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Josh McDaniels acknowledges coaching vacancies, but says he’s ‘very happy’ with Patriots

12.29.14 at 11:15 am ET
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Josh McDaniels said Monday he “hasn’t even thought” about the possibility of working somewhere as a head coach next season.

On a conference call with the media on Monday morning, the Patriots offensive coordinator — whose name was linked to a vacancy at the University of Florida earlier this year — said that despite the expected openings that will arise over the next week in the NFL, it’s not even part of his thought process at this point.

“I haven’t even thought about that, to tell you the truth,” McDaniels said. “I know it’s that time of the year, but I also know there’s a procedure in place and those things sort themselves out.

“I’m very happy here,” he added. “I think I have one of the best jobs.”

As of late Monday morning, there are already coaching vacancies with the Niners, Jets, Bears and Falcons. In addition, the Raiders are expected to interview a variety of candidates — including interim coach Tony Sparano — for their head coaching job.

Bill Belichick has had to deal with having coordinators interview for head coaching vacancies during the playoffs in the past, and said if that happened this time around, they would lean on the same protocol they have before.

“We know what the procedures are on all that, how it all has to work and the sequence and how it takes place and what the boundaries are in terms of the teams doing that,” he said. “So, whatever they are, we’ll take them as they come.

“If something does happen, then whichever coach it is, we’ll follow the procedures that are set up for the league to take care of this type of situation. As always, I would talk with the people involved and try to satisfy all the, I would say needs,” he added. “But obviously the number one need for me is our football team, what takes place here. Everything else would have to work around that.”

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Patriots 2015 opponents finalized

12.29.14 at 10:56 am ET
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With the Steelers win over the Bengals Sunday night, the list of 2015 opponents for the Patriots has been finalized. The full schedule won’t be released until the spring, but we do know who New England will be facing at home and on the road next season.



Brian Tyms hopes Madden Football gets him ready for postseason

12.29.14 at 10:54 am ET
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FOXBORO — For Brian Tyms, any playoff experience can help at this point of his career, even if that experience came via the world’s most popular football simulation.

Tyms is entering the brave new world of postseason football. After Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Bills, in which he was one of the few offensive players who stood out, Tyms was asked if the rhythm he had with Tom Brady might help him going forward.

“I’ve never played in the playoffs before,” Tyms said. “I was in Cleveland last year so I couldn’t tell you. I played in the playoffs on Madden.”

But Tyms acknowledged that rhythm is a big deal, something the Patriots will have to rediscover when they play on Jan. 10 at Gillette Stadium.

“I think rhythm for anybody in any sport is the most powerful thing going into the postseason,” Tyms said. “When everybody is clicking on the same accord and everything is run right and to the right depth and right blocking scheme, the sky is the limit.”

Things are not clicking with Tom Brady right now, as he acknowledged on D&C Monday morning, or the offensive line, two areas that must pick it up going into the postseason. With Rob Gronkowksi and Julian Edelman returning for the playoffs, the rhythm should be there.
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Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We’ve just got to play better’

12.29.14 at 7:08 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, following Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Bills, and talked about his approach to the regular-season finale and the playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brady played the first half of Sunday’s meaningless game as the Patriots rested a bunch of players in preparation for the playoffs.

“It was nice to see the other guys get an opportunity to play. They’ve been working hard all season,” Brady told guest hosts Greg Dickerson, Steve DeOssie and Andy Hart. “We really afforded the opportunity to do that based on the previous 15 games. Obviously our playoff position wasn’t going to change, so I thought it was great to see a lot of other guys try to step in and make some plays, and a lot of guys made a lot of good plays. So that was good to see.”

Brady is known for his eagerness to play every snap of every game. His attitude did not change Sunday, even though the offense was missing some key players.

“I was going to play the whole game if he’d let me. I love being out there no matter what,” Brady said. “A lot of guys didn’t play, a lot of guys were dealing with a few nicks. It was good for those guys to get some rest so hopefully they’re at full speed here in two weeks. These things, it all happens pretty quick now. All the records, those are gone. The teams that play the best advance. Hopefully we’re at the best, most healthiest we can possibly be here in two weeks, and then we’ve got to go out there and we’ve got to let it rip and try to go out and have a great day of execution and see where we’re at.

“But I’m excited. I’m excited for this time of year. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

Brady said it never entered his mind to not play at all in Sunday’s game.

