|Tom Brady on Josh McDaniels: ‘I’m glad he’s my coach’||01.01.14 at 2:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Whether or not the Patriots lose offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Cleveland Browns, Tom Brady made a point of appreciating the work McDaniels has done in his two stints in New England.
Brady and McDaniels worked together from 2001-2008, when McDaniels left to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos for a season and a half. He then spent most of 2011 as the Rams offensive coordinator before returning to the Patriots late in the run to Super Bowl XLVI.
It was a natural when McDaniels, a native of Northeast Ohio, became a candidate for the Browns head coaching vacancy when Rob Chudzinski was fired on Monday.
“I’m not surprised by much anymore in the NFL,” Brady said of McDaniels’ name coming up as a leading candidate. “He’s a great coach and I said the other day, he’s one of my best buds and I’ve been around him for a long time so I know him pretty well. I’m glad he’s my coach.”
He was not as effusive about another former offensive coordinator. Bill O’Brien will reportedly be hired as the new coach of the Houston Texans. He was on the Patriots staff from 2007-11, and was the fiery offensive coordinator during the ’11 season with Brady.
“That was a long time ago,” Brady said of his time with O’Brien. “Truthfully, I’m just trying to stay focused on this week. That’s not really in my thought process right now.”
As for other teams tapping the Bill Belichick coaching tree, Brady said he’s grown accustomed to it by now.
“Multiple times but it’s a credit to those guys and what they’ve accomplished,” Brady said. “It’s a very flattering thing when other people are interested. But you know, they’ll make their decisions based on whatever they make their decisions based on. I still have to go out there and do my job, which is ultimately what I owe this team and what I signed up for and what I promised Mr. Kraft when I signed my contract. What I commit to Belichick and all my teammates that I’m going to do the best I can do. It doesn’t matter who’s coaching or who’s running routes or who [I'm] handing the ball off to or who’s blocking or who’s playing defense. I’ve got to do my job and that’s where my focus is.”
He wasn’t staying up late on New Year’s Eve worrying about his coaching staff or partying.
“I was asleep. We had an early-morning practice,” Brady said.
|Patriots release TE D.J. Williams||12.04.13 at 5:23 pm ET|
FOXBORO — One week after signing him for roster depth, the Patriots Wednesday released tight end D.J. Williams.
The 25-year-old was signed by the Patriots on Nov. 27 and saw limited action in the win last Sunday at Houston, playing four snaps. He was not targeted in the passing game.
The release of Williams comes on the same day that tight end Michael Hoomanawanui returned to practice after missing two games with a knee injury.
Williams played in seven games with one start for Jacksonville this season before being released by the Jaguars on Nov. 4. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (101st overall) by Green Bay out of Arkansas in 2011. Williams was waived by Green Bay on Aug. 31, 2013, and claimed off waivers and awarded to Jacksonville on Sept. 1, 2013. He has played in 34 NFL games with three starts and has nine receptions for 70 yards.
|Houston security guards fired for taking photos with Tom Brady||12.03.13 at 2:33 pm ET|
Two Reliant Stadium security guards who were working the Texans-Patriots game on Sunday lost their jobs after taking a picture with Tom Brady following New England’s 34-31 win.
Joel Williams, one of the security guards, told KHOU.com that he ran into Brady after he had clocked out of his shift for the day.
“I said, ‘Hey Tom Brady, good job, good game man.’ He looked at me and smiled,” Williams said. “He was very polite, very nice guy, humble. Sometimes I see players and say hello, and they just keep walking.”
After taking the picture, Williams was approached by his supervisor, who fired him on the spot.
“Immediately after I took the picture, I got ran down by a supervisor,” Williams said. “They didn’t really give a reason, they said you know you’re wrong and you’re fired.”
“What they say and what they practice are two different things,” said Christopher Moore, the other guard who was fired for taking a photo with Brady.. “What we see on a daily basis, whether it be Reliant or CSC employees, is them taking pictures and asking for autographs from players.”
CSC, which stands for Contemporary Services Corporation, justified its actions in a statement sent to KHOU.
“It is strictly against CSC policy for its employees to request photos or autographs from players. CSC stands by its decision to terminate the two employees who violated this policy.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Monday afternoon to discuss New England’s 34-31 victory over the Texans on Sunday, the decision to bench Stevan Ridley in the game, and Antonio Smith‘s postgame comments regarding the Patriots’ second-half comeback.
