|01.03.11 at 7:32 pm ET|
“I think everybody really needs to understand, veterans, rookies or everybody in between, I think everybody really needs to understand what’s at stake here,” said Belichick, who was coming off his team’s 38-7 win over Miami in the regular-season finale, Sunday. “It’s single-elimination. One bad play, one mistake, and you’re done. That goes for everybody. It doesn’t matter who is one the field. Each and every one of us has to understand that, do our best to be prepared and execute to the absolute top level that we can get to. That will be the message to everybody.”
Asked what kind of effect it might have on preparation if the Patriots were to ultimately face off with former Patriots assistants Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, who both now are with Kansas City, Belichick downplayed the importance of any such familiarity.
“In the end, this is a player’s game,” Belichick said. “The players are the ones who go out on the field and block, and tackle, and run, and catch, and kick, and throw. Those are the guys who make the plays. I don’t make any tackles or any throws, which is a good thing.
“I think the knowledge of the personnel on your team is probably more of an advantage of what the X’s and O’s are since you can get those off film, anyway.”
As for the win over the Dolphins, the coach explained that he believed the game offered a good opportunity for some of the team’s younger receivers, such as Taylor Price, Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate. Regarding Price, Belichick said: “I thought Taylor had an opportunity and did a good job on a couple of patterns. Again, there are some other things he needs to work on,” he said. Later, the coach added, “He had some opportunities and he showed up and he made them.”
Regarding Danny Woodhead, who left the game for good in the first half after what was termed a “head injury,” Belichick said, “The medical staff held him out for a little while, and we saw no point in putting him back in after that.”
Belichick spoke glowingly of rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski, as well as veteran tight end Alge Crumpler. The coach pointed out that while Crumpler was signed in March, well before the Pats knew both Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were going to be available in the draft, the dynamic between the three has “worked out perfectly.” “I don’t think you could ask for a better set-up,” he noted.
Belichick also touched on the perception that he might be participating in more facets of the team without the Patriots having named offensive or defensive coordinators.
“I tried to coach the team the best I could every year I’ve been here and some years that’s been more in one area, or less in another. Sometimes that’s just circumstances or the way it goes. I don’t think it’s anything that’s that calculated. I just try and do the best I can and if there’s an area I feel I can help the team out than that’s where it is,” said Belichick, who gave the example of him helping the coaching of the quarterbacks in 2001 after the passing of then-quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein.
|01.03.11 at 7:10 pm ET|
Patriots defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick has been placed on the reserve/suspended list by the team, according to multiple media outlets. Deaderick, a seventh-round draft pick out of Alabama, was active for 10 games this season, including four starts, and had 17 tackles and two sacks. The news was first reported by Mike Reiss of ESPN.
|01.03.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Monday evening that they have placed defensive lineman Ron Brace on injured reserve with an elbow injury and have released defensive lineman Lorenzo Washington from the practice squad. Brace, 6-foot-3, 330 pounds, originally joined the Patriots as a second round draft pick out of Boston College in 2009. He played in 13 games with five starts in 2010 and finished the season with 28 total tackles. Washington, 6-foot-4 and 296 pounds, joined the New England practice squad on Nov. 3. He was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie free agent out of Alabama on April 25 and was waived by Dallas on July 29.
|01.03.11 at 1:06 pm ET|
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork had his weekly conversation with the Dale & Holley show on Patriots Monday, one day after the Pats closed out the regular season with a 38-7 domination of the Dolphins. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Wilfork was flagged for a personal foul during Sunday’s game but only had time for a brief explanation from the referee who made the call. “He said something about me hitting to the head,” Wilfork said. “I don’t know if I did or didn’t. I’ve seen a little clip of it and it didn’t seem like I did. I don’t know. I don’t know. The only thing I can continue to do is play ball.
“I don’t think it was anything dirty from my part. When I went in, I didn’t intend to hit him in the head. ‘¦ We know how everything is with protection of players. A rule is a rule. So, if I did hit him in his helmet, we’ll have to take it up with the league. It really didn’t bother me as much. But a penalty is a penalty at the same time.”
Asked when the Patriots turned the corner this season, Wilfork pointed to Nov. 7. “I think it was after the Cleveland game,” he said. “That whole week going into that game, we didn’t practice well. Every day was a mistake. There were things we were making mistakes on that we had been doing all year, ever since OTAs. That week was a crazy week for us.
“To go out there on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns ‘¦ they just basically did whatever they wanted to us. We knew exactly what they wanted to do, and it seemed like we didn’t respond. We didn’t respond at all. I think after that game, it was a gut-check time for us. We knew a lot of things that we did in that game, we wouldn’t have been able to win any game.
“I think from that week on, I think guys really buckled down. I think we started trusting one another, trusting the system. From a whole team standpoint, including the coaching staff, everybody pulled themselves closer to one goal. And that one goal was winning.”
|01.03.11 at 12:40 pm ET|
Bill Belichick just wrapped up a quick conference call with the media. He started his opening statement by saying, “After last night, we were 14-2. This morning, we’re 0-0,” while discussing a variety of topics. Here are a few quick highlights:
On how they’ll spend their next few days: “We’re going to spend these next few days working on things that we feel like we need to work on; regardless of who we play, there are certainly a lot of things we can improve on and do a better job with technique-wise and assignment-wise and our overall execution. We’ll do our preparation on the three teams that we can possibly play, but we won’t know which one that is until after this weekend’s games. Until we can specifically tailor those improvements and adjustments an corrections to a particular team, we’ll just have to do it on a generic basis to try and help ourselves get better for whoever that next opponent happens to be.”
