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Mike Lombardi on K&C: Patriots might be planning to play both QBs vs. Bills 09.30.16 at 10:16 am ET
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Michael Lombardi

Michael Lombardi

NFL analyst Mike Lombardi, making his weekly appearance with Kirk & Callahan, said the Patriots are justified in waiting to decide until shortly before game time who will start at quarterback against the Bills on Sunday. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

Lombardi said the Patriots need to wait as long as possible to see if Jimmy Garoppolo can play through the injury to his shoulder.

“I don’t know if anybody can know that until Sunday,” Lombardi said. “I really don’t. And I don’t mean to be skirting the issue. But I think that Garoppolo is in such an iffy situation. I think Jacoby Brissett’s fine. I think whatever the rumors were about Brissett were wrong. I think Brissett’s fine, I think he can play. I think they probably tried to split reps [in practice].

“But I think the key’s going to be, it’s going to be windy on Sunday, can Garoppolo throw the ball all the way around the field, and how much pain can he tolerate. I don’t know if they’re really going to know that until Saturday — at least Saturday, or Sunday [after] another day of treatment. And if he can go, I would suspect he’ll go, but I have a feeling they’ll play both quarterbacks. … I don’t know if Jimmy’s going to be able to play for 60 minutes, and I don’t think they’ll want to risk that.”

Lombardi said this game likely will come down to New England avoiding mistakes and winning a low-scoring battle.

“They’re going to manage the game,” Lombardi said. “The first thing they’re going to do is not lose the game. So they’re going to protect the ball, not turn it over. And look, they’re not playing a juggernaut, they’re not playing the greatest offense on turf, So you’ve got to look at them and say, ‘OK, look, if we keep them in the pocket, if we don’t turn the ball over, if we don’t give up a big run, the game’s going to be in the teens.’ They’re not going to score very many points. So that’s how you have to approach the game plan: ‘Look, we’re not going to give up a big play down the field. If [wide receiver] Marquise Goodwin comes on the field, everybody on the sideline, play the deep ball. You’ve got to handle that. We’ve got to handle the down-the-field throws. Keep them in the pocket, don’t let them get out of the pocket.’

“It’s the law of inversion. This is what makes [Bill] Belichick so brilliant, is he operates under the Charlie Munger law of inversion. He asks what he must eliminate before he can win. And that’s what he does. They’re going to eliminate the big play, they’re going to stop the run, they’re not going to turn the ball over, and one of my pet peeves of all time is they typically are not going to get penalties on special teams.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On Rex Ryan: “I think he’s a really good defensive coordinator. As a head coach I think there’s a lot to be desired.”

On which team is second best in the AFC East: “The Jets are clearly the second-best team. Their defense is good. The Jets have no depth. That’s the problem with the Jets.”

Read More: Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Lombardi,
Josh McDaniels on K&C: ‘I have a lot of respect for Rex [Ryan], and what he says is usually the truth’ 09.26.16 at 10:36 am ET
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Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, checking in with Kirk & Callahan on Monday morning, heaped praise on Bills coach Rex Ryan, who already has started talking tough as the teams prepare for next Sunday’s matchup in Foxboro. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

After his Bills knocked off the Cardinals on Sunday, Ryan said he doesn’t care who starts behind center for the Patriots, his team will come at the QB regardless.

McDaniels took the high road.

“I have a lot of respect for Rex, and what he says is usually the truth,” McDaniels told K&C. “They’ll blitz, they’ll bring a lot of different packages each week to try to disrupt the quarterback, whichever team he’s playing. They obviously played very well yesterday against Arizona.

“We’re going to have to be ready for all that stuff, because he always keeps you on your toes, makes it difficult. Certainly one of the best defensive coaches that we’ll ever play against. His team played very well yesterday.”

With Jimmy Garropolo and Jacoby Brissett nursing injuries, McDaniels said it isn’t clear who will be calling signals next Sunday.

“I don’t know that. I haven’t seen them in a few days,” he said. “Hopefully all those guys continue to get better. We’ll see them tomorrow. Hopefully they’re all ready to go. That would be the goal, that would be the hope as we head into this week. But as of right now, I don’t know that.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Rex Ryan,
Mike Lombardi on K&C: ‘Team won last night. Culture won last night. Chemistry won last night. That’s what won’ 09.23.16 at 9:18 am ET
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Michael Lombardi

Michael Lombardi

NFL analyst Mike Lombardi made his weekly appearance with Kirk & Callahan on Friday morning, following the Patriots’ impressive 27-0 victory over the Texans, and defended his former boss Bill Belichick against accusations that he was pressuring Jimmy Garropolo to play in Thursday’s game. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

Lombardi dismissed a report that Belichick was questioning Garropolo’s toughness because he was not able to play with a sprained AC joint he suffered in Sunday’s win over the Dolphins.

