|Patriots’ difficult practice style pays off in games following bye week||10.06.15 at 4:02 pm ET|
Through the first three games of the season, the Patriots have scored 119 points, a franchise record after three games of a season, and Tom Brady has thrown nine touchdown passes.
With their bye week occurring in Week 3, the first possible week, some thought this might slow down the offense’s momentum.
Going back to past games following bye weeks and the way the Patriots conduct practices, this shouldn’t be an issue.
In games following the bye week with Brady as quarterback (doesn’t include 2008 season), the Patriots are 10-3 and have averaged 28.3 points per game along with averaging 343 yards of total offense. This includes last season’s 42-point, 503 total yard performance in their rout of the Colts.
Some of this should be credited to the way the team practices, as their practices are some of the most demanding in the entire league.
“Practice is tough and we try to purposely make it difficult on our players, on whatever it is that we are trying to do during the week to get ready for that opponent so that we see the most difficult looks, so that we make our players aware of the things that could certainly affect the game in a negative fashion,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on Tuesday’s conference call. “There are days where we practice well. I would say very few days where we go out there and everything is perfect, and that’s designed that way. We challenge our guys and challenge what we are trying to do for the game plan and make sure we feel good about it going into the weekend.”
“During the bye week, coming off the bye week, the most important thing for us is not looking back in the past. We have things we want to work on,” McDaniels added. “At the same time we have an opponent that we don’t know very well, a group of players that we don’t know very well, a totally different scheme than some of the things we’ve seen in the first three games that we need to familiarize ourselves with pretty quickly. Our time is going to be spent really focused on working on trying to improve on some of the areas that we need to get better in and at the same time really doing a good job of trying to familiarize ourselves with Dallas, their personnel, their schemes, how they play and how they’ve been effective against other teams’ offenses.”
|Total package: Rob Gronkowski does much more than just catch passes||10.01.15 at 11:56 am ET|
FOXBORO — Just watching Rob Gronkowski on a weekly basis, it may seem like he is just a big, athletic tight end who can out-run linebackers and out-muscle cornerbacks for touchdowns, but in his sixth year in the league he’s much more than that.
The 26-year-old has emerged as a leader in the Patriots locker room and besides catching passes, he has a lot more on his plate than people may think.
“I’ve always kind of thought this, tight ends are probably the skill player that is closest to, not the same, but closest to the quarterback because they are involved in the running game, they are involved in pass protection, they are involved in pass routes, they have to read the coverage, they have to know the defensive front,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “There’s a lot that goes into it mentally for them to be able to carry out their assignments and do all the things we ask them to do. Our whole tight end group prepares extremely hard. Brian [Daboll] is as good of a position coach that I’ve been around. Does a tremendous job of preparing those guys each week for all of those responsibilities that they have, which are numerous.
“Those guys really come to the work week ready to go. They know we’re going to ask a lot of them and they really embrace that and do a pretty good job of making sure they are ready to go by Sunday.”
In Sunday’s 51-17 win over the Jaguars, Gronkowski caught four passes for 101 yards, but he may have had more of an impact on the game with the Patriots’ 125 yards rushing, as he played a major role in the run blocking and clearing holes for Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount.
“The tight ends have been phenomenal. They really have done a really good job,” offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said. “Everyone sees what they do in the pass game, but truthfully there’s tough guys in there now. Gronk had some major blocks and if you look [Sunday] — [Jacksonville] was slanting the front and him and Sebastian [Vollmer], or him and Marcus [Cannon], they were able to manipulate the end and Rob went out for our guy. They are just working really well in sync together and the addition of Big Mike [Michael Williams] at basically a tackle playing tight end, but this guy runs routes it’s pretty now.”
“Those guys have really worked their tails off and everyone looks at them as only receiving guys, they’re not, they’re tough sons of guns,” he added. “They will get in there and they will dig it out just like a tackle would.”
Through the first three games of the season, Gronkowski has caught 16 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns, which are the most among all NFL tight ends. Also, of his 16 catches 14 have gone for first downs (88 percent) — the second-highest mark in the NFL besides Vincent Jackson (min. 9 receptions).
|Stopwatch: Tom Brady’s quick release continues in blowout win over Jaguars||09.28.15 at 3:39 pm ET|
By our count (not including sacks), Brady’s average time from snap-to-attempt was 1.98 seconds over his 42 pass attempts. In Week 1 against the Steelers, Brady was ultra-quick averaging 1.85 seconds and then Week 2 in Buffalo it was 1.99 seconds. Despite the averages being so close, Sunday was different.
