So no tight end, and no receiver help.

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Date sent: 2017/11/04 07:31:35
FOXBORO — Philip Rivers may have <a href=""></a> walked away from Sunday’s game with the Patriots on the losing side of the scoreboard, but the veteran Chargers quarterback also believes he discovered something pretty telling about his opponents, and wasn’t afraid to share it.
“I don’t think this is the best Patriots team they’ve had in the last decade,” Rivers said, following the 21-13 Pats victory at Gillette. “I don’t think they would say that this is the best team they’ve had. . . . They’re still really good.”
He wasn’t necessarily being a jerk. After playing the Patriots many times over the years, he was just being honest. What’s more important is the underlying message: Opponents see the Patriots as being vulnerable. They don’t see them being as dominant as in past runs toward a championship.
They still have Tom Brady, which always makes them competitive and better than most. But with no reinforcements added, Rivers observation hits home that much more.
Other than Brian Hoyer, who was signed yesterday as the new backup to the legend, there’s no help on the way. The trade deadline passed on Tuesday with the Patriots making no moves after dealing Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco in exchange for a second-round pick.
Whether they couldn’t find a willing trade partner, or were content to stand pat, nothing went down.
The roster is what it is. So the holes remain.
The Patriots are going to have to live with the pass rush as is and hope they get a boost when Shea McClellin returns. This was one of the primary spots that needed help when Dont’a Hightower went out.
Second-guessers of the Garoppolo trade have already wondered why the Patriots didn’t hold out for edge player Eli Harold from the 49ers instead of settling for the second round pick?
Asked yesterday if he was expecting some reinforcements, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia naturally didn’t bite. He answered in the negative.
“I mean we’re just trying to go here and work with what we have and get better from the previous week,” said Patricia. “All that stuff for us . . . look we’ve got great guys, really guys that work extremely hard in the defensive room. I think they’ve really tried to improve here over the last set of weeks, and so we’re just hoping to get that done again.”
The defense has improved, surrendering an average of 12.8 points the last four games, but they still have had problems getting to the quarterback.
In terms of edge players, Trey Flowers has <a href=""></a> been a beast, playing almost every snap. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s been on the field for the second-most snaps of any edge defender. Rookie Deatrich Wise is improving, while Cassius Marsh tends to be hit or miss.
Against the Chargers, Kyle Van Noy was used a lot in the Hightower role out on the end. That left Elandon Roberts and fellow linebacker David Harris handling the middle of the field.
Van Noy, who was a deadline deal pickup last year, believes it’s just a matter of everyone making the most of their opportunities.
“At the end of the day, we’re all that we need here,” he said yesterday. “We just have to put the pieces together and clean up the mistakes that we’re making. Once we clean those up and we play Patriot football the way it’s supposed to be played, we’ll win more games.”
The Patriots are also going to have to live with having just one tight end Brady is comfortable with in Rob Gronkowski. Dwayne Allen has been a bust in the passing game. Maybe they’ll swing Jacob Hollister into the mix a little more.
Allen might be a better blocker, but Hollister would help in the passing game, particularly in the red zone where they’ve recently been having trouble. They’re ranked 18th in the league in red zone touchdown percentage, converting just 50 percent of the their red zone opportunities into touchdowns. And with Chris Hogan banged up and nursing a shoulder injury, that won’t help that statistic down the road if he misses more time.

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