“Not even remotely close, OK?” said Lombardi, who was an assistant to the Patriots coaching staff last season and was an executive with the Browns alongside Belichick in the early 1990s. “First of all, I’ve known Bill since 1991, and his philosophy — as is mine — if a player’s not a hundred percent, if he’s 80 percent and you put him out there, you’re better off playing a backup.

“How can you make that statement when your whole emphasis is team? If you believe in team and you believe in the next man up, why would you ever pressure a guy? Why would you ever believe that? It goes counterintuitive to what your whole emphasis of the program is? It’s team. That’s what won last night. Team won last night. Culture won last night. Chemistry won last night. That’s what won.”

Lombardi wasn’t surprised the Patriots stuck with rookie Jacoby Brissett at quarterback rather than signing a free agent during the week, because adding a player on such short notice would be “wasting a roster spot.” The Patriots kept things relatively simple for the third-round draft pick because, “He just doesn’t have enough reps yet. So they’ve got to manage him and they’ve got to manage the game. Those are the challenges that come across,” Lombardi said.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Jacoby Brissett, Mike Lombardi
Josh McDaniels on K&C: Bringing in QB ‘not a thing we have to do,’ but experienced signal-caller ‘would surely help’ 09.19.16 at 10:33 am ET
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Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels check in with Kirk & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the team’s quarterback situation, including whether the team might bring in an emergency fill-in for the next couple of weeks. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots are down to their third-string signal-caller, rookie Jacoby Brissett, after Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder injury during Sunday’s 31-24 victory over the Dolphins. Assuming Garoppolo is out for a while — McDaniels said he didn’t know the extent of the injury, but he expected to learn more later Monday morning — there has been a lot of speculation about what the Patriots might do as they look to survive the next two games before Tom Brady returns from his suspension. McDaniels did not rule out bringing in a new player despite having a short week of preparation, with the Texans on their way in for a Thursday game at Gillette.

“We haven’t had this situation here a lot, but I’ve actually experienced it before,” McDaniels said, referencing a situation that occurred when he was offensive coordinator with the Rams in 2011. “In St. Louis we had guy we brought in a short week, actually on a Wednesday to play on a Sunday because we had a couple of freak things happen there. He had no experience in our system, and [we got] him ready to do the things we thought he could do. [He] went out there and did the best he could — it was Kellen Clemens — at the time.

“Experience in our system, I don’t know how many guys [are] out there that have it. There’s not many. But if somebody’s out there that does have experience in the system and we felt like that was the best alternative or the best option that we could get, that would surely help. But it’s certainly not a thing we have to do.”

McDaniels had some good things to say about Brissett, who completed 6-of-9 passes for 92 yards after being rushed into action late in the second quarter.

“Jacoby’s really a calm individual,” McDaniels said. “He’s been that way since we brought him in for his interview. We tried to put him under pressure when we first brought him in here before the draft. He didn’t flinch then. Really, he’s a guy that is very difficult to fluster. He’s young, doesn’t have much experience, obviously and is learning every week and every day. But I thought his poise and his composure yesterday showed. I didn’t feel like he was rattled on the sideline when it was his opportunity to get in there. I felt like he handled the huddle and the line of scrimmage from critical situations well, threw the ball accurately.

“That’s what we saw in the preseason. When we gave him an opportunity to play and do the things that he does well, he executed his job. And that’s really going to be the focus. If he’s out there playing then we’ve got to do a good job of putting him in position to do the things that he does well, and not worry about trying to do things that we wish we could do. If there’s something that we have to cater to a specific position, whether that’s a lineman, a tight end, a quarterback or a receiver because those are the things that they do well, then that’s what we’re going to try to do each week.”

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Read More: Jacoby Brissette, Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh McDaniels,
Jimmy Garoppolo on K&C: ‘It didn’t take very long’ for pregame nerves to subside 09.12.16 at 8:55 am ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Coming off Sunday’s night’s 23-21 victory over the Cardinals, Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo checked in with Kirk & Callahan on Monday morning to review his first start in the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the K&C audio on demand page.

Garoppolo overthrew his receiver on his first pass of the night, but he quickly rebounded, leading his team to a touchdown on its first drive and finishing 24-of-33 for 264 yards with no interceptions. He said any pregame nerves he had went away before long.

“[I settled in] early on, I don’t think there was a real specific point where I realized it,” he said. “It didn’t take very long. Once you get into it, it’s just football after all that.”

Added Garoppolo: “I always feel nervous before games. I’ve been that way for my whole career. … Nothing crazy. Just typical nervousness before the game. But like I said, once you get into it and take a hit or something like that, it’s just football after that. You’ve just got to go out there and play.”

Julian Edelman caught seven passes on seven targets for 66 yards to lead the receivers.

“He just makes it so much easier on the quarterback, finding the soft spot in the zones and everything,” Garoppolo said. “It really makes my job a whole lot easier.”

Seven Patriots in all caught at least one pass — including Garoppolo, who snatched his own third-quarter pass after it was batted down at the line and picked up three yards.