On the special teams in general on Sunday, and specifically, the blocking on Julian Edelman’s punt return: “I thought overall, it was inconsistent. I thought we covered well, other than the last kickoff where we let them bounce outside to the 40-yard line. The return game was inconsistent, kickoff return, we only had one chance, but it wasn’t very good. Our punt return, we hit a big play there, but I didn’t think it was great blocking. It was OK ‘ Julian did a good job making a couple of guys miss, but we didn’t exactly have them all blocked, so … I think there’s still some room for improvement. Our field goal protection and all that operation was fair. Wasn’t anything great. There are still a lot of things we can work on.”
On Taylor Price’s first game action of the season: “I thought he did some good things. Just really his first chance to play since preseason. I thought he did some good things. He caught the ball inside, caught it in some traffic. I thought it could have been better, but I think he showed up and made some positive plays for us.”
On the performance of Brian Hoyer: “Some good things, some things he could have done better. … The first half was a much shorter time — he was only in for a handful of plays. The second half he had an opportunity to play more. But I’d say overall it’s true for the whole game. He did a lot of good things, he handled himself and the team well in a lot of situations. There’s a a couple of things he could definitely do better. I’m sure he’s aware of some of those. Others are more subtle, and we’ll point those out to him. No different than any other player, really.”
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|01.03.11 at 12:02 pm ET|
Defensive back Brandon Meriweather checked in for his weekly chat on the Dale & Holley show page Monday as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked how he would spend the bye week before the Patriots’ playoff opener, Meriweather said: “Just trying to get better. It’s a time where you focus even harder now. You’ve got to take your game up a notch. You just try to focus on the little things and let your body heal.”
Despite the recent success of the Patriots defense and his selection to the Pro Bowl, Meriweather said the defensive unit continues to be overlooked. “We will never get the respect we deserve. And that’s just the truth,” he said. “You know it, I know it. We could have the best defense in NFL history, and we would never get the respect we deserve.”
Pressed as to why he feels that way, he responded: “Because this team is still offensive-friendly. It is. The team is always about the offense. That’s a good thing for us ‘ a great thing for us, actually. Because we don’t have any pressure.”
Meriweather said he learned of his Pro Bowl selection Tuesday afternoon from teammate and fellow Pro Bowler Jerod Mayo. “Mayo had called me and he was telling me. I actually thought he was playing [a joke],” Meriweather said. “He was like, ‘Did Bill [Belichick] call you? I was like, ‘Uh, no.’ And then I checked my phone and realized I did miss a phone call from Bill. … I called [Belichick] back and he told me. And I was happy. I can’t tell you how happy I was, but I was very, very happy.”
|01.03.11 at 11:54 am ET|
With Hoyer back in the game – for good – and the Patriots at the Dolphins 42, Tate ran a “GO” route and had told Hoyer if he sees him, make sure he gets the ball away. Tate would do the rest. On the second series of the second half for the Patriots, Hoyer decided to take Tate’s word at face value.
“We just went out there and I told him, ‘If you’ve got a chance, just throw it up there to me,’” Tate said. “So, he trusted me and he threw it up there for me and made the big play.’
That big play ended with Tate literally laying out for a beautiful pass that Hoyer put over Tate’s left shoulder and Tate diving to make sure he hit the ground in the end zone before the ball did. Tate said he gave the Patriots the ball to make sure Hoyer had a souvenir of his first NFL touchdown pass.
‘That was real good for Hoyer’s first one,” Tate said of the pass.
Even though Hoyer attended Michigan State and not Michigan, Tom Brady told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan during his weekly appearance on Monday that Hoyer has the makings of a stud quarterback in the NFL.
Hoyer wasn’t even sure of his first pro TD pass until the men in stripes told him so.
‘I didn’t see it,” Hoyer said. “I just saw the ref put his hands up, and I heard the crowd cheer, so I figured it was a touchdown. I saw the ref put his hands up, that’s what I saw because I got hit. And I saw him put his hands up. I was just so elated, I just sprinted down. That was a play that Brandon and I talked about before, and we just kind of had a good feeling about it going into the game.
“He made a tremendous catch. You watch the replay afterwards, and he really went out and got it and made a great catch.’
That wasn’t Hoyer’s first action of the day, however. That came on the next-to-last offensive series of the first half for the Pats. That’s when Brady handed off to Sammy Morris for a one-yard run on third-and-1 to get the Patriots another series of downs at the Patriots 26. Bill Belichick called out Hoyer’s name on the sideline and wanted to see if the second-year player out of Michigan State was prepared to come in.
“That could easily happen in a game when a quarterback comes out and the other quarterback has to go in,” Belichick said. “That’s what he did.”
Hoyer handed off to Morris for another seven yards. Then he threw a pair of incomplete passes. Brady came back in and led the team down the field for a field goal. Hoyer was done until the third quarter.
Fun was not how Hoyer recalled the 2009 season finale, when he also went in, came out and went back in after the Patriots had blown a 14-point lead and was the quarterback when the Patriots left the field following a 34-27 loss. This time around – against Miami – Hoyer came in to stay with the Pats up, 31-0.
‘Just fun really,” Hoyer said. “We won the game. Last year in Houston, we didn’t win. Whenever you don’t win, that’s not very fun. Just to go out there and play and complete some passes, throw my first touchdown and move the offense a little bit…I thought when I was in there, we pounded the ball really well, ran the ball really well, so that helped on some of those play-actions.’