2020 Pats: Roster & Beyond (non-QB edition)

BaseballJones

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I think you see some of his weaknesses there, too. First clip, he's pressed, gets squeezed too far to the sideline, isn't fast enough to run past the CB, doesn't stack him ... and makes the grab anyway. But all the stuff he isn't doing (and these were consistent issues for him in college) matter at the NFL level.
Makes sense. But there have been lots of NFL receivers who have been weak at those things but have been big, strong targets, and they've been successful. So maybe he won't live up to his first-round pick status (sunk cost at this point), but maybe he can still be an effective NFL WR if utilized properly. He does have good size and strength and can high point balls well. There's gotta be a legit use for that kind of player. And it's not like he's slow.
 

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A couple things I would point out. One is something I noticed myself and one is from Evan Lazar. So coming out his footwork on his releases was a mixed bag and not among the best in the class. There are various releases you can do as a WR but generally jogging in place is not what you want to go for. Harry's footwork coming out of his releases had to be more determined more deliberate and less horizontal and jogging in place. Evan Lazar also looked at his footwork in his horizontal breaks. The problem was his plant foot was behind where he wanted to pivot to. This caused him to enter into his route break slower than if he had his foot pointed to the left and placed to his left in the example. In the NFL you don't need a ton of separation at all times. You need separation when you make your break. One of the things I liked about Asiasi coming out and something that Lazar points out is that Asiasi is good in and out of breaks and has ideal/correct footwork.

Harry worked on his footwork on his release this off-season. If I were Harry I would continue to work on that, sure, but also add footwork in and out of breaks next off-season.

Edit: I am not sure if I am using the right term with plant foot. In the example above it's his left foot which is both helping him pivot and plant his weight off of while he turns. Either way, you get the idea.
 

Super Nomario

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Makes sense. But there have been lots of NFL receivers who have been weak at those things but have been big, strong targets, and they've been successful. So maybe he won't live up to his first-round pick status (sunk cost at this point), but maybe he can still be an effective NFL WR if utilized properly. He does have good size and strength and can high point balls well. There's gotta be a legit use for that kind of player. And it's not like he's slow.
He doesn't have to be effective or useful. There have certainly been legions of big, strong, fast targets who have failed as NFL receivers because they weren't good enough at some of this stuff.
 

BaseballJones

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He doesn't have to be effective or useful. There have certainly been legions of big, strong, fast targets who have failed as NFL receivers because they weren't good enough at some of this stuff.
Agreed. He might end up being useless. But I look at his strengths: size, strength, catch radius, leaping ability, good hands...and I think a quality NFL coach can get something out of that package unless he's painfully slow and non-competitive. Neither of those seem to be issues with him. He's just not a great route-runner. Yet. Hopefully that will change.
 

Steve Dillard

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Seeing last year's 1st rounder proclaimed a sunk cost, makes me ask about the long term future: The third rounder Cajuste and Frojolt be holding on to a backup spot (Williams and Harris have potential to play roles after redshirt seasons). Only Winovich has been a clear hit.

In 2018, first rounder Sony Michel aspires to league average, Winn is a regular, Bentley is in rotation, but the second rounder Dawson was cut,

2017 had few picks, and resulted in Rivers (health caveat) and Wise

2016 missed on Cy Jones, and got Joe Thuney.

This year is way too early, and nobody has popped as a starter. Duggar as promising, Asiasi limited initial play in a position of need, but Uche a DNP probably for matchup, but still not a rotation guy.

So the question, can a team continue to thrive if they are getting one starter each draft, and maybe a couple of rotational guys? It may be that for scheme purposes, they can plug in guys like rotating d line and the like, but at some point do they need to get an "All-pro" sort of hit out of the last five drafts in order to sustain this thing?
 

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I think some people are being overly critical of him because of his dumb mistake fumble. Up to that point, I felt like this was going to a whole new, and positive, year for him.

His final stat line was 5 catches on 6 targets for 39 yards. His long was only 14 yards, but he did convert two of those receptions for first downs. Not awesome, but not terrible. And a big improvement on his best day of last year (previous high catches - 3; previous high targets - 7; previous high yardage - 29; previous high long was 18, once, but otherwise only 12).
 

BaseballJones

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2015 - Brown has been a starter his whole NFL career. Richards is still a contributor in the league. Flowers was great for NE. Mason is a pro-bowl caliber G. Cardona is a solid special teamer.

