|Tom Brady isn’t afraid of (preseason) blitzes: ‘You figure out how to solve the problem’||08.21.14 at 6:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As far as Tom Brady is concerned, go ahead and bring the heat, even in the preseason.
And certainly, with the Carolina Panthers coming to town Friday, the opponent certainly has the wherewithal to execute a blitz or two.
But usually, in the preseason, defensive coordinators like to hold off on showing too much on film when it comes to exotic or advanced defensive approaches. And offensive coordinators, similarly, do the same.
However, usual and customary are not two words commonly used to describe Rex Ryan. The Jets coach watched last Saturday as his defense was torched by Andy Dalton for 144 yards on 8-for-8 passing and a touchdown. His response? Start blitzing the Bengals second and third stringers along the offensive line.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander took some offense.
But if the Panthers want to do the same from the start against Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback says he’d have no problem with it, since there is no “wrong” defense to play, even in the third preseason game.
“They can blitz, they can do whatever they want to do,” Brady said. “Every defense is right. Like every call, there is risk and reward to everything. If they’re going to blitz, then you’ve got to figure out a way to beat the blitz. If you don’t fix the blitz, they’re just going to keep running them. It’s the same thing on offense.”
Then Brady got to the heart of the matter and revealed what competition is all about, even in games that don’t count.
“If you see a weakness, you’re just going to keep going to it, and that’s what separates pro-caliber players from guys who aren’t. There are guys who can fix problems and know that this is what a team is trying to do, and then you figure out how to solve the problem, and then they’ve got to work on something else. But if you know there are weaknesses, that’s what you go after. That’s what pro football is all about.
“We’ve got two games left, and they’re both very important for our season, for our preparation leading up to the opener. Coach told us we’re going to get a lot of work, and what that means I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows with him. But we’ll be prepared and ready to go for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’s a good 60 minutes. We’ve had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately, and it’d be nice to have a good one.”
Brady also took some time to talk about the other Ohio team, which named its starting quarterback this week, old friend and teammate Brian Hoyer, Brady’s back-up between 2009 and 2011. Hoyer was chosen as the Browns starting QB over Johnny Manziel this week by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine.
“I love Brian. He’s just such a great guy, person and friend. We’ve always kept in touch,” Brady said. “I’m proud of him. He’s fought through some tough circumstances over the years, being released here, going to Arizona, getting a little bit of an opportunity there, and then really taking advantage of his opportunity in Cleveland. It’s great for him, and he’s a great player, so I’m very happy for him.”
FOXBORO — Every once in a while, there’s a player perfectly suited to play with Tom Brady.
But there’s one player who fits into that category, a player who most certainly has flown under the radar since his arrival in New England as an all-purpose player.
Since being released off Cincinnati’s practice squad in the middle of the 2012 season, James Develin has found a home in New England. Develin is the kind of Patriot Bill Belichick, and by extension, Tom Brady, loves having around. He was a defensive end at Brown before switching over to tight end and fullback with the Bengals and the Patriots.
He played in all 16 games last season for the Patriots, carrying the ball four times for 10 yards. But that hardly tells the story for the fullback. Three of those carries were for first downs. The other? his first career touchdown. He was targeted four times in the passing game, catching all four passes for 62 yards and three first downs.
On Wednesday, Brady was asked about Develin’s evolution as a player.
“He’s done such a great job,” Brady said. “He’s such a selfless player, great teammate. I don’t think there is a better fullback in the league, so I’m so happy he’s on our team, and what he’s been able to accomplish for our team has been awesome. He brings so much in terms of his toughness, his attitude. It’s that one position on offense that can really bring a lot of toughness. You get it out of that fullback position. He does whatever the team asks him to do. I can’t say enough good things about him because I think so highly of him.”
|Tom Brady expects to play a half, ‘hopefully, play a lot more than that’ against Panthers||08.20.14 at 6:16 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady knows what everyone else does about preseason game No. 3 – it’s the real dress rehearsal for the regular season opener on Sept. 7 in South Florida.
And Brady will be going up against a very physical and aggressive Panthers team that is thinking along the same lines when the Patriots and Carolina square off Friday night at Gillette Stadium.
For that reason, Brady and his offensive mates have done a lot of game-planning off tape from their game last November in Charlotte and Carolina’s first two preseason games to be ready for what’s ahead Friday.
“We’ve done a bunch of that, and it’s a good game to really gauge where we’re at because we’re playing a really good team, a great defense ‘ one that we played last year and really struggled with at times,” Brady said, referencing the 24-20 loss to the Panthers on the controversial no-call involving Luke Kuechly and Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. “So, this will tell us where we’re at.
“We’ve got to go out there and execute really well in order to move the ball down the field. They’ve got some of the best linebackers, a very good secondary and one of the best pass rushes in the league. It’s a good challenge, and I think the guys are excited. This is big week that we’ve tried to make some improvements, and we’ll see if it pays off.”
