|Protection Pattern: Tom Brady relishing more time to throw||11.19.14 at 1:44 pm ET|
In the first half, Brady went a pedestrian 10-for-19 passing for 84 yards with two interceptions, including one with less than two minutes remaining — arguably one of the worst throws he’s made in his 15 seasons, as the throw hung in the air for a lifetime before Colts safety Mike Adams picked it off.
The Colts scored a touchdown a few plays later and the Patriots got the ball back with 55 seconds remaining, but Bill Belichick didn’t mess around and kneeled out the clock sending the Patriots to the locker room with just a 14-10 lead — perhaps sending a message to Brady and the offense.
“I always need to do a better job,” said Brady. “Obviously we were there at halftime, I didn’t play as well as I am capable of. I have to do a lot better job. It always starts with me and that is where my focus is. Hopefully I can put together four quarters of good stuff this week.”
The second half was a completely different story as the offense scored touchdowns on four of its five possessions and the only one they didn’t score was the last possession of the game when they were running out the clock late in the fourth quarter. While the ground game was exceptional (Jonas Gray’s 201 yards rushing, four touchdowns), but Brady was a major reason as well. He was 9-for-11 passing for 173 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. (One of the incompletions was a Julian Edelman drop over the middle.)
So, what changed in the second half? Brady had more time to throw.
The quarterback looked much more comfortable in the pocket in the second half, as he was given more time to throw. By our calculations, in the second half Brady averaged 2.61 seconds from snap to release, compared to 2.20 second in the first half — almost half a second difference.
|Offensive line’s ‘trust’ leading the way in Patriots’ 4-game win streak||10.29.14 at 1:34 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After Week 4’s blowout loss to Kansas City, the Patriots offense ranked 24th in the NFL averaging 20 points a game. After Week 8’s blowout win over the Bears, the Patriots offense now ranks third in the NFL averaging 29.8 points per game.
One of the biggest reasons why is the familiarity the offensive line now has with one another.
“Those guys have really dealt with a lot of change,” quarterback Tom Brady said before practice on Wednesday refercing to the unit getting a new coach in Dave DeGuglielmo after Dante Scarnecchia retired after 32 years in the NFL following last season.
“This year, it started back in the offseason, and [they] have really worked through that through training camp. And then different players have kind of come and gone and been injured from the start of the season, before the start of the season — with Logan [Mankins] and then being able to really adjust to that.”
Even though the Patriots have used three different starting offensive lines during the four-game win streak due to concussions for Bryan Stork and Dan Connolly, they have continued to rotate players in and out even within games, so everyone is ready to step in at any time and be on the same page as players who have been starting every week.
“I think those guys are really taking it as a challenge of the mental toughness,” Brady added. “At this point, [they’ve] really settled into kind of the group that they are and the group they want to be. They’re playing with a lot of toughness. They’re playing with a lot of commitment to what their coach is asking them to do. We’ve had some growing pains that we’re all trying to get used to earlier in the year, but I think we’re playing at a much better level.”
Although sacks are sometimes overrated when measuring the success or failure of an offensive line, Brady was sacked nine times in the first four games of the season, compared to only three the last four games. Sunday marked the first time Brady was not sacked in a game since Week 4 last year against the Falcons.
Brady has also been getting more time in the pocket to throw, which has allowed for the playbook to be opened up and not having to worry about Brady getting the ball out quickly to avoid pressure.
|Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork back at practice for Patriots, Darrelle Revis among those not spotted||10.21.14 at 12:42 pm ET|
Offensive linemen Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming were all present at the start of practice for the Patriots on Tuesday, while cornerback Darrelle Revis and defensive end Chandler Jones were not among those spotted at the workout, which was held in sweats and shells, according to reports.
Connolly and Stork have been dealing with head injuries the last couple of weeks, while Fleming has been on the shelf because of a finger problem. Special teamer Nate Ebner, who has also been missing with a finger injury for the last couple of weeks, was also spotted at practice.
