|Bill Belichick talks Deflategate, Jonas Gray, Tom Brady with David Letterman||02.12.15 at 12:55 am ET|
In his second-ever appearance with David Letterman Wednesday night on CBS, Patriots coach Bill Belichick sat through some good-natured grilling at the hands of the talk show host. Letterman quizzed him about a variety of topics, including Deflategate, what happened to Jonas Gray, and the age of quarterback Tom Brady.
Letterman, an avowed Colts fan, needled Belichick about the scandal involving underinflated footballs, hinting that Belichick knew the real story about the “horseplay” involving the “football nonsense.” Belichick responded with a flat, “No.” Letterman went after him again, and again, the coach responded with a “No.”
Belichick then fired off a quip of his own, saying that the Patriots were going to have Letterman called to testify as part of the Ted Wells report.
“We’re going to bring you in to testify when we get the investigation next month,” Belichick said.
Letterman also asked about running back Jonas Gray, who rushed for 201 yards one week and then found himself on the outs after oversleeping and missing a meeting.
Belichick: “Well, that’s just a big story. You know the media.”
Letterman: “So, the guy didn’t miss a meeting?”
Belichick: “Well …”
Letterman also drew a smile from Belichick when he asked about the age of the 37-year-old quarterback, saying “he’s my age.” Belichick responded with an acknowledgement of Brady, and after Letterman asked about their relationship, Belichick talked about their shared love of golf.
“We played golf last year at Pebble Beach. He gave me a pretty good licking there.”
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|Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Quarterback||02.11.15 at 1:38 pm ET|
With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand. We’ve looked at special teams, wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. Now, it’s the quarterback.
Depth chart: Tom Brady (373-for-582, 64 percent, 4,109 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 9 interceptions), Jimmy Garoppolo (19-for-27 for 70 percent, 182 yards, 1 touchdown, INT)
Overview: It won’t go down as Brady’s most impressive statistical season, but considering the highs and lows he rode over the course of the year, it’s easily his most satisfying. The quarterback started slowly, trying to gain some traction behind an ineffective offensive line and with his No. 1 option in the passing game working his way back from a season-ending knee injury the year before. He appeared to flatline in an ugly Monday night loss to the Chiefs where ESPN openly speculated about his overall fitness and the state of the franchise. In those first four games, he ended up with a 59 percent completion rate, and averaged just under 200 passing yards and one touchdown per game.
While the jumping off point for the 2014 season for the team came in the late stages of the Kansas City loss, Brady’s resurgence came the week after in a thunderous win over the Bengals, which sparked an emotional postgame reaction from Rob Gronkowski “I told my brother before I came to the game, “I’m going to make 12 look like Tom Brady again, baby,'” Gronkowski said with a smile after the Bengals game. “And I went out there with my teammates and we made Tom Brady look like Tom Brady — after you guys were criticizing him all week.” The six-game gauntlet of division leaders and other powerhouses that was supposed to sink Brady and the Patriots? It turned out to the crucible that forged a champion. Along the way, the quarterback had a wildly impressive four-game stretch where he completed 69 percent of his passes and averaged 317 yards and almost four touchdowns and no picks per contest.
While Brady leveled out a bit in late November and into December, he crested again when the postseason came around, with an impressive performance in the divisional playoffs against the Ravens (33-for-50 for 367 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), an outing made all the more impressive by the fact that the Patriots only ran the ball 13 times that night. He let the running game do the heavy lifting in the AFC title contest against the Colts. After being buffeted by allegations of cheating for most of the two-week run-up to the Super Bowl, the quarterback was able to rise above down the stretch against the Seahawks, throwing a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lift the franchise to another title, and allow him to come away with his third Super Bowl MVP award.
Going forward, it would be hard for anyone to replicate the crazy arc of the 2014 season, let alone the quarterback, who enjoyed a unique happenstance of events (health, good timing and a steady and consistent supporting cast) to pave the way for a fourth Super Bowl ring. In the end, the biggest takeaway from the year as it relates to the quarterback was the fact that whole he’s not the twentysomething Tom Brady that won three titles in four years at the dawn of his career, when it counts, he’s certainly capable of being Tom Brady again.
