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Carl Banks breaks down exactly how Bill Belichick will approach the Falcons: ‘I think you’ll see more in coverage’ 02.03.17 at 2:48 pm ET
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Sep 20, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks speaks on stage during half time ceremony honoring the 25th anniversary of their championship at MetLife Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks played for Bill Belichick in two Super Bowls. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — Expect the unexpected.

That’s been the theme of Bill Belichick defenses in the Super Bowl against high-powered offenses.

As defensive coordinator of the Giants in Super Bowl XXV against the “K-Gun” Buffalo Bills, he featured a defensive line of just two players and dared the Bills to run Thurman Thomas while his linebackers and defensive backs were beating up on Andre Reed and James Lofton. The plan produced a 20-19 win, a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and earned Belichick his first head coaching job in Cleveland the next season.

In Super Bowl XXXVI, he assigned Willie McGinest to trail all-purpose back Marshall Faulk and beat him up as much as possible to take him out of the passing game as much as possible. Meanwhile, he played bump-and-run coverage on Issac Bruce, Az Hakim and Tory Holt. That produced the first Patriots Super Bowl win, 20-17, and kicked off an unprecedented dynasty in the modern NFL that continues today.

So now, 15 years later, Belichick has another huge task – coming up with a plan to contain Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu while keeping tabs on running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Carl Banks was a Pro Bowl linebacker on Belichick’s two Giants teams that won Super Bowls. He has a unique perspective on exactly what Belichick might be planning this time around.

“I think it’s just basically he’s just going to focus on assignment football, fundamentals,” Banks told WEEI.com Friday. “That’s the probably the first thing he addressed. And then he goes in and shows how his team could be hurt by their key players.

“Everyone talks about Belichick taking everyone’s best player away. Well, I think their players take the best player away, and I think that’s going to be the key this time because when you have a player who’s sometimes better than the defense the you’re playing against them, it really comes down to fundamentals at that point.”

How will Belichick pick and choose who to take away Sunday?

“He won’t. He’ll put his defense in place and it’s really going to come down to making tackles. It’s fundamentals because playing assignments and playing fundamentals is what really will help them curtail their best players. You’ve got to make tackles.”
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Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, Carl Banks, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick admits his players ‘put up with a lot from me’ but proves it’s all worth it 01.23.17 at 1:39 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have had quite a run. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have had quite a run. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — When cameras caught Martellus Bennett doing the pom-poms with Patriots cheerleaders after New England’s 36-17 win over the Steelers in the AFC championship, it was equal parts celebration of going to the Super Bowl and relief after passing the latest Bill Belichick exam.

What did Belichick think of Bennett’s cheerleading tryout?

“Yeah, I missed all of the dancing with the cheerleaders; sorry. We’ll have to get a replay on that,” Belichick said on Monday’s conference call. “But you know, I’d say just in general it’s great to, obviously it was a great win for our team and our organization last night, but it’s great to see the players who have worked so hard take so much satisfaction in their relationship with their teammates and the goal that they accomplished last night.”

Bennett, who is headed home to Houston for his first Super Bowl appearance, caught five passes on all five targets from Tom Brady on Sunday, amassing 32 yards. He was the third-leading receiver behind Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman.

Bennett is just one example of what Belichick has always sought in his players – a firm belief in the team as one. Bennett came to New England from Chicago in the final year of his four-year deal. He’s used it as a platform to show his talents for a new deal in New England or elsewhere – and he’s done it while playing over half the season with a broken bone in his right ankle.

“Another step in a season where the team has already won 16 games but it was another significant step,” Belichick added Monday. “When you see them reacting and congratulating each other and celebrating like that, you know you have a closeness on the team that is special. I mentioned that last night and it’s true. These guys, they work hard. They put up with a lot from me and they put up with a lot of significant demands and requirements here, but it’s done with the intent to try and produce a good product and a good team.”

For as much as he is considered super serious and rigid, Belichick has always encouraged his team to celebrate big plays and big games with one another. The team that wins together celebrates together, and vice versa.

“They buy into it,” Belichick said. “They perform well in critical situations like [Sunday] night. I take a lot of satisfaction in seeing them achieve that because they’ve worked so hard for it and I think they deserve it, but you’ve got to go out and prove it.

