By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Welcome to Week 2 of the Patriots Mailbag! Now that we got all of the season preview stuff out of the way, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of a fascinating matchup between new-look New England Patriots and their 21st century rival, the Seattle Seahawks.
A couple of you asked how the Patriots will contain Russell Wilson, which is the biggest key to winning the game, so let’s start there…
Will Kyle Dugger see more defensive snaps this week against Seattle and who will be the spy on Russel Wilson?
— Mark Cleland (@MCleland) September 17, 2020
I do think the Patriots will try to ease Kyle Dugger (and all of the rookies, for that matter) in throughout the season, but this is the kind of game you draft a guy like Dugger for. They have a big, strong wide receiver, a good tight end, and a mobile quarterback – three things he can help neutralize. While I don’t think he’ll be on the field for the majority of the game, I am expecting an increase in his snap count after he played 11 in Week 1.
As for the second part of your question, expect the Patriots to rotate who is in the spy role to keep Wilson off guard. Dugger could certainly be a part of that when he’s on the field, but I imagine the bulk of that responsibility would fall to Adrian Phillips and Terrence Brooks.
Will we see Josh Uche active this week? I think his speed would be critical to keeping Wilson contained and spyed.
— Alex Clauss (@ajclauss3) September 16, 2020
I don’t know what Uche’s health situation is, but he was listed on the injury report on Thursday. That’s not to say it’s time to rule him out for Sunday night just yet, but it’s something to monitor. As opposed to last week when it benefited the Patriots to be bigger up front, this week speed is key so I’d think they’ll have him available if he’s healthy.
With the option becoming more important, should we expect to see a lot of play action this week?
— Jonah Frielich (@jfrielich) September 16, 2020
I’d expect plenty of play action this week, and all season. Josh McDaniels had play action on just over 50 percent of his passing calls last week. If the running game continues to be as efficient as it was in Week 1, the play action passing attack can function as a powerful weapon for the Patriots. Not only do they have last year’s league leader in crossing routes in Julian Edelman, but it also makes it easier for Cam Newton to break contain and tuck and run if he sees the opportunity.
Why has Stidham regressed? Or was he just not ready yet?
— Will (@PhantomSpiders) September 16, 2020
I don’t know if Stidham has regressed as much as people’s opinions of him were too high to begin with. How many other fourth-round picks have been tabbed as heir apparents or franchise saviors or whatever before starting a single game? Almost none. Compound that with the fact the Patriots are now running an offense that does not fit Stidham’s strengths, and a more experienced quarterback competing against him, and it’s understandable that things don’t look great for him right now. He’s only 24 years old, so that call all change, but 2020 isn’t the year of Stid the Kid.
Who do you think the best WR in team history is? If you don’t say Welker, are you aware you are wrong?
— Hurwitz (@gillettenation_) September 16, 2020
I’m wrong (I’m not really wrong) because I know ‘best’ and ‘most productive’ aren’t necessarily the same thing. Welker put up astronomical numbers during his run in New England, and of course that takes a ton of skill. But who was the best at the position? Well it’d have to be the second-best wide receiver of all time, Randy Gene Moss. The guy simply did things nobody had done before, or had done since. It’s unfair a guy that big could be that strong yet so nimble at the same time. It’d also be unfair to leave out Stanley Morgan. The franchise leader in most major career receiving categories before the Belichick era, he also has the most yards per reception in NFL history (19.2) among receivers with at least 500 catches.
If the Patriots are looking to trade for a receiver who do think would target?
— Curtis Blake (@cj_blake4) September 16, 2020
I don’t think the Patriots are looking to trade for a receiver. Their plan seems to be getting in position to be major players in the 2021 offseason, which means having as much cap space and draft capital as possible. Don’t get me wrong, if somebody falls into their lap for a day three pick they wouldn’t say no, but they don’t seem to be in a spot where they’d part with high picks for a guy who they’re going to need to pay a significant amount of money. Plus, if guys like Odell Beckham and Allen Robinson are available now, there’s a high chance they’ll also be available in the spring, when the team has a much better idea of what the long-term plans look like.
For more on Patriots-Seahawks and any potential movement at wide receiver, check out this week’s Patriots Preview podcast: