play-action fake — was significant. Not only should that do wonders for his confidence, but it should do wonders for Tom Brady’s confidence in him. Meyers’ contributions highlighted one of the themes Bill Belichick pointed to after the game. He went out of his way to note the number of players who stepped up against Buffalo.

Against a playoff team, with plenty on the line, perhaps enough wasn’t made of what Meyers did. Or what Marshall Newhouse did at right tackle. Or what Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson did at tight end. Or what Rex Burkhead gave them. Or how Joejuan Williams stepped up, and how JC Jackson stepped into a slot defender role with Jonathan Jones out. Or how Nick Folk came through when needed. The Patriots of course had key contributions from guys like Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower.

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But to have that many role players perform, with the No. 2 seed and the division still up for grabs, against that level of competition, could be a harbinger of good things to come for the Patriots moving forward. They’ll need more than just their stars if they hope to get to where they want to be.

He should be able to, Pat. We aren’t THAT far removed from 10 catches and a touchdown — often working out of the hurry-up — in Baltimore. I’d attribute some of his struggles to the ankle. I think some are due to his unfamiliarity with the details of certain assignments. For instance, when he forgot to block someone on fourth-and-one last week, that wasn’t because of the ankle he injured weeks ago. There’s a reason the Patriots paid a second-rounder to get him. He might not be worth that kind of compensation. But he’s better than what he’s given them.

Not sure how there could be any frustration with his role, simply because he’s played more than any Patriots wideout recently. He’s an every-down guy for them. And yet the production has been what it’s been. If they can get anything out of him — with Julian Edelman continuing to grind through, and N’Keal Harry showing signs of growth — it’d be huge for this offense. 

Let’s peg it at two years and $30 million. Not the top of the market. But right there with Matt Ryan in terms of average annual value. Would put him ahead of guys like Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins. Feels right. I’m of the mind, at this point, that deal won’t be coming from the Patriots. 

THIS. IS. (MAYBE?) YOUR. TIME. People have been clamoring to see Damien Harris all season. Sony Michel is now questionable to play Sunday because of an illness. If Michel can’t go, expect Harris to be active. The reason he rookie hasn’t played more as of yet is multi-pronged. 1) He’s a rookie. Pass-protection is difficult for rookies. 2) There’s depth at the position and no one has been injured. Running backs coach Ivan Fears acknowledged this was one of the primary reasons we haven’t seen Harris much. The Patriots like him, Fears said. There’s just not much in the way of opportunity. 3) As disappointing as has been Michel’s production this year, the coaching staff has put a good deal of his relative lack of success on the blocking in front of him. Getting downhill too deliberately has been an issue at times, as well, but clearly the staff didn’t think that was so bad that they’d rather see Harris.

I think Dante Scarnecchia’s relationship is one of several that helped encourage Josh McDaniels in his decision to stick in New England. I still think that was due more in part to getting a greater commitment from ownership here in New England and some hesitation about the situation in Indy. 

I’ve been a fan of N’Keal Harry’s skill set even prior to the draft, and so you can probably guess me answer here. Tom E. Curran and I went back and forth on this question in this week’s Point/Counterpoint

I’d pick the Ravens as the tougher matchup in any locale. If they meet the Patriots, and if the Patriots land the No. 2 seed, them that game will be played in Baltimore.

As things stand right now, Harry gives the Patriots a better big-play threat than Phillip Dorsett. The rookie’s ability to beat one on one coverage with his size alone, turn runs into chunk gains, and win in the red zone make him a better fit as the team’s No. 3. That’s where he’s slotted in lately, pushing Dorsett to a (totally capable) No. 4 role. 

1. Brady. I don’t think he’ll be back, but whether he’s here or not will have a greatest say in how the team’s record will look in 2020. He’s the obvious No. 1 of we’re just going be importance. 

2. Thuney. One of the best guards in football. Critical to keeping the quarterback, whoever that is, healthy. He’s in line to see a serious pay day this offseason and could be tough to retain. 

