|Rex Ryan concedes Tom Brady isn’t going away anytime soon: ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him better’||10.26.16 at 8:28 pm ET|
Turns out the media and fans aren’t the only ones who’ve been pretty amazed at what Tom Brady has done in his three games back from suspension.
Rex Ryan, the next coach who gets a chance to contain him on Sunday in Buffalo, thinks the Patriots quarterback could be playing the best football of his career.
To wit, Brady has completed 76 of 101 passes (75 percent), throwing eight touchdown passes without an interception while posting an astronomically high 132.6 quarterback rating in three games. Philip Rivers is next at 102.4 in his seven games.
“I mean it’s almost like, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him better,” Ryan beamed during Wednesday’s conference call with reporters. “I mean he he’s played in the league for 17 years, 18 years, something like that. Obviously, he puts the work in and everything else and it’s just a real credit to him. Like, I keep thinking if I stay in this conference long enough, that maybe that dude will retire but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
Brady, himself, said just two hours before Ryan’s conference call that he’s feeling good at this stage of the season.
“I always feel pretty good, I really do,” Brady said. “It feels like I’m just kind of getting going in football season and it’s already the halfway point.”
What does Brady expect from Ryan on Sunday in Buffalo?
“I think he does a really good job of playing to the strengths of his players. I think that’s what he does really well as a coach,” Brady said. “I think there’s an element of what you prepare for, you may not get many of those things. We’ve played him sometimes when he’s been blitzing a lot, and he doesn’t blitz as much at all. Then he hasn’t been blitzing much at all and then he blitzes us at all. I think you just have to be prepared for everything, which is a bit of a challenge because there’s only so much time in the week that you have to prepare.
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FOXBORO — What will be on the Patriots mind as they enter Buffalo this Sunday? How much will revenge factor in and how big of a game is this going forward in the AFC East? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable discuss the keys for Sunday from Foxboro.
|Tom Brady isn’t buying into Bills bully mentality: ‘You know us. We’ve never got into that stuff’||at 12:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady isn’t about to give any bulletin board material to the Bills.
And the Patriots quarterback certainly isn’t going to promise retribution on Robert Blanton this Sunday in Western New York after the Bills safety shoved Jacoby Brissett before the Oct. 2 game at Gillette Stadium.
One reason for that is that Brady wasn’t in the building for the 16-0 Buffalo victory that day. The other is that the Patriots have never gotten into the game and now is not the time for Brady to start something new.
“Yeah, you know it’s more so what we do when the game kicks off as opposed to what happens before the game or during the week,” Brady said Wednesday. “You get into a bunch of trash talk. You know us. we’ve never got into that stuff because, in the end, it’s just a big waste of energy.”
Brissett was the starting quarterback that day in early October, completing 17 of 27 passes for 205 yards with a torn ligament in his right thumb. Martellus Bennett was the leading receiver that day with 109 yards but the offense couldn’t get it going after a holding call on the first play wiped out a 90-yard pitch-and-catch to Julian Edelman. With Brady back, the production should drastically change, and that’s what Brady is concentrating on.
“You focus on the things that you need to do to help the team, and that’s to play well and execute and spend your time on what’s going to happen from the point when the kicks off to when it ends, Brady said.
“That’s where our focus. That’s where it always will be. So, we’ll go in there. We’ll be focused and we’ll be ready to go and we’ll try to go out there and play a lot better than the last time we played them.”
And that’s where Brady’s best revenge will come on Robert Blanton.
|With Rob Ninkovich back, will Patriots be able to slow LeSean McCoy?||10.25.16 at 6:08 pm ET|
When the Patriots and Bills met the first time this season, not only was Tom Brady finishing up his four-game suspension, one of the best edge-setters in the Patriots defense was also finishing up his four-game ban to start the season.
Now, Rob Ninkovich is back and the results have been impressive.
Against the best rushing team in the NFL, Ninkovich helped the defense hold the Browns to 27 yards on 22 carries, including Isaiah Crowell to 22 yards on 13 carries.
Against Cincinnati, the Patriots held the Bengals to 120 yards on 32 carries. And last week against Pittsburgh, New England allowed the explosive Le’Veon Bell to 81 yards on 21 carries. Bell had his moments where he jitterbugged but didn’t explode for any huge plays.
Back on Oct. 2, McCoy and the Bills ran 32 times for 134 yards. McCoy had 70 yards on 19 carries. But don’t forget – he caught six passes on six targets for 38 yards and the only touchdown of the game, a seven-yard catch in the right flat.
Then, against the Rams and 49ers, he exploded for 150 and 140 yards respectively. He had just 11 yards on eight carries last week against Miami before coming out with a hamstring injury.
“Obviously, an outstanding, outstanding running back,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Tuesday. “Someone that is extremely quick, fast and versatile. They’re doing a good job of using him in a bunch of different runs and run packages. I would say overall with him this year [he’s] much more of an inside threat in the run game. He’s obviously always been an outside threat. He does a good job with the bounce-out runs or some of the scheme runs where they get him outside on the edge and he can use his speed.”
