Every Saturday, exploring hot topics around the New England Patriots in the form of a mailbag.
Linebackers coach Brian Flores is primed for a promotion to defensive coordinator, as he was reportedly drawing interest around the NFL last year for that position but stayed with the Patriots. Flores is highly regarded and interviewing for the Cardinals' head-coaching vacancy Saturday, which reflects how at least one organization views him as a worthy consideration for even a top job. So I feel pretty confident he would be the pick as defensive coordinator in the event Matt Patricia departs. The offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach is much less clear if Josh McDaniels moves on to a head-coaching job. I could see Bill Belichick becoming more involved with that, or maybe even Nick Caserio taking on more of a coaching role, like he did in 2007 when he was receivers coach.
@MikeReiss Guess you are gathering your thought for an insightful response to this latest Patriots story of inner turmoil that is dominating the headlines today?— warnerj33 (@jwarner33) January 5, 2018
"Inner turmoil" would be too strong of a description from my perspective. The Patriots have always had a demanding, challenging work environment. My feeling is that however one describes the dynamic in 2017 -- and I do believe this year has come with its own unique challenges specific to Tom Brady, Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Alex Guerrero, Robert Kraft, etc. -- it isn't anything that can't be overcome for everyone involved to accomplish their goals. Winning can always smooth over some of the turbulence. I also believe it is accurate that some in the building wonder about Belichick's future, and that's partially because he doesn't reveal his intentions to anyone, coupled with some of the unique dynamics from the season.
Hey, Mike. Is anyone talking about Josh or Matt staying and taking over for Bill as an heir apparent? Waiting 5 more years or so might not be too much to ask to take over the Patriots machine.— DanO.. (@DanOSHC) January 2, 2018
Dan, that's a tough spot because replacing Belichick might be one of the toughest jobs in the NFL whenever that situation presents itself. As for anything from a contract perspective, such as how Belichick was to succeed Bill Parcells with the Jets before coming to New England, there is nothing of the sort for either McDaniels or Patricia that I am aware of.
Mike my concern about the Pats it's not Oc/ and DC leaving it's Jimmy G gone why would Bill stay after Brady leaves then what.— the truth (@BobbyRotondo) January 1, 2018
Bobby, after trading Garoppolo to the 49ers, the idea for Belichick would be to try to find the "next Garoppolo" so the team could have the quarterback position accounted for in both the short- and long-term. That's obviously easier said than done. So that will be one of several storylines to follow in the 2018 draft in the spring.
@MikeReiss Who might replace Flores if he moves up to DC?— Joe O'Brien (@jobrien97) January 2, 2018
Joe, it could be an outside hire, and if the team stays in-house there are a group of four coaching assistants who could be part of the consideration. The four coaching assistants are Brian Belichick, DeMarcus Covington, Mike Pellegrino and Cole Popovich. Of the group, Popovich has been more with the offensive linemen.
@MikeReiss Thoughts on the health of Burkhead and Hogan for next weekend's game? Are they supposed to be back to 100% healthy or still dealing with issues?— Brian Fulton (@BTFulton) January 6, 2018
Things are trending in the right direction for running back Rex Burkhead (knee) to return, as he was back at practice this week. So I'd say that situation has some promise. As for receiver Chris Hogan, it's going to be how he feels from a pain tolerance standpoint. The target has been for him to be back for the playoffs and that still seems to be in range for him.
@MikeReiss Mike, any thoughts on re-assessing the Chandler Jones trade two years in? Hard to ignore the sack total in Arizona this year.— Ilya Abyzov (@IlyaAbyzov) January 4, 2018
Ilya, the Cardinals have been thrilled with Jones, while the Patriots came away with starting left guard Joe Thuney and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, as well as the salary-cap space to make other moves. Jones has seemed to take his game to a higher level in Arizona, which might be a case of thriving in a scheme that lets him be more aggressive as a pass-rusher. It would be interesting to compare how that would look had he still been in New England's scheme.
In your opinion, why aren't there more Pat's from 2001-2013 era talked about for HOF? Where is Bruschi, Harrison, etc?— Joaquin L. (@Joaquin68443) January 3, 2018
This is a good topic, Joaquin, and something I've talked about at times with some Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. One theory is that because those championship clubs were defined by "team," and individual stars weren't celebrated, maybe it hurts the candidacy of some of the players from that era. Perhaps if Ty Law is inducted into the Hall this year, it will further open the door for others.
@MikeReiss Do you think NE keeps Dorsett next season? I like what he's done with the team so far and believe he's showed he has great upside— Delbert (@Alford_3D) January 5, 2018
Phillip Dorsett played 33 percent of the offensive snaps in the regular season, dressing for all 16 games while finishing with 12 catches for 194 yards. He is signed through 2018, so he should be back next year to compete for an expanded role.