The New England Patriots continue to march closer to the start of the 2021 NFL Season. The Pats will open the regular season on Sunday, September 12 at 4:25pm against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
This weekend, Patriot Maven opened up our mailbag to answer your Patriots questions. Here are some of the week’s best questions for #MavenMike:
Q: When is LJ coming on your show? I mean, when will Bill [Belichick] recognize that he needs another wide receiver as the group is thin and could use some real talent. Gunner [Olszewski] is NOT a WR, and in my opinion over-hyped with the "all-pro selection.”
From: LJ @Show_1
LJ, the door is always open for you to stop by Locked On Patriots. I always appreciate your observations and opinions. As for the Pats’ corps of wide receivers, I would say things look to be set, at least for now. Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne provide the Pats with a versatile trio atop the depth chart. Each is more than capable of playing outside, or in the slot. Prior to suffering his shoulder injury, N’Keal Harry looked sharp, strong and engaged throughout training camp. When he returns, he is likely to show improvement from his performance over the previous two seasons.
Despite some struggles near the conclusion of the preseason, Gunner Olszewski will get looks at the receiver position this year. While I agree he still has improvements to make as a wideout, his prowess as a punt returner (for which he earned All-Pro honors) speaks for itself. Despite missing three games, led the NFL in punt return yardage with 346, on only 20 returns. He averaged 17.3 yards per runback, which also led the league. With numbers like that, it is hard to argue against his earning a roster spot.
Q: What was up with Harvey Langi being named to the 53 then cut? Does he spend most of the year on the practice squad again or does he have an expanded role with [Raekwon] McMillan out for the year?
From: Josiah Clemons @_jclemons
Thanks for the great question, Josiah. Langi’s release was merely a bit of roster maneuvering. In order to free up a roster spot for Malcolm Perry, the Pats chose to release the 28-year-old; knowing full well that the veteran linebacker would soon return. As Langi is a vested veteran, he was not subject to waivers, and thus available to re-sign with the Pats. Make no mistake about it, he earned his roster spot. His tenacity, special teams acumen made him a smart addition. Langi continues to show his talent to be in on the tackle, as well as improving his abilities to make plays on the ball. Look for Langi to be a rotational depth option at both the off-the-ball and edge linebacker roles. He will also demonstrate his value on special teams, primarily in the kicking game.
Q: What the hell is Matt Patricia really doing on the staff?? Will Bill [Belichick] name coordinators this year? And lastly who’s the legit back-up QB gonna be?
From: Chad Moore @Ryong901
Good question, Chad. Matt Patricia’s role has been clouded in a bit of mystery, since his return to the team was announced in January. Patricia’s official title is Senior Football Advisor. As such, his role continues to evolve. In addition to being a staple on the practice fields throughout training camp, he has also helped to finalize contracts with free agents and was prominently involved in negotiations. I’ve heard his role described as a hybrid blend of the role previously held by Michael Lombardi, with a bit of coaching prowess added to the mix.
As for the coordinator title, Bill Belichick has not named an official defensive coordinator. However, the following coaches have been designated for 2021:
- Defensive line: DeMarcus Covington
- Inside linebackers: Jerod Mayo
- Outside linebackers: Steve Belichick
- Cornerbacks: Mike Pellegrino
- Safeties: Brian Belichick
With regard to the backup quarterback role, the expectation is that Brian Hoyer will serve as the primary backup, likely being a game-day call up from the practice squad. Recently-signed practice squad member, Garrett Gilbert, could be an option there as well. Once Jarrett Stidham returns from Reserve/PUP, he will be Mac Jones’ primary backup.
Q: How excited are you for Seinfeld to be added to Netflix in October? Can you watch every season during the bye week?
From: John Tobin @JohnTobinIII
I am very excited for the addition of Seinfeld to Netflix, John…”not that there’s anything wrong with that.” As for being able to watch the entire series during a bye-week, that could be a tall task. After all, we are talking about nine seasons. I may just have to try, because…as David Puddy would say…”you know, to support the team.”
“…yeah, that’s right.”
Q: What is your realistic floor/ceiling comparison for Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones?
From: Kevin Tame, @Kevin_Tame
Great question here, courtesy of my friend and colleague. As training camp and the preseason progressed, Mac Jones seemed to exude a greater deal of comfort in the Patriots passing offense. For all of the discussion surrounding New England’s desire to change their passing game, they are still operating under a timing-based system, predicated on vertical routes and completions from quick, accurate throws. Jones ran a similar offensive system at Alabama, and he should continue to do so in New England under Josh McDaniels. I am always reluctant to provide a floor/ceiling with such a small sample size of pro-level reps, but I can see some elements of comparison ranging from Chad Pennington to Drew Brees. However, it should be noted that Mac brings a unique skill set to New England. His floor/ceiling will be determined by the level at which he is able to lead the Patriots offense. So far, his outlook is very promising.