#FridayBag

Patriots Mailbag: How would Patriots staff look if McDaniels landed elsewhere?

Patriots Mailbag: How would Patriots staff look if McDaniels landed elsewhere?

This week's mailbag features speculation on another coaching staff shakeup should Josh McDaniels depart, plenty of matchup questions for Saturday against the Bills and that unavoidable Tom Brady question about 2020 and beyond.

Got a question? Hit Phil Perry up on Twitter using the #FridayBag hashtag. 

On to the queries...

Great question, Adam. If Josh McDaniels were to leave, that'd mean more turnover for Bill Belichick to oversee, and it's anyone's guess as to how the team would rebound. My choice for the next offensive coordinator would be Joe Judge, who is one of the senior members of the coaching staff after McDaniels, and who has added receiver coach responsibilities to his plate this year. 

Mick Lombardi has been valuable as assistant quarterbacks coach in his first year with the team, working alongside McDaniels, and he'd likely take on a larger role. Nick Caley, who has been tight ends coach since 2017, could stick in his role or make a move to help patch up a post-McDaniels staff wherever it needs patching. 

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What makes Judge a logical candidate as offensive coordinator is that a) he's coordinated special teams since 2015 and would be comfortable having a large number of players under his purview, and b) his special teams assistant Cam Achord and receiving coach assistant Troy Brown could conceivably take on larger roles with their respective position groups, giving the team some much-needed coaching consistency. 

Belichick, I'm sure, would end up spending more time with the offense, leaving Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo more to handle on the defensive side. 

The Patriots could've re-signed him, Tom, but they opted to let him walk and sign with the Dolphins last offseason. He was worth more to Miami -- a team trying to establish a culture, looking for veteran role players to serve as an example for the rest of the locker room -- than he was to New England, which would've used him as a blocking tight end. 

At least that's what we all thought at the time. Turns out he would've been incredibly valuable in the role he held for two seasons. 

Not only would he have helped the running game as a tight end, which has struggled in large part due to the team's inability to set an edge, but he often played out of the backfield as a fullback and might've mitigated the impact of the loss of James Develin early in the season. He was waived-injured by the Dolphins and never caught on elsewhere.

We're of the same mind there, Gigi. My belief, based on conversations I've had and looking logically at how Brady's latest contract negotiation played out, is that he'll be playing elsewhere in 2020. I don't know where that will be. 

I've made the case for Miami before. But there's so much to play out between now and then that guessing his specific whereabouts is next to impossible. You always have to allow for things to change. 

For a scenario to break in such a way that it makes sense for all parties involved to take this thing around for another spin. But as of this Bag's writing, I just don't see it.

I think the Patriots could end up playing a little more zone than they typically do, Dave, just because not having Jonathan Jones throws off the matchups. 

They're a predominantly man-to-man team, but in man, who takes Cole Beasley in the slot? Jason McCourty. He's an option, if healthy. Patrick Chung has played plenty of slot in the past. I think Devin McCourty is physically capable of doing the work there and he certainly would have an understanding of the responsibilities in there. 

Now...should a veteran slot receiver who works underneath completely dictate coverage from snap-to-snap? No. But the Patriots can't let him roam free for six-yard gains at will either. 

Jones, who can play some safety, is a vitally important member to the Patriots secondary, and whether they're in man or zone, they'll have their work cut out for them as they try to compensate without him. Remember: Jones could've factored into the spying-Josh-Allen equation, too. His versatility will be missed. 

WVM, I hear you. I thought that package was going to be the next big thing in Patriots' offensive innovation. Seriously. 

They invested as much at running back as any other team before the season. They had quality depth. They had capable pass-catchers. And the Patriots went to it early. They used two backs and no tight ends on a whopping 31 percent of snaps in Week 1. 

Since then, they've used it on three percent of snaps. Why? It hasn't worked. They average 3.8 yards per pass attempt out of 20 personnel and 3.1 yards per carry. On paper, it looks great. For whatever reason, it hasn't played out that way. 

Ted, it would not surprise me in the least if Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has noticed that those inverted wishbone looks -- the ones that the Ravens, Texans and Chiefs have all used with success against the Patriots this season -- might work for his team this weekend. 

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The Bills have the combination you need: a mobile quarterback and three tight ends who can clear space as run-blockers. I'd actually be surprised if we didn't see it. 