“No, it didn’t. No, not at all,” he said. “Look, I love playing football. So the more opportunity I can have to do it, the better it is for me. I love being out there. I wish we would have gone out there and scored touchdowns every time we had the ball, but we just didn’t execute well enough to be able to do that.”

The Patriots have started slow the past couple of games, and Brady said that’s something they’ll look to avoid in the playoffs.

“We’ve just got to play better. I think it’s just everybody executing at a high level. It’s no real magic ingredient or anything like that. I think it’s us players making the plays that it takes to move the ball down the field to score points. We’ve done it at times this year. We’re going to need to do it in obviously this next game. And if we don’t start fast then we’ve got to come from behind and finish strong. Whatever it takes to win these games — special teams, defense, offense — it doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to advance.

“We’re going to try to do the best we can to start fast, we’re going to try to play our best for 60 minutes, and whatever it takes, whatever mental toughness we need to come through to win the game, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

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With Steelers’ win over Bengals, NFL playoff schedule complete

12.28.14 at 11:57 pm ET
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With Pittsburgh’s win over Cincinnati on Sunday night, the NFL playoff picture has been finalized. Here’s a look at the total postseason schedule:

Saturday, Jan. 3
Cardinals (5) at Panthers (4), 4:35 p.m. (ESPN)
Ravens (6) at Steelers (3), 8:15 p.m. (NBC)

Sunday, Jan. 4
Bengals (5) at Colts (4), 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Lions (6) at Cowboys (3), 4:40 p.m. (Fox)

Saturday, Jan. 10
Lowest-remaining AFC seed at Patriots (1), 4:35 p.m. (NBC)
Lowest-remaining NFC seed at Seahawks (1), 8:15 p.m. (Fox)

Sunday, Jan. 11
Highest-remaining NFC seed at Green Bay (2), 1:05 p.m. (Fox)
Highest-remaining AFC seed at Denver (2), 4:40 p.m. (Fox)

Sunday, Jan. 18
NFC championship, 3:05 p.m. (Fox)
AFC championship, 6:40 p.m. (CBS)

Sunday, Feb. 1
Super Bowl XLIX, at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona, 6:30 p.m. (NBC)

Patriots’ divisional playoff game set for Jan. 10 in Foxboro

12.28.14 at 10:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots will open their postseason schedule at home on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 4:35 p.m. in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

New England will host the lowest-remaining AFC seed. The Patriots could play the Colts (fourth seed), the Ravens (sixth seed) or the Bengals contest (fifth seed).

While the lowest-remaining seed would travel to New England, the highest-remaining seed will journey to Denver for a date with the Broncos.

The Patriots announced a limited number of individual tickets will go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. exclusively through Ticketmaster.

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Vince Wilfork collects big payday after playing in Sunday’s regular-season finale

12.28.14 at 10:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork earned a big chunk of change in Sunday’s game, despite the Patriots losing, 17-9, to the Bills.

One of the incentives in Wilfork’s incentive-heavy contract was if he played in at least 70 percent of the team’s defensive snaps during the regular season, he would earn a $1.25 million bonus, per CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran. Entering Sunday’s game, Wilfork had played in 74 percent of the snaps, 780 of 1,051, according to Pro Football Focus.

With the game being meaningless in terms of playoff positioning with the Patriots already locking up the No. 1 seed, big-name players like Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower were inactive as the Patriots prioritized health. There was some questioning during the week of whether or not Wilfork would play enough to collect the bonus.

That was answered in the first half with a big yes, as Wilfork played all but two of the defensive snaps. The 33-year-old played 38 of a possible 58 snaps by our count overall in the game, and thus finished the season playing a total of 74 percent of the snaps (818 of 1109).

Playing that many snaps was even more important and special to Wilfork after missing the vast majority of last season with an Achilles injury. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve after Week 4.

“I worked my tail off just to get back and play football like I normally play,” Wilfork said last week. “I never take nothing for granted. I’€™ll tell you that. It’€™s fun to come and work with the guys I have in this locker room. Devin [McCourty] has been with me sometimes in the offseason so he’€™s seen some of the things I did and how important it was to me to get back and play with these guys, especially the level we’ve been playing at. I’€™m very thankful.”

Wilfork also will collect a roster bonus ($500,000) for the Patriots finishing in the top 10 defensively in points allowed. The Patriots finished eighth in the NFL, allowing 19.6 points, after surrendering 17 Sunday.

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