|Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: Bill Belichick ‘never lost faith in us’||11.14.11 at 10:45 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checked in with Dennis & Callahan Monday morning for his weekly discussion. Brady led the Patriots to a 37-16 victory over the Jets Sunday night, snapping a two-game losing streak.
With the win, Brady and Bill Belichick set the NFL record for most wins by a coach-quarterback combination, and Brady credited Belichick for showing his value as a leader once again.
“The last two weeks have been rough, but you know what? He never lost faith in us or confidence in what we’re doing,” Brady said. “He just said, ‘Look, we’ve just got to do better.’ He doesn’t ride those highs and lows. He comes in every week with a goal in mind. I think all the guys who played for him really appreciate that, appreciate his consistency, and appreciate the way that he listens to the team as well. Ultimately, he’s the one that makes the decisions, but at the same time, he takes a lot of input from a lot of people, too. Everyone feels like they’re a part of it. It’s very special for it to be like that.”
Following is a transcript from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
I guess you’re in a little better mood than the last couple of Mondays.
It’s definitely a different feeling when you win. We got off the field last night, and just to walk into the locker room and celebrate with the guys after a tough couple of weeks for us. Even battling a very good team last night under some tough conditions, with their home stadium. It was pretty sweet.
Does your uniform need to be washed? I don’t think you got roughed up very much last night.
We had great protection. We’ve had great protection all year. The strength of our offense is our offensive line. The way those guys battle, with [Matt] Light and Logan [Mankins], and Danny Connolly stepped in for [Dan Koppen] when he got hurt, and Brian Waters has played phenomenal, and Sea-Bass [Sebastian Vollmer] and Nate Solder. Those guys, they put a lot in every week. And their coach, they’ve got a great coach, Dante Scarnecchia, that works those guys every day. They work their tail off. And it really shows up every week, because we rely on those guys for so many things. And the communication between myself and them on a down-by-down basis, and their ability to perform with the entire gamut of the playbook, whether it’s run, play-action, screens, draws, traps, flip screens — we really ask those guys to do everything. They’ve done a great job all year.
|Peter King on M&M: Pats should have drafted for pass rush||11.04.11 at 1:55 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King joined Mut & Merloni Friday at noon for his weekly appearance. King spoke about the Patriots’ struggling defense and the personnel problems in the secondary.
King said he thinks the Patriots may have used too many draft picks on defensive backs over the last few years. New England has drafted a defensive back in either the first or the second round of every draft since 2007. King noted that the Patriots may have been better served bolstering their pass rush instead of worrying about the secondary.
“I’ve got think that if there’s somebody there like [Scott] Pioli, who used to get into pretty good arguments with [Bill Belichick] and used to challenge him on things, somebody might’ve said, ‘Look, we have got to simply buttress our pass rush,'” King said. “If you look at where they are now rushing the passer, it’s basically a Scotch tape job. … At some point, you’ve got to respect the guys who get to the quarterback and sack the quarterback as much as you do the guys who cover the receivers.”
New England is in the bottom third of the NFL in sacks and dead last in total defense, giving up 424.1 yards per game. While the defense has been better of late, King said it could end up hindering the Patriots’ hopes of a Super Bowl run.
“I said, maybe three or four weeks ago, that their defense ultimately will kill them and it will mean another failed season come playoff time,” King said. “Now, obviously they have nine weeks to prove me and probably a lot of other people wrong. But they obviously have not played at a tremendously high level. Having said that, you look at them in the last month, they certainly in the last month are better than they were early on. So you have some guys learning a new defense and playing a bit better.
“With the way things are going for them right now, I’m not afraid of getting in a shootout game with Tom Brady against anybody, and there’s a good chance there’s going to be a shootout game this weekend against Eli Manning, because Manning is playing so well. But, and I’ve always thought this, its very difficult to win three or four games in a row in the playoffs if every week you have to rely on a shootout to win.”
|Bye-Week Breakdown: Offensive line||10.21.11 at 10:51 am ET|
Over the course of the next few days, we’ll roll out something called Bye-Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots as they head into the bye weekend. We’ve already put the tight ends and the wide receivers in the spot. Now, it’s the offensive line.
Overview: It has been a challenging stretch for the New England offensive line, as no position has been hit harder by injury over the first six weeks of the season. Forced to deal with the loss of Dan Koppen after the season-opener and the uncertainty surrounding the back injury of Sebastian Vollmer, the Patriots have relied mostly on backup Dan Connolly at center, rookie Nate Solder at right tackle and newcomer Brian Waters at right guard. The good news is that the group has started to come together and play well, including posting one stretch when quarterback Tom Brady was sacked just once over 10 quarters of play. It certainly hasn’t been a perfect start to the season, but considering the turnover and the professionalism of newcomer Waters, it’s been a group that’s made the best of an occasional tough situation.