On the flip side, I'm sure the Patriots have worked on it, and typically when they identify something to stop, they have success. That's one of the fascinating games within the game this week. 

Jacob, that plan makes some sense, but I'm not sure the Patriots can afford to limit Edelman that way. If he's out there, they're going to need him out there. 

Otherwise, they become easier to defend and what's already a difficult matchup becomes even more so. 

Best side dish? My aunt Sue makes a macaroni salad that is an absolute staple for our massive family get-togethers. That’s my No. 1. Fairly certain she has to make 20 pounds of that stuff a few times a year just to keep everyone happy. 

Happy holidays, all. Thanks as always for all your contributions to the Bag. We’ll have more over the next few weeks, but you made 2019 the best year in Bag history. Appreciate you.

 

Patriots Mailbag: Can N'Keal Harry replace Rob Gronkowski as a pass-catcher?

Patriots Mailbag: Can N'Keal Harry replace Rob Gronkowski as a pass-catcher?

The Friday Bag is back, friends. And this week, it's back on Saturday. Every week, I'll be answering your questions be they Patriots-related, NFL-related or otherwise. This week, the focus for many of you was -- no surprise -- N'Keal Harry and what we should be expecting from him. We'll start there.

Different positions, Mike. All of those routes that Rob Gronkowski ran from an in-line alignment won't be options for Harry. And I'm envisioning Harry as more of an outside-the-numbers wideout -- like Josh Gordon -- than a slot player, where Gronkowski often lived. But Harry can certainly run fades and go routes from the outside, just as Gronkowski occasionally did. The deep overs and shallow crossers and slants that Gronk ran will also be options for Harry. I think Harry will have a get-the-ball-in-his-hands element to his game that makes him a different player as well. Quick screens. End-arounds, maybe. He's not necessarily a burner, but he's hard to tackle because of his size, and the Patriots may try to get him involved right at the line of scrimmage if there are some fairly simple plays at their disposal that would be easy for him to pick up. I do think Harry will be a "bail-out" option for Brady when he's under pressure and everyone seems covered. Harry, because of his ability to make contested catches, is one of those receivers who's a good option to target even when he's covered. Gronkowski was the epitome of that kind of pass-catcher so Harry isn't on that level, but that element is in play with Harry on the field.

This is the most interesting question about this game, David. I think the Patriots will show a variety of looks to try to confuse Jackson. I think they'll disguise coverages pre-snap. I think they'll flood the field with athletes to match Jackson's speed, as the Chargers did back in January, maybe giving someone like Terrence Brooks a little extra work as a sure tackler with wheels. I think they'll use heavy personnel at the line of scrimmage to ensure every gap is plugged, the way they did against Colin Kaepernick back in 2012. I go into more detail on all of these plans, here, but that's the rough outline. I think that whatever Bill Belichick draws up, it'll be a multi-faceted plan.

I think that'll be a part of the plan, Scott. The Chargers were forced into going with seven defensive backs in the Wild Card game in part because they were short on healthy linebackers. Worked out for them. Meanwhile, the Patriots have some very athletic linebackers they can turn to this weekend. That might mean Bill Belichick doesn't have to roll out seven DBs, but it wouldn't shock me to see a lot of "sub" personnel packages to match Jackson's speed.

The kicking situation, Wally, is... what it is. Anyone they bring aboard at this point is going to have flaws. They just have to hope that anyone who comes in gets hot and makes the kicks any NFL kicker would be expected to make. If they can make kicks in the elements -- part of the reason why they've brought in kickers with outdoor and Gillette-specific experience -- it feels like that'd be gravy. Not what you're looking for when your most important games of the season are going to be played outdoors in January.

They wouldn't use a roster spot on a player not contributing, and they got to a point with Gordon that they simply didn't want him on the roster. Your thought process isn't a bad one for a team that's rebuilding and looking to add picks. That's not the Patriots. But that's also why I was surprised to see that the Seahawks landed Gordon via waivers; 27 teams passed on that opportunity. It's important to note, though, teams aren't guaranteed a comp pick for losing a player to free agency. The comp pick formula is based on free agents lost and gained, and the level of comp pick depends on the contract that player landed, along with a variety of other factors. Unless Gordon lights it up in Seattle and gets paid a hefty deal this offseason, he'd probably land the Seahawks a relatively low-level compensatory pick.

