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Adam Schefter on D&C: New-look Patriots offense lacks chemistry

09.09.13 at 10:06 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about the Patriots’ 23-21 win over the Bills in Sunday’s opener.

Despite the victory, the Patriots left the game with concerns — namely, the lack of production from Tom Brady‘€™s weapons. Brady targeted starting wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins 14 times, but the rookie was only able to make four catches for 42 yards. Meanwhile, the tight end position collectively had one catch: a five-yard reception from Michael Hoomanawanui.

Schefter explained that with young, inexperienced players at impact positions, it may take some time for the offense to jell.

‘€œTo expect them to be great early on, right away, without some of that chemistry is probably unrealistic,’€ said Schefter. ‘€œYou don’€™t just lose these guys and pick up these other guys and think that that machine is going to run the same way.’€

One of the bright spots on the offensive side was the play of wide receiver Danny Amendola, whom the Patriots signed this offseason to replace Wes Welker.

Amendola set game highs in catches (10) and receiving yards (104) and converted a pair of key third downs in New England’€™s game-winning drive. The fifth-year receiver put a scare into the Patriots faithful when he limped off the field toward the end of the first half and sat out the remainder of the period.

Amendola’€™s groin injury did not force him out of the second half, but Schefter questioned New England’€™s next step if the oft-injured Amendola, who missed 20 games in the last two seasons, were to suffer another serious injury.

‘€œWhen Amendola goes out of the game like that, and you know how fragile he has been in the past, you can’€™t help but wonder, ‘€˜What if he is gone?’ ‘€ said Schefter.

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Julian Edelman

Tom Brady on D&C: Danny Amendola ‘just awesome’ in second half vs. Bills

09.09.13 at 8:05 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly Patriots Monday appearance with Dennis & Callahan to talk about Sunday’s 23-21 victory over the Bills, as New England overcame some sloppiness to pull out a win with a late scoring drive.

Brady completed 29-of-52 yards for 288 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots won their 10th straight opener. He went 6-for-6 for 34 yards on a 49-yard drive that ended with Stephen Gostkowski‘s game-winning, 35-yard field goal with five seconds remaining.

The Patriots were mistake-prone Sunday, including a fumble by running back Stevan Ridley that was returned 74 yards for a Buffalo touchdown.

“Football is not necessarily a game of perfection, but I think the big [mistakes], like the turnovers — I thought we did a decent job with the penalties, but the turnovers were the one thing that really held us back from scoring more points, and really allowed them to score their points,” Brady said. “It was a big part of the game. If you take away the turnovers, it’s a different outcome. But that’s pretty much every football game. A lot of the games around the league yesterday, a lot of them hinged on turnovers. Ours was one that we turn it over, we didn’t play great and we really allowed them an opportunity to stay in the game and obviously be ahead in the fourth quarter. We needed to make a lot of good plays there at the end to overcome them.”

Ridley was benched after his fumble, a move that came as no surprise considering Bill Belichick‘s history regarding such mistakes.

“He doesn’t like turnovers, and he lets us know,” Brady said of his coach. “He stresses it every single day, the things we have to do to protect the football and protect the lead. Being smart, being physical, eliminating turnovers is all so important to winning games. We just didn’t do a great job of that.”

Wide receiver Danny Amendola left the game late in the first half after aggravating a groin injury, but he returned to have a huge second half, finishing with 10 catches for 104 yards.

“He was battling all week to get out there, and he fought really hard to do it,” Brady said. “He got out there and it bothered him enough in the first half where he went out. But he really fought hard, showed a lot of mental and physical toughness to get out there to play in the second half. And what a great second half he played. It was just awesome.”

Added Brady: “That’s what Danny’s done since he’s gotten here. He’s been able to find different open spots in zones and catch it, catch the ball in traffic, make diving catches. He’s done such a great job of that. That’s a really positive thing that Danny brings to our offense. The more often that he can do that, the better it’s going to be for us. We’ll see how it goes over the course of the year.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Stevan Ridley

Tom Brady Confidence Index, Week 1: Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola up, Stevan Ridley down

09.09.13 at 6:24 am ET
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Toward the midway point of the preseason, we delivered our first edition of the Tom Brady Confidence Index, a by-the-numbers look at the comfort level the quarterback had with the rest of the offensive skill position players when it came to the passing game.

Because of the reaction we got the first time around, we’€™ve decided to make it a semi-regular feature, and expand it to include overall offensive touches (receptions and carries, with more weight to carries in clutch situations) and how comfortable the quarterback might appear to be with some of his teammates when it came to trusting them in certain situations.