“He does a real good job with the C-gap [between tackle and tight end] runs, which are a lot of the runs that Buffalo likes to run kind of in their core aspect of the run game. You know, get the ball off tackle and he can hit it really at that 45-degree angle and get quick into the secondary. What he’s been able to do now, what he’s done a real good job of is downhill runs. The downhill runs, I would say out of him now, are much more dangerous and really once he breaks, he’s into the secondary or into the safeties a lot quicker.”
In other words, get him before he gets to the second level or look out.
|Bill Belichick goes over the finer details with Eric Rowe and it pays huge dividends||10.24.16 at 12:10 pm ET|
One of the reasons Bill Belichick pays such meticulous attention to game film before planning for his next opponent is that he’s always anticipating something paying off that could play a key role in the game.
Late in the first quarter Sunday, his film work revealed a tendency of Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to hold down a defender’s arm when going up for a ball.
With just over two minutes left in the first quarter and the Steelers at their own 30, Landry Jones lofted a ball deep down the left sideline for Heyward-Bey. Slot corner Eric Rowe was tight in coverage. Rowe looked up before he got to the receiver but as he got closer to his man, Heyward-Bey held down Rowe’s left arm preventing him from fully turning around. Instead of defensive pass interference at the Patriots’ 30, the official threw the flag and called offensive pass interference on Heyward-Bey.
“I talked to the official about that play and I talked to Eric about that play because that’s something that we had talked a lot about during the week with our corners on deep balls,” Belichick said in a Monday conference call. “We always talk about it but we specifically talked about the situation this week and so when that play came up right in front of our bench. I felt like I had a pretty good look at it.
“What the official told me was that the receiver grabbed Rowe when he tried to look back for the ball and held him so he couldn’t look, which was kind of confirmed when I talked to Eric about the play as well. I couldn’t see that. I was a little bit behind. I saw more of the back of Eric and not as much of the front where evidently he was grabbed a little bit. You can kind of see it on film but it’s a little tougher. The official had a much better view of it from the other side of the play so that’s what he called.”
|Bill Belichick explains in great detail how his coaching staff will be there for Stephen Gostkowski||at 11:33 am ET|
Belichick was asked about his kicker again on Monday in a conference call with reporters. Belichick was asked how much special teams coaching support there is with the Patriots. Starting with special teams coordinator Joe Judge, Belichick made it clear that Gostkowski is not in the battle alone.
“I can’t speak for other teams. I think Joe’s very knowledgable about the techniques of kicking,” Belichick said. “I know when I became a special teams coach and coached special teams for many years as an assistant coach, and I continue to be involve with it as a head coach, that’s one of the things I had to learn. I had to learn how to coach those individual specialists, the snappers, the kickers, the punters, the returners. I don’t think it’s any different than coaching any other position. Things you don’t know, you need to learn. The things you do know, you need to be able to teach to the players, however you acquire that information.”
Belichick then recalled how he’s had the chance to learn how to coach different positions from some of the greatest to play.
“Some of that certainly comes from the players, especially when you coach good players at the position that you’re coaching, you can learn a lot from them, just like I learned a lot from many of the players that I coached. Going back to people like Dave Jennings as a punts or Carl Banks or Lawrence Taylor or Pepper [Johnson], guys like that, as linebackers with the Giants. However you acquire that information, you acquire it and you have to be able to convey it and teach it to the players and recognize technique or judgment.
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|After mimicking him on interception, Malcolm Butler has ‘much love’ for Antonio Brown||10.23.16 at 11:00 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Just ask Malcolm Butler.
After picking off a first quarter pass in the end zone, intended for star receiver Antonio Brown, Malcolm Butler celebrated his first interception of the season by breaking into a dance.
It was supposed to be modeled after the dance Brown makes after a touchdown. High style points for the play. As for the celebration? Maybe not so much. But Butler, when asked about the pick after the game, admitted the dance was indeed modeled after the receiver he has so much respect for.
“Yeah. Yeah. [Laughter]. Me and Brown had conversation before. It was a joke. It was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. I just did it in the game,” Butler said. “Much love for that guy. It’s nothing personal.
“I just turned around and [found] the ball. Just playing football. That’s all I did. I just made the play. That’s all there was to it.”
He went even further, speaking of Brown in the most glowing of terms.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best,” Butler said. “He’s one or two. He has no flaws. There’s no stopping Antonio Brown. That’s impossible. You can’t stop him. You only can slow him down. He’s going to do what he does. I just went out there and tried to complete today. Le’Veon does what he does also. Great players are going to make great plays. You just have to match their intensity.”
Butler did give up a 51-yard play to Brown in the second quarter that set up Pittsburgh’s only touchdown of the day, a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey. It was the first time the Patriots allowed a pass completion of over 40 yards this season.
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