Sunday’s game against Houston started off in similar fashion to the Patriots’ previous game against the Broncos, as New England looked sluggish and unfocused over the first two quarters. At the end of the first half, the 2-9 Texans had built a 17-7 lead.
“We’ve just got to do a better job, I’ve got to do a better job preparing the team for the beginning part of the game. We’ve got to do a better job executing then,” Belichick said. “It wasn’t great. I didn’t think we took advantage of some of the opportunities that we had and we gave them some, and obviously the interception set them up and fortunately we were able to hold them to three on that.
“We gave up two good drives defensively. … We were trying to find our rhythm and our execution on a number of things yesterday, and it wasn’t a great feeling.”
New England’s first-half slump would not last, as Tom Brady and company outscored the Texans by a 27-14 margin in the final two quarters to come away with the 34-31 victory.
One notable move that Belichick made before Sunday’s game was to list Ridley as inactive. Despite showing talent out of the backfield with 2,280 career yards in 42 NFL games, Ridley has struggled with holding on to the football, as he has nine fumbles in his career, with six of those being recovered by the opposing team.
“We make those decisions week to week,” Belichick said. “Every week, we have to make a decision as to who we feel are the players that we’ll activate for the game, and sometimes injuries and the availability of a player takes care of that. After that, it comes down to decisions that we make as a coaching staff. … That’s the way that it is every week.”
After the game, Smith, the Texans defensive lineman, made postgame comments questioning the Patriots’ ability to turn around their play in the second half, calling their adjustments “highly suspicious.” (Smith said Monday that he was joking.)
“I’m sure [Houston] is frustrated,” Belichick said. They lost to us twice last year and lost to us again down there at home. We’ve seen that before and I’m sure there was some frustration. … There’s nothing we can do about, we just have to worry about what we can do.”
|Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley benching: ‘There’s no sending a message’||12.02.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After quickly dismissing the question in his post-game comments Sunday after a 34-31 win over the Texans, Bill Belichick was somewhat more effusive and forthcoming about his decision to sit Stevan Ridley Sunday after his three-game bout with fumblelitis.
Belichick was asked Monday in his conference call about the decision to bench Ridley when Julian Edelman has fumbled five times this season (including twice on one punt against Denver), recovering three of them. Ridley has four fumbles this season and hasn’t recovered a single one. Ridley has nine fumbles over three seasons.
How do Belichick determine when a player sits after fumbling and when he doesn’t?
“Well, that’s easy,” Belichick said. “We always do what we feel is best for the team in every situation. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will always be as long as I’m here. I have to do what I feel like is best with any decision, in any situation, with what I feel is the overall best decision for the football team. That’s what drives every decision I make, on everything: plays, players, you name it. I have to do what I feel like is best for the team.”
So, it’s never about sending a message?
“If I have a message to send to somebody, I’ll just sit down and talk to them and tell them what it is,” Belichick said. “I can have a conversation and do have a conversation with anybody on the team that I need to have a conversation with. That’s not a problem. There’s no sending a message. You sit down and talk to somebody man-to-man and talk about the situation so that we’re all on the same page as to whatever it happens to be and what the direction is going forward. That’s easy. There’s not sending a message. You just have a conversation with somebody. This isn’t cryptic. We’re just trying to win a football game, that’s all.”
Did Ridley specifically not play on Sunday because of his fumble issues?
“The inactive players every week are based on, in part injuries and ultimately what we feel like for that particular game is the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win,” Belichick said. “Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it’s made with what gives our team, in our opinion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays. That’s what all decisions are based on.”
Belichick was also asked whether he read the comments of Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who was very suspicious of the adjustments the Patriots made to Houston’s defense after trailing at halftime Sunday, 17-7.
“Yeah, I saw them. I don’t have any comment on them. I think that’s a league matter,” Belichick said.
|Tom Brady: ‘Our coaches do a great job of getting to adjustments’||12.01.13 at 9:38 pm ET|
Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith might be highly suspicious of New England’s second half adjustments on Sunday, but Tom Brady says it was just about the Patriots coaching staff doing its job and communicating to the offense what needed to be done.
“I think our coaches do a great job of getting to the adjustments that we need to make because you go through the first half and you don’t produce much at all, and then the coaches come in at half time and they say, ‘OK, well, these are the things that we’re going to have to do to move the ball,’ ” Brady said. “We started with a great drive there to start the third quarter and then scored again, and then scored again, and then scored again, and it was just, it was really a great way for us to play offense.”