Current depth chart: Left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins, center Dan Connolly, right guard Brian Waters, right tackle Nate Solder. (Koppen and Vollmer have been dogged by injury, with Koppen was placed on IR shortly after suffering an injury in the season-opener against the Dolphins.)
Best moment: So much of what Brady was able to do over the first three weeks of the season (1,327 yards, 11 touchdowns) was because of the New England offensive line. After Koppen went down and Vollmer struggled with a back injury, the line still was able to keep Brady almost completely clean. Over the first three weeks of the season, Brady had 93 dropbacks and was sacked just three times.
Worst moment: The Patriots took a season-high seven negative plays in this past Sunday’s win over the Cowboys. Brady was sacked three times and there were four negative running plays. (On the season, New England has had 22 negative plays through six games, not including kneeldowns.)
Read the rest of this entry »
|In Focus: Charting the offensive opportunities for the Patriots’ skill position players through six games||10.20.11 at 1:57 pm ET|
Every week over the course of the 2011 NFL season, we’ll present a list of 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. Six weeks into the season, here’s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2011:
BenJarvus Green Ellis: 95 (91 carries, 4 receptions) five touchdowns ‘ six negative plays
Wes Welker: 52 (1 carry, 51 receptions) six touchdowns
Danny Woodhead: 38 (30 carries, 8 receptions) zero touchdowns ‘ one negative play
Stevan Ridley: 30 (28 carries, 2 reception), one touchdown ‘ two negative plays
Rob Gronkowski: 29 (0 carries, 29 receptions), five touchdowns
Aaron Hernandez: 27 (0 carries, 27 receptions), three touchdowns
Deion Branch: 26 (0 carries, 26 receptions), two touchdowns
Tom Brady: 10 (10 carries, 0 receptions) 16 passing touchdowns, zero rushing touchdowns ‘ 11 negative plays (all sacks)
Chad Ochocinco: 9 (0 carries, 9 receptions), zero touchdowns
Julian Edelman: 6 (3 carries, 3 receptions) zero touchdowns ‘ two negative plays, both runs
Matthew Slater: 1 (0 carries, 1 reception) zero touchdowns
TOTAL: 319 touches (163 carries, 160 receptions) on 411 plays from scrimmage ‘ 22 negative plays (excluding kneeldowns).
Some more offensive notes: The Patriots had a season-high seven negative plays from scrimmage Sunday against the Cowboys (three sacks of Brady to go along with negative runs from Ridley, Woodhead and two from Green-Ellis). … The only New England offensive players who went wire-to-wire on Sunday were Brady and the starting offensive line, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Brian Waters and Nate Solder. … The Patriots entered the game having run the no huddle on just over 21 percent of their plays from scrimmage over the course of the first five games. On Sunday against the Cowboys, they went no huddle more often than they have all season long — of the 69 plays the Patriots’ offense ran, they utilized no huddle on 36 of the snaps, or 52 percent of their plays. They went heavy on the no huddle in the second half (23 snaps), and on six of their 10 plays from scrimmage on their game-winning drive, the Patriots used the no huddle. … Overall in the first six games of the season, the Patriots have run 411 plays from scrimmage. According to official NFL gamebooks, New England has utilized the no-huddle offense for 110 snaps (27 plays against the Dolphins, 15 against the Chargers, 12 against the Bills, five times against the Raiders, 15 times against the Jets and 36 times against the Cowboys), or 26.8 percent of the time.
|Key Moment: Green-Ellis takes command down the stretch||10.09.11 at 8:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The key moment in Sunday’s game came when the Patriots were able to put together an 11-play, 77-yard drive toward the end of the third quarter that allowed them to put some distance between themselves and the Jets in the second half, stretching the New England lead to 24-14.
On that sequence, the Patriots got 23 of the 77 yards from running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who finished the afternoon with 136 yards, his first 100-yard game of the season. They also got a 17-yard pickup from Rob Gronkowski, but it was Green-Ellis who carried the Patriots down the stretch. He had 85 yards in the second half, and allowed New England to engineer 11-play and 13-play drives to keep the clock moving and close out the game.
“When you get in those situations, you have to play situational football, and obviously, you don’t want to give them the ball back and give them a chance to go down and score, and we were kind of able to do that tonight,” Green-Ellis said. “That’s always a plus — we had a game where we weren’t able to finish with the ball in our hands. … We pride ourselves on being able to do that.
