|Tom Brady on D&C: ‘If they’re calling it tight, you’ve got to be able to adjust’||08.18.14 at 8:55 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, with the team hitting the halfway mark of the preseason schedule. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Some consider preseason a boring lead-up to the regular season, but Brady is not one of those people.
“It means football is back,” he said. “We’re really in preparation for the season. You can’t shortcut it. You’ve just got to grind through it. It’s about getting better, and you can’t cheat that. You’ve got to see where your team’s at, and to have weeks and weeks of really concentrated practice time and then the preseason game, you make mistakes, you correct them, you try to do them better and make the improvements — I think that’s what training camp’s all about.
“Coach [Bill Belichick] always says a good offseason program leads to a good start of training camp, good training camp leads to a good September, a good September leads to a good October, November. Then you’ve got to be playing well in December. Through none of those phases can you really just be average, because then you can never get back, you can never try to get ahead, you’re always just trying to catch up.”
Brady said progress is far more important than anything else at this stage.
“For all of us it’s just level of improvement,” he said. “I think that’s what you gauge. Because not all the parts are there at this point. A lot of it is individual improvement. So you’re really just focusing on what you’re job is, what you need to do, go through your read, your throw. And then when you start to incorporate those into one-on-one drills, and as that leads over into team drills, hopefully by the opener you’ve got all the guys that have worked on their individual improvement so collectively, as a whole, you’re better and better — or significantly better than what we were let’s say when the OTA’s started. That’s what you have to look to be able to do. You’ve got to built a foundation. Without that foundation you’ll never be a good football team.”
Friday’s preseason win over the Eagles was marked by 28 penalties as officials try to get players to understand they’ll be calling games tighter this season. Brady said it’s incumbent on the players to adjust.
“I don’t know whether they throw 20 flags or five flags over the course of the game. Some calls go your way, some calls don’t,” he said. “I think players like when they let you play, more so than anything. But at the same time, the refs stand up there in front of us on whatever day it was, on Wednesday, and said, ‘Look, we’re throwing a lot of flags. If we see illegal contact, if we see defensive holding, if we see hands to the face, those are real points of emphasis for this year.’ And they showed video. So when those things come up, they’re throwing the flags. And they did in practice a lot, too.
“It’s just being able to adjust and being disciplined and being good decision-makers. … You just have to learn to play within the rules. And those adjust on a weekly basis, depending on how the refs call the game. And we have a pretty good idea of how they’re going to call the game going into it. Some refs throw a lot of flags, some refs don’t throw a lot of flags. Our coaches try to prepare us on that. And once you get out there on the field, you play within the rules to the best of your ability. And if they’re calling it tight, you’ve got to be able to adjust. That’s all part of the decision-making process as a player.
“Hopefully, there’s not 20-plus flags a game. That’s a lot of flags. That will make for long football games.”
|Fantasy Football: Quarterback rankings||07.31.14 at 3:06 pm ET|
Last week we took a look at the top 50 wide receivers. This week we will get into the signal callers and break them down into tiers as we did with the receivers. Jim Hackett and I will get even deeper into the quarterbacks in our weekly podcast that will be posted tomorrow. I am also pleased to announce that Jim and I will be hosting a new show on WEEI 93.7 called “The Fantasy Football Hour.” Our first episode airs Aug. 10 at 7:30 a.m., and we’ll be on every Sunday throughout the NFL season. If you missed my article on high-value targets, give it a read. It points out some nice value opportunities based on average draft position.
2014 features perhaps the deepest group of fantasy quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. For years, Rotobahn has been preaching patience when drafting passers — and never has that approach been more prudent than it is for this season. There simply is no way you can get shut out at the position. Sure, some outcomes are better than others, but you are not taking a big risk by waiting on a quarterback because, quite simply, they will not be depleted unless you are playing in a league that allows teams to start more than one quarterback.
If you are looking for more information on any particular quarterback or player, go to rotobahn.com and check out our top 400. If your player isn’t listed there, you should strongly consider getting him off of your redraft board.
Tier 1 (1)
Yes, for fantasy purposes he’s all alone. If there is a valid argument for taking an early quarterback, it’s Manning’s scoring gap over second place. Even though I expect a mild statistical regression, there’s still Manning and then everybody else. Yes, he lost a very reliable option when Eric Decker signed with the Jets, but the Broncos added Emmanuel Sanders and drafted Cody Latimer. Latimer has a skill set that ultimately could make Denver fans forget about Eric Decker. Check out Latimer’s Rotobahn scouting report if you haven’t already.
Tier 2 (2-3)
Just about all of Rodgers’ arrows are pointing up. As long as he avoids another season-ending injury, he’s about as safe as it gets as a performer and his receivers are talented and deeply immersed in the Green Bay offense. Brees is the definition of consistency. That’s why he’s an elite option, and that’s why people overdraft him in most leagues. Though he’s showing some signs of age, that should be counter-balanced by the influx of young receivers. We are very high on Kenny Stills, who played 60 percent of the offensive snaps as a rookie, and this year’s first-round selection, Brandin Cooks. This could give Brees the kind of shot in the arm that Manning got from Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in 2012.
Tier 3 (4-7)
By my math, you have three very secure options at the top of this tier. Stafford, Luck and Foles all are in very good situations and they’re all big strong-armed passers with quality targets. Griffin also has quality targets, and we like new head coach/offensive coordinator Jay Gruden‘s offense in terms of its flexibility. Griffin is the lottery ticket of the group. He is one of the few players who could outscore everybody, but the injury risks are obvious and real. If you do choose to roll the bones on RGIII, you’ll want to back him up with a strong option, ideally from the next tier.
|Nick Caserio says Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner don’t signal change in ‘D’ philosophy||07.27.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner were brought into the fold by the Patriots in the offseason, there was a presumption that the Patriots were about to alter their defensive approach somewhat, perhaps going with a more physical attack at the line of scrimmage and playing more pure bump-and-run.
But on Sunday, Patriots director of personnel Nick Caserio clarified that thinking. He said Revis and Browner help the Patriots do more defensively but won’t change their overall approach.
“I think our philosophy is the same every year,” Caserio said. “We try to look at our team, try to improve our team and do what we think is in our best interest. Both guys have been successful in their systems that they’ve played in. They’re in a new system with a new team. No real change in terms of what we look for. Their measurables may be a little bit different but there’s really no change in terms of how we approach it.”
Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus would beg to differ, arguing that it means more matching up in the secondary than we’ve seen before.
“No, I think we just look at our team and we try to find players that we think are going to help our football team, regardless of who they played for, regardless of where they come from,” Caserio insisted. “I mean, really it has no bearing on it.”
But Caserio did admit that when you have a special player like Revis, a defense can perform at a different level because it can do different things.
“When we go into a game, really each week, the game plan changes week to week,” Caserio said. “So, you figure out who you’re playing against, what are we trying to stop, what are we trying to take away? Then the game plan is implemented based on those types of things. You try to deploy your players and deploy your assets the best you can. Certain weeks it may be one thing, other weeks it may be another thing.
“So, you really just ‘ whatever their skills, whatever they do well, you try to put them at the position where they can be successful to utilize those. Then look at, ‘OK, who are we playing? OK, how does that particular skill, how does that player match up relative to some other players?’ So, it’s really week to week and it’s really based on the opponent, which those get into some more of the game plan type specific things once we get into the season.”
Caserio maintained Sunday they are not do anything to accommodate Revis in their defense but rather the other way around.
“I think the approach is, ‘What do we need to do to help us win the football game?’ That’s what we’ll try to do ‘ whether it’s offensively, defensively or in the kicking game.”
|Tom Brady tops ESPN anonymous NFL insider poll for best quarterback in NFL||07.02.14 at 12:31 pm ET|
Tom Brady will turn 37 years old in a month, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback is losing any respect among top league insiders.