Brady was able to create more time for himself on a number of plays and the numbers showed, as he took more than three seconds on six plays, a season-high, and on those plays he was 4-for-6, including his second touchdown pass of the game to wide receiver Keshawn Martin when Brady was forced to scramble and Martin adjusted his route to get free for a 13-yard touchdown.
Over the first two games, Brady had a total of four plays which were more then three seconds from snap-to-attempt.
Overall, Brady was 13-for-15 when taking over two seconds from snap-to-attempt against the Jaguars and 20-for-27 when taking less than two seconds. His first touchdown was thrown to Danny Amendola in the final minute of the first half — No. 400 of his career — which took 2.49 seconds from snap-to-attempt.
As pointed out by Pro Football Focus, it was the same play the Patriots ran on the final play of the Super Bowl, except this time Brady didn’t throw to Julian Edelman on the quick out, he waited for Amendola to cross across the defense and connected with him in the back of the end zone.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked about Brady’s quick release times on Monday and while McDaniels acknowledged Brady is very effective when having a quick release, it ultimately comes down the opponent they are going against.
“I think that has always been and is always going to be something that you want to do a certain portion of the time,” he said. “There’s some things you try and hold the ball and do some different things and other times you want to get it out quick. That’s been a strength of his. He’s a very accurate passer. Depending on the week sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less.”
Through three games, the Patriots’ next opponent in the Cowboys have only three sacks, so it may be a game where Brady and the offense looks to create more time to make plays down field.
DraftKings has your shot to play for FREE in the $1 Million Fantasy Football Contest THIS SUNDAY! First place takes home $100,000! FOR FREE ENTRY, CLICK HERE.
FOXBORO — Tom Brady might not be getting better with age, but he certainly hasn’t regressed, as despite being 38 he’s still considered one of the top five quarterbacks in the league.
Through the first three games this season Brady has thrown for the most passing yards (1,112) and tied for the most touchdowns (9). He’s the only quarterback in the league to throw for over 1,000 passing yards, with Matt Ryan being the next closest at 946. He’s also one of just three starting quarterbacks not to throw an interception this season.
None of this is surprising to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
“It’s very similar to me in terms of the years that I’ve had a chance to coach him — each year seems about the same to me because each year he comes in with a list of what he wants to do a little bit better than the year before, and he always works hard at his fundamentals, his preparation, understanding the game plan, knowing the defense,” McDaniels said Monday. “Very little surprises me with him because of the way he approaches his work and his life. It’s very important to him that he comes out and tries to execute whatever it is we tell him that we need him to do on a week-to-week basis.
“He wants to make sure he never lets his teammates down, and just his his whole approach to playing this position for this team is a great example for all the players and coaches alike. That’s what we ask of everybody here and he’s a great example of what we need from everybody.”
Brady’s work ethic doesn’t start when he heads to the Gillette Stadium facility at the start of the season — he works just as hard during the offseason as he does during the season. Even with the Deflategate drama, McDaniels said this year wasn’t any different for the quarterback.
“He works extremely hard to prepare for every season,” McDaniels said. “This was no different. Had a good spring, good summer, training camp and he’s doing all the things that he’s always been very good at. Not making mistakes. Taking the profit in he passing game, getting us out of bad plays and just running the offense as efficiently as he can.”
One day after throwing his 400th career touchdown pass in Sunday’s 51-17 rout of the Jaguars, Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Monday morning and talked about which statistic is more important to him as well as the team’s fast start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“We’ve gotten off to a good start,” Brady said. “Three games and I think we’ve tried to make some improvements over these last three weeks. And yesterday we put it all together. There was a lot of good execution. A lot of guys played really well. We need four more months of it. That’s what we’re looking at.”
Brady downplayed his latest individual milestone, insisting it’s an achievement the team shares.
“It’s a great accomplishment, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “To be able to play with the same team and the same organization and to have the level of success that we’ve had is incredible. I never in my wildest dreams would have ever thought we could have accomplished this. I just know the kind of work that it takes from everybody. The great part about football is it’s a team sport. You can enjoy it with everybody. In order to have an individual accomplishment you need your entire team to do everything that they’re asked, too.
“We as quarterbacks get so much attention and so much focus. You try to make sure that everyone knows that it’s everybody playing their part and doing their job. I can’t tackle anybody, I can’t block anybody, I can’t catch a pass. The only [thing] I can do is what my job is, and that’s what they ask me to do. When they say throw it and throw it to the open guy and make good decisions, that’s what my focus has always been on.