Let's answer your second question first, Glenn. The Patriots have eight players on their injury report, but none have been ruled out for Sunday, and so the Patriots will be scratching players ahead of kickoff who could play. Gunner Olszewski (on the injury report with ankle and hamstring issues) could end up being one of the odd men out. Bill Belichick noted that N'Keal Harry is working hard in practice in a special-teams role, and the only kicking-game role we saw Harry man consistently this summer was as a punt-returner. If the team needs a roster spot, maybe they'll deactivate Olszewski in order to get Harry in the lineup. As for your second question, you can definitely run out of spread looks. That's part of the advantage of the spread is that defenses have to stretch themselves thin to have every area of the field covered in the passing game. The Cardinals love 10 personnel. They've used it more than any team. On 54 rush attempts out of "10," they average 5.1 yards per carry. 

Good question, Greenie. To me, it'd be between Sanu and Wynn. I think Harry will make an impact, but I think Sanu could become a critical piece to the passing game by year's end whereas Harry's contributions might end up being more sporadic. I'll settle on Wynn as my answer, though. He'll be a tremendous upgrade for the Patriots at one of the most valuable positions on the field. Marshall Newhouse has graded out as Pro Football Focus' 68th tackle as a run-blocker and their 66th pass-blocker. Wynn will give them more in both situations. There's a reason Tom Brady was looking forward to Wynn's return as early as a few weeks ago in a discussion with Jim Gray on Westwood One. Brady knows Wynn can play. He just has to be able to stay on the field.

Pat! I think they'll mix in some man coverages. They've been among the top few man-to-man teams in football in recent seasons. But my assumption is we'll see them play a lot of zone. Jackson's speed and ability to cut loose on any play, in any situation, make it critically important for every member of the defense to be able to react if he gets into the open field. I'd expect to see plenty of Cover 3, as well as Cover 2 and maybe Cover 4 (which the Patriots deployed occasionally in the Super Bowl back in February). And I'd expect them to disguise pre-snap which one they're rolling with. We've already seen them toggle between single-high and two-high safety looks against other young quarterbacks this season. The same should happen this week. One thing I'm fascinated to see: Do the Patriots go with no-safety, Cover-0 style looks against Lamar Jackson? Sounds risky. But instead of sacrificing bodies in coverage to make them true pass-rushers, what if they took those bodies and dropped them into the box to help contain Jackson's running ability? Would the Patriots trust their corners enough deep down the field to run one-on-one with Baltimore receivers? Hollywood Brown's return might make it so that they feel as though a deep safety is necessary. (I would think so.) But if they went the no-safety route to help stop Jackson on the ground, that'd be an interesting adjustment to something they already do week to week.

By Saturday at 4 p.m., Michael. There are only 52 players on the roster at the moment so the Patriots wouldn't have to make a corresponding move to open up a roster spot. 

I think Bill Belichick has actually been very positive about Harry's prospects, all things considered. He said weeks ago that Harry was mentally ready to go to jump into practice and be caught up. On Friday he said he appreciated Harry's work ethic in practice, both on offense and on special teams. Tom Brady, on the other hand, wasn't exactly head-over-heels for the rookie when asked about what Harry might contribute in his first game. (That is, IF Baltimore is Harry's first game.)

That seems like a lot for a Bag, JPR, I'll be honest. But how about we just link to this story I wrote on Dante Scarnecchia earlier this season -- as he was consistently being asked to work new players into the system -- as a reminder of what Scarnecchia expects from his group on game days as well as during the week. 

I said at the time of the trade that, considering the compensation required to acquire each of the two wideouts in question, I would've gone after Sanders. A third and a fourth for him seemed like a good deal compared to giving up a second for Sanu. But the Patriots going after Sanu made sense. He was younger, seemingly healthier (Sanders was listed as having a knee injury ahead of the trade deadline) and bigger. He also has one more year on his contract whereas Sanders would be a rental. Sanu gives the Patriots a sizable target who can run a variety of routes from the interior, who can provide a good catch radius down the seam, and who can block. I don't think his new team is regretting it. Remember, Sanu worked on a short week of practice before his Patriots debut last weekend. Give it a few more weeks and we can revisit. 

Hey, Joe. They won't have to release anyone if Harry is back this weekend because they only have 52 on the roster. When Wynn returns, if Cody Kessler is on the roster I'd assume he'd be a logical choice to go. He's been on and off already this season, and he looks like he's in line to be this year's Ross Ventrone.

