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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Should the Patriots move on from Josh McDaniels?

Related: Bill Belichick hints at Cam Newton keeping the Patriots’ starting quarterback job this week

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Instead of recapping Monday night’s game in words, I will do so in gif form:

Searching for a positive, the New England Patriots’ first-round draft selection did move up one spot to No. 14 overall with the loss. It may not seem like a big deal, but New England moved over the San Francisco 49ers, a team that could also be in the market for a new quarterback.

With a loss next Sunday to the red-hot New York Jets, the Patriots’ draft slot could fall even higher. Best case scenario, New England could be drafting as high as No. 9 or 10 come April, but will certainly need some help to get there. Besides losing to New York, here’s what needs to happen:

Every move up the order makes a big difference for the Patriots, especially if they hope to pick up one of the top quarterbacks available. The worst-case scenario in Week 17 would be a New England victory and a San Francisco loss to the Seattle Seahawks, which would leave the Patriots with the 15th overall pick.

Now that my brain if fried, to the main event we go: this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.

@Vikram33985406 why should the pats fire McDaniels

They should not. The playing calling has certainly been frustrating this year. New England currently owns a 52 percent run rate which ranks 31st in the NFL and 10 percent more than the league’s average. But again, it comes down to what McDaniels is working with. We’ve seen the Patriots be one of the most complex offenses in the league with McDaniels as the offensive coordinator. The coach has not changed, but the personnel has.

This year, New England has struggled to execute simple concepts on offense due to the lack of talent at the skill positions. On Monday night for example, McDaniels dialed up the perfect trick play on the game’s opening drive, only to see the ball dropped. When he’s given more to work with this offseason (assuming the Patriots have an influx of talent at the offensive skill positions and McDaniels stays), you should see the offense go back to their more complex ways.

Also, remember when we use to argue if the Patriots’ offensive system was too complex? Good times.


@Brady94265939 If you were Bill Belichick and you have the 14th pick, who are you selecting?

My thoughts have shifted. After originally protecting the Patriots to take a wide receiver or tight end Kyle Pitts in the first round — still a high chance — my selection now at No. 14 is nobody. How does that happen? Good question.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots will... trade up. With four quarterbacks in this draft looking like legit NFL options (Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance), Belichick pulls the trigger and trades up. It will certainly be a tough price to pay as New England could have to surrender its first-round pick next year together with No. 14 overall. However, its a price worth paying if you believe you have found your next franchise signal caller.

So, why the sudden change in thought? My admiration of Zach Wilson certainly factors into the equation, but a quote from Belichick himself earlier this year stood out to me. When asked about how the Cardinals have been able to build around Kyler Murray, Belichick noted the advantage of building a roster with a quarterback on a rookie contract:

“It’s certainly changed the roster building a lot. Teams that have had young quarterbacks that have been productive have been able to take those resources and put those into other positions on the team and then once the quarterbacks hit their, let’s call it, close to market value-type contracts, then that process shifts a little bit in some way, whether it’s cap borrowing or just less spending on other positions because you reallocate it to the quarterback. But, that quarterback number is generally such a high number, or if it’s a low number, it creates quite a bit of extra spending dollars. It’s an important component to the roster building strategy that you just referred to, absolutely.”


@ISB_Jay Should the Patriots draft a QB or stick with either Cam/Stidham?

As we just discussed, they should draft a QB. But, don't be surprised if next year’s quarterback room consist of a new rookie as well as Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham. Bringing back a veteran like Newton, who has bought into the system and worked extremely hard this season, would not be a bad thing. Plus, if your top rookie quarterback isn't ready to go right away, Newton would be the perfect placeholder and backup if needed. Newton’s been praised for his leadership and work ethic this season, so having him mentor a new rookie seems like win-win situation.


@Jmee73 Do you think we have a chance next year to get back on top? I’m hopeful with a solid pre-season, some key pick-ups in the draft, Covid Peeps back and Cam spending more time with his offense and Coach this off season we come back strong.