In an ESPN poll (insider only), NFL Insider Mike Sando anonymously polled 26 league insiders, including eight general managers, two former general managers, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive to get their ranking on each of the projected 32 starting NFL quarterbacks. The rankings were given on a 1-5 scale, with one being the best and five the worst. Sando then was able to separate the quarterbacks into tiers, 1-4.
Brady came out at the top with a 1.04 average rating, tying Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Those four and Andrew Luck (1.5 average ranking) made up the first tier. Only one voter did not put Brady in the top tier as that pro personnel evaluator only had Manning in tier 1.
“Brady did a lot of good things with limited resources, but I saw holes when they put the onus on him to carry it all, as you saw when Denver beat him,” the personnel evaluator said. “Brady has to have more of a running game at this stage. He cannot line up with five wides and win it as consistently as before. I still think Brady is a top-five quarterback, but I would not say he is the best right now.”
Another veteran offensive assistant doesn’t see things the same way and said Brady, Manning and Brees were all pretty much interchangeable.
“Brady might be the best because he does it with the least every year, just about,” the offensive assistant said. “To me, there is no falloff with that guy. If he played with what Rodgers and Peyton and Brees have played with, it would not even be close. He has not had an outside guy since Randy Moss. These other guys have outside guys coming out of their ears, especially Peyton and Rodgers. It is such a difference when you have outside guys that can stretch, like Manning had in Indy. Then he’d kill you with the inside guys. Brady doesn’t have half the skill players that Manning has. The thing that is scary is that sneakily, the Patriots were pretty good last year anyway.”
|Numbers game: Tom Brady can move up several all-time statistical lists in 2014||06.23.14 at 1:43 pm ET|
When it comes to covering the NFL, one of the greatest single resource tools is the statistical database at Pro Football Reference. And sparked by the discussion regarding whether or not Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at catching Emmitt Smith for the all-time rushing record, we decided to take a look at where Tom Brady stands — at least statistically — when it comes to measuring his individual numbers against some of the best in the game.
Career passing touchdowns — 359, fifth overall.
Like most of the rest of the categories, he’s a step or two behind Drew Brees. In this case, Brees has 363 career passing touchdowns, fourth on the list. However, Brady and Brees should be able to pass Dan Marino within the next two years, as the former Miami quarterback is third all time with 420. Meanwhile, Brett Favre (508) and Peyton Manning (491) are at the top of the list.
Career passing yards — 49,149, seventh overall.
He’ll likely pass Warren Moon (49,325 career passing yards) relatively early in the season to move into sixth place. Brees is fifth overall at 51,081, and he will almost certainly add to that total in 2014. He and Brady should pass John Elway this year, as the former Broncos QB is fourth overall at 51,475 career yards. After that, it gets a little dicey — the top three are far removed from the rest of the field, at least at this point. Favre is first overall with 71,838 yards, Manning is No. 2 at 64,964, while Marino is third at 61,361. Again, once Manning, Brees and Brady are all done, they will all be in the Top 5 all time, provided they stay on their current pace.
Career passes completed — 4,178, fifth overall.
Brady is part of a top five of Favre (6,300, first), Manning (5,532, second), Marino (4,967, third) and Brees (4,481). Assuming that Brees is going to keep slinging it for at least the next three years, it appears unlikely Brady could pass him, but the Patriots quarterback could pass Marino between now and the end of his career, which would likely have him fourth when he decides to call it a career.
Career passing attempts — 6,586, good for ninth overall.
Brady figures to pass Vinny Testaverde for the eighth spot some time in the first month of the season, as he’s only 115 attempts behind Testaverde. In fact, he could rise a couple of notches on this list, as Drew Bledsoe (6,717, seventh) and Moon (6,823, fifth) are within reach this season. Of course, he probably won’t leapfrog Brees, who is sixth overall at 6,799. For comparisons sake, Favre (10,169) and Manning (8,452) are 1-2.