It wouldn't surprise me if they did. But given that 27 teams passed on claiming Gordon and his contract, there probably wasn't all that much interest in actually giving up an asset via trade to acquire him. Can't trade him if no one wants to trade for him.

https://twitter.com/jeff_yyz/status/1190275045999800321

E*Trade Baby. Tough maneuvering around a crowded Trinity Bar (RIP) in a diaper while lugging a keyboard, but had to commit.

A lot of Gordon questions this week. From what I understand, making the move they did was about dependability. He wasn't meeting their standards as far as that goes. With Mohamed Sanu in the fold and N'Keal Harry eligible to return, they weren't as desperate for talent at the position as they had been so they opted to place him on injured reserve, knowing they'd be releasing him. 

Different roles, Chris. LaCosse can block when healthy, whereas Tomlinson was more of a blocking specialist. LaCosse's value is tied to his receiving ability. We haven't seen much of it because he's been injured, but he has the ability to be a big target down the seam for Brady. They signed him on Day 1 of free agency for a reason. If he can stay on the field, we might see a little more from him as to why. 

Something about the ALL CAPS "GO" is making me nervous. Gun to my head? I'll still go with 2004. Team was loaded with talent. It was a different era where coverage wasn't quite as important as it is today so having someone like Ty Law injured at the end of the season didn't do them in. But that front-seven was ridiculous. Rodney Harrison was ridiculous. I reserve the right to change my mind if this Patriots defense gets through this post-bye stretch of the season having made life difficult on Philadelphia, Dallas and Kansas City. 

I asked him this week if that was in the cards for him. He said no. Doesn't mean it didn't happen. For what it's worth, Mohamed Sanu, another quarterback-turned-receiver, also said he wasn't playing the role of Lamar Jackson this week. Can't blame the Patriots there. He has enough on his plate right now as it is. 

I think we'll see them all out there at different points. I'd expect Van Noy to be out there the most from that group. But having Hightower on the edge to be stout against the run would make a lot of sense as well. I'm envisioning Collins as more of an off-the-line player this week, but they're all incredibly versatile and can change gigs from snap to snap. 

Kyle Van Noy is the player who looks like he's earning himself the most money given the way he's played. He's been phenomenal. Factoring in that he's going to get some lucrative offers, I'd expect the Patriots allow him to go find his value and then come back to them to give them an opportunity to match. I think Joe Thuney probably falls into that category as well. I'm sure the Patriots would love to keep him, but he may price himself out given some of the money guards are making around the league. He's one of the best in the business. The player I may go to first to try to get something done would be Devin McCourty. He's critical to the overall operation. He wouldn't necessarily require an incredibly long-term deal. His brother is under contract for one more season. It'd make sense to get the safety and captain to sign on the dotted line quickly. 

I like them, Jim. I like those chances. He has to earn the quarterback's trust first, though. We haven't heard a whole lot in the way of glowing praise from Brady for the rookie just yet. By season's end, Brady loved Malcolm Mitchell. After a rough week of practice at Gillette Stadium before going to the Super Bowl, Brady pulled Mitchell aside and told him they'd need him. He was right. I'm not sure Brady's there yet with Harry. We'll see. Physically, though, there's no question Harry has the talent to contribute. 

Grape jelly all day. I'd bottle that stuff up and use it for lunch. I'm saving money and I still have opposable thumbs? Where do I sign up?!?

Thanks for all the questions this week, everyone. They were phenomenal. Even that last one, Travis. 

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Patriots Mailbag: Why send Michael Bennett to Dallas ahead of Pats-Cowboys matchup?

Patriots Mailbag: Why send Michael Bennett to Dallas ahead of Pats-Cowboys matchup?

The Friday Bag is back, friends. Every week I'll be answering your questions be they Patriots-related, NFL-related or otherwise. This week, the focus for many of you was -- no surprise -- the Michael Bennett trade. We'll start there...

Hey, Mark! In all likelihood, it was the return. The Patriots and Cowboys will meet in a month, but better that than trading him to an AFC contender they may see in the playoffs. (A non-contender in either conference probably wouldn't be interested in picking up Bennett's contract.) I don't know if the Patriots had narrowed their potential trade partners to NFC contenders only, but if they did, the Cowboys made a lot of sense because he's an easy fit in their scheme. The haul wasn't great, obviously, but the Patriots were in a bit of a bind. Bennett was barely playing. Teams knew Bennett wasn't happy. Belichick and Nick Caserio didn't appear to have much leverage in trade negotiations. Getting a Day 3 pick and some cap relief... Beggars can't be choosers. Call it the Patriots just trying to make the best of a bad situation. 

