|Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I don’t really think much of’ cheating accusations||12.02.13 at 9:59 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, joining Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning for his weekly conversation, dismissed the insinuation by Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith that the Patriots somehow cheated in order to gain an advantage in Sunday’s 34-31 comeback victory in Houston.
The Patriots trailed by 10 points at halftime but turned things around in the second half. Smith questioned how New England could have figured out what the Texans were doing defensively and made the necessary adjustments so quickly and seamlessly.
Brady said the players learned of Smith’s comments after their plane landed back home Sunday night.
“Truthfully, we just played a little bit better in the second half,” Brady said. “We’ve kind of been through a lot of this before, so I don’t really think much of it, truthfully. I just kind of have moved on. I’ve already started work on the Browns and trying to figure out a way to play those guys better and get off to a better start.
“Houston was a really good team and they played well. We certainly didn’t play well in the first half to get us in that deficit. They’ve got a good defense, they’ve got good cover guys. With [J.J.] Watt and Antonio Smith they can really rush the quarterback. It was a tough game, but we found a way to win on the road, which was something that we talked about all week.”
Brady explained that the Patriots did not make major adjustments until halftime, but he said the turnaround had more to do with performance than strategy.
“If you have a bad first drive, you don’t really come over to the sideline and go, ‘All right, guys, we’ve got to change everything. Let’s scrap all the crap we’ve been practicing all week and just start making stuff up on the fly.’ But I think by halftime you have really a good enough sample size to figure out how the game’s being played, the matchups that go in our favor and the matchups that don’t go in our favor, maybe there’s some new things that they’ve done that we’ve got to adjust to,” he said.
“But ultimately, after halftime when you get a chance to kind of evaluate and say, ‘OK, well, how did that half play out?,’ you’ve got to be able to say, ‘Well, let’s stick with it and stick with what we’re doing,’ kind of what we did against Denver, or last week we said, ‘OK, these are some of the things that we’re going to get to and these are some of the matchups that we like, and we’ve got to start making the plays that we’re capable of making.’ You can call the perfect play against the perfect defense, but if I make a crappy throw, it doesn’t matter. It’s a nonproductive play. I know it’s boring, but execution is the name of the game.
“I thought we did a good job there in the second half of trying to figure out — they had a few new things that they had implemented for our game, and they definitely did some different things than we were expecting, but nothing that really blew our mind. It just was different, and we had to adjust. Then the execution ultimately was better in the second half than it was in the first half, obviously. I think that was the major difference.”
|Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We were a pretty mentally tough team, and that’s what it took’ to beat Broncos||11.25.13 at 10:37 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following Sunday night’s 34-31 overtime victory over the Broncos.
The Patriots trailed 24-0 at the midway point but rallied in the second half, then capitalized on a Broncos turnover late in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.
“It was a great win,” Brady said. “Anyone couldn’t really have expected the way that one would go. It was pretty sweet.
“We really got off to such a poor start and then stormed back, and then kind of played a little bit of defensive football there in the fourth quarter and in overtime, and got a good break there at the end. It was a great team win, everybody contributed. We were a pretty mentally tough team, and that’s what it took last night. We’ll enjoy it, then we’ve got to get back to work, ’cause that’s the way it is in the NFL.”
While the Patriots were being dominated on the scoreboard in the first half, Brady said the team didn’t lose confidence, because Denver’s points were the result of Patriots mistakes.
“We had 200 yards of offense at halftime. So it wasn’t like we had 70 yards of offense and we weren’t doing anything,” Brady said. “You make those critical errors like fumbling the ball and putting the ball on the ground like we did, and we’re not going to score a lot of points. We knew if we took better care of the ball that we’d have a better chance.
“Weather played a factor. We punted to them before halftime and it ended up being a turnover; we got it, we didn’t do anything anything with it. Then late there in the game, just tough to field some of those plays and we got a few bounces. That was really a great way to win the game.
“It was a tough battle, it was two good football teams. It obviously could have gone either way, but I’m glad it went our way.”
Brady said the team did not overreact at halftime, nor were there a lot of tweaks that had to be made to the game plan.
“I think we always take our cue from coach [Bill] Belichick as a team,” Brady said. “There wasn’t much to be said, truthfully, because we had done nothing. It wasn’t like there was a bunch of adjustments. We kind of thought the game — they played the game the way that we thought they would play it, and we just weren’t doing anything to execute.
“We just talked about making some good plays and seeing if that could turn into something. It turned into one touchdown, then it tuned into two touchdowns, then in turned into a field goal, it was another touchdown. We got the ball rolling, and that’s what we needed at that point.”
|Peter King on M&M: ‘Denver this weekend has a few too many answers for what New England can do defensively’||11.22.13 at 12:54 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Sunday night’s Patriots-Broncos showdown and the controversial ending to Monday night’s Patriots loss to the Panthers.
