|09.22.14 at 12:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There’s a consistent theme developing over the first quarter of the season for the Patriots – inconsistency.
Julian Edelman said it after Sunday’s 16-9 win over the Raiders at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady repeated it to Dennis and Callahan Monday morning and, after watching the film in detail, Bill Belichick echoed that same message in his Monday conference call.
The Patriots are making plays but not consistently. It’s one of the characteristics of the 2014 Patriots that has fans concerned despite a 2-1 record.
“Pretty much I feel the same way as I did yesterday after the game. Like I said, it was a grind-it-out kind of game ‘ tough, hard fought, it came down to a couple plays in the fourth quarter,” Belichick noted. “Fortunately we were able to make them. We just need to do a better job in a lot of areas; just keep working to improve.
“I thought we did some things well but not consistently. We’ve just got to keep working to get to a higher level all the way across the board in all positions, all the units, coaches, players ‘ all of us. We just have to keep working harder to improve and be more consistent. We have an extra day this week so hopefully that will give us an extra opportunity to do that. It’s what we need to do.”
The Patriots don’t play again until next Monday when they travel to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs.
One area the Patriots clearly need to improve is their red area execution. They were 1-for-4, including an ugly sequence at the end of the first half when they had six chances inside the Raiders 5 and couldn’t punch it in the end zone, settling for three points and a 10-3 halftime lead. Tom Brady appeared to lose track of the down-and-distance following a first-down run by Stevan Ridley that had the clock run from 46 seconds down to 12.
The Patriots used a timeout with eight seconds left. That was followed by a bad snap and the Patriots were forced to settle for a field goal. Time management didn’t seem to be ideal.
“I’d like to score there,” Belichick said. “That’s the main thing. We had eight seconds to go on the last play. The ball was on the three-yard line, two-yard line, whatever it was. Obviously we couldn’t afford to get sacked or be tackled but it was a play, a chance to throw in the end zone.
“Eight seconds is really plenty of time to do that ‘ throw in the end zone and either catch it or kick a field goal, kind of similar to the Baltimore game in ‘11. We had three downs down there. We had our chances. We had three downs and we just didn’t, we ran two runs and we felt good about those runs but we just didn’t, we weren’t quite able to get them in and then threw on third down.”
As for third down overall, the Patriots showed some improvement, converting exactly half of their 18 chances on Sunday, but only four of 10 in the second half as the Patriots were looking to extend drives and put away the Raiders.
“I think third down is related to first and second down,” Belichick said. “That’s all tied together. I think we just have to be more consistent on every down, certainly third down. We were 50 percent on third down, including the one at the end of the game, so that would lead the league, or come close to it, almost every year.
“But we have to do a better job on first and second down and create better opportunities on third down or just bypass third down altogether and convert on more second downs. We need to do a better job on third down too. I think our consistency is an area for us to improve in offensively all the way across the board. The downs before third down are important too.
|09.22.14 at 12:07 pm ET|
Julian Edelman, who continues to be the only Patriots wide receiver to have any consistent production this season, joined the Middays with MFB crew for his weekly Monday appearance, one day after a 16-9 victory over the Raiders. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Patriots offense has yet to find a groove this season, and the issues cropped up again Sunday as New England scored only one touchdown.
“It’s an overall offensive thing right now. We’re just not clicking,” Edelman said. “We haven’t played one of our best games yet. It’s early in the year. We’re 2-1, so you’ve got to look at that. We’re taking care of the ball. We just have to improve our third down and red area offense a little better and play those situations out better. I’m sure we’ll be going back this week, we’re going to analyze the film today, take from the bad and build from the good and just try to improve. That’s what you do. If you can improve every day in this game, in this league, that’s when your team starts getting good.”
Although the Patriots have won two games in a row, most of the talk has been negative due to the manner in which the offense has played. Edelman said he understands the reaction.