It’s not exactly a scientific deconstruction of the New England offense, so don’t get too upset if your favorite player is at 71 instead of 72. But going forward, the same rules apply as the first version — we rate each of the skill position players and their relationship/comfort level with Brady on a scale of 0 (Taylor Price) to 100 (Wes Welker).

Running back Shane Vereen: 91. The running back had an electrifying performance in the season opener against the Bills, coming away with seven catches (on 10 targets) for 58 yards, and adding 14 carries for 101 yards. That’€™s a team-high 159 yards from scrimmage, amazing when you consider the team as a whole accounted for 431. Vereen led the team in touches with 21, he averaged 7.57 yards every time he touched the football, and on the game-winning drive, Brady and the coaching staff showed faith in him and wide receiver Danny Amendola by going to them for all the touches on the 12-play, 49-yard series. It’€™s hard not to be impressed with him at this stage of the season, and it certainly seems that if he stays healthy, he could be in line for a 50-catch, 50-carry season, which would put him among the elite third-down backs in the game. The confidence level in Vereen is very high.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola: 85. In his first game with the Patriots, the receiver picked up 10 catches (on 14 targets) for a team-high 101 yards. As previously stated, it was the Vereen and Amendola show down the stretch, as he accounted for three first downs on the final drive, and 26 of the 49 yards on his receptions. He also clearly impressed his teammates — Brady included — by playing through pain in the second half. (He appeared to re-aggravate a groin injury.) Like Vereen, he’€™s already established himself as a clear and important part of the offense, and has taken great steps early in his New England career to win the trust of the quarterback.

(Brady on Amendola and Vereen down the stretch on Sunday: “They are two great playmakers for us, guys that really run hard for us, the coaching staff and me, so they put themselves into position to make the critical plays. It was great to be in the huddle with them.”)

Wide receiver Julian Edelman: 75. Through three-plus quarters, Edelman was the best and most consistent receiver on the field, clearly displaying a chemistry with the quarterback that was missing with many of the other young receivers. Other than a bad drop in the third quarter, the former college quarterback had a nice day, coming away with a 9-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and an 8-yard touchdown pickup in the second quarter, as well as a big 35-yard pickup on a pass play at the start of the fourth quarter that got New England to midfield. (He added a 13-yard reception midway through the fourth.) He ended up with seven catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns and clearly is in Brady’€™s good graces as the season gets underway.

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, James Develin, Josh Boyce

Stevan Ridley: ‘I’m not going to pout’ about being benched after fumble

09.08.13 at 6:04 pm ET
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ORCHARD PARK — Stevan Ridley may have had no place to hide when he fumbled twice in the first half Sunday, but he wasn’t hiding from the truth after the Patriots escaped with a 23-21 win over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

As it turned out, the third play of the game Ridley fumbled but he was ruled down by contact after the Bills challenged the play. He wasn’t so lucky in the second quarter. He slipped and fell to the turf on his own but lost control of the ball, allowing Da’Norris Searcy to swoop in and scoop it up for a 74-yard game-changing fumble return for a touchdown.

“I never get too high and never get too low,” Ridley said. “Just try to stay even keel. This is the first game today of the 2013 season and all the talk before this is what happened last year. But it just goes to show that things can change day-to-day. Coming in, I have two turnovers. I can’t blame anybody but myself and just man up and come back to work. I’m just going to put my nose in the dirt and keep grinding. That’s all I can do.

“I can’t make excuses, two balls on the ground is unacceptable. I’m not going to sit on the past. I have to accept where I messed up, made a mistake and grow from it. That’s really all you can do, not point the fingers but come back to work tomorrow. I hate it and it’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the game of football that I’m just going to have to keep working, keep driving and keep pushing forward. We’ve got 15 weeks in front of us and I’m going right back to work.”

Shane Vereen came in and picked up the slack, finishing with 101 yards on 14 carries while adding seven catches for 58 yards.

“Shane’s a player man,” Ridley said. “I can’t take anything from him. He made a few great catches and some nice runs and he’s just taking advantages of the opportunities that he’s given, just like all of us. That’s what we try to go out there and do every Sunday, is that every opportunity we get is capitalize on it

“Really for him, I’m happy for him, I really am. It sucks for me to be in this situation but as a teammate, I have to pat him on the back and just tell him that he did a great job helping us to win this game today.”

Does he feel he’s going to have to win his job back from Vereen?