Best moment: There were plenty to choose from over the course of the season, and while there were others that were probably aesthetically more impressive (30-for-35, 354 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTS vs. Chicago), it’s hard to top what he was able to do in the Super Bowl. Against the best pass defense in the league the last two years, Brady was able to deliver death by a thousand cuts to the Seahawks, nibbling at the Seattle defense a handful of yards at a time on the way to finishing 37-for-50 for 328 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Along the way, he broke Joe Montana‘s record for most touchdown passes thrown in a Super Bowl.
|Malcolm Butler now owns Tom Brady’s Super Bowl MVP Chevy truck||02.10.15 at 5:51 pm ET|
Undoubtedly the best week of Malcolm Butler’s life continued to get even better on Tuesday.
After Tom Brady said last week on Dennis & Callahan that he wanted to give his Chevy truck for winning the Super Bowl MVP to Butler, it became a reality on Tuesday afternoon. The undrafted rookie cornerback got his truck at the Clay Chevrolet in Norwood.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots’ improvement on third down helped pave way to Super Bowl title||02.09.15 at 6:00 am ET|
“We have to get off the field, that’s huge. Some of the third-and-long situations we weren’t able to get off the field. I know third-and-long screens hurt us, too. Specifically that play and third and long as a whole, we need to do a better job. Obviously everything is working together, so coverage-rush, rush-coverage, everything works together. That’s just one area we definitely need to work on this year.” – Rob Ninkovich, July 23, 2014 — the first day of training camp and media availability of the season
It was evident the Patriots defense needed to improve on third down, as dating back to the 2010 season there hadn’t been a year in which the Patriots finished higher than 20th in the league in third-down defense.
In 2013 the unit got off the field 42.7 percent of the time, 25th in the league, and 2010 was the worst season of all, as New England allowed opponents a success rate of 47.1 percent, dead last among all 32 defenses in the league.
This season was a huge improvement as the Patriots finished 16th in the NFL, getting off the field on third down 40 percent of the time, but it was in the postseason when the group took things to another level and helped lead the way to the fourth Super Bowl title in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.
One of the keys to getting to the Super Bowl was the Patriots’ come-from-behind win over the Ravens in the divisional round where they came back from two 14-point deficits. It was on the Ravens’ drive before Brandon LaFell’s game-winning touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter where Baltimore got inside the red zone, having first-and-goal from the 9-yard line and the game tied at 28.
The Patriots defense stepped up, including a huge Patrick Chung deflection on third down in the end zone on a pass intended for tight end Owen Daniels, which forced a Justin Tucker field goal giving the Ravens a three-point lead, instead of what could have been seven.
|Robert Kraft on keeping Tom Brady, Bill Belichick together with Patriots: ‘As long as the good lord lets me breathe, that’s my objective’||02.06.15 at 3:23 pm ET|
Appearing on CBS This Morning, Robert Kraft answered a number of questions on a number of different topics, including Deflategate, the Super Bowl, Malcolm Butler, and keeping Bill Belichick and Tom Brady together with the Patriots.
The quarterback and coach duo have been to six Super Bowls, and have won four of them, solidifying their spot as the best coach, quarterback tandem of all-time. Kraft said he does not want there to be a time where one of them is on the Patriots without the other.
“As long as the good lord lets me breathe, that’s my objective,” said Kraft on CBS This Morning. “We’ve been able to keep it together for 15 years, and I don’t think there is any other head coach-owner relationship like that. Tommy is just so special the way he takes care of himself, the way he trains and the kind of leader he is.”
Belichick and Brady were attacked in the media in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl with all things Deflategate related, and Kraft backed his coach and quarterback the Monday prior to the big game with a statement demanding the NFL apologize if there was no wrongdoing on the Patriots’ part.
Kraft backed his guys again on Friday.
“Whenever you’re privileged to get to this big game there’s always a lot of distractions that come about. The bottom line is we won our championship game 45-7 and we won the Super Bowl 28-24, and the league pretty much had full charge of the footballs,” said Kraft. “They’re looking into it and I’m really comfortable with the people we have in this organization.”