The Patriots were down 17-7 at halftime, as the Texans defense allowed only a 23-yard TD strike from Brady to Rob Gronkowski. Brady was 11-of-18 for 108 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Houston was doing a good job of keeping most passes in front of them in the first 30 minutes.
In the second half, Brady was 18-of-23 for 263 yards with a touchdown and a quarterback rating near 125, finishing with a 104.8 rating. Smith might have thought something was up but Brady just thought it was better execution, pure and simple. That, and a healthy dose of resolve when the deck again appeared stacked against them.
“We’ve got some of that,” Brady said. “I wish we could start fast and put the foot on the gas pedal the whole way, but we just got behind a little bit and played a lot better in the second half. Still have plenty of chances to convert even more, and we’ve got to figure out a way to keep moving the ball, getting the ball in the end zone. But a lot of guys made some really big plays. James Develin and Jules [Julian Edelman], I mean, everyone contributed. Steve [Gostkowski] made some great kicks.”
Brady is looking at the fact the Patriots posted their second straight 34-31 win as a glass half-full scenario, not half-empty, as the playoffs approach in a month.
“Yeah, I mean, there’s going to be one team that’s happy at the end of the year, that’s just the way it is,” Brady said. “I mean, we’re trying to do our best, trying to go out there and execute the game plan. Certainly it’s not always perfect. But every team has talent, it’s tough to win on the road, and especially getting behind 17-7, you pump a lot of life into them there. It ended up being a dogfight for us, but we found a way to pull it out and I think that’s the most important thing is no matter what the situation, if you’re ahead late, if you’re behind late, you’ve got to figure out a way to win it at the end.”
One week after getting blanked 24-0 in the first half against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, Bill Belichick trotted off the Reliant Stadium field Sunday staring up at the scoreboard that had the 2-9 Texans leading his 8-3 Patriots 17-7.
The Patriots were letting Ben Tate run all over their defense while Andre Johnson looked like the Andre Johnson of old.
What was the problem?
“We’re not playing well enough,” Belichick conceded after his team came from behind for the second straight week and beat Houston, 34-31. “We’re not coaching well enough. We’re not playing well enough. We’re not doing a good enough job, in any area. From opening kickoff, from the defense, to the offense, you know, just, none of it’s good enough. Got to do a better job of coaching, got to do a better job of preparing, got to do a better job of executing.”
How much of this comeback had to do with halftime adjustments against Tate, Johnson and Houston quarterback Case Keenum and how much of it was just execution?
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Belichick said. “Just came down to a couple plays and once again, I’m proud of our guys for making the plays they needed to make. We got good contributions from all three units. Obviously the offense put a lot of points on the board and that was important. We got the stops that we needed at the end defensively and a couple big kicks from Steve [Gostkowski], Ryan [Allen], and those units the punt unit, the field goal unit, coming through in key situations there so that we could execute those plays.
Of course, two of those plays on special teams came from the right foot of Stephen Gostkowski, a pair of 53-yard field goals in the fourth quarter, turning a 31-28 hole into a 34-31 win for the second straight week.
“Again, certainly a lot of things we need to work on, need to do better. But overall, proud of the team for the way they hung in there and made the plays they needed to make at the end. Hopefully we can just build on that, do a better job earlier in the game…just keep digging ourselves in a hole here. We’ve got to try to do a better job here when we get started instead of leaving it all in the second half. But it was a good offensive performance against a good defense to put up, whatever it was, 27 points in the second half.”
How much concern does Belichick have over the slow starts in the last two weeks?
“Yeah, that’s not the way we want to play,” Belichick said. “Hopefully I can find a way to coach better than what I’ve done and see if we can find a way to get ahead.”
After starting the season being unable to get it done in the third quarter, what has been the key to the third quarter resurgence of late?
“Just doing a better job,” Belichick said. “I mean, we haven’t like, re-invented the game. We’ve just basically done the same thing in the second half we’ve done in the first half, we’ve just done it better. We had some good match-ups in the second half that Josh [McDaniels] did a good job of matching our personnel groups and formations up. We had some good match-ups and Tom and our receivers were able to take advantage of them and we were able to keep them honest somewhat with the running game. Those guys did a good job, I mean, again, that’s a good defensive unit. Real good.”
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