“Absolutely. Two turnovers, I was out of there the rest of the game. Hey, I’m not going to pout about it, just keep grinding,” Ridley said.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley

Quick Hits: Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down Patriots’ dramatic win over Bills

09.08.13 at 5:46 pm ET
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Read More: Buffalo Bills, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, nfl

Danny Amendola: ‘You just have to keep fighting’

09.08.13 at 5:36 pm ET
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ORCHARD PARK — Danny Amendola finished with a team-high 10 catches and 104 yards in his Patriots debut in Sunday’s win over the Bills, and managed to fight through what appeared to be a groin problem to help lead the New England offense back from a second-half deficit.

Amendola, who was on the sidelines at the end of the first half and start of the second half, said he struggled early against Buffalo.

“I really didn’t have my legs under me in the first half. I came in, made some adjustments and just tried to make as many plays as I could there in the second half and [help] get the ball moving,” he said.

“You just have to keep fighting. That’s what it’s about. It’s a long game — it’s a physical game. Honestly, it’s a fight out there, every play. We did a good job today fighting until the very end. It was awesome.”

Amendola had several big catches in the fourth quarter to help keep the chains moving, and played a major role in helping Tom Brady post his 27th come-from-behind win when the Patriots were trailing in the fourth quarter.

“We all know Tom has been in this situation before. He’s one of the best. So we really rallied behind him. He’s our leader, and did a great job,” Amendola said. “Tom Brady is a great quarterback — everybody knows that. He’s our leader.”

Many of Amendola’s grabs looked an awful lot like the same sort of catches that former New England receiver Wes Welker made over his six-year career with the Patriots. Amendola, who followed in Welker’s footsteps — first at Texas Tech and now in New England — said he doesn’t think about that sort of comparison.

“I was a senior in high school when I was going to Texas Tech and Wes was catching 15 balls a game,” Amendola said. “I’ve been watching Wes play at a very high level for a very long time. I’m just excited to be here, and I’m just excited to make plays with these guys.

“Wes is a great player — one of the best, most productive receivers ever to play the game. He’s really innovated the slot position. I’ve learned a lot from him,” he added. “[But] I don’t really think about that stuff. I just try and think about my job. I love playing with these guys — it’s a great team. I’ve only been here for a short amount of time, but I can already tell the guys really rally together. It starts at the top. I’m really excited to be here.”

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Bill Belichick: ‘Wasn’t perfect,’ but happy with how Patriots played late

09.08.13 at 5:08 pm ET
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Bill Belichick will certainly have plenty of teaching moments to show his team following Sunday’s 23-21 win over the Bills, but the Patriots coach chose to focus on the positives in his postgame press conference.

Belichick was particularly pleased with the way his team played late in the fourth quarter. The Patriots came up with a few big defensive stops to keep the game close, and Tom Brady and the offense were finally able to take advantage with a game-winning drive in the final five minutes that ended with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

“Obviously it wasn’t perfect, and there’s a lot of things we can do better, but we played the last few minutes of the game the way we needed to play it,” Belichick said. “We were able to execute and make the plays.

“It’s always tough to win in the division, on the road. It’s good to get off to that start. Now we have a real quick turnaround for the Jets [on Thursday] obviously, but it’s good to win. I’m proud of the way our team played today.”

Danny Amendola came up with two big third-down catches to keep the final drive alive, and Shane Vereen capped it off with a 15-yard run to set the Patriots up well within Gostkowski’s range.

“I thought Danny stepped up and made some big catches in tough situations,” Belichick said. “Tom, as always, competed like he always does and made some great throws at critical times.

“Shane stepped up and did a good job for us. We counted on him a lot and he came through. That was a huge run he had at the end to get us down in field-goal range, keep the ball in-bounds and force them to use a timeout. It was a good play and it was a smart play.”

The Patriots forced two turnovers — both forced fumbles by Kyle Arrington — but they also turned it over three times themselves. Belichick pointed to ball security as the area his team needs to improve the most.

“We have to take care of the ball better,” Belichick said. “We were fortunate to come up with them defensively, but we have to take care of the ball. That’s all there is to it.”

While the Patriots offense looked out of sync throughout the day, Belichick refused to use the turnover at certain positions — most notably wide receiver and tight end — as an excuse.

“We’ve got a couple new players, but that’s everybody in the league,” Belichick said. “There’s a lot of guys you’ve seen out there a lot before. All the offensive linemen, quarterback, running back — there’s a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for us out there.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Tom Brady
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