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Tedy Bruschi on D&H: ‘Interesting play-calling’ in Patriots’ loss to Packers

12.01.14 at 9:18 pm ET
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ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, in his weekly interview on WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, described the Packers‘ 26-21 victory over the Patriots in glowing terms, deeming the contest “one of the most exciting I’ve seen all season” and as an “intellectual” exercise in football strategy. The schemes by the Packers and adjustments by both teams to the schemes presented represented an act of gridiron chess that Bruschi suggested was rare, particularly given that Green Bay featured a singularly dynamic weapon in quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Just the ultimate headache defensively is what I call him,” Bruschi said of Rodgers.

Bruschi cited two plays as pivotal in the game’s outcome: Green Bay’s fourth-quarter sack on third down of Tom Brady to force a field goal attempt (a miss by Stephen Gostkowski) and the Packers‘ subsequent conversion of a third-down opportunity that permitted Green Bay to run out the clock. Bruschi suggested that the Patriots’ shortcomings on those two plays hearkened back to the team’s early-season struggles.

“Those are situational football instances that you have to win late in the game, in big games, to come away with the win. The Packers did that. That’s what Coach [Bill] Belichick and Brady are talking about — a couple more plays that they made than them. Those were the two key ones in critical situations,” said Bruschi. “It’s coming up back to old wounds. The scab is sort of being peeled off here. The offensive line not holding up in protection when they absolutely have to, and also defensively, not getting pressure on the quarterback.”

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Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft on witness list for upcoming Aaron Hernandez trial

12.01.14 at 7:08 pm ET
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Prosecutors have listed Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft as potential witnesses in Aaron Hernandez‘s upcoming murder trial, according to a list released Monday by prosecutors.

The list is for the trial of the alleged first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013. The list includes over 300 names and besides Belichick and Kraft, also listed is former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes and Dolphins lineman Mike Pouncey, both teammates of Hernandez at the University of Florida. Also on the list is Hernandez’s fiancee, Shanyanna Jenkins, and his cousin, Tanya Singleton.

Jury selection for the trial is scheduled for Jan. 9.

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Bill Belichick on D&H: No regrets about how Patriots offense was run vs. Packers

12.01.14 at 5:45 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the team’€™s loss to the Packers. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

By the end of Sunday’€™s game, the Patriots ran the ball just 18 times compared to 35 pass attempts from Tom Brady. The hosts wondered whether it was part of the game plan to go with a more pass-heavy offense against Green Bay.

Said Belichick: “I wouldn’€™t say we got away from [the run game], we ran the ball throughout the game, we just didn’t have the ball for enough plays. If we’€™d had the ball more, we would’ve run more of everything. We would’ve run it more, we would’ve thrown it more, we would’ve had more plays and we would’ve had better control of the game. We just didn’t have enough plays and that was because we had only eight possessions for us in the game. And on four of those they were quick possessions, three-and-out or one first down and Green Bay did a better job of keeping the ball than we did. They converted more third downs, they had more time of possession. We were better in the red area and had three touchdowns, they only had two, but their ability to move the ball and eventually kick those field goals ended up being the difference in the game. I don’€™t think there was really anything in the game that we felt not good about offensively.”

It was eight years since a Patriots team had played at Lambeau Field and it was the first time the team had to prepare for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Belichick said a lot went into getting ready for such a well-coached and highly skilled Green Bay team.

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What pundits were saying about Patriots Sunday

12.01.14 at 4:18 pm ET
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Tom Brady came up just short against Green Bay Sunday. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tom Brady came up just short against Green Bay Sunday. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick rundown of what some NFL analysts were saying about the Patriots before and after Sunday’s game against the Packers:

NFL Network’s Michael Irvin on Patriots-Packers after the game: “That may have been a Super Bowl preview.”

NFL Network’s Deion Sanders after the game on the Packers‘ defense: “The Packers defense stepped up. They really outplayed the Patriots defense. Usually [Bill] Belichick is the one who comes up with the scheme to eliminate your biggest weapon but it was the total opposite today.”

Sanders after the game on Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady: “Quarterbacks at home, high school, college, pro, sit down, get your pen and pad out, and learn from these two individuals. They are two of the best.”

NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci after the game on Rodgers: “[Aaron Rodgers] can zing it in there from anywhere on the field, but he can make plays outside of the pocket and throw these pinpoint passes anywhere, anytime. That’s how he differentiates himself between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He makes so many plays out of the pocket. That’s what makes him scary.”

NFL Network’s Sterling Sharpe before the game on the Patriots: “They’re a bottom-line football team: they’ll do whatever it takes to win a football game. They can win 41-40. They can win 10-7. It’s hard to find a football team other than New England that can do those things.”