“There’s a lot of expectations out here, especially with the history that we’ve had,” he said. “But that’s all noise. We just have to continue to try to get better, day in and day out. If we get five plays better next game, then you get 10 plays better the next game, then you start to get into a little something, that’s when you start developing your stride. That’s what we’re going to try to do. We’re going to go out here and we’re going to practice hard. We have an extra day of practice, we have a big game coming up against Kansas City on Monday night, so as long as we just try to improve, everyone just do their job, we’ll be all right.”
|09.22.14 at 7:43 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s surprisingly close 16-9 victory over the lowly Raiders. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Although they won, the Patriots continued to struggle offensively, putting up just 16 points at home against an unimpressive Raiders team.
“It’s great that we won the game. Obviously, offensively we’re just not doing as good a job as we’re capable of doing. We left a lot of points out there yesterday and made it a close game there. We just have some issues we’re going to have to try to fix here, and we’re going to have to try to fix them fast, because it only gets tougher from here.
“We’ve got a smart team, we’ve got a tough team, we’re physical, we’ve just got to execute better. I think we’ve done a good job with not turning the ball over, which has helped. We talk about that every week. But too many penalties, too many missed opportunities to score, it’s just not what our expectations are. We’re going to go back to work and see if we can do better.”
Some people have pointed the finger at the offensive line, which is without longtime coach Dante Scarnecchia, who retired after last season.
“For us to think about a bunch of hypothetical situations, it doesn’t serve us well,” Brady said. “That’s really for you guys, all the listeners and the fans. All those things that make for great sports talk aren’t necessarily what are in the minds of our team. Whether Dante’s here or not here, whether a player’s here or not there, it doesn’t matter, because we’re faced with what we’re faced with.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the offensive line, I’ve got a lot of confidence in coach [Dave DeGuglielmo] and what he’s doing. This goes back to us players, and us players doing a better job. I don’t think it has anything to do with the people who aren’t on the field. The people who affect the wins and losses in the game are the players, and we’ve got to go out there and throw the ball, catch the ball, run with the ball, block, tackle — all the things that it takes to win the game. I’m not going to sit here and say that it has anything to do with anything other than that, because that’s where I feel the responsibility always lies.”
|09.21.14 at 9:58 pm ET|
With just under a minute left in the Patriots’ Sunday tilt with the Raiders, Oakland running back Darren McFadden rushed into the end zone for what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown. But he would soon discover that it was all for naught.
Oakland rookie guard Gabe Jackson had been flagged for holding Patriots safety Patrick Chung.
One play later, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s attempt at a last-second, game-tying touchdown pass was picked off by Patriots’ defensive lineman Vince Wilfork after a deflection, ending Oakland’s comeback bid.
It should also be noted on the play before Jackson’s penalty, Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan was flagged for a questionable 24-yard pass interference penalty, where he and Andre Holmes were battling for position up the sideline.
Here were some of the Raiders’ thoughts on the controversial play:
“I saw it up on the big screen, and my opinion is it was not a hold,” said Raiders head coach Dennis Allen
“I thought it was a clean block,” Jackson told reporters. “But the call is what it was so I don’t have too much to say about that. … Maybe they saw something from a different angle.”
What did you think?
|09.21.14 at 7:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Finishing with 16 points and only one touchdown against a Raiders defense who allowed a combined 49 points in their first two games of the season, Tom Brady and the offense had a reason to be frustrated with their performance. But, even with its offensive struggles, the Patriots were able to sneak away with a 16-9 win over the Raiders in its home opener Sunday afternoon.
“We had some opportunities there to score more points and we didn’t come away with it,” Brady said. “We left some chances on the field and certainly scoring opportunities. That’s something we’re going to have to obviously get a lot better at, so we’ll keep working at it.”
The major issue for the Patriots was its red zone efficiency as they ran six plays inside the Oakland’s 3-yard line and scored zero touchdowns on those plays. Their lone touchdown of the game was a 6-yard pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter.
New England couldn’t find the end zone at the end of the first half when Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen were stopped on consecutive running plays and then on third down the shotgun snap was botched. Then, opening the fourth quarter, Vereen was stopped and Brady threw back-to-back incompletions, intended for Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. Stephen Gostkowski kicked field goals on both occasions and finished with three total in the game.