“Tom [Brady] is the one after we won the first Super Bowl who said that the one that’s sweetest is the next one,” Kraft said, adding: “I think that it felt good, but I think those emotions come at the minute and you experience them but then you’re focused on what’s going to happen in the future. And if you’re lucky enough to win another one, I think that one feels probably in the moment sweeter than anything you’ve experienced before.”
Added Kraft: “The bottom line is we had a hell of a Super Bowl game. … It was an awesome football game, and ultimately, that’s what the National Football League is about. Just incredible competition and entertainment.”
“You got to see why Tom Brady is the greatest of all time,” Kraft said. “Whether we had won or lost that game, it didn’t matter. To go to nine AFC championship games and six Super Bowls, and now to have won four, in an era of a hard cap and unrestricted free agency and coaching staff turnover. These other guys he gets compared to played in a totally different era where you had much greater consistency and there were fewer teams in the league and the level of competition just wasn’t what it is now. And, you know, that fourth quarter is Tom Brady, and he is as great a competitor as has ever played the game, he’s the greatest leader, he is the greatest quarterback. … He deserves it and the team deserves it.”
In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Brady and the Patriots were brought under scrutiny for Deflategate.
“It was more a feeling of displeasure at how the whole thing had started and been handled,” Kraft said when asked about the controversy, adding: “Throughout that week, there was just a lot of stuff that was in the media which we didn’t feel was appropriate. You’re supposed to be, in the world, innocent until proven guilty.”
“I think we’re about to get started on the offseason,” Kraft said. “He is under contract for next year. I realize that it’s probably, people understand that that’s a placeholder. We’ll get to work on trying to make that happen and hopefully both sides will want to make a deal and we’ll get that done. He’s been everything and more since he’s been here.”
For more Patriots news, go to the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|Tom Brady’s near perfection with quick snap-to-release times leads Patriots to Super Bowl win, MVP||02.05.15 at 9:51 pm ET|
It’s no secret Tom Brady likes to get the ball out his hands quick, especially against good defenses.
That was exactly what the quarterback was facing in the Super Bowl and the Seahawks‘ No. 1 pass ranked defense, and it was no surprise the game plan was to get the ball out quick, as Brady averaged 2.09 seconds by our count from snap-to-release Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX.
These numbers were similar to the divisional round game against the Ravens when Brady averaged 2.27 seconds from snap-to-throw.
“We were playing a great defense and they’re a great team,” Brady said after the game. “Took everything all the way to the last play. Just proud of our effort and our determination. We showed it all year. Every team has a journey and a lot of people lost faith in us early, but we held strong, we held together, and it’s a great feeling.”
As a reminder, these numbers need to take into consideration of plays such as quick receiver screens effecting the numbers a bit, but it was clear Brady and the Patriots offense wanted to get the ball out quick and keep the Seattle defense on its heels.
Overall for the season, Brady’s average times were around 2.4 seconds by our count, and he actually struggled when they were close to two seconds, as in Weeks 2-4 he took an average of 2.1 seconds, and struggled by his standards. Then in Week 16 against the Jets, in one of his worst statistical games of the year, Brady averaged 2.21 seconds.
In the postseason, Brady excelled when he got the ball out quick, and no more than he did Sunday against the Seahawks.
By our count, when taking less than two seconds from snap-to-release, Brady was 21-for-22 with 163 yards and three touchdowns. Even further, according to Pro Football Focus, when Brady took 2.5 seconds or less from snap-to-attempt he had a 127.9 passer rating, this compared to when he took more than 2.5 seconds, his passer rating was 42.4.
Overall in the postseason, also per Pro Football Focus, the Patriots quarterback completed 75 percent of his passes for a 115 passer rating when taking 2.5 seconds or less from snap-to-throw, and when taking more than 2.5 seconds he completed just 48.3 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 46.3.
Averaging 2.09 seconds from snap-to-throw is absurd, as no quarterback in the league came close to that over the course of the regular season. According to Pro Football Focus, the two quarterbacks coming even close to Brady on average for the year were Andy Dalton (2.25 seconds) and Peyton Manning (2.22 seconds).
While many people have the belief of the more time a quarterback gets the better they are, Brady has proven this postseason the opposite — the quicker he gets the ball out to Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, the better he is.