Career interceptions — 134, 70th overall
When you’re talking about the Brady/Brees/Manning group, one area where he’s better than his contemporaries (although you could say it’s because he’s attempted fewer passes) is interceptions. Among current active quarterbacks, Manning has 219 career picks (19th place on the all-time list), while Brees is second at 177 (38th in NFL history). Eli Manning is third with 171 (43rd on the all-time list), Jon Kitna is fourth with 165. Brady is seventh with 134 career interceptions, 70th overall. Again, by way of comparison, Favre is tops with 336 career interceptions, 59 more than George Blanda, who is second overall at 277.
Career completion percentage (minimum 1,500 pass attempts) — 63.4 percent, 11th overall
One statistical area that’s hard to define is career completion percentage. PFR has a minimum of 1,500 pass attempts needed to qualify, so you see quarterbacks on this list that might not necessarily be considered elite-level signal callers. However, it’s still a good indication of a quarterback’s decision making skills and his comfort level in the offense. At this point, Brady has a 63.4 percent career completion rate, which is 11th on the all-time list. Chad Pennington is the all-time leader with a 66 percent completion rate. Compared to the other lists — including Brady — nine of the top 12 quarterbacks on the list are still active, with Brees (65.9 percent, second), Aaron Rodgers (65.8 percent, third) and Manning (65.5 percent, fourth) rounding out the active quarterbacks who are currently in the top five.
|Aqib Talib on Tom Brady-Peyton Manning debate: ‘You’ve got to go Peyton Manning’||05.28.14 at 10:59 am ET|
Who’s the better quarterback: Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? It’s the popular question that has consumed football fans for the last decade and has led to countless heated debates on TV and radio and even in the workplace.
Aqib Talib thinks he knows the answer.
The former Patriots cornerback, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal with Manning’s Broncos this offseason, told NFL Network that he thinks Manning — the reigning MVP — is a better quarterback than his former teammate in New England.
“You’ve got to go Peyton Manning,” said Talib, who was named the No. 79 overall player in the 2014 in the network’s Top 100 players series. “Tom is a good friend of mine … what’s up Tom, baby?
“[Manning] had an awesome year. He tore it up. He like set the record for touchdowns. He beat Tom in the AFC championship. You’ve got to give it to Peyton. Tom knows — that’s my dog, man, he knows.”
Talib said it’s “definitely a different scenery” in Denver.
Another cornerback likely to join Talib on that list is Patriots newcomer Darrelle Revis, whom the Patriots opted to sign on a one-year deal rather than give Talib a long-term contract.
“[Bill Belichick] sure didn’t want to give me that money, so hey, man, he gave it to Revis,” Talib said. “It is what it is.’
Talib also commented on Wes Welker, who ended the corner’s season in the AFC championship game with a big hit in the middle of the field that infuriated Belichick.
“Man, me and Wes, we’re good, man. It’s a football play, man,” Talib said. “It just so happened it happened on a stage in the AFC championship game. I watched the play 1,000 times. I’m sure Wes didn’t do it on purpose.”
|Peyton Manning, David Letterman have some fun at Bill Belichick’s expense||05.05.14 at 11:20 pm ET|
Peyton Manning appeared with David Letterman on “The Late Show” Monday evening, and when the Broncos quarterback was asked about a tongue-in-cheek plan to sabotage field mics to prevent “Omaha” audibles, the Broncos quarterback and talk show host took a shot at Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“These TV mics pick up everything. I don’t like it. I am not a fan of it, Dave. It reveals terminology that the opponent you will play the next week can use. I don’t like Bill Belichick hearing our plays that we are using,” Manning said.
“I think I know how to fix it, Dave,” Manning added. “You have to get up there and say some really negative things about commissioner Roger Goodell. ‘Blue 20! Blue 20! Roger Goodell is a no-good you know what,’ and I think they’ll just kind of turn down that volume a bit.”
“But, as we know about Bill Belichick, he brings his own microphones,” responded Letterman. “So you don’t have to worry about that.”
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