“Again, going back to [author] Jerry Izenberg – ‘No Medals for Trying.’ [The 1990 book on the New York Giants] This time of year everybody tries hard. Everybody has a good team that is still playing. You’re only rewarded for achievement. Last night we were fortunate enough to earn that. It’s a great feeling to see everybody have that kind of interaction with each other and feel so good about their teammates and the guys they’ve worked so hard with.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jerry Izenberg, Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
Mike Petraglia talks Tom Brady’s first half as Patriots drop preseason finale to Giants 09.01.16 at 11:37 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tom Brady played the whole first half, Barkevious Mingo shines in debut and DJ Foster impresses in 17-9 loss to Giants. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia has the report from inside MetLife Stadium.

Read More: Barkevious Mingo, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, New York Giants
Tom Brady plays entire 1st half, Barkevious Mingo lights it up as Patriots drop preseason finale vs. Giants at 10:07 pm ET
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Sep 1, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;   New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) scrambles against  New York Giants defenders during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady was under pressure early and often Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Brady certainly got his chance to throw the ball in the preseason finale Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots quarterback, making his final game appearance of any kind until Oct. 9, attempted 26 passes, completing 16 of them for 166 yards for a touchdown and an interception in a 17-9 loss to the Giants. Brady attempted 19 passes alone in the first quarter.

Jacoby Brissett played the entire second half while Jimmy Garoppolo, who is slated to the start the season opener Sept. 11 in Arizona, suited up but did not play.

The Patriots finished the preseason 3-1 and now look ahead to Saturday’s cutdown to 53 players by the 4 p.m. deadline.

The game also featured the impressive debut of linebacker Barkeviovs Mingo, acquired Aug. 24 in a trade with the Browns. The linebacker forced fumbles on consecutive plays and had a three-yard tackle for a loss on another as he made his debut a strong one in the first half.

Aaron Dobson and D.J. Foster also had big moments in the first half, with Dobson making a spectacular 38-yard leaping grab in the second quarter to set up the Patriots in the red zone. Foster caught a 30-yard pass to set up Brady’s only touchdown pass of the night.

Foster finished with nine catches on 10 targets for 110 yards, plus nine carries for 22 yards.

[Click here for a complete box score].

Brady started his night by targeting Julian Edelman three times. He completed one for minus-3 yards. The first drive ended when Dobson appeared to stop short and the short pass over the middle was intercepted by Trevin Wade. Brady moved the ball to the Patriots 44 before the drive stalled.

Brady’s third drive was one play. He completed a pass to Martellus Bennett for two yards before Bennett coughed it up for a fumble and turnover.

Brady finally got rhythm on the fourth drive, completing six of seven passes, including a 7-yarder to a wide-open Keshawn Martin in the right flat for a touchdown. Brady even rambled 10 yards up the middle for a first down.

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Read More: Barkevious Mingo, New England Patriots, New York Giants, nfl
Jonathan Kraft wants to keep Roger Goodell (or any commissioner) out of the ‘firing line’ of discipline at 7:37 pm ET
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Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jonathan Kraft has some sympathy for Roger Goodell.

On Thursday, the 10th anniversary of Goodell taking over as NFL Commissioner, the Patriots team president voiced his opinion on the job Goodell has done since taking over for Paul Tagliabue on Sept. 1, 2006.

Speaking on the Patriots pregame radio show, Kraft was asked how he thinks Goodell has handled discipline over the last 10 years. Kraft made it clear that while he still vehemently opposes the way Tom Brady was disciplined, he thinks the league should take steps to take the Commissioner out of public scrutiny.

“Look, I think that’s a complicated position,” Kraft said. “Obviously, you know my opinion on our current situation and we’re not in agreement with what’s gone on and I think our organization has been pretty vocal about that. I do think that whoever the Commissioner of the National Football League is, at any point in time, it’s important that the office have authority. It gets watched. It’s very visible. I’ve seen over the last couple of years, since the air pressure situation, I think that a clear and defined methodology around conduct that takes into account the role of the Commissioner and doesn’t put him or her in the firing line is probably where this needs to go. It’s much more complicated than it’s been in the past.