2016 - Thuney has been great. Brissett was a starter in the NFL. Mitchell was good and helped them big-time win a Super Bowl, then got hurt. Roberts has been a solid NFL player. Karras is a starting C in the league. Overall the draft itself was pretty good, even if there isn't much left helping the Patriots.

2017 - Rivers and Wise are now coming into their own.

2018 - Wynn is a solid starter. Michel isn't worth a first round pick but he's been fine and helped them win a SB. Bentley is their starting LB and signal-caller. Izzo is starting at TE for them.

2019 - Harry, for all his warts, is a starter (though that may say more about the state of the WR corps than his ability, but still). Williams is playing and is valuable. Winovich looks fantastic. Harris is about to get his chance. Cajuste and Froholdt are on the squad. Stidham...well, until Cam came, he was the starter. Coward is getting tons of playing time. Bailey is great.

2020 - Too early to tell obviously, but there are already positive signs from this group.

I'd say they've been solid at drafting the past number of years.
 

Steve Dillard

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I'll take your assessment, but the question is whether scheme can cover for merely "solid". Brady covered tons of inconsistency, even as he aged. Without him, we saw the team ranked in the bottom of talent for this season. Yes, the win against Miami is nice, and positive, but overall, I think most project this team as .500 tops. And carried by 30 something McCourty and Edelman and a buy-low QB in his 30s. Am I wrong to think that to rebuild they need more than solid? My sense, and my knowledge of NFL personnel is somewhat top line, but the elite teams usually get there by hitting on some immediate starters in the drafts, and as they move into the "pick later in the draft" spots, they fill around them with the projects who can grow. The Pats are now lacking the core that had given these guys a chance to grow into their roles, and unless they hit on someone in the next drafts, will have a bunch of scheme guys that may get them to .500.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I think it's a mistake to look at the draft in a vacuum - it's part of a wider player acquisition process that includes free agent signings and trades. Cam's acquisition is the perfect example of a low-cost, non-draft move that significantly improved the team.

Obviously you can't totally miss on all draft picks, but (a) they really haven't, although certainly some of their picks have been questionable or haven't panned out and (b) the same is true of trades and signings as well. Which is to say, you can makeup for lackluster drafts with good trades and signings, and you can make up for trades and signings that don't work by hitting on more players in the draft. Consistently terrible drafting will eventually come back to bite you, but I don't think the Pats have been consistently terrible at drafting even if some of their picks have been questionable or haven't panned out.
 

Mystic Merlin

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I'll take your assessment, but the question is whether scheme can cover for merely "solid". Brady covered tons of inconsistency, even as he aged. Without him, we saw the team ranked in the bottom of talent for this season. Yes, the win against Miami is nice, and positive, but overall, I think most project this team as .500 tops. And carried by 30 something McCourty and Edelman and a buy-low QB in his 30s. Am I wrong to think that to rebuild they need more than solid? My sense, and my knowledge of NFL personnel is somewhat top line, but the elite teams usually get there by hitting on some immediate starters in the drafts, and as they move into the "pick later in the draft" spots, they fill around them with the projects who can grow. The Pats are now lacking the core that had given these guys a chance to grow into their roles, and unless they hit on someone in the next drafts, will have a bunch of scheme guys that may get them to .500.
Well, there is a draft every year - that ‘unless’ in your sentence is applicable to every team, even those with strong roster cores now. Roster quality can be developed or deteriorate fairly quickly such that you go from a top team to merely just another team. Check out Philly and Atlanta, for example. For a converse example, check out Buffalo.

Anyways, it’s correct that the top teams stay there because they have a very good quarterback and they find players, including some good starters, that they get 3-4 years of cost controlled production out of. It’s a key, if not the only, way to acquire and keep talent in a sustainable way. Free agency/trades are another, but there you contend with having to shell out a ton of cap dollars to known quantities or finding lotto tickets overlooked or misused by other teams.

I think the Pats have had a middling draft return over the past 4-5 years to the extent we can assess. ‘19-20 are hard to judge right now. I think the Pats are in a position where they’ll need to realistically acquire 12 or so guys that stick with 5-6 above average starters from the 20-22 drafts (or UDFA, which tend to be disregarded in these analyses despite being an equivalent acquisition method for cost-controlled talent). Nobody is hitting home runs every year, but I do think they need a home run draft in order to compensate for some of the less than great returns they’ve seen from ‘15-18.

