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Patriots Mailbag Week Five: Answering Pats Nation’s Burning Questions

It’s been a busy week for the Patriots, and the fans have a lot of questions. I’m here to give my answers.

Between almost pushing the Packers to overtime, the upcoming game against the Lions, and a surprising showing from rookie Bailey Zappe. The Patriots have certainly had a busy week ahead of a game that could very well influence the trajectory of their season.

Answering Your Burning Patriots Questions

Alex wants to know if Mac Jones passing the ball downfield more before his injury is a good thing for the Patriots

In the short term, no. Mac is comfortable with the play style he had last year, where he made smart, collected, high-percentage decisions that allowed him to be safe and effective, even without being explosive. But if he wants to raise his ceiling and elevate the Patriots to a super bowl contender, he can’t play this way forever.

Certainly early this season, it hasn’t paid off. Mac has had two touchdowns to five interceptions, and while he’s getting more yards every game, it leads to turnovers. But, with more aggression, Jones sacrifices the high-percentage decision-making. It’s a hard tightrope to walk but eventually, he’ll find the right balance between aggression and safe decisions. And once he finds that, his ceiling will rise, and so will the Patriots.

Jacob wants to know which former Patriot, in his prime, can alter the team the most if he was inserted into the group today

Tom Brady’s way too on-the-nose so I’ll stay away from that answer. I’ll say Gronk. While the Patriots currently have a promising duo of tight ends from a talent perspective, their production this season is not matching the promise. That was never the case for Rob. He not only had incredible physicality, excellent route-running skills, and great hands, he had a phenomenal mentality to perform and so much intensity.

Having such a reliable, almost easy target in Gronkowski certainly did a lot for Brady in their time on the team, and Mac would reap the benefits of there as well, especially with Henry and Smith not being up to par this season. The numbers speak for themselves, 79 TDs, 7861 yards in his time as a Patriot, and the impact beyond the numbers is obvious to anyone who has seen him play.

Patriot Pitts wants to know if Deatrich Wise is going to eat Jared Goff like a thanksgiving dinner

Wise will need to save some room for Kirk Cousins, who will be his entree on Thanksgiving night. He’s been slowly improving over the course of the last few seasons but this year, he seems to have found that x-factor he was missing. He has exploded this season, having four sacks (three of which were in a monster half against Lamar Jackson), a forced fumble, and a total of 18 tackles.

He has shown more decisiveness, athleticism, and toughness than in any other year of his career. The Lions do, however, have a talented offensive line. It’s a unit that has held strong, and facilitated more time for Jared Goff in the pocket, and more space for running backs Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift. Wise will definitely have his breakthroughs, but it will take some work and a well-rounded performance from the front seven to stop the Lions offensively.

Arnav wants to know what the signing of Garrett Gilbert does for the team, if anything

Gilbert is certainly not going to be competing for the starter job or even the primary backup job. However, with Mac’s status uncertain and Hoyer on the IR, the Patriots are down to one healthy quarterback. Their emergency backup is currently Hunter Henry, and that’s a lot of pressure to put on Zappe, and the Patriots need some insurance at the position.

He has had serviceable performances in college at Texas and SMU, and has had substantial backup experience, even starting two games in his time in Dallas and Washington. This also isn’t his first stint on the Patriots’ practice squad. He definitely lacks explosiveness and isn’t going to make jaw-dropping plays, but he can manage games well and mitigate damage, so having a guy like that on reserve can be useful for the team.

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