By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Welcome to the Week 3 Patriots Mailbag!
People seem to think very highly of this Patriots team through two weeks, with many fans no focusing on the long-term when there’s a very interesting matchup on the docket against the Raiders this week. You guys submitted questions on both topics, so we’ll start with the game preview before getting into the bigger picture.
Who covers Waller this week?
— Jonah Frielich (@jfrielich) September 24, 2020
This is kind of the question of the game, right? The Raiders offense will go as Darren Waller goes, and Bill Belichick’s strategy is often to take away what an opponent does best, then force them to try and win with secondary pieces.
Matt Dolloff already spoke about this in his game preview, and I’ll get into it in my Key Matchups post tomorrow, but it’ll be a team effort to cover and neutralize Waller. Expect a heavy dose of Joejuan Williams, but we may see Stephon Gilmore and even possibly J.C. Jackson get some reps against him as well.
LV held Brees in check but Kamara had a great game. Do you think we see a less aggressive passing game this week & focus more on options & Michel?
— Tyler Krusz (@TKrusz34) September 25, 2020
New Orleans struggles in the passing game last week were mostly self-inflicted, especially at the quarterback position.
The Patriots are going to come out and attack the weakest part of the Raiders defense, which is their secondary, so I wouldn’t expect them to take their foot off the gas when it comes to the passing game. However, as I wrote about yesterday, David Andrews’ hand injury could force the Patriots to run more of their offense under center. That would mean an increased workload for Sony Michel as the traditional set back, and if New England gets up you could see them pound the ball with him out of power sets.
I wouldn’t quite rely on him to win you a fantasy matchup, but the pieces are in place for Sony to contribute more this week than he has through the first two games.
Who makes a Pro Bowl first, Chase Winovich or Kyle Dugger?
— Alex Clauss (@ajclauss3) September 23, 2020
Excellent question. I’m going to go with Winovich just because the Pro Bowl is based on fan voting, and he has a lot going for him in that department. He went to Michigan (huge fan base), plays for the Patriots (huge fan base), and has his own online following. That combined with the hair and constant milk talk has led to him building a strong brand for himself early.
However, if you want to take it a step further and say who will be named an All-Pro first, my answer would by Kyle Dugger. So there’s that.
The front seven needs help and they should address that before even thinking about a WR/TE. Who should they target and what would the cost be?
— Mark Cleland (@MCleland) September 23, 2020
I actually think the front seven is ok, and they just ran into a really tough Seattle team last week. But if we’re doing to go down this road…I’ve been a big proponent of them brining in Clay Matthews since before training camp started. It doesn’t seem like his price has come down, but he may be worth a call down the road. Preston Brown could also be a fit if they want more help in the middle. He should be an affordable signing at this point.
What I wouldn’t expect is for the Patriots to go out and trade for a starting-caliber front seven player this season. Since the spring, the plan has seemed to be that they are getting ready for an aggressive push in the 2021 offseason. That means not giving away draft picks or cap space for rental players. Unless something falls into their laps, I doubt there will be any splashes for Bill Belichick up front.
This final Q&A is from Matt Dolloff
He looked better last week. Is this the breakout game for Harry?
— Rick from Parts Unknown (@therick77) September 25, 2020
It was no doubt a step forward for Harry. The fact that Cam Newton trusted him enough to connect with him three times on that final drive was promising. I want to see Harry make more big plays down the field, and make more guys miss after the catch.
If this offense is going to show more explosion without bringing in reinforcements, it’s going to have to come from Harry. The Raiders have a good-but-not-great cornerback group, so Harry will have more opportunities to make plays and take another step forward.
For more on the Patriots matchup with the Raiders, check out the Patriots Preview Podcast with Matt Dolloff and Alex Barth below.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.