That’s the league, most teams have highly cyclical existences in terms of contending and being middling fodder because of how hard building and keeping a good team can be. You are constantly needing to replenish or at least planning for it at virtually every position year over year, and that doesn’t even account for the highly explosive variable of changing coaching staffs and personnel departments (e.g. XYZ players Team A invested top picks in no longer fitting a new coach’s scheme).
 

mwonow

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I think some people are being overly critical of him because of his dumb mistake fumble. Up to that point, I felt like this was going to a whole new, and positive, year for him.

His final stat line was 5 catches on 6 targets for 39 yards. His long was only 14 yards, but he did convert two of those receptions for first downs. Not awesome, but not terrible. And a big improvement on his best day of last year (previous high catches - 3; previous high targets - 7; previous high yardage - 29; previous high long was 18, once, but otherwise only 12).
FWIW, I was pretty taken aback by him being decleated by a guy who he probably outweighed by 40-ish pounds.

I keep hearing Harry's strong, but is that because of how he looks, or how he plays?

Maybe he blocks like he's strong, I'm not clued-in enough to know...
 

Shelterdog

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I'll take your assessment, but the question is whether scheme can cover for merely "solid". Brady covered tons of inconsistency, even as he aged. Without him, we saw the team ranked in the bottom of talent for this season. Yes, the win against Miami is nice, and positive, but overall, I think most project this team as .500 tops. And carried by 30 something McCourty and Edelman and a buy-low QB in his 30s. Am I wrong to think that to rebuild they need more than solid? My sense, and my knowledge of NFL personnel is somewhat top line, but the elite teams usually get there by hitting on some immediate starters in the drafts, and as they move into the "pick later in the draft" spots, they fill around them with the projects who can grow. The Pats are now lacking the core that had given these guys a chance to grow into their roles, and unless they hit on someone in the next drafts, will have a bunch of scheme guys that may get them to .500.
Teams that are consistently over 500 virtually always have a very good quarterback play; I don't think there's any way to be an "elite team" without that.

Without very strong quarterback play only bet is to just do a phenomenal job drafting (and otherwise acquiring players) over a four or five year period and just stockpile talent. But this isn't a particularly long term approach: the salary structure of the league is such that you have a stacked draft class you're going to start having to give up a lot of those guys after four years. Lots of dumb analysts will say "team X only has 2 guys from the 2011-2016 drafts"--well that's true for even most teams that draft well.

I guess the answer is if you want the Pats to be 10-6 or better consistently in the future then you better hope they either get a good repeatable solution at QB or you basically need a very strong draft every single year.
 

DJnVa

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FWIW, I was pretty taken aback by him being decleated by a guy who he probably outweighed by 40-ish pounds.

I keep hearing Harry's strong, but is that because of how he looks, or how he plays?

Maybe he blocks like he's strong, I'm not clued-in enough to know...
I would assume if he couldn't block he wouldn't have played so many snaps Sunday in a run-heavy game plan.
 

Shelterdog

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FWIW, I was pretty taken aback by him being decleated by a guy who he probably outweighed by 40-ish pounds.

I keep hearing Harry's strong, but is that because of how he looks, or how he plays?

Maybe he blocks like he's strong, I'm not clued-in enough to know...
Maybe I missed a play but if you mean the fumble that was a linebacker.

I think he generally runs pretty strong but we don't have a particularly large sample size at this point. The coaches think his running is a relative strength and they've manufactured some plays to get him the ball as a runner or in space. But like we've all pointed out, he's done next to nothing as a receiver.
 
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Captaincoop

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Maybe I missed a play but if you mean the fumble that was a linebacker.

I think he generally runs pretty strong but we don't have a particularly large sample size at this point. The coaches think his running is a relative strength and they've manufactured some plays to get him the ball as a runner or in space. But like we've all pointed out, he's done next to nothing as a receiver.
I imagine the reference is to the play in the first half where he had the ball with a full head of steam and got blasted by a cornerback.
 

Shelterdog

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I imagine the reference is to the play in the first half where he had the ball with a full head of steam and got blasted by a cornerback.
Oh right. Yes, that play didn't go well, but again pretty hard to judge a receiver on a single play where the tackler was in perfect position.

EDIT: The guy has clearly been shitty but this board does this thing sometimes when people look at one play that went badly and decide a guy sucks. Henry doesn't suck because he got tackled by a smaller player once-he's had other plays where he runs well-- he sucks because he can't get off of press coverage, doesn't run routes well at an NFL level and thus (between the press coverage and the route running couldn't get open much), and wasn't able to earn Brady's confidence that he'd be where he was supposed to be
 
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E5 Yaz

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Ferentz back on the practice squad / various Twitter confirmations
 

SeoulSoxFan

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So when Harris comes back, what does BB do with Taylor?

