|10.01.14 at 3:18 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the many issues and problems facing Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots as they prepare to take on the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
|10.01.14 at 12:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Questions about the Patriots’ organizational depth and quality are now being directed at Tom Brady.
Brady was asked Wednesday during his 10-minute press conference if he thinks the issues with the struggling offense are correctable based on the talent around him.
“I hope they’re correctable,” Brady said. “That’s what we’re trying to do and that’s why we go out and practice. There’s always going to be mistakes in football. Every team is very competitive. They have very good players. They draft high. They have a lot of talent. They have the same money they can spend on their team as we can spend our ours. It’s a tough league and when you don’t play, and certainly you don’t play well on the road, and we go behind, those are things we’ve got to try to correct. We have to try to certainly do a better job of playing from ahead and try to get ahead and stay ahead.
“It’s a great opportunity for us this week to do that. This is a team that also likes to get ahead and stay ahead. They’ve done that in all their games this year. That’s why they’ve been pretty successful.”
Brady is referring to the fact that the Bengals, the opponent Sunday night, have taken big leads in each of their first three games to post a 3-0 record.
Brady was asked if he heard the comments made by ESPN analysts Trent Dilfer and Steve Young, claiming that the Patriots ($11.4 million under the cap) aren’t spending nearly enough to provide him with the offensive weapons and line that he needs for protection.
“Nope,” Brady said. “I don’t. I haven’t paid attention and I probably don’t pay attention much because I understand what’s going on. I know probably a lot more information than you guys have, a lot more information than they have. We’re just trying to focus on things we can do to get better. I said earlier today that it’s not like we’re going to come out and say all the things. We’re going to try to let our opponents figure out the things we’re not doing well, the things we are doing well. It’s a long year so we have a lot of football to play.
“We have a lot of high character guys in our locker room. We have a lot of mentally tough guys and that’s what it takes. This is not the time to fold the tents up and call it a season. We’re 2-2. We’re tied for the best record in our division, not that that’s a great feat by any stretch but we’ll see what we’re made of as we continue to fight through these tough weeks. Hopefully, it builds character and resiliency. The mistakes that we made last week, we have to try to figure out a way to improve on those things so that we can come out and play a great game this week because that’s what it’s going to take.”
|10.01.14 at 11:40 am ET|
FOXBORO — These Patriots are slow starters – and so far this season — they have had a lot of trouble getting up to speed.
Through the first four games, the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions and have allowed their opponent to score first in each of the four games.
Offensively on first drives the Patriots have ran three running plays totaling four yards and quarterback Tom Brady is 3-for-8 with 12 yards passing. Defensively, it has allowed 152 yards and two touchdowns on first drives — an average of 38 yards per drive, compared to just four yards per drive on offense.
“We have a high standard here, and we should,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Tuesday. “It’s a very competitive league, obviously, and we need to do a better job on offense regardless of the situation or circumstances. [Whoever] is out there we have faith and confidence in. Like I said, we can coach better and certainly need to. And we can play better. I think every year is a process that you go through, and I don’t think you’re really ever where you’re going to be when you start the year, but I think the key thing for us is we’ve got to improve each week.”
Fast starts are something the Patriots have been notorious for over the years, especially defensively. On opening drives last season the Patriots allowed just one touchdown — they’ve allowed two in the first four weeks of this season. Offensively they had just five three-and-outs on opening drives — one shy of that through four games this season.
|10.01.14 at 11:28 am ET|
The Patriots’ sluggish start to the year on the offensive side of the ball has been stunning — through the first four games, New England is 29th in the league in total offense (298.5 yards per game), 30th in average passing yards per game (201.0), 23rd in average rushing hards per game (97.5) and 24th in average points per game (20).
The advanced stats aren’t any kinder to Tom Brady and the rest of the New England offense. The Patriots are currently 28th in the league when it comes to offensive DVOA — as measured by Football Outsiders — at -17 percent, ahead of only the Jets, Buccaneers, Raiders, and Jaguars. (By way of comparison, the Falcons lead the league at 26.6 percent.)
While the fall from grace has been stunning, it’s not unprecedented. Football Outsiders recently published a piece looking at four other teams who spent at least three seasons in the top 5 of offensive DVOA before falling to 20th or worse at the start of the following season. It reveals the 2014 Patriots to be in some pretty interesting company.
— 1999 Broncos: This wasn’t a complete surprise, as the Broncos lost John Elway to retirement and Terrell Davis suffered a torn ACL. As a result, their offensive DVOA was -23.0 percent after four games, 28th in the league. There was improvement over the course of the season, however, as young quarterback Brian Griese evolved into a starting quarterback, and Denver stood at 3.4 by seasons end while finishing with a 6-10 record.
— 2002 Rams: Another case where there was a change at quarterback, but in this case, it was Kurt Warner getting hurt and St. Louis turning to Marc Bulger as a placeholder. (Torry Holt missed five games. Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace each missed six games for a Rams team that ultimately finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs.) St. Louis was at -16.8 percent over the first four games, but their improvement to -10.2 percent left them 26th overall.
— 2003 49ers: This might be the most palatable comparison for Patriots fans. San Francisco, with Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens and running backs Kevan Barlow and Garrison Hearst, was at -12.7 percent after the first four weeks, good for 27th in the league (thanks in large part to a Week 4 blowout loss to the Vikings). But the Niners’ offense was able to gel down the stretch, and you could make the argument the only reason they missed the playoffs and finish 7-9 was because of a lousy defense and poor special teams. The 49ers finished the year with 7.8 percent DVOA for all 16 games, good for 11th in the league.