3. Devin McCourty. He’s the brains of the secondary operation. The secondary is the team’s greatest strength. Pretty simple. 

4. Kyle Van Noy. Versatile. The team’s most consistent pass-rusher. Someone who will get pod come March. 

5. Jamie Collins. Still a Swiss Army knife type for Bill Belichick. 

There were several who looked like Patriots fits. Maybe 2020 is the year. We may learn more as the pre-draft process plays out, but it doesn’t look like an incredibly strong tight end class. 

Huge. Still, I think it’s a Patriots cover, 31-13. Happy New Year, friends. 

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Rob Gronkowski, Camille Kostek donate 20,000 masks to Boston, New Jersey hospitals

Rob Gronkowski, Camille Kostek donate 20,000 masks to Boston, New Jersey hospitals

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and his girlfriend Camille Kostek are doing their part to help the community amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The pair have donated 10,000 medical-grade KN95 masks to Boston Medical Center and another 10,000 to St. Joseph's University Medical Center in New Jersey.

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Sports Illustrated swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day, whose husband is a physician at St. Joseph's, shared the note Gronkowski and Kostek included in their donation and thanked them for being so generous. 

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So when we all say we are a FAMILY at @si_swimsuit I mean it in the truest sense of the word. @camillekostek is a former #siswimsearch winner, SI Rookie and 2019 Cover Model. @gronk is her partner in life and @patriots legend and friend and supporter of this brand. They just donated 10,000 KN95 masks to both @sjhnj and @bostonmedicalcenter. And I am moved beyond words. But this type of generosity deserves words. On a personal note, I have been appealing to people to #stayinandsew #flattenthecurve and support their local hospitals and caregivers in need. My husband is a physician at @sjhnj and many of our friends and colleagues are on the front lines there fighting this pandemic. Like many of the hospitals in the epicenter of this war, they are critically short on supplies. Especially masks. What Camille and Rob have done for this hospital, the caregivers, the patients, and the community made me cry tears of joy. It’s been restorative to my faith that we can make a difference no matter how big or small. It shows me that the type of people that I get to work with care about me and you just as much as we care about them. And no matter what team they played for, we are all on the same team now. There is no way to quantify the gratitude I have for you both. Let’s motivate others to do the same, or what they can to help our hospitals and caregivers battle for us. Make a mask, stay home, donate, use your platform. Do what you can, because it all matters. These masks equate to lives saved. Period. Thank you. ❤️

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 “Rob and I doing everything we could to figure out how to source these masks properly and get them in the hands of people that need them was not an easy task,” Kostek, a model who was on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue last year, said Monday on her Instagram story, according to WEEI's Ryan Hannable. “Thank you to the heroes of this crisis for putting yourselves and your family — and everything that you do — on the line to help the wellbeing of the people in our nation. I have cried a lot today.”

Gronkowski and Kostek join the many celebrities who have tried to help during the crisis, and it won't be surprising if more follow in their footsteps.

NFL expects to open on time with full schedule; here's when it'll be revealed

NFL expects to open on time with full schedule; here's when it'll be revealed

With the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and MLS scrambling to figure out a way to salvage its seasons and crown champions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the NFL says as far as its season goes, it'll be business as usual in front of fans. 

Pash, the NFL's general counsel, told reporters, including Breer, on a conference call Tuesday of playing a full season, “That’s my expectation. Am I certain? I’m not certain I will be here tomorrow. But I’m planning on it, and I’m planning on a full season.”

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So, if Pash expectation becomes reality, on Thursday night, Sept. 10, the Kansas City Chiefs will hang their first Super Bowl championship banner since 1970 and host a team to be determined.

The full schedule - still 16 games, but with a third wild-card team in each conference; it won't be 17 games until at least 2021 - is expected to be released no later than May 9, according to Breer and others.

As for the draft, still set for April 23-25 in this era of social distancing, the "war rooms" of each team will reportedly be limited to 10 people in the room each six feet apart, with picks being made via video chat.