After the Sunday game, can't imagine him getting past the waiver wire before getting sent down to the PS.

They can't have all of Michel, Bulkhead, White, Taylor, and Harris on the 53-man roster can they? Or they do keep him (since he's lining up as a KO returner also) and carry one less OL?
 

RedOctober3829

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So when Harris comes back, what does BB do with Taylor?

After the Sunday game, can't imagine him getting past the waiver wire before getting sent down to the PS.

They can't have all of Michel, Bulkhead, White, Taylor, and Harris on the 53-man roster can they? Or they do keep him (since he's lining up as a KO returner also) and carry one less OL?
They could send a DB down like Myles Bryant.
 

Super Nomario

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They can't have all of Michel, Bulkhead, White, Taylor, and Harris on the 53-man roster can they? Or they do keep him (since he's lining up as a KO returner also) and carry one less OL?
They carried Michel, Burkhead, White, Bolden, and Harris on the 53-man last year, so it's not beyond the pale or anything. I don't think they can get 5 guys active, though.
 

scottyno

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They carried Michel, Burkhead, White, Bolden, and Harris on the 53-man last year, so it's not beyond the pale or anything. I don't think they can get 5 guys active, though.
While true Bolden was on the roster because he played on almost every special teams unit, that he could line up at RB in an emergency was a luxury. Burkhead plays a decent amount of special teams but the other 4 aren't really going to have much of a role on them.
 

Super Nomario

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While true Bolden was on the roster because he played on almost every special teams unit, that he could line up at RB in an emergency was a luxury. Burkhead plays a decent amount of special teams but the other 4 aren't really going to have much of a role on them.
Yeah, and that's why I don't think they can get all these guys active. I'm just pointing out that it's tenable to have 5 RB on the 53-man. It does mean less depth somewhere else.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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OBJ seems like an easier get, pick-wise
Really? He's under control for 3 more years and all his guaranteed money is done for those, so he's an easy cut/restructure. Robinson is causing issues being at the end of his and wanting to get PAID. I'd think the Bears would be more motivated, but I guess one could look at it differently.
 

DJnVa

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Snap counts can be instructive.

Michel only received 15 of them last night--and he got 7 carries and a target. It seems obvious that unless he has a big turnaround in the last game without Harris next week (assuming Harris is healthy) that he's likely going to be phased out of offense, especially with a bye week coming up in a month.
 

Super Nomario

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Snap counts can be instructive.

Michel only received 15 of them last night--and he got 7 carries and a target. It seems obvious that unless he has a big turnaround in the last game without Harris next week (assuming Harris is healthy) that he's likely going to be phased out of offense, especially with a bye week coming up in a month.
Pretty standard for Michel when the team falls behind. He had 15 snaps in the Houston and Baltimore games last year and only 9 against KC. Not sure this tells us much, other than his role isn't expanding any.
 

DJnVa

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Pretty standard for Michel when the team falls behind. He had 15 snaps in the Houston and Baltimore games last year and only 9 against KC. Not sure this tells us much, other than his role isn't expanding any.
They were never down by more than a score until late in the 3rd. In a game when James White was suddenly unavailable I think it tells us something. He's unable to grab onto his opportunities.
 

SMU_Sox

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So one of my big issues is we all hog-pile, myself included on Sony. I wish I had the data but I feel like he is always running against a stacked box in a power 21 personnel look. Everyone knows he is coming and it's either a PA or a run. JJ Taylor ran the same thing last night and got blown up too. Yeah I know Sony doesn't have "it" but they are using him in such a vanilla and predictable way that is it any surprise that the defense can stop him easily? They know the 1-2 things you are going to do.
 

Captaincoop

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Last year, Sony was 40th in the league in yards per carry at 3.7. In 247 attempts, he had 3 big plays of 20+ yards (1.2%).