“We’re going to try to keep making improvements,” Brady said. “I don’t think anything is perfect out there. There are some teams that are playing really well already. We’re not really doing that offensively yet. Defensively we played great but it’s a team sport. We’ve got to handle our business and do our job, whether it’s situationally, whether it’s scoring when we need to score. Not turning the ball over has been good — I think we’ve done a good job of that. We’ve just got to score more points. Especially getting down to the red area and having opportunities to score and not being able to do it.”
|09.21.14 at 7:09 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski is a realist.
He knows 16 points might be the 0-3 Raiders at Gillette but the bar is a little higher than beating a winless team traveling cross country on its way to London.
Gronkowski had the only touchdown of the day in a 16-9 win over the Raiders Sunday as the Patriots improved to 2-1.
“Sometimes there is frustration but you always want to move on to the next play, and that’s what we were doing,” Gronkowski said. “We did enough this game, but that’s not always going to get the job done. We’ve just got to keep working together as a unit and keep working hard.”
While there wasn’t much offensively to get excited about, Gronkowski and his continued great play in the red area is one thing Patriots fans can take comfort in.
He had another touchdown catch on a crossing route in the end zone in the second quarter as the Patriots found the end zone for the only time on the afternoon. Gronk would’ve had a second touchdown catch if it weren’t for Charles Woodson sticking his hand up at the last moment and deflecting Brady’s pass to an open Gronkowski in the back of the end zone.
“Just a little over route and just got open on the linebacker, and Tom put a nice ball right there, and I just made the catch and got in,” Gronkowski said of his second-quarter grab. “So, good job by everyone as a unit, and we executed well.”
One of the few times on the afternoon an offensive player in a blue jersey could say that. Julian Edelman would be another. He had 10 catches on 13 targets for 84 hard-fought yards, including a somersault flip near the goal line. After the game Edelman, perhaps after a discussion with coaches, admitted he’s got to do a better job avoiding hits.
“Julian is a warrior,” Gronkowski said in admiration. “He has the ball, he goes full speed, game, practice, whatever. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve been around.”
Gronk finished with three catches on six targets for 44 yards, including finding a hole in the Raiders zone at midfield for 22 yards on a pivotal 3rd-and-15 conversion from Tom Brady.
“We’ve just got to keep working together as a unit, and that starts at practice first,” Gronkowski said. “We’ve got to get clicking for sure. We did enough today to get that victory, but there are always a lot of improvements, starting with myself. I could make a lot better blocks, better routes. So we’ve just got to go out there in practice and have the offense clicking altogether as one and bring it out to the games.
“A win is a win. Every team is good in the NFL, so whenever you come out with a win, especially in the first game at home, it’s a win. The defense played very well, and we just did what we had to do to get that victory, which is huge.”
|09.21.14 at 6:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With Oakland having first and goal, trailing by seven points with less than a minute to play in the Patriots’ home opener, the defense needed to come up with a big play.
It got that play, but coming from one of the most unlikely of players in that situation — defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Oakland quarterback Derek Carr’s pass intended for Denarius Moore was deflected by cornerback Logan Ryan back towards the line of scrimmage and Wilfork was there to snag the ball for his third career interception, sealing the Patriots 16-9 victory in its home opener.
“I think it was a team play,” said Wilfork. “Like I said, knowing the situation we were in, it was a three-man rush and the main thing I didn’t want to do was get tied up at the line of scrimmage because they had more guys to block. We only had three and they have five and sometimes they keep an extra guy in for them to make sure they have protection, so I just wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t get tied up and just read the quarterback. If everybody is going their job, which they were, he’d have to either scramble with the ball or come to a check down. And once he came to the check down, I was lucky to have some defenders already there that batted the ball around a little bit and I just happened to catch it.
“The credit doesn’t go all to me — the credit goes to the defense. Because without the coverage in the end zone, without the man-to-man coverage we were in, without the bobbled ball, without the two other guys on the line of scrimmage rushing with me, that play probably wouldn’t have happened, so that’s a great defensive play.”
Wilfork is now the Patriots franchise leader in interceptions by a defensive linemen with three — passing Anthony Pleasant, Richard Seymour and Henry Thomas — who all have two. His last interception also came against the Raiders, back in 2011 in Oakland — a 31-19 Patriots victory.
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