NFL Network’s Michael Robinson before the game on the Patriots: “I really think they’re built to win a championship especially because of the versatility in the back end of the secondary. … They really put your offense in a bad position.”

NFL Network’s Shaun O’Hara before the game on Patriots-Packers: “When you go on that playoff run, when you get in the AFC and NFC Championship Games, when you get in the Super Bowl, what wins games is getting to the quarterback. The Green Bay Packers, they have better pass rushers than the New England Patriots.”

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Bill Belichick discusses why Patriots decided to mostly steer clear of run game against Packers

12.01.14 at 3:52 pm ET
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Bill Belichick and the Patriots won for the first time in franchise history at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick explained why the Patriots decided to go light on the run Sunday against the Packers. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

On Monday afternoon, Bill Belichick talked about why the Patriots decided to go relatively light on the run Sunday against a Green Bay defense that entered the game 30th in the league when it came to run defense.

New England averaged a relatively robust 4.7 yards per carry, with LeGarrette Blount leading the way with 10 carries for 58 yards, but appeared to abandoned the ground game at times. Ultimately, the 18 carries were the third-lowest total of the season — they had 15 against the Jets and 16 against the Chiefs. Given the fact that entering Sunday’s game, the Packers had held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing only twice in the last 18 games (dating back to last year), it was a curious decision.

One possibility is the fact that the Patriots were without Cameron Fleming — the rookie had been deployed effectively in the past as an extra lineman, but was sidelined Sunday with an injury. (In his place, Marcus Cannon played just seven snaps, and was done after a false start penalty in the second half.)  Another possibility was that situational football — namely, the fact that the Patriots fell behind early — dictated more passing in hopes of hanging with the Packers.

Ultimately, Belichick said a simple lack of plays — the Patriots ran just 57 offensive plays, one of their lowest totals of the season, and lost the time of possession battle, 37-23 — meant they were limited in what they could and couldn’t do against the Packers.

“Offensively and defensively, we weren’€™t able to convert on third down as effectively as we needed to — which gave them extra plays — so you can probably say there were a lot of things offensively that we didn’€™t do as much of as we wanted to because we didn’€™t have the ball as much as we would have liked to have had it,” acknowledged Belichick. “That’€™s a combination of our fault and their good play.

“Had we converted more third downs or had we been able to get more first downs whenever we converted them — whether it’€™s on third down or on second down — then we would have had more plays and we would have been able to run more of everything,” he added. “If we would have been able to get a few more third down stops, force some punts, instead of long drives and red area stops and field goals, that would have given us more plays and more time of possession and made them play defense longer, but it was one of the main areas of the game that we didn’€™t control well enough.”

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Julian Edelman on MFB: ‘Around here we’re never satisfied with losing’

12.01.14 at 12:34 pm ET
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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss Sunday’s loss to the Packers. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Bill Belichick was not his usual dour self after the loss, leading many to believe it was a moral victory for the Patriots to come so close to knocking off the Packers in Green Bay.

“Around here we’re never satisfied with losing,” Edelman said. “That was a good football team. They outplayed us a little bit yesterday, and they made more plays than us. We still have a bunch of games, we have four games, a month of football. Every game counts. So we have to turn the page, learn from it and try to get better. And that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Some are predicting a rematch in the Super Bowl. Edelman credited the Packers with doing what they needed to get the win.

“They mixed it up a bunch, a little bit here and there,” Edelman said. “They executed their game plan and they tackled well. They swung the ball. We just weren’t able to make enough plays yesterday. We made some, but when it comes down to it, whoever makes more plays wins the game, and they made more plays than us.”

Edelman, who battled a leg injury during the game, refused to use any excuses, saying that the Patriots’ inability to execute key plays made the difference.

“We just didn’t convert in crucial situations on certain third downs, fourth-and-1s where we didn’t convert on third-and-short or medium,” he said. “They won the third-down battle. That was probably one of the biggest parts of the game.”

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Report: Josh McDaniels in mix for Florida coaching job

12.01.14 at 12:27 pm ET
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Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is being considered as a possible candidate for the head coaching position at the University of Florida, according to

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley reportedly considers McDaniels a “viable candidate” for the position, and is part of a group of possibles names that have been connected with to the job, including Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain.

The Florida job opened up after it was announced late last month that Gators coach Will Muschamp would not be returning for the 2015 season. McDaniels has spent the bulk of his coaching career in New England, but worked as the Broncos head coach for nearly two years before being fired late in the 2010 season.

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