King said Sunday’s game is more important to the Patriots, who are in danger of finishing out of the top two seeds in the AFC.
“The most important thing at stake the rest of the year is that bye week at the start of the playoffs,” King said. “If you’re the third seed or the fourth seed, that becomes a pretty big deal, in my opinion. It makes you play that first week and everything. Obviously if you’re one of the first two seeds you get that week off.”
The Broncos are coming off a victory over the previously undefeated Chiefs this past Sunday, and they play Kansas City again a week after meeting the Patriots. King said that presents a major challenge, but he’s still going with Denver on Sunday.
“Kansas City, sandwiching this game for Denver, playing them two out of three weeks, I think that makes this a really troublesome game for Denver,” King said. “Even though I like Denver in the game, if I’m looking at this game, the thing that’s the biggest disadvantage is you’re having to face a really good team twice in 15 days, sandwiched around this game. So, I think Denver’s road is tougher. I just think Denver this weekend has a few too many answers for what New England can do defensively.”
The big story in the NFL this week was the controversial finishing to Monday’s game, when the officials picked up a flag thrown for interference on Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly on the game’s final play, giving the Panthers a 24-20 victory.
“Let’s make three points about this,” King said. “No. 1, I think that Clete Blakeman did a very bad job after the play in not explaining what happened. You owe it to the coaches in the game, you owe it to the teams in the game, and you owe it to millions of people watching on TV. All we could do was guess what the crew ruled. That was absurd to not have any idea why they ruled what it is they ruled, but to be less guessing. That’s No. 1.
|Jonathan Kraft on D&C: ‘I’ve never heard Bill [Belichick] say a bad word about Wes [Welker]‘||at 9:54 am ET|
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about Sunday night’s showdown with the AFC-leading Broncos and other Patriots news.
The game marks the return of former Patriot Wes Welker, who is expected to play after suffering a concussion in Denver’s last game. Kraft said he has a special place in his heart for Welker, who played six incredibly productive seasons in Foxboro.
“How do you not, as a football fan, forget just being a Patriots fan, how do you not have huge admiration for Wes?” Kraft said. “The thing I always say about him, aside from the fact he’s a wonderful guy that I’ve had the privilege of knowing, when I stand next to him — and I’m no physical specimen — there’s really not a lot of difference in terms of what you look at when the two of us are standing next to each other. And then you watch him step on a football field and do what he does, it’s indescribable. If you love the game and you appreciate what the game is, and then you look at him and you look at what he was given in terms of just the basic physical attributes, and then you watch what he does, you have to be in awe of him. And I am in awe of him.
“Unfortunately, I watch him in a different color uniform and I’m still in awe of him and what he does on the football field. It’s exceptional and amazing.”
Welker departed the Patriots under mysterious circumstances, as New England did not appear to try its hardest to sign Tom Brady‘s favorite receiver. Kraft said he has no reason to believe it was anything personal between Welker and Bill Belichick.
“I don’t believe that’s the case,” Kraft said. “I’ve seen no sign of that from Bill. … Bill, when he’s building a team, leave emotion out of it completely. He truly does what he feels is in the best interest of the team. And he has a dollar value in mind and structures that can work for different people. And regardless of how he feels about you personally, not as a football player, because I know as a football player he has the utmost for Wes, a huge amount of respect, not just for physical toughness that he has, but Wes gets the game of football. He’s incredibly intelligent. You saw him walk in here in 2007 and instantly get our offense and get on the same wavelength with Tommy. And I think Bill values those things highly.
“I’ve never heard Bill say a bad word about Wes. And even if he did have emotions about him as a person — and I have no reason to believe that he does — that are the way [the WEEI hosts] are describing, I don’t believe he would let that impact a decision that was good for the football team.”
Belichick famously held Welker out of the starting lineup in the Patriots’ playoff loss to the Jets in January 2011 after Welker tweaked New York coach Rex Ryan in a press conference leading up to the game. Kraft said he does not question Belichick’s decisions on matters such as that — at least not professionally.
“You’ve got to have confidence in your head coach, and you have to let him do what he thinks is right. Bill has the ability to do that,” Kraft said. “As a fan, you can sit back and question anything. That’s why all of sports are fun to watch, but I don’t think anything is more fun to watch and follow than football, because there’s so much to discuss. There are more players, there are more situations, each play is scripted.
“You have those discussions, and I understand the question, but I would never question Bill’s ability to make the right decision. Is every decision he makes right? Obviously not. No one’s perfect. But to sit back and question what he’s doing isn’t something that I do, isn’t something that anyone up here does. His track record speaks for itself. That doesn’t mean that as a fan you don’t sit there and say things, but he know what he’s doing.”
|Tom Brady thinks Pats are ‘doing a little better’ spreading the wealth||11.21.13 at 12:04 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When dropping back to pass, Tom Brady has always used one principle in particular to guide his approach: Throw it to the open man.
That hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do in the first nine games as he was missing key parts of his arsenal at times, and appeared like a quarterback who sometimes tried to force the ball into narrow windows. But last Monday marked the first game he has had his full complement of receivers.
With Shane Vereen returning, Brady had Vereen, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola at his disposal, and made use of all of them. Throw in rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, and you begin to see the great potential for Brady to spread the ball around and “throw it to the open man.”
“We’re doing a little bit better in that sense,” Brady said. “I think our execution has gotten better over the course of the year and we have made a bunch of improvements. KT came in and what KT did the other night, I wasn’t sure how much he was going to play, [but he] made a couple huge plays in the game. You know, Aaron Dobson has done a great job. Julian’s continued to be a steady, solid, dependable player for us and then like you said Danny, Gronk, Shane. LeGarrette [Blount] ran hard, Rid [Stevan Ridley] runs hard. We’ve got a good group. We’ve got a good group. We’re getting better, so that is what I am excited about.”
While it may not compare on paper yet, that quartet could wind up being just as productive as Denver’s grouping of Julius Thomas, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker.
All Brady has to do know, is start spreading the wealth and hope his receiving corps can stay on the field.
Thirteen different receivers have caught passes from Brady this season, led by Edelman’s 52 for 500 yards. How diversified is the passing game now? Vereen led all receivers on Monday with eight catches on 11 targets for 65 yards.
“Julian has had some production outside. Danny’s had good production when he’s been in there,” Brady added. “We’re trying to spread it around to find different guys. Typically whoever is open gets it. I think that spot has always been big in our offense. The tight end spot has always been a productive spot. But yeah, I think we overall can all do a better job. We’re going to need to going forward, this week especially. All those spots: the slot spot, the tailback spot, this is a team where we know we’re going to need to score some points.”
If you add catch totals of Amendola and Edelman, you get 81 catches for 841 yards but only three touchdowns. Welker enters Sunday with 61 catches for 648 yards but triple the number of touchdowns of Amendola and Edelman combined with nine.
“I haven’t really thought about it – I haven’t put too much into that or evaluated that spot,” Brady said when asked to compare the Patriots and Broncos slot positions. “I’d say our offense right now is very different than it’s ever been in the past. Everything that we do has a different feel to it. We’ve had so many new players, like every team has new players, but we have a lot of new players. We have different schemes; we’re trying to find different things that work. For the first time last week, we basically had guys healthy so we don’t even know what we’re good at at this point. We’re trying to figure out – we only scored 20 points so whatever we did couldn’t have been that good. We’re going to try to find ways to score more points than that this week.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Wednesday afternoon to discuss New England’s 24-20 loss to Carolina on Monday, as well as the team’s upcoming game against Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Sunday night.
New England is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the red-hot Panthers, who now have won six games in a row. Cam Newton was particularly impressive in the victory, as the No. 1 pick of the 2011 draft threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 62 yards on seven carries. The Patriots took a 20-17 lead with a little over six minutes left in the game, but it would not hold, as Newton orchestrated a late drive that led to a touchdown with 59 seconds remaining, giving the Panthers a 24-20 advantage.
“[Carolina] did a good job. I think more of the focus is on us, the things that we just need to do better, coach better, execute better,” Belichick said. “Obviously, third down is an area that we need to improve in defensively.”
Monday’s game ended in controversy, as the Patriots attempted a last-second comeback on the Carolina 18-yard line. After driving down the field in the last minute of play, Tom Brady fired a pass into the end zone, where it was intercepted by Panthers safety Robert Lester. A flag was thrown, as it looked like Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly was holding Rob Gronkowski, but the officials then ruled that there was no penalty, preserving the win for Carolina.
“We really moved on from that game situation,” Belichick said. “[We're] just trying to focus on Denver and turn the page. Nothing we can do about that game now.”
The schedule does not get any easier for the Patriots, as they will host the 9-1 Broncos, who boast an imposing offense that has averaged 39.8 points per game. The key factor in Denver’s offensive explosion has undoubtedly been Manning, who is posting one of the best stat lines of his Hall of Fame career.
The 37-year-old quarterback leads the NFL in yards (3,572) and touchdowns (34) while only throwing six interceptions. Manning is projected to throw an astonishing 54 touchdowns this season, which would break the single-season record of 50 set by Brady during the 2007-08 season.
“He’s pretty accomplished,” Belichick said of Manning. “I think he’s had a great career and has played at a very high level for a long time and he continues to do that, so his execution, his judgment, management of the team, the clock situations, recognizing defenses, audible and all of those things are at an extremely high level, as well as his accuracy and mechanics and so forth. He’s very good and continues to be. He’s been at that level for a long time. It’s hard to probably go year to year and find any kind of major changes in his overall body of work. … He’s very consistent.”
ESPN’s “Sports Science” makes the case that Rob Gronkowski could have made that catch at the end of Monday’s game against the Panthers. Take a look — some interesting stuff here.
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