It was quite the week for the New England Patriots. After Tom Brady’s homecoming, the Patriots traded away former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick and reunited with linebacker Jamie Collins for the third time on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, New England’s struggling offensive line took several massive hits this week. Both Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu were placed on the Covid-19 reserve list, while both Shaq Mason and Trent Brown — who was placed on injured reserve — were declared out for Week 5.
Now, the Patriots turn their attention to their matchup with the Houston Texans, as they try to get back in the win column after two straight losses. So, let’s hop into this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.
@sydfsh why did they kick a 56 yarder instead of going for the 1st down?
The 56-yard field goal was the talking point after last Sunday night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For those into statistics, kicking the field goal was actually the right decision. A made field goal would have resulted in a 42.2 percent win probability for the Patriots, while going for it produced a 34.7 percent win probability.
While the stats back up the decision, the eye test did not. By trotting Nick Folk out there, New England was asking Folk to tie his career long (which came in 2010), in the pouring rain, all while Folk was dealing with left knee injury. Plus, even if the kick was good, the ball would be back in Brady’s hands with nearly a minute left and two timeouts — we’ve all seen how that story ends before.
When asked about the decision this week, Bill Belichick explained that there “really wasn't much of a decision” there at all. His reasoning was that New England only converted two third downs the entire game, which doesn't entirely tell the whole story. It was certainly a questionable decision, but one the Patriots will now have to live with.
Bad justification, Bill.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) October 4, 2021
3-3 (right before the kick)
@PatPatriotMX I think one of the biggest problems of the team is the OL, don’t protect well In the passing game neither create lines for the running. Do you think is only the absence of T Brown at RT? Or the problema is deeper? Keep the great job!
The Patriots’ offensive line hasn't been great this year, but they haven't been as bad as people seem to think. Entering the year, the offensive line was viewed as one of the biggest strengths on the roster and a top unit in the league. Through four games, they are in the middle of the pack, currently ranking 17th in pass-blocking grade and 19th in pass-blocking efficiency, according to PFF.
So, while they haven't met their high expectations yet, things should improve. Missing Brown on the right side has been a major issue and much of their other issues are coming from opponents blitzing the rookie Mac Jones at extremely high rates. If the unit can get healthy and figure out some of their communication issues, things should improve.
@centteach How do we fix the O-line? Any potential OL trade targets out there?
Trading for an offensive lineman seems unlikely. To start, offensive tackle is one of the thinnest positions in the entire league. It’s extremely rare a talented tackle becomes available in free agency or trade, which means it’s an area the Patriots could address early on in the 2022 NFL draft. Looking at the interior, there isn't a player available that is currently better than David Andrews, Mason or Onwenu. Onwenu has started his sophomore campaign strongly while Mason has been solid, but they could use more from the veteran in between them. Again, the best way to fix the offensive line is just to get healthy and have their top five play up to their potential.
@RunMoseRun You think we’ll bring in another RB? Trade for Burkhead or Mack? Sign Duke Johnson or Chris Thompson?
What a turn the running back room has taken. After trading Sony Michel in the preseason due to the loaded depth and talent in the backfield, New England’s trust tree appears to be down to just Damien Harris and Brandon Bolden. If New England is not going to trust Rhamondre Stevenson or J.J. Taylor going forward, they need to bring in another back who is not only trustworthy with the ball in his hands but in pass protection as well.
The easy answer is swinging a deal for Rex Burkhead. Burkhead obviously has experience in the system and is a part of a Texans backfield with plenty of other options. Perhaps Belichick and Nick Caserio are able to work something out and Burkhead, who has been ruled out with a hip injury, can just hop on the Patriots’ plane after their Week 5 matchup.
@BrianCo84 With Gilmore now gone, Do you think the Patriots will pay Jc Jackson??
Yes, and I am now finally taking the side that they should. J.C. Jackson is a perfect fit for Belichick’s system and now will most likely be their biggest priority next offseason. Jackson’s new deal will likely be in the $15-16 million range and could be even pricier if he reaches the open market. If he can keep up his ball production and consistency against oppositions No. 1 receivers, he is certainly worth the price tag after being tendered at the second-round restricted level of $3.384 million.
@BostonEvan11 Time to worry about Jonnu?
No, not at all. Jonnu Smith has played for the Patriots in four NFL games, FOUR! He remains an important piece to this offense and one of the best yards after catch threats in the entire league. As the Patriots’ offense continues to find their identity, there will be plenty of opportunities for both Smith and Hunter Henry going forward.
One area they do need both tight ends to play better immediately is in the run game. Both offseason additions are struggling in that area. We also mentioned this last week, but seeing Smith line up in the backfield from time to time would be an intriguing wrinkle and way to get him more involved going forward.
@scrumasterflash Tom Brady, Patriots QB coach (Head Coach Desig) of the future?
While it was nice to hear Brady say he’ll remain apart of the New England community once he retires, there is virtually no chance it comes as a coach in any shape or form. Brady has set up his career post-football with things like TB12, cryptocurrency and now his own clothing brand.
That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. 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!