|Rob Gronkowski is super pumped that ‘Tom’s back at quarterback, baby’||10.05.16 at 12:16 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Perhaps no one is more excited about the return of Tom Brady to the practice field this week than Rob Gronkowski.
The man who has been limited to three targets and one catch of 11 yards over his first two games gets the man back who has been responsible for making him the most feared tight end in all of football the last six seasons.
“It’s always exciting. He’s our leader of our offense,” Gronkowski said Wednesday. “He’s a great player and it’s exciting to get TB back, man.”
Will the competition level rise with Brady back in the building and on the practice field?
“Competition level out there, no matter whoever is out there, is always high,” Gronk said. “This whole team is full of competitiveness. We’ve got players like Julian, Marty, all the offensive linemen. Everyone out there is competing all the time. Tom is another great example of a great leader that goes out there and competes every single day so, it’s always great to have another player come in like Tom, coming back and bringing the competition level up to another level, too.”
Gronkowski did not say if he’s thrown with Brady since he arrived back in the building Monday afternoon.
“We’ll be throwing at practice, today,” is all Gronkowski would confirm. “Everything’s the same every single week. Everyone’s always preparing the same, no matter who it is at quarterback. You’ve always got to prepare the same. I’ve got to prepare myself every single week. The demeanor has been the same throughout the building. We’ve got to prepare every single week to the max. It’s just like any other week except Tom’s back at quarterback, baby.”
Gronkowski, sounding a similar tone to Bill Belichick in the morning, said the team is more worried about solving the Browns defense than they are with the hype around Brady’s return or being concerned about getting back in sync with his QB.
“First off, we’ve got to focus on the Browns, obviously,” Gronkowski said, giving the 0-4 Browns some credit. “They’ve got a great team, a lot of hard-working players out there on their defense, lot of young guys that work hard, that keep on going after the ball. That’s what we’ve really got to focus on. As a team this week, we’ve just got to go out there focused on what we’ve got to do as an offense. We’ve been practicing with Tom for a while now so we’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve done since the first day I’ve been here.”
|Bill Belichick isn’t about to read the mind of Tom Brady||at 10:04 am ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick says he has no idea how Tom Brady is feeling. Nor does he want to take the time to find out for the media.
The Patriots coach made it clear Wednesday in a straight-forward exchange that his quarterback’s return is not a guarantee that the team will beat the Browns this Sunday.
Asked directly if he needs to remind his team that Brady’s return is not a fix-all for problems exposed in a 16-0 loss, Belichick said he’s focused on getting the whole team ready.
“We all got to do our job, do our job better. We all got a lot of things to work on,” Belichick said. “That’s easy.”
Channel 7’s Bryon Barnett did his best to get the Patriots coach to try and talk about his feelings about his team’s 3-1 record after what it went through over the first four weeks. Belichick wasn’t biting.
“Right now, our focus is on Cleveland, trying to get ready to go to Cleveland,” said Belichick, as his intensity grew. “We can’t do anything about whatever it was or wasn’t the last four weeks. We’re into the Cleveland week and that’s all our focus is. We’re not worried about last week, not worried about next week, not worried last year. Worried about this week against Cleveland, that’s it, period, this week Cleveland. We’re focused on Cleveland, this week, period, Cleveland.”
With Brady back, does the coach feel like he can finally exhale?
“Feel like we need to go out to Cleveland and play well in order to win,” Belichick said. “That’s what we’re going to try and do.”
Does Belichick sense that Brady will be inspired, if that’s even possible?
“I think our team needs to prepare well this week and go out and play well against Cleveland, in Cleveland,” Belichick said. “That’s what we need to do.”
Belichick was also asked if he gets any sense of where Brady’s mindset is this week going into his first game of the season.
“We’ll go out and practice today and see where our whole team is,” Belichick said. “You have to ask Tom how’s he personally feeling. That’s something I can’t answer.”
Rob Ninkovich also returns this week. Belichick said he’s taking the same approach on Brady and Ninkovich.
