|Nate Solder: Urgency is ‘extremely high, as high as it can get’||10.01.14 at 4:43 pm ET|
“Extremely high, as high as it can get,” Solder described the urgency of the offensive line and team going into Sunday’s game with Cincinnati. “Moving forward we have to improve. We have to get better, we have to play better.”
Through four games this season quarterback Tom Brady has been sacked nine times and hurried another 38 times in 147 drop backs, per Pro Football Focus. Brady hasn’t put up the numbers he has in the past, as his 59.1 completion percentage is 14th in the AFC with only E.J. Manuel and Jake Locker being worse. Part of the reason for his low numbers is the pressure he’s been under and feeling uncomfortable in the pocket.
The team changed things up last week with starting two rookies in center Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming, who moved to right guard from right tackle for the first time in his entire football life, and deactivated guard Jordan Devey who had started the first three games of the year.
When asked how the unit was operating without their former captain in Mankins, Solder explained it’s a group effort.
“We all work together,” he said. “We have a captain with Dan [Connolly] and we have several guys that have played a lot of ball so we’re moving forward.”
He added: “We keep moving forward. We have plenty of guys that can do it.”
|Tedy Bruschi on D&H: ‘Right now, [Tom Brady] isn’t one of the elite quarterbacks’||09.30.14 at 4:14 pm ET|
In the aftermath of the Patriots’ 41-14 demolition at the hands of the Chiefs on Monday Night Football, former Patriots linebacker (and current ESPN analyst) Tedy Bruschi pulled no punches in examining the state of his former team. He suggested that the Patriots were out-coached when they were on defense (praising Chiefs coach Andy Reid for using misdirection plays to open up the field, particularly the weak side of the line for the running game) and simply beaten up when their offense was on the field.
“You’re comparing the world championship teams, of course there’s a major talent deficit,” Bruschi, in his weekly interview on WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, said. “They’re not playing at a world championship level.”
He noted that Chandler Jones can be coached to improve his technique and do a better job of holding his ground on the weak side of the line for runs, while adding that he felt that Vince Wilfork had performed adequately at the point of attack, with the issue being the large holes emerging next to him on the line. Bruschi said that he felt the defense would have to be the defining presence of the team given some of the offensive shortcomings on display that show little possibility of immediate resolution.
No one was beyond blame for the offensive woes. Asked if Tom Brady remained an elite quarterback, Bruschi was candid.
“Right now, he’s not one of the elite quarterbacks, just based on performance. I can’t say that,” said Bruschi. “Based on numbers, wins and losses, accuracy, throws down the field — no. He’s not. He’s not playing like it.”
|Tom Brady on D&C: ‘It’s a collective problem by our entire offense’||09.22.14 at 7:43 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s surprisingly close 16-9 victory over the lowly Raiders. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Although they won, the Patriots continued to struggle offensively, putting up just 16 points at home against an unimpressive Raiders team.
“It’s great that we won the game. Obviously, offensively we’re just not doing as good a job as we’re capable of doing. We left a lot of points out there yesterday and made it a close game there. We just have some issues we’re going to have to try to fix here, and we’re going to have to try to fix them fast, because it only gets tougher from here.
“We’ve got a smart team, we’ve got a tough team, we’re physical, we’ve just got to execute better. I think we’ve done a good job with not turning the ball over, which has helped. We talk about that every week. But too many penalties, too many missed opportunities to score, it’s just not what our expectations are. We’re going to go back to work and see if we can do better.”
Some people have pointed the finger at the offensive line, which is without longtime coach Dante Scarnecchia, who retired after last season.
“For us to think about a bunch of hypothetical situations, it doesn’t serve us well,” Brady said. “That’s really for you guys, all the listeners and the fans. All those things that make for great sports talk aren’t necessarily what are in the minds of our team. Whether Dante’s here or not here, whether a player’s here or not there, it doesn’t matter, because we’re faced with what we’re faced with.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the offensive line, I’ve got a lot of confidence in coach [Dave DeGuglielmo] and what he’s doing. This goes back to us players, and us players doing a better job. I don’t think it has anything to do with the people who aren’t on the field. The people who affect the wins and losses in the game are the players, and we’ve got to go out there and throw the ball, catch the ball, run with the ball, block, tackle — all the things that it takes to win the game. I’m not going to sit here and say that it has anything to do with anything other than that, because that’s where I feel the responsibility always lies.”
|Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: Patriots offensive line was ‘worn out’ against Dolphins||09.08.14 at 10:00 am ET|
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ loss to the Dolphins. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots offensive line had trouble throughout the second half against the Dolphins defensive front. Hasselbeck said Miami’s hits on Tom Brady in the second half changed the complexion of the entire game.
“You look at hits on Brady in the first half, to hits on Brady in the second half, it was a different game. It goes to show you that Tom didn’t have a chance in the second half. Whether it was Jared Odrick beating [Dan] Connolly, whether it was Cameron Wake on a tight end and a back, whether it was Cameron Wake on Sebastian Vollmer. I’ve got three plays where you’re either dealing with a sack-fumble or a hit on the quarterback where [Brady] doesn’t have three seconds to get rid of the football. When you look at it in that regard, there has to be something with that offensive line, which by the way has been a concern for them throughout training camp in terms of the combination that they were going to play with. I think they were worn out. … They got tired.”