— 2012 Chargers: In what turned out to be a miserable year for quarterback Philip Rivers — his last with Norv Turner as the head coach in San Diego — the Chargers had an -11 percent DVOA after four games, 20th in the NFL. They were able to get their collective act together down the stretch (after losing seven of eight at one point) and end up at 7-9 and a -10 percent DVOA (24th).
|10.01.14 at 10:42 am ET|
FOXBORO — The tough questions are starting to come at Bill Belichick.
Thirty-six hours after watching his team get dominated by the Chiefs, 41-14, Monday night in Kansas City, and in wake of speculation that Tom Brady is not happy with the roster or the weapons he’s been given, Belichick was asked about the roster and how it has impacted his starting quarterback.
The three-minute exchange was as follows:
How difficult is the adversity of Monday night?
BB: We’re on to Cincinnati.
You mentioned Tom’s age in the draft…?
BB: We’re on to Cincinnati.
Do you think having a 37-year-old … ?
BB: We’re on to Cincinnati. It’s nothing about the past. It’s nothing about the future. Right now, we’re getting ready for Cincinnati.
Do you think you’ve done enough to help Tom Brady?
BB: We’re getting ready for Cincinnati. That’s what we’re doing.
As you get ready for Cincinnati, does Tom Brady have the talent and protection around him to get ready for Cincinnati?
BB: We’re going to game plan and do the best we can and be ready to go Sunday night, the same as we always do. Nothing’s changed.
How much closer are we to an O-line that’s going to be comfortable with the positions that they’re in?
BB: We’re going to put the best players out there this weekend that we can, and we’ll see how that plays out.
|10.01.14 at 8:38 am ET|
Making his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan, Tom Brady attempted to explain the team’s poor play in Monday’s embarrassing loss to the Chiefs and why the already-struggling offense appears to be getting worse. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Brady acknowledged he did not have a good game, but he downplayed the importance of one disastrous night for him and the team.
“I think you’ve got to have enough mental toughness to endure through all the situations,” Brady said. “This game, it tests your will, it tests your mental toughness, it tests your discipline and your work ethic. I think those are the things that are going to be tested by us the rest of the year. I don’t think it’s just going to be easy to just roll out helmets out there and expect to go out there and win games. We’ve got a lot of tough opponents, the competition’s tough.
“It was a tough loss the other night, but whether you lose by one point or you lose by 30, they’re all going to count the same in the end. We’ve got to figure out the things that we need to do better, which is quite a few things in order to be a lot more competitive than we were. It was a disappointing loss, but at the same time we’ve got to be able to move on. We’ve got a short week and we’ve got a great opponent. We don’t want one bad week to turn into two bad weeks. That’s where we’ve got to show, like I said, our mental toughness and our ability to move forward, learn from our mistakes and hopefully not repeat them.”
Brady was removed from the game in the fourth quarter, with the result no longer in doubt, and backup Jimmy Garoppolo entered and threw a touchdown pass. Bill Belichick laughed off a question in his postgame news conference about a quarterback controversy.
“I just do what I’m told. I’m not overanalyzing anything. We were getting our butts kicked,” Brady said. “It was a situation where we didn’t have a good game. That’s what coach wanted to do, so that’s what we did.”
Routs of the Patriots in the Belichick-Brady era are rare, and past teams have been able to avoid allowing bad games to lead to bad seasons. However, the 2014 team has underwhelmed since the start of the season, leading to questions about whether these Patriots can turn things around.
“There’s no magic play, there’s no magic scheme. It’s us as players playing a lot better than we’re playing,” Brady said. “This hasn’t been an isolated incident. I don’t think offensively we’ve played well all year. I don’t think we’ve played well for a long time. We’ve got to figure out the reasons why we’re not playing as well as we’re capable and try to improve them.”
|10.01.14 at 12:02 am ET|
Every week, we list the Patriots’ “offensive touches,” a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’s a breakdown of the 2014 New England offense after four games:
RB Stevan Ridley: 60 (57 carries, 3 catches), 4 negative runs
RB Shane Vereen: 43 (28 carries, 15 catches) 1 negative catch
WR Julian Edelman: 30 (4 carries, 26 catches)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 13 (13 catches)
WR Brandon LaFell: 10 (10 catches)
RB Brandon Bolden: 9 (8 carries, 1 catch), 1 negative run
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (6 catches)
RB James White: 6 (3 catches, 3 carries)
QB Tom Brady: 5 (5 carries), 9 sacks, 3 kneeldowns
WR Danny Amendola: 3 (3 catches)
TE Tim Wright: 3 (3 catches)
FB James Develin: 2 (2 catches)
WR Aaron Dobson: 1 (1 catch)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 (1 catch)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 1 sack
Notes: The Patriots had three negative plays from scrimmage on Monday — three sacks (two of Brady, one of Garoppolo.) … On the season, New England has run 260 plays from scrimmage, and 16 of them have gone for negative yardage, not including kneeldowns. … Against the Chiefs, the Patriots ran 49 plays, a season-low, and none of them in no-huddle. In addition, 27 of their 49 snaps (55 percent) were in shotgun formation. … On the season, the Patriots have run 19 of their 260 plays out of no-huddle (7 percent) and 94 snaps in shotgun (36 percent). By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps.
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