“We’ll go out and practice and see how it goes,” Belichick said.
|Why the Patriots genuinely respect Isaiah Crowell, and what he could do to them Sunday||10.04.16 at 1:37 pm ET|
For as much as Sunday was pretty much a no-show for the Patriots offense, what was truly alarming was how well the Bills played keep away from the Patriots, running 40 plays in the first half to New England’s 17. And, how many missed tackles there were by the Patriots defense.
The Bills came in with the league’s fourth-best running game with a three-headed monster in LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee and Tyrod Taylor. They dictated tempo from their first drive and never stopped, running 73 plays to New England’s 52.
While the Browns don’t have a Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, they do have Terrelle Pryor to go along with running back Duke Johnson.
Pryor could have a huge role in this game, trying to replicate Taylor’s role. And then there’s Isaiah Crowell.
The Browns have replaced the Patriots as the most productive running attack in the league, as they are now averaging 149.3 yards per game. Dallas is second at 149.0 yards and the Patriots are third at 135.5 yards. Leading the way is third-year back Isaiah Crowell, an undrafted talent in 2014 out of Alabama State (via Univ. of Georgia). He has 394 yards on 61 carries, including an 85-yarder for a touchdown against the Ravens in Week 2 as part of a 20-2 first quarter. He trails only Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliot’s 412 yards rushing this season.
“You’re talking about one of the best backs in the league,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia beamed on Tuesday. “This guy is an explosive runner, he’s got good vision, he’s got really good feet and balance. If you look at his burst and his ability to get through the line of scrimmage with the power and the acceleration that he hits the hole, it’s very impressive. You see him really kind of fit through some tight spaces very quickly. They do a great job in the run game with both the scheme and the gap system as well as the zone system to really be able to get the ball downhill in a very effective and quick manner. This is really a very good back.
Even without Tom Brady, the first four weeks of the season flew by for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. But on Tuesday, McDaniels said in a conference call that it was great seeing his quarterback back in the building Monday, getting ready for a game this Sunday.
Even better, McDaniels said Brady looks more than ready to go.
“I didn’t notice any difference,” McDaniels said. “It was four weeks. I felt like it went fast and Tommy is ready to go and looks ready to go. We’ll see how everything goes [Wednesday] at practice and kind of just build one day-at-a-time as we go through the week.”
Bill Belichick and Brady have both said in the past that it’s very difficult for a player who’s missed time to jump on board the “moving train” that is the Patriots in the regular season. McDaniels said he’s confident Brady will be able to cope. Moreover, McDaniels said preparations for Cleveland this week shouldn’t be that much different than any other week, even with Brady back.
“It’s going to be as normal as it could be,” McDaniels said. “I think the biggest thing is to just go through our preparation as we normally do to prepare for the opponent and prepare for what our game plan is and how we want to execute it and go out there and use our opportunities on the practice field to execute and to get back into playing football and being with his teammates and running our offense and doing the things we ask the quarterback to do here.
“I don’t see it being much different than a normal game week and we’ll try to do all the right things in terms of preparing and getting ready to play a team that we don’t know very well and that we’re going to study hard to get to familiar with and go there and play a game on the road in a tough place to play.”
|Bill Belichick gets testy with Jimmy Garoppolo questions||10.03.16 at 12:45 pm ET|
Speculation is something Bill Belichick hates. Whether it’s on Tom Brady’s potential impact in his return or Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder, predictions is not something the Patriots coach does.
There’s been plenty of speculation with regard to Garoppolo’s injured right shoulder.
Numerous reports have come out in the last 24 hours suggesting that the team was surprised that Jimmy Garoppolo had a setback with his right shoulder sprain in the hours leading up to Sunday’s 16-0 loss to the Bills, leaving the team with no choice than to start rookie Jacoby Brissett, with Julian Edelman as an emergency backup.
During Monday’s conference call, Belichick was asked how close Garoppolo was to playing in Sunday’s game.