“I think having the ability to discipline conduct for anybody involved, be it a player or coach, executive or owner, is extremely important because we’re scrutinized, rightfully so, in a very granular way and there needs to be a clearly defined ability for conduct and for the rules of the league to be followed. For the good of the league, the Commissioner shouldn’t probably be on the firing line, at least in my opinion.”

Asked about his thoughts about the job Goodell has done overall on the 10th anniversary of taking over, Kraft took a long pause, had a small laugh and then offered his perspective.

“When Roger became Commissioner, he succeeded Paul Tagliabue, that had been a lawyer and Paul had succeeded Pete Rozelle, who was the brilliant marketing guy,” Kraft said. “And when Pete was the Commissioner, I think the league really needed Pete’s marketing. I never had the privilege of meeting Pete but I’ve read a lot about him and obviously know a lot of people who worked with him. He was a world-class marketer.

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Read More: Jonathan Kraft, New England Patriots, New York Giants, nfl
Tom Brady to spend part of suspension working on TV project with Michael Strahan at 5:18 pm ET
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Tom Brady had a touchdown pass in his return to the field Friday night. (Jeremy Brevar/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady throws a pass during the preseason. (Jeremy Brevar/USA Today Sports)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Brady will not just be watching TV during his time away from the Patriots. He’ll be helping to produce a TV show of his own.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Audience Network has picked up six one-hour episodes of “Religion of Sports,” a documentary series created by Brady and long-time defensive nemesis Michael Strahan.

The series will explore the “impact of sports in society and culture by looking deeply at events and trends, including episodes focused on the Calgary Stampede and NASCAR events,” according to the network.

The series is set to debut in November, after Brady has already returned to the field from his four-week suspension.

Brady said, in a statement to THR, that he’s always been interested in the emotions sports evokes since he was a kid.

“I’ll never forget watching “The Catch’ in Candlestick Park with my dad. I was 4 years old, in awe of it all,” Brady said, referring, of course, to the Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark connection against the Cowboys that sent the 49ers to Super Bowl XVI in Jan. 1982.

“In a lot of ways, I’ve dedicated my life to replicating that feeling. Now playing on the same stage as my childhood idols, I’m fortunate to have a pretty unique perspective on football and the sports world. I can think of no better vehicle than ‘Religion of Sports’ to share some of what I’ve learned and dig a little deeper into that feeling, the sort of spiritual experience that sports creates for players and fans alike.”

Strahan got the best of Brady in Super Bowl XLII, getting two tackles and a sack of Brady in New York’s 17-14 win over the Patriots.

Read More: Michael Strahan, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Super Bowl XLII
Scene-setting from MetLife: Tom Brady set to start preseason finale in final game before Oct. 9 at 3:56 pm ET
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IMG_0242

MetLife Stadium is once again the scene for the Patriots’ preseason finale. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Will he or won’t he?

From the moment Tom Brady dropped another big hint during his press conference Tuesday that he was “hopefully” going to play in the preseason finale against the Giants, the question has been whether he will play in a preseason finale for the first time since 2011. The second biggest question is should he? The first question will definitely be answered shortly after the 7 p.m. ET kickoff between the Patriots (3-0) and Giants (1-2) at MetLife Stadium.

That year, training camp reps and the offseason was affected by the labor stoppage in the middle of the summer. Brady went 5-of-9 for 116 yards and played three series (all in the first quarter) in an 18-17 loss to the Giants at Gillette.

According to CSNNE’s Tom Curran, Brady will indeed start for the Patriots in the preseason finale at MetLife, his last action before his suspension officially begins Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. He won’t take another snap in a game until Oct. 9 in Cleveland.

Brady was 3-for-9 for 76 yards and a 33-yard TD to Chris Hogan in his 2016 preseason debut last week in Charlotte.

Curran also reports that Jimmy Garoppolo, the Week 1 starter in Arizona, will not play, despite making the trip to North Jersey.

This means that Jacoby Brissett will likely enter sometime in the second quarter and play the remainder of the game. Brissett looked impressive at times last week, completing all nine pass attempts for 83 yards and a 12-yard TD pass to DeAndre Carter in the third quarter.

The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a game-time temperature of 75 degrees. The Meadowlands was drenched in a heavy downpour for about 30 minutes at 2 p.m.

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Read More: Jacoby Brissett, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, New York Giants
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