“I love playing for this team. I’ve got so many great teammates that have contributed to every bit of individual success and accomplishment that I’ve had. I think that’s why I enjoy the game so much. That’s why I chose football over baseball, over other sports, because I really love the team aspect of the game.”
While becoming just the fourth quarterback in history with 400 TD passes is an incredible accomplishment, Brady said there’s another statistic that is more important to him.
“I think the thing that probably means the most would be just consecutive starts,” he said. “Because I think that’s something that is a reflection of the commitment that you make. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing. Like what Brett Favre‘s been able to do, what Peyton [Manning] did over his career. Just being available to your team. I mean, you’re no help to your team if you’re on the sideline. To be available to play and to be durable, consistent, that’s what I focus on.
“More than a touchdown or yards per attempt — all those things are great, and I think you can probably pull any stat and make it into whatever you want. But being available to your team when they’re counting on you and then playing at your highest and best when the team needs you the most is what I think a quarterback’s job is all about.”
|Gus Bradley brings Seahawks influence to Jaguars defense||09.22.15 at 5:57 pm ET|
The Jaguars defense certainly isn’t as skilled and as talented at the Seahawks’, but the Patriots’ coaching staff see some similarities as Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley served as their defensive coordinator from 2009-12.
The Seahawks had some of the best defenses in the league during Bradley’s tenure. In 2012 they allowed the fewest points in the league at 15.3. Seattle fell to the Falcons on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs that year.
“I definitely think that there are a lot of elements to that system that Coach Bradley is utilizing down there in Jacksonville,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Tuesday. “The first thing that jumps out to you on the film is how hard they play. They play with tremendous effort. This is a team that will outwork you if you don’t come with great work ethic and effort on every play. I mean, they’re just going to make more plays than you’re going to be able to make because they’ll just play harder than you. They stunt, move. They’re very physical. They play extremely fast. It’s not, they don’t play a thousand different things, but they play enough things where you’ve got to be on your toes at all times. There are always some scheme-elements to their pressures and blitzes that are very well researched and scouted.
“I think this is a very well coached team. They are very disciplined. They do a good job of coming downhill and being [an] aggressive, attacking type of a defense. They’re very capable of taking the ball away from the offense if you don’t protect it on every play. They’re very difficult to run the football against, and they play well in situational football.”
|Bill Belichick praises Rex Ryan prior to 14th all-time meeting, calls him ‘a very good coach’||09.15.15 at 3:39 pm ET|
Bill Belichick has seen a lot of Rex Ryan over the years and with that Ryan has given Belichick and the Patriots a lot of fits over the years.
Sunday’s meeting between the Bills and Patriots will be Belichick’s 14th time meeting a Ryan-coached team, dating back to his time with the Jets, and the first since Ryan joined the Bills.
Ryan will be looking to turn around the Bills’ fortunes the Patriots, as the Patriots are 23-3 against the Bills in the Tom Brady-Belichick era, which includes last year’s final game where the Patriots rested many of their starters.
“His teams always play hard. I know he’s a very good coach,” Belichick said on Tuesday’s conference call. “They’re well prepared. They do a great job of defending or attacking each team uniquely based on the characteristics of that team. We know that, and I’d say that those characteristics have been true and they still are.”
Even though Belichick and Ryan have vastly different coaching styles, the two seem to enjoy eachother’s company off the field, even being spotted walking into the NFL combine together this past spring.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said there are many ways a coach can be successful in the NFL.
“I think that there are obviously multiple ways to be successful in this league and the most important thing is that your team believes in you as a coach and that you as a coach get them ready to play and win each week,” McDaniels said on Tuesday’s conference call. “I think both coaches do a tremendous job of that. I think both coaches have a specific philosophy that they really adhere to and they rely a lot on that. Both have a proven winning track record.
“Like I said, we’re obviously going to have a great challenge ahead of us. Rex does a tremendous job and he’ll have them ready to go this week, I’m sure. Bill [Belichick] will have us ready to go, too. Hopefully it’ll be a great game and we’re looking forward to really beginning our preparation tomorrow.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Sheard Finally Gives Patriots Depth at OLB
- Week 4 Proves Why Pats Are Still in Driver's Seat
- Patriots Favored over Cowboys in Marquee Matchup
- Pros, Cons of Patriots' Offensive Line Shuffling
- What's the Secret to Lewis' Sudden Stardom?
- Blount and Lewis Are Perfect 1-2 Punch in Pats Backfield
- Adjustments Patriots Must Make After Bye Week