“Well, the decision to make him inactive was just like the decision to make the other six players inactive,” Belichick said. “I mean we do that every game. Every game there’s seven inactives.
Was it a surprise to the team that Garoppolo would be unavailable to play, two weeks after injuring the shoulder against the Dolphins?
“We listed him on the injury report with everyone else,” Belichick answered. “That’s what we based it on on Friday when we we’re required to list that. So that’s what we did, just like we did with everyone else that was or wasn’t on it. If they weren’t on it then that was their status. If they were on it then that was their status from what we knew at that time.”
Still the questions from CSNNE’s Mike Giardi persisted.
Did Belichick feel Garoppolo had a chance to play?
“We listed the inactive players as inactive,” Belichick repeated. “Inactive players can’t play. They’re inactive.”
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The working assumption around the NFL is that the Patriots just got immediately better with the return of Tom Brady back in the building on Monday.
Bill Belichick is not working on that same assumption, as he pointed out multiple times during his Monday morning conference call.
Asked about the Brady impact on his team, Belichick said Brady has to perform before he makes any judgments.
“It would just be speculation at this point. He hasn’t done it,” Belichick said of his quarterback’s absence in the first four weeks.
Rob Ninkovich also returned Monday from his four-game suspension, a fact that Belichick noted when asked what impact Brady might have in the locker room.
“I think it’s great to have Tom and Rob back but I can’t answer the question,” Brady said of the leadership role in the room. “I haven’t seen it. It would just be pure speculation. It’s good to have them back. I’m not going to speculate on what will and won’t happen on anything going forward, because that’s all it would be, is speculation.”
Brady and Belichick have often spoken of the challenge of players jumping back on the “moving train” in the middle of the season. How much work will Brady have to do to catch up?
“We’ll just take it day-by-day and see where he’s at and just go forward one day at a time,” Belichick said. “Football [preparation] is everything. I don’t know how you can do one thing and not do something else or not be able to do something else. You have to be able to do it all.”
Belichick was then asked about how long the Patriots would be able to carry Brady and Rob Ninkovich (also coming off a four-game suspension Monday) and whether the team would apply for exemptions for both players.
“I don’t have an exact answer for that right this second. Why don’t you call the league and ask them. I’m sure they have the answers,” Belichick said.
|Bill Belichick short and sweet about his team’s ‘pretty obvious’ no-show against Bills||10.02.16 at 7:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick usually takes his time and addresses the media after taking a shower and getting cleaned up.
He wasted no such time Sunday in trying to explain the 16-0 stinker to the Bills, coming to the podium in under five minutes after the final gun.
“Well obviously we didn’t do much of anything well enough to win today, so we’ve just got to do a better job, turn the page here,” Belichick said in his opening remarks. “We think we’re a better team than we showed today but we just didn’t do anything well enough today. So, we’ll get back to work and get ready for Cleveland.”
It was a frustrating day for Belichick and his staff as there were mental and physical mistakes from the opening kickoff, which included a near-kneel down at the 1 by rookie Cyrus Jones. It got so bad that Belichick slammed his Surface tablet in anger after the 7-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to LeSean McCoy.
“Yeah, they’re good players,” Belichick said. “We obviously didn’t do a good enough job of it.”
The mistakes continued immediately after the Jones kick return. Jacoby Brissett found Julian Edelman on the sideline for a pitch-and-catch that turned into a 90-yard gain. It was wiped out by defensive holding and pass interference by Chris Hogan.
“Yeah, we just didn’t have a very good day today,” Belichick said of the 90-yard gain for naught.
“It wasn’t good enough in any area,” Belichick said. “Obviously, we were in a lot of third-and-longs so that wasn’t good. A lot of third-down problems are related to first and second-down and it wasn’t good enough on third-down. It’s pretty obvious.”
Then came the questions about the decision to hold back Jimmy Garoppolo and make him inactive.
“When we made him inactive,” Belichick said.
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