Great question, Robert. First, let's just do a quick Cover-0 review. That's when the defense does not have a safety deep, there's an all-out blitz coming, and defenders are in man-to-man coverage across the board. The Patriots have turned to their Cover-0 looks quite a bit through the first seven games, often deploying that defense against young quarterbacks who are forced to make quick decisions with the football before the pressure gets home. Bill Belichick and his defensive staff called for Cover 0 -- also known as the "zero blitz" -- time and time again against Sam Darnold, toying with him once it was clear he was uncomfortable. I reached out to our friends at Pro Football Focus to give us an idea of just how often the Patriots have called on Cover 0. According to PFF, they're running that call 12 percent of the time (34 total snaps). Last year, including playoffs, they were at 9 percent. That may come down as the Patriots face talented passers like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes later in the season, but it's clear Belichick and his coaches trust their secondary to plaster in coverage and prevent any big plays while in Cover 0. That's the risk. If the quarterback has enough time to get the ball out, if the catch is made, and if a tackle is missed, it could go for a touchdown with no safety. But the Patriots have a sound tackling secondary and arguably the best group of man-to-man cover corners in the game. PFF's Mike Renner wrote Thursday that the Patriots are allowing just 5.1 yards per attempt while in man this year and a 51 percent completion percentage. While in Cover 0 specifically, the Patriots have allowed a 12.4 passer rating. Ridiculous. It might not be a great defense against a team with big-play wideouts like the Browns and receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, but it's certainly a big part of what the Patriots do and a big part of why they've been as successful as they've been. 

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The Patriots have cleared a little bit of cap space over the last few days. They restructured Shaq Mason's deal. They traded Michael Bennett. They aren't swimming in cap room by any means, but they should have enough to swing a trade if they want to (They also might have about $1 million coming off their books after the trade deadline if Josh Gordon and his contract get claimed on waivers). If they are looking for a low-cost option at tight end, Tyler Eifert is relatively interesting. We know he's been consistently banged-up over the last few years. But he'd be very inexpensive -- half a season would cost the Patriots about $500,000 -- and he played his college ball at Notre Dame for Charlie Weis so there may be some familiarity with the terminology the Patriots use. Lance Kendricks might make sense after he spent the summer with the team. He's played only four snaps for the Chargers over the last two weeks. He'd be Ben Watson insurance. If the Patriots wanted to poke around on a more valuable Chargers tight end, Virgil Green might make some sense. He's played 23 and 11 snaps in his last two games and is taking a back seat to starter Hunter Henry. His cap hit would be about $1.25 million for half a season. The Chargers (2-5) would, of course, have to be comfortable selling off a piece to the team that ended their 2018 season. Chargers GM Tom Telesco is a John Carroll University football guy. 

Hey, Ed. I think there were a number of things at play when it came to Josh Gordon being placed on IR. We went through them here. But $1 million in cap relief, solving the glut at receiver, clearing a path for N'Keal Harry, keeping Eric Tomlinson... None of those, in my opinion, really rose to the level necessitating a parting of ways with a talented athlete at a position the Patriots have been desperate to fill the last two years. I think it's fair to wonder if -- for a player who has had a hard time being dependable for a variety of reasons beyond his control -- the team determined Gordon was not meeting their standards when it comes to overall dependability. Plus, they just got deeper at receiver by adding Mohamed Sanu, and they have talent returning to the roster in Harry. If you remember, Belichick released a statement following Gordon's reinstatement by the NFL saying that he would decide to do what was best for Gordon and the team in making a call on Gordon. The Patriots didn't sound like they were tripping over themselves then to bring him back at that point, but they did because they needed him. If they like their depth now that they have some reinforcements at that position, then perhaps that helped them make the call to put Gordon on IR...

...That said, the timing of the decision is still curious. We don't know what happened after Wednesday's practice that led to Gordon's placement on IR. We don't know IF anything happened following Wednesday's practice that led to his placement on IR. It seems like something happened because the team told Eric Tomlinson he was released, told him to stick around because they wanted to bring him back soon, then brought him back a few hours later without ever making his release official. That's unusual. It was a sequence of events would suggest to us something happened. That "something" could've been as simple as Belichick changing his mind. But we don't know for sure.