For comparison to other lead backs with somewhat similar workload:

Derrick Henry: 5.1/2.9%
Devin Singletary 5.1/4.6%
Mark Ingram: 5.0/2.9%
Nick Chubb 5.0/3.7%
Christian McCaffrey 4.8/2.1%
Kenyan Drake 4.8/2.4%
Josh Jacobs 4.8/3.3%
Alvin Kamara 4.7/2.9%
Miles Sanders 4.6/2.8%
Aaron Jones 4.6/2.1%
Dalvin Cook 4.5/2.8%
Phillip Lindsay 4.5/3.1%
Chris Carson 4.4/2.9%
Marlon Mack 4.4/3.6%
Carlos Hyde 4.4/3.3%
Leonard Fournette 4.3/2.6%
Adrian Peterson 4.3/2.8%
Ronald Jones 4.2/3.5%
Joe Mixon 4.1/2.2%
Todd Gurley 3.8/2.2%

That's twenty running backs from twenty different teams, all significantly outperforming Michel. Some of these guys must have the same excuses we're making for him. He's just not good enough.
 

Jimbodandy

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So one of my big issues is we all hog-pile, myself included on Sony. I wish I had the data but I feel like he is always running against a stacked box in a power 21 personnel look. Everyone knows he is coming and it's either a PA or a run. JJ Taylor ran the same thing last night and got blown up too. Yeah I know Sony doesn't have "it" but they are using him in such a vanilla and predictable way that is it any surprise that the defense can stop him easily? They know the 1-2 things you are going to do.
Part of that predictability is that Sony is utterly useless to date as a receiver.
 

Jimbodandy

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Which is unfathomable given that he was a really good receiver in college. Like...did he completely forget how to do it?
I don't get it either. He just seems uncomfortable in space, like when a team runs a tackle eligible in goal line and that guys catches the ball like a baby being dropped from a burning building.

If I were JMC, I would have stapled him to White in camp for osmosis learning. Maybe they did that, but it didn't take.
 

BigSoxFan

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Part of that predictability is that Sony is utterly useless to date as a receiver.
Yeah, I don’t really know how else you’d use him. He is what he is at this point - a low upside 2 down runner who protects the ball well.

The biggest issue with me is his lack of explosiveness. It’s fine if he’s one-dimensional if you have the UGA Sony that looked like he was shot out of a cannon at times. Where the hell did that guy go? Last night he was running hard and I was still waiting for another gear that never seems to come.
 

BaseballJones

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Yeah, I don’t really know how else you’d use him. He is what he is at this point - a low upside 2 down runner who protects the ball well.

The biggest issue with me is his lack of explosiveness. It’s fine if he’s one-dimensional if you have the UGA Sony that looked like he was shot out of a cannon at times. Where the hell did that guy go? Last night he was running hard and I was still waiting for another gear that never seems to come.
A better version of BJGE, which is someone you can definitely win with, but isn't worth a first round pick. Or in the case of Lawfirm...any pick at all.
 

Jimbodandy

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Yeah, I don’t really know how else you’d use him. He is what he is at this point - a low upside 2 down runner who protects the ball well.

The biggest issue with me is his lack of explosiveness. It’s fine if he’s one-dimensional if you have the UGA Sony that looked like he was shot out of a cannon at times. Where the hell did that guy go? Last night he was running hard and I was still waiting for another gear that never seems to come.
If you could use him as a receiver even a little, it wouldn't be a billboard that we're running. Deception is good.

With Seattle run blitzing inside all night, and White out, it wouldn't have been a bad thing to have a wheel route in the quiver.
 

Harry Hooper

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Last year, Sony was 40th in the league in yards per carry at 3.7. In 247 attempts, he had 3 big plays of 20+ yards (1.2%).


That's twenty running backs from twenty different teams, all significantly outperforming Michel. Some of these guys must have the same excuses we're making for him. He's just not good enough.
The Pats had effectively no TEs and then a LB playing emergency FB. Was there another team with similar deficiencies last year?
 

Captaincoop

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They had a FB the first two games last year. A really good one, right?

And I would imagine some of the other 20 teams referenced above had lousy TE blocking, but someone with more knowledge than me would have to weigh in.
 

Super Nomario

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Yeah, I don’t really know how else you’d use him. He is what he is at this point - a low upside 2 down runner who protects the ball well.

The biggest issue with me is his lack of explosiveness. It’s fine if he’s one-dimensional if you have the UGA Sony that looked like he was shot out of a cannon at times. Where the hell did that guy go? Last night he was running hard and I was still waiting for another gear that never seems to come.
I think the lack of explosiveness and lack of receiving ability go hand-in-hand in some ways. They have guys like White and Burkhead who can line up in the slot and catch a slant against a LB; they don't need Michel to have that skill set. But you can't even throw a dumpoff in the flat or a screen for Sony, because he's not the least bit dynamic in space.