On the other side, while Revis has had occasional hamstring issues over the course of the season, nothing has kept him from playing. It’s not known what Jones might be dealing with.
The Patriots will host the Bears Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots promote RB Jonas Gray, OL Chris Barker, place Stevan Ridley, Jerod Mayo on IR||10.16.14 at 4:32 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a move that was expected, practice squad running back Jonas Gray has been promoted to fill the spot on injured running back Stevan Ridley for tonight’s game against the Jets.
Gray impressed the Patriots in training camp and the preseason with his tough physical running style. The second-year back out of Notre Dame played in all four preseason games this year, totaling 37 carries for 142 yards and a 3.8 yard per carry average.
The other injured Patriot from Sunday who is lost for the season, Jerod Mayo, will be replaced by offensive lineman Chris Barker. This move was made with the uncertainty with regard to center Bryan Stork and left guard Dan Connolly. Stork missed the last game in Buffalo with a head injury after leaving in the first half against the Bengals on Oct. 5. Connolly left in the first half last Sunday against the Bills, also with a head injury.
Both Ridley and Mayo were placed on season-ending injured reserve before the 4 p.m. deadline to have Gray and Barker activated. The moves were first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
‘ Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 16, 2014
‘ Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 16, 2014
|Tom Brady not spotted at start of Patriots practice||10.14.14 at 1:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After being questionable for last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, Tom Brady was missing from the start of Patriots practice Tuesday afternoon on the game field at Gillette Stadium prior to the Patriots’ Thursday night matchup with the Jets. The practice appeared to be a walkthrough.
Also missing from the start of practice were: Stevan Ridley, Jerod Mayo, Nate Ebner, Dan Connolly, Cameron Fleming and Bryan Stork. It should be noted the media was only present for the first few minutes of practice, so we’ll have to wait for the practice report later this afternoon to know for sure if those players ever made it out there.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots offensive line comes together following loss of Dan Connolly||10.13.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK N.Y. — With the injuries to rookies Cameron Fleming (finger) and Bryan Stork (concussion) forcing the pair missing Sunday’s game against the Bills, the Patriots used their fourth different starting offensive line combination of the year and third different one in three games.
After Dan Connolly went down with a head injury and did not return in the second quarter, things needed to be shaken up again, but even when things seemed stacked against them — including a tremendous Buffalo front-four — the grouping answered the call, especially when it mattered most in the second half.
Here is a drive-by-drive breakdown of what the Patriots offensive line looked like (left tackle to right tackle):
Drive 2: Solder, Connolly, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Missed field goal)
Drive 3: Solder, Connolly, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Touchdown)
Drive 4: Solder, Connolly, Wendell, Kline, Marcus Cannon (Punt)
Drive 5: Solder, Jordan Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Punt)
Drive 6: Cannon, Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Field goal)
Drive 7: Solder, Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Punt)
Drive 8: Solder, Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Field goal)
|Patriots lose Stevan Ridley, Dan Connolly, Jerod Mayo to injuries||10.12.14 at 3:57 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — After losing Jerod Mayo in the first half to a right knee injury, the Patriots lost a valuable skill player to another right knee injury in the second half.
Stevan Ridley was tackled for a two-yard loss at the Buffalo 29 by Stephon Gilmore. Ridley landed awkwardly and appeared at first to injure his right ankle on TV replays. But after getting attention on the field for several minutes, he limped to the sideline and had his knee examined. He made it to the sidelines under his own power and tried walking on it on the sidelines.
But after further evaluation, he was escorted down to the Patriots locker room and ruled out with a knee injury.
Ridley’s injury came one play after Rob Gronkowski landed awkwardly on pass from Tom Brady. Gronkowski had the protective sleeve on his left arm removed but re-entered the game after Ridley left the game and appeared not to be seriously injured.
As Ridley’s injury was awas being announced, the Patriots also confirmed that starting left guard Dan Connolly would not return after suffering a head injury in the first half.