“The coaches put together a nice game plan to distribute the ball to all the guys,” Garoppolo said. “All the guys were making plays throughout the game. It really wasn’t just a one-man show. We knew that going into the game it was going to be like that, and things worked out pretty well.”

Garoppolo had one big mistake, fumbling away the ball at midfield in the second quarter. It led to Arizona’s first touchdown.

“I’ve just got to hold on to the ball, bottom line,” he said. “The guy came from behind me. I’ve just got to hold on to that one. That’s a tough break.”

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo,
Mike Lombardi on K&C: ‘I think Jimmy [Garoppolo] will rise to the occasion’ vs. Cardinals 09.09.16 at 10:51 am ET
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Fox Sports analyst and former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi, making his weekly appearance on Kirk & Callahan on Friday morning, said he expects Jimmy Garoppolo will play well Sunday night in his first career start as the Patriots open the season against the Cardinals. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

“I think Jimmy will play an effective game,” Lombardi said. “I think the key to the game will be his ability to move around in the pocket. I think he’s going to face a lot of pressure. I think they’ll be in a lot of two-minute offense. But I think Jimmy will rise to the occasion. I think Jimmy’s a good player and I think Jimmy will play well. I think most of the supporting cast is going to have to play well with him.”

Lombardi said Rob Gronkowski’s hamstring injury could be a big problem for the Patriots, and Garoppolo in particular, for a reason other than the tight end’s production.

“Jimmy needs Gronk,” Lombardi said. “What I think people lose sight of with Gronk a little bit is Gronk’s a great indicator for the quarterback. When Gronk’s flexed away from [the line] — let’s take the Super Bowl, when Gronk lines up out there and K.J. Wright’s with him, every quarterback in the world knows it’s man-to-man. If there would have been a corner out there on him, then they know it’s zone.

“So Gronk’s a great indicator. It really helps a quarterback, especially when you’re playing against a team that does a lot of multiple things on defense. And not having Gronk out there all the time will affect it. And I think that’s certainly going to play into this game.”

Garoppolo is filling in for the suspended Tom Brady, and some have speculated Brady might be feeling some jealousy regarding the third-year pro.

“I think it’s really Tom Brady’s whole mentality is to not worry about the competition, not acknowledge the competition, but he is aware of the competition. And I think that’s how he motivates himself,” Lombardi said. “In terms of how they get along off the field, that I don’t know. But I know this: Tom, just by the way he sees Jimmy Garoppolo behave himself [he] respects him. And when he respects somebody he sees it as competition. So I think that’s clearly the case in this situation.

“I think he definitely knows that Jimmy’s played well in practice, Jimmy’s a competitive guy, Jimmy’s younger, and I think Tom wants to make sure that nobody’s going to take his job from him. That’s the essence of it. You can bring Tom back to high school, it’s the same mentality. He’s not going to give an inch.”

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Lombardi, Tom Brady,
Jimmy Garoppolo on K&C: Tom Brady’s absence ‘something that we’re adjusting to’ 09.06.16 at 8:21 am ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, making his weekly appearance on Kirk & Callahan, explained how he’s adjusting to the absence of Tom Brady now that Brady’s Deflategate suspension has begun. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

“It’s a little different,” Garoppolo said of Brady’s forced vacation. “Meeting rooms, it’s just me and Jacoby [Brissett] now. But it’s something that we’re adjusting to. It’s a little different, but me and Jacoby, we’ve been meeting the last couple of days with the coaches and everything, and it’s been really good so far.”

Heading into the regular season, Garoppolo said he’s trying to avoid trying to be something that he’s not.

“You can’t really overthink it,” he said. “You can’t try to be fake about it, either. You have to make your own — me and Tom are two different people, obviously. You kind of just have to go out there and play your game. You don’t know who you’re going to have out there with you, who’s not going to be out there. You just have to go out there and do your thing.”

There’s been some speculation in the media that the Patriots will play it safe with Garoppolo in an attempt to avoid having him turn over the football, then rely on the other offensive weapons along with a highly regarded defense to win games the first quarter of the season.

“As a quarterback, that’s your first job, you don’t want to turn the ball over. If you do that, you give your team a good chance of winning. So, they’re right about that, you don’t  don’t want to turn the ball over,” Garoppolo said. “But there’s so much more that goes into it — on-the-field, off-the-field stuff, in the locker room, all that stuff. It’s a never-ending job as a starting quarterback. And I’m looking forward to it.”

Garoppolo did not have a great preseason, although it didn’t help that a number of key weapons were not on the field with him.

“That’s who we had out there at the time,” he said. “That’s kind of how the season goes. Injuries are going to happen. You don’t know who’s going to be out there. Coach is mixing and matching. You really can’t think about that stuff. When you start worrying about all that, then your head’s going to get messed up. Whoever’s out there is out there. We just have to make the best of it.”

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady,
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