Next year might be a stretch, but the Patriots can certainly get back on top in the near future. Looking over the next few years, their success or failure will be defined by this offseason. Whether they trade a hoard of draft picks to move up and draft a new signal caller or dish out several big money contracts, the future success or failure of this team will be a direct result. Look at how the decisions to trade up and draft Mitchell Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes have impacted the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs in SIGNIFICANTLY different fashion. Those franchises’ success and failures over the last four years and foreseeable future will always be linked back to that 2017 draft. It’s a new situation for the Patriots to be in, but one that should be exciting to watch unfold.


@jamowise Are there any players that you see likely the Patriots will look to trade away this offseason? (Perhaps a tag and trade on Thuney?) And any player if available they would trade for?

A tag and trade on Thuney seems unlikely as he will most likely reset the guard market this offseason. If a player was to be traded, Stephon Gilmore would free up the most cap space for the Patriots, but that also seems unlikely to me. J.C. Jackson could be an under-the-radar name to watch. Jackson is a restricted free agent this offseason and is expected to receive a first- or second-round tender by the Patriots. With a lot of roster holes and limited draft picks to fill them, perhaps New England could be enticed to move the 25-year-old for a second-round draft pick.

Acquiring players will also be an interesting dynamic for the Patriots this season. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, teams will be strapped for cash and could look to unload some higher paid veterans. New England and its ample salary cap space could then come calling for the right price.


@1Pierre64 Is nkeal and asiasi busts ?

It’s impossible to call Devin Asiasi a bust after just one season — especially with everything rookies have gone through this year. Certainly the drops the last few weeks and his zero catches on the year have been frustrating, but give him a full, normal offseason before going the “bust” route. Also, he has been impressive as a blocker in the run game.

As for N’Keal Harry, his play the last few games has been much better. Ignore the box scores, Harry has been getting open downfield but just hasn’t been able to get the ball:

Hopefully he can take the momentum and carry it into next season.


@KingOfPrussia16 With the Pats likely having $60 mil + of cap in the offseason, how much better do you think the Pats get? Likelihood we can win the division next season as well Also, how much better will Miami get? With their picks and cap...

The Patriots will certainly get better. Based off some of his comments about the salary cap and how the season has gone, Belichick certainly seems determined to turn this thing around as quickly as possible. The tricky part is no matter how good the Patriots get, Buffalo and Miami certainly will be a problem. The Buffalo Bills look like a serious Super Bowl contender and the Miami Dolphins are a playoff team with a promising future that also owns the Houston Texans’ first-round draft pick next year — one that projects in to end up in the top-five. The narrative that the “AFC East is weak” is officially dead.


Rapid fire:

@davidlinder00 What is the top 3 positions of need?

In no order: wide receiver, quarterback, front seven help. We went into more detail about each need in last week’s mailbag.


@ISB_Jay Do you think that if Damiere had caught the pass, the tempo of the game would have been different?

This is tough to say yes. The Patriots probably (?) would have found the end zone on the first drive but would that have made much of a difference? Buffalo would have scored 38 points whether the Patriots got seven or three on that first drive.


@mambling3 QB shuffle.....Should we trade up to grab a QB? Still resign Cam and grab Rosen off the SF practice squad and have Brian Hoyer start out as a QB coach? We keep some consistency but bring in new young blood

I have no idea if Hoyer plans to continue to play or if he plans to get into coaching when his career is over. As for QB, the Patriots should explore every option they physically can. If that means grabbing Josh Rosen for an extended look throughout the offseason, I am all for it.


@BrianCo84 Do you think the Patriots resign j. White?

Gut reaction is no. Mr. Brady will come calling for his old pal to join him down in Tampa Bay.


@kyle_vondruke How much cap space are we expecting this off-season?

We are still waiting for the official announcement of what the NFL’s 2021 salary cap will be, but the owners and NFLPA did agree that the cap’s floor will be no lower than $175 million. Using that $175 million as the league cap, the Patriots are currently projected to have just under $60 million to spend. They can easily create more space by moving or tinkering the contracts of Stephon Gilmore, Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, Julian Edelman, etc.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Years! If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!