Hey, BXP. If he's released off of IR following next week's trade deadline -- and there are a few reasons the Patriots would probably like to do that -- then he'll go through waivers and be able to be claimed by another team. I wouldn't anticipate Gordon returning to them this season.

Phil, my man, I asked him last week if he'd be lobbying for an offensive role now that Elandon Roberts has been on the field offensively. I was half kidding. Van Noy is obviously a good athlete with good size. The Patriots have done it before with a number of players, not just Mike Vrabel. He's pretty busy as it is right now, though, playing 85.2 percent of the snaps this year (not including Week 1, which he missed for the birth of his son). Belichick probably isn't looking to put too much more on his plate right now.

We'll probably get this question every week for the rest of the year, but I don't think you should hold your breath, Matthew. Put it that way. 

I'll go with Sanu, Tim. He plays a highly-productive position in the Patriots offense. He's a veteran who understands coverages. The Patriots gave up a second-round pick for him for a reason; they needed him, and they felt like he was worth it. I think Harry, if healthy, can provide something similar to what Gordon gave the Patriots through Week 7. But I'd go with Sanu as No. 1 on this list. While Sanu-for-Gordon shouldn't be viewed as a one-for-one on-the-field swap, putting Sanu in the slot and getting Harry back makes the overall position group deeper. That probably made the Patriots feel better about cutting ties with Gordon. I don't believe it was THE reason. If it was, the Patriots would've put Gordon on IR right off the bat when they acquired Sanu. Both players were on the practice field together on Wednesday.

He's been tremendous in a reduced role, Ryan. I wasn't sure he was going to be on the team to start the year. I believed he was a good trade candidate because he doesn't fit the mold of a classic 3-4 lineman. But in sub situations -- and consistently in run-game situations as well -- Wise has made his presence felt. I could see him getting a little more work in the second half of the year. I don't think he'll get to Lawrence Guy's snap-count numbers any time soon, but why not play him a little more while he's on this hot streak just to see how it goes?

I'm going off the board, Jacob: Jermaine Eluemunor. He's been the jumbo tight end when the Patriots have called on that role recently. Ferentz is a good guess, too. He's been with the team a while now. Veteran guy. I could see Belichick enjoying watching him get into the end zone. 

I'm still going with the Patriots, Juan. There seems to be a "dance" going on right now between the quarterback and the team, as Tom E. Curran put it on our most recent Patriots Talk Podcast. Eventually, the music will stop, Brady will have to decide if he wants to play again, and if he does he'll have to decide if he's willing to go to a lesser program for more money. He might be willing to. I don't think we should ever take Adam Schefter's reporting lightly. But that's my take on it for now: He'll be back. If they run the table and win the Super Bowl, though, I'll be firmly entrenched in the, "He's going to retire, isn't he?" camp. 

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The only way they can free up cap space with Gordon, Dave, is to hope another team picks him up on waivers. For that to happen, he'll have to be released off of IR following the Oct. 29 traded deadline. If the Patriots outright released Gordon before the deadline, they'd be on the hook for his money. 

He saw a couple more targets than the ones that landed in the box score last week, IOTD, drawing two penalties to give the Patriots key yards. Seven targets in all aren't bad. He caught all five of his official targets. I don't know if in an offense that also includes Julian Edelman and James White anyone else should ever expect anything close to double-digit targets. In all likelihood, because of Sanu's addition and Harry's impending return, Meyers will see fewer targets than he has the last few weeks. But all it takes is an injury or two to potentially land him a bigger role once again. 

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I think my pick would be Dont'a Hightower. When he's sent after the quarterback, and when he's healthy, he's so explosive at the point of attack that he's hard to block. Jamie Collins is probably the most athletic rusher they have so his first step is sometimes all he needs to get to quarterbacks. Kyle Van Noy, meanwhile, has a great combination of strength, quickness and motor that gets him to quarterbacks consistently. What's interesting is that if you watch the Patriots pass rush, they rarely do so in a one-on-one fashion. That's part of the reason Bennett didn't work here. He often collided with teammates when asked to stunt or run games. All three of the linebackers I mentioned above, meanwhile, have gotten to quarterbacks based on schemed-up pressure that required them to work in concert with a defensive lineman or two. It's a synchronized endeavor, getting to quarterbacks for the Patriots.

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