The 2021 NFL Season is quickly approaching its finale. With just the Super Bowl left on the schedule, teams have started to turn their focus to the offseason, which this week featured the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.
For the New England Patriots, their attention will be heavily focused on the current coaching staff as well. As Josh McDaniels — plus Dave Ziegler and Bo Hardegree — departed to Las Vegas, while long-time running backs coach Ivan Fears is expected to retire, the Patriots are losing quite the brainpower on the offensive side of the ball.
So, let’s talk coaching staff and the offseason of course and get right into this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.
@stantxx What OC do you want
@LarryReport1 Who do you see as our OC
To start, McDaniels’ departure will be a big loss for the Patriots. I get it, his play calling was questionable at times, but his role on offense and within the organization as a whole was massive. So, replacing him will be an extremely important decision for Bill Belichick as he looks to continue to develop his second-year quarterback, Mac Jones.
It appears the Patriots are likely to look outside the organization for an experienced play caller, but it will likely be someone they still have familiarity with. Alabama’s current offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will likely be the first call, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported there is “mutual interest” between the two.
O’Brien would easily be my first choice, as he is familiar with the offensive system and can implement parts of Alabama’s offense as well to suit Mac Jones’ strengths. You can read more about that here.
If the O’Brien plan falls through, some other names to watch could include Adam Gase and Chad O’Shea. Belichick has been complementary of Gase, who is not on my personal radar, in the past, while O’Shea is also familiar with the organization and could incorporate some of Cleveland’s wide zone schemes to the offense.
Joe Judge, who was rumored to become the offensive coordinator when McDaniels was set to depart to Indianapolis, could also be a name to watch. Los Angeles Rams’ assistant quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson and Alabama’s assistant head coach of offense and wide receivers coach Holmon Wiggins would also be intriguing additions to the offensive staff in some capacity.
@yanqzaza What wrs should we go after?
All of them. Easy. But to break them up into groups based on my top choices, here (no order:
- Free agents: Chris Godwin, Michael Gallup
- Trade: Calvin Ridley, Amari Cooper
- Draft: Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, John Metchie
Based on New England’s current financial situation, I still feel the best bet is for them to evaluate the best receiver for their offense in the draft.
@joelshapiro20 Do they franchise JC Jackson?
We know the gig around J.C. Jackson by now. He’s going to get paid one way or another, and with Belichick’s man-to-man defensive preference — and limited depth currently behind him — it is hard to see them letting Jackson go (unless they feel extremely confident in their ability to bring in a top cornerback in the draft and a starting-caliber free agent).
Ultimately, I think the franchise tag will be the outcome of negotiations this offseason. Perhaps they are able to work out a long-term extension after that, but if not he’ll be on the books with the franchise tag for roughly $17.5 million this year.
@Smi77i What should the Pats do with their first round pick? Trade? Draft a reciever or a LB?
A trade down is certainly in play at No. 21, but if they plan to pick there, I’d have three positions on my radar: cornerback, wide receiver, and offensive tackle.
We just touched on the (obvious) needs for wide receivers and cornerbacks, so let’s focus on offensive tackle. Currently, the Patriots have Isaiah Wynn, who is under contract on his fifth-year option ($10.4 million cap hit), and Michael Onwenu as the top two tackles on the roster, while Trent Brown is set to hit free agency.
It would not surprise me to see if the team looks to move on from Wynn, re-sign Brown, and try to find a new long-term tackle in the draft. Doing so would likely free up money while also allowing them to move Onwenu back to guard. Trevor Penning, who dominated the Senior Bowl this week, could be a name to watch in the draft.
Besides those three positions, a look at Georgia's defensive tackle Jordan Davis wouldn't be a surprise at 21. Davis is a strong athlete for a 6-foot-6, 340-pound defensive tackle and would create quite the formidable duo next to Christian Barmore. The Patriots certainly need more playmakers along the defensive line, and Davis might be the best of this year’s bunch.
As for linebacker, I have a hard time seeing them select one in the first round. While Nakobe Dean is a truly special talent, his size is just not what Belichick looks for, and they likely won't even have a chance to select Devin Lloyd. Linebacker might be more of a Day 2 problem for them, where there are a ton of talented prospects who fit their mold (Wyoming’s Chad Muma, Penn State’s Brandon Smith, Alabama’s Christian Harris, Cincinatti’s Darrian Beavers, Georgia’s Quay Walker).
@MichaelRabb Something happened during the bye week. Something off the field. Prior to bye week the defense was amongst the best in nfl. Something happened. What ?
The Patriots entered their Week 14 bye on a seven-game win streak capped off by a Monday Night thriller in windy Buffalo. After, they just never appeared to be the same team and dropped four of their final five games.
So, what did happen?
The easiest answer is that it just looked like the team did not come out with the same energy they had before the bye — perhaps not being able to handle being the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Mac Jones was not shy to mention the team’s practices were not up to par, while Jakobi Meyers mentioned after the season that their intensity did not drop off, but “it didn't build up, either”.
Besides just energy, CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar reported that after taking a more “hands-on approach” with the defense over the win streak, Belichick turned the defense back over to the assistants following the bye. With the set-up led by Jerod Mayo and Steven Belichick, the Patriots defense did not play with the same execution along all three levels.
@dakota53931215 in the probowl it seemed like the AFC were wearing hoodies with there number on them. ((Is there going to be a Mac Jones Probowl Hoodie?))
After further review, I believe they are just jerseys over a separate hoodie — which I have seen neither be made available, yet.
@TortueMinable What draft pick the Pats will lost after the Flores case.
Ha. At least their first-round pick this season.
*starts to get nervous*
@DLPatsThoughts What rituals must I perform to make sure Adam Gase isn’t OC
@Steve6Boston Can the news stop with the Brady story now?
The Brady story will never stop, that is prime content for sports talk shows. The tribute videos on the other hand should also never stop, FYI. The Twitter timeline has never been more enjoyable.
@wnyghost9 Who was the best Left Tackle during the Brady Era? What offensive lineman was the best value during the Brady Era?
One of the underrated parts of Brady’s era is that he basically played the first 18 years with two left tackles. Matt Light held down the blindside from 2001-2011, as Nate Solder transitioned over from then to 2017. Brady then won a Super Bowl with Trent Brown at left tackle and saw Isaiah Wynn take over the following year. I would give Matt Light the award for best left tackle, as he started on the first three championship teams, while also making the first-team All-Pro in 2007.
As for best value, David Andrews has a serious argument after coming in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, as well as Dan Koppen, who manned the middle from 2003 to 2011 as a fifth-round draft pick. We’ll also give some respect to Steven Neal and Dan Connolly. Also — randomly — remember Super Bowl champion Bryan Stork? What a time.
@xojmo Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?
Why are you continuously clapping your entire life? Why when you buy a bigger bed you get more bedroom but less bedroom?
Nothing in this world makes sense.
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!