“You always want to be able to step up to the plate and knock it out of the park, and we were able to do those things,” he added. “But it’s not just an individual effort. It was all 11 guys out there. Nothing happens without those guys up front, and I think they did an extremely good job of allowing me to make reads and get cuts off those guys.”
“Benny, he’s a great guy to block for,” said offensive lineman Logan Mankins. “He’s going to read the play, he’s going to find the right hole, he’s not going to fumble. He’s going to do the right thing. He’s going to give you everything he’s got. He’s a great guy to block for.”
“The first thing you notice about him is that he works so hard,” said offensive lineman Brian Waters of Green-Ellis. “He tries to get every yard. He definitely has always run the ball the right way, and he always makes sure to give full effort to get every yard, and you can count on him finishing every run.”
|Brian Waters knows birds could be flying from every direction in ‘Black Hole’||09.28.11 at 3:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Brian Waters has seen a lot over the course of his long NFL career.
But there’s one thing he never thought he’d ever see. That was before stepping foot one day in the same stadium he’ll be playing in on Sunday as the Patriots battle the Raiders at the Coliseum in Oakland.
“It’s first time I ever saw an old lady in wheelchair shooting you the bird with both fingers,” Waters said of his experience once upon a time with the visiting Chiefs.
“It’s about as crazy as you can get.”
The “Black Hole” scene has mellowed somewhat as the NFL has tried to help the Raiders clean up the notorious tailgating conditions in the parking lots outside prior to games, leading to numerous incidents over the years, both inside and outside the stadium.
So, how different is it and what’s his message to the younger Patriots who haven’t played there since the team’s last visit in 2008?
“Everything, from the time you drive in till the end of the game, you’re going to probably see a lot of different things, some good, some bad,” Waters said. “But the biggest thing for a player going in there and one of the things you try to get across to the young guys as much as possible is don’t focus on those things. Try not to pay attention because they can be a distraction, a great distraction if you allow it to.”
Waters isn’t expecting any less of a nasty welcome just because he’s no longer on the hated Chiefs.
“I don’t care who it is,” he added. “When you walk in there, I don’t care who you are. They’re not going to like you. They’re not going to like you, your family, your friends. And they’re going to have no issues letting you know from the time the buses ride in.”
Then there’s the field itself. With baseball’s A’s wrapping up their season on Wednesday, the grounds crew is putting turf down in advance of Sunday’s game. Pats coach Bill Belichick said the Raiders have told him it should be in place in time for kickoff.
“It’s a little bit of a change,” Waters said. “You have to make sure you have the proper footing but for the most part, you just have to pay attention to it, especially if the weather is a little bit different, if it rains, it definitely can be something you have to pay attention to. It’s more difficult for the receivers and running backs than offensive linemen.
“It’s more of a pain for those guys doing a lot more breaking and running and cutting than it is for the big guys. We work with smaller spaces. It won’t be as difficult for us.”
|Matt Light on The Big Show: ‘I’ll play wherever they tell me to play’||09.09.11 at 3:42 pm ET|
Patriots’ offensive lineman Matt Light joined The Big Show on Friday and said that he was physically ready to play wherever, and for however long, he needs to in the opener Monday night in Miami.
“I’m going to play wherever they tell me to play to be quite honest with you,” Light said. “There’s a comfortable position obviously, but look, we’ve asked a lot of guys to do a lot of things over the years. Whether it’s playing on both sides of the ball, being able to play all three interior spots, really we’ve had guys that have been able to play any position up front. Really, that’s kind of the M.O. for our offense. You’ve got to be able to versatile and you have be able to do whatever they need you to do and whatever makes the most sense.”
Asked if he was ready to play the full game, especially if Sebastian Vollmer is unable to go, Light said there was no doubt. “I’d hope so, man. You know how it goes. You’ve never seen an offensive lineman — at least not in this system — you’ve never seen one of tap our helmets [to come out of the game],” he said. “I mean, that’s not going to happen. When we start the game we’re out there for the duration.”
Light also expressed confidence in Brian Waters, who joined the team last week after a long, productive career in Kansas City.
“There’s a couple of things going for Brian,” Light said. “Obviously he’s been in this league for a long time. Secondarily, he’s been in this offense. Terminology, snap count and all those things being pretty similar it makes things a lot easier. And, whenever you start game-planning and breaking down your offense it’s not as complicated I’ll say as it sometimes in camp when you basically install everything all at once and then start fine-tuning it from there.”