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Titans vs. Patriots preview: 5 questions with Pats Pulpit

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Bernd Buchmasser of Pats Pulpit was nice enough to answer 5 questions about the New England Patriots for us:

1. Give us injury updates on Gronk and Sony Michel. How likely are we to see those guys on Sunday?

Few teams in the NFL play their cards as close to the vest as the Patriots, especially when it comes to injuries. However, judged by the latest injury reports it appears as if both are realistic options to suit up on Sunday: Gronkowski (ankle/back) and Michel (knee) were both at practice to open the week which is a good sign when it comes to their availability. In my opinion, Michel has a better chance to play considering that New England always try to be as cautious as possible when it comes to Gronkowski [UPDATE: Gronk is likely out]– and with the bye week coming up, they might opt to give him an extra week of rest. The biggest concern, as things stand right now, are two starting offensive linemen: right guard Shaq Mason and left tackle Trent Brown are both on the injury report, and against a defense as good as Tennessee’s would be big losses.

2. Is Josh Gordon fully acclimated to the offense at this point? What impact have you seen on the offense as a whole having him out there?

I think he’s as acclimated as you can expect him to be after joining the team while the season was already in full swing. Whether that can be classified as “fully” or not needs to be judged by others, but I think the Patriots can certainly be happy with his development so far. His impact certainly can be felt after all: Gordon gives the team a serious talent at the wideout position which a) forces teams to respect the deep and jump ball, b) frees things up elsewhere when it comes to coverage, and c) allows Chris Hogan to play his more natural role as a number three. Furthermore, Gordon gives the team a physical presence against tight man coverage – something it has lacked before.

3. What is one weakness the Patriots have on defense that the Titans can attack?

Does “not having 11 Trey Flowers and Stephon Gilmores on the field” count? Seriously, though, with the exception of the aforementioned Trey Flowers and Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots’ biggest problem so far this season has been consistency – and the best example of this is when it comes to pressuring the quarterback (even though it worked very well against the Packers on Sunday), covering crossing patterns, and the linebackers being isolated in one-on-one matchups. Attacking the middle of the field with players like Dion Lewis and [looks at injury report] oh... well, attacking the middle of the field with quick crossers against the linebacker corps is one way teams found success against New England this season.

4. Tom Brady has to decline eventually, right? Have you seen any signs of that this season?

Well... in theory Brady has to decline at one point, but we cannot rule him being a demigod out just yet either. So I’ll play it safe and pass on the first question. The second one, however, I can answer. Despite being 41 years old, Brady has not shown any troubling signs of decline this year. Yes, his statistics are down when compared to his ridiculous three-year stretch from 2015 to 2017 but this mostly stems from early season chemistry issues (and a wide receiver group consisting of Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett) and a few head-scratching decisions. The former appears to be very much fixed right now with Julian Edelman returning and Josh Gordon fitting well into the offense (also: with James White being immensely productive), while the latter appears to be getting better as well. Overall, Brady still looks very good from both a physical and mental perspective.

5. Write the headline in Sunday’s Tennessean.

Home Schooled: Mike Vrabel loses battle against his former coach. (sorry but that’s just the way I predict it) (also, feel free to use it if in fact my prediction turns out to be true, hehehe)