Some wondered whether the Patriots should have used more creativity to get the ball out of Brady’s hands quicker. Hasselbeck said the Patriots did an effective job of that in the first 30 minutes.
“In the first half, as I’m taking notes on stuff, I was impressed with the creativity of some of that stuff — how they were using [Julian] Edelman, and how they were doing things where, like the jet sweep a great example. To get that from them you start to say, ‘OK, I like the creativity of it.’ ”
The trade of offensive lineman Logan Mankins for tight end Tim Wright has been a source of controversy since it occurred, and many blame the deal for the line’s struggles on Sunday. Hasselbeck said the trade was not the cause of the issues.
“Logan wasn’t going to be blocking Cameron Wake. Cameron Wake gave them fits. Dan Connolly is blocking his man, and he gets beat by his man. Is the outcome of the game is different? I don’t think there’s any shot the outcome of the game is any different.”
|Mike Petraglia on return of Tom Brady to Patriots practice and offensive line by committee||09.05.14 at 1:47 pm ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter checked in with Middays with MFB on Friday to preview Sunday’s regular-season opener between the Patriots and Dolphins along with other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Schefter said the Dolphins could have an advantage in the sense that they have a new offensive coordinator in Bill Lazor, while there are no secrets about what the Patriots will do.
“The Miami Dolphins know, to a certain extent, what they’re going to be getting from the New England Patriots on offense and defense,” Schefter said. “They can mix things up, they can change the schemes, they can attack it a certain way. Do the Patriots know as well what they’ll be getting from [Lazor]? And they answer’s no, they just don’t. But than again, the Patriots have Tom Brady at quarterback and the Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill. And we’ll see how that works out.
“I just think to me those are always more challenging openers for a certain team and organization to get ready for, the ones where you’re going against a team that gets a new offensive coordinator and has a new offensive system in place.”
Schefter agreed that the Patriots defense appears to be an improvement over last season, although he’s not sure which players will step up, especially on the pass rush.
“I picked the Patriots as one my defenses in my two fantasy leagues, so I believe in them,” Schefter said. “But I will say that you wonder where all the pass rush is going to be coming from. And yes, they’ve upgraded the talent, the corners, the personnel, they get back injured players — all those things figure to be correct. But just tell me who’s getting double-digit sacks on this team besides maybe Chandler Jones. Is it going to be Rob Ninkovich? Is going to be to somebody else? Where is all the pass rush coming from? I think they’ll find a way to manufacture it, but do we know that right now?”
Added Schefter: “Again, I don’t have any doubt that they’ll be able to manufacture and scheme up certain things, Matt Patricia does a great job with that, but the fact of the matter is there aren’t many proven pass-rushers on this team. When you look at dominant defenses, they usually have dominant pass-rushers. … I just want to know where it’s coming from. And we’ll find out on Sunday.”
Touching on the Logan Mankins trade, Schefter said there does not appear to be one single reason but a variety of them behind moving the popular offensive lineman.
“I think there were a lot of factors that went into that deal,” Schefter said. “I think the Patriots will tell you bottom line is it was in the best interest of their team. It came together very quickly and unexpectedly. But I would say that the combination of things — I don’t think it was any one thing as much as the fact that they’ve been very good moving on from guys a year too early rather than a year too late. We’ve seen them do it with Lawyer Milloy and Richard Seymour and now Logan Mankins.
“And you’re talking about one of the grittier players that’s played in that franchise’s history. He’s been an All-Pro guard, he’s played with torn ligaments in his knee all year, he’s a tough guy, he’s good. But he’s also, what, 32? And they saved, what, 6 1/2, 7 million dollars in cash? And I don’t believe it was a financially driven decision. But do I believe that was a part of it? Yes. Do I believe part of it was trading and adding a tight end who they believe in? Yes. Getting a fourth-round pick? Yes. Giving some of these either young guys, the Josh Klines of the world, an opportunity? Yes. All of these things together, and when you factor them all in, it just made sense for them to do that.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
Well, Bill Belichick hinted Friday that it might take more than one person to fill that void.
“We know how we’re going to play the game. Like anything else we do, we always have contingency plans if something happens to somebody. I think we have a lot of good players at that position on the offensive line. We’ll see how we end up playing them but we could end up playing more than five.”
Josh Kline, who started at left guard last Dec. 22 in Baltimore, was given the job in the preseason finale. He was bull-rushed twice against the Giants and allowed a sack. But against the Ravens last December, he kept Tom Brady clean and the Patriots offense rolled to an easy win.
There’s also been speculation that Marcus Cannon, Jordan Devey or even Sebastian Vollmer could get looks along the interior line at some point. The projected starters along the line right now figure to be Nate Solder at left tackle, Ryan Wendell at center, Dan Connolly at right guard and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle.
With Cannon, Kline and Devey available, one can easily see why Belichick sees an O-line rotation in New England’s future.
“We have five linemen so we’ll plan the way we think will give us the best chance to win,” Belichick said Friday.