Besides Kuechly, the Panthers feature linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive linemen Greg Kelly and Star Lotulelei who combined to sack Brady twice while recording three tackles for losses in the Panthers’ win. Game planning for this preseason opponent only makes sense.
“Yeah, definitely,” Brady said. “I think this has been a good week of preparation for us. In the last two weeks, we’ve actually had the opportunity to practice against both those teams, which you’re kind of learning on the fly. We didn’t do a lot leading up to those two weeks because we figured the three days of practice would get us familiar enough. This week has been much more like a normal week.
|Brandon LaFell was ‘shellshocked’ at first but is ‘way more comfortable’ with Tom Brady now||08.19.14 at 2:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There’s nothing like one of the greatest quarterbacks in history to help you get acclimated to new surroundings.
“From OTAs, if I had to put it on a scale from 0-to-10, it’s like an ’8′ now,” LaFell said when asked about his comfort level with the Patriots offense. “In OTAs, I was shellshocked. I didn’t know what to expect. Everything was all new to me. I was in Carolina for the last four years so I got used to that routine, got used to that playbook. Everything is new here and since the beginning of camp, I feel way more comfortable, just being in the huddle with Brady, hearing him call the plays and stuff like that, I’m way more comfortable.
“For me, it was just language. Everybody in the league pretty much runs the same plays, just terminology, different language.”
“It’s going to be a little weird, just going out there and seeing some of my old teammates and looking at those jerseys and knowing I was just in those jerseys last year. It’s going to be a little weird but I have to do my job.”
LaFell, who signed for three years and $9 million in March, said he’s been paying close attention and that focus has paid off in the last two weeks, including four catches and 45 yards, including a TD grab in the back of the end zone last week from Jimmy Garoppolo.
“He might be able to carve out a role for us, and it might be a big one. We’ll see,” said coach Bill Belichick.
“We’ve been getting better and better, each and every day, each and every week,” LaFell said of working with Brady. “The more and more reps I get with this guy, our timing is better and also, he’s trying to find me more.”
As tight end Steve Maneri found out last week, if you run a route a yard off, he can cost the team dearly, when Brady threw a pick-6 to Cary Williams.
|Julian Edelman on MFB: Patriots ‘going to adjust to how the game’s being called’||08.18.14 at 12:23 pm ET|
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman checked in with Middays with MFB as part of Patriots Monday on WEEI and discussed the high number of penalties being caused in the preseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
“If they’re going to call the game like that, we’ve got to get used to it for the regular season,” Edelman said. “Kind of like training a dog, we’ve got to train everyone and throw probably a little more now to get it in guys’ heads to think towards the regular season. We’re just going to play it out. Every team has to deal with it — our defense has to deal with it. That’s the route they want to go, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Added Edelman: “As a player, you know the rules and you’re going to go out there and you’re going to play — do business as business is being done. So if you see it’s a tight game, you’re going to tighten it up a little. If it’s not, that’s when you’re going to loosen up, get away with the push-off or something like that. You’re going to adjust to how the game’s being called.”
Edelman is coming off a breakout, 105-catch season that led to a big contract in the offseason. With his spot secure, he acknowledged approaching training camp with a slightly different mindset.
“This year has been a little different,” he said. “Now I get to really focus on my fundamentals, plays that I go out there and not have to think about a bunch of noise, what’s going on, this, that. You really get to brush up route technique. You have the experience from last year to see what guys have done on certain plays, certain techniques, certain head-bobs, all this kind of stuff. It’s good to kind to learn from last year and try to use that as a foundation and go on from there.”
Edelman professed ignorance about the African-derived term for short people but added: “He’s the commander in chief. What he says goes.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
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.”
|Breaking down Tom Brady’s preseason numbers over last decade||08.17.14 at 6:02 pm ET|
With two games in the books — and one contest under his belt — Tom Brady is 8-for-10 for 81 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the 2014 preseason. But how does that stack up to some of his past preseason numbers? With the understanding that passing yardage totals often fluctuate because of total snaps played, the key numbers to look for here are accuracy (completion percentage) and ability to avoid interceptions and sacks. From this viewpoint, his 2010 preseason remains the best of his career, but you could make an argument for 2004 or 2013 as well. (Last year, he started red-hot, going 18-for-20 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in his first two preseason games.) Here’s how the rest of the last decade stacks up for Brady when it comes to preseason performance:
3 games: 34-for-44 (77 percent), 357 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks
2 games: 17-for-27 (63 percent) 157 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 3 sacks
3 games: 28-for-50 (56 percent), 379 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 3 sacks
4 games: 37-for-50 (74 percent), 476 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks
3 games: 26-for-42 (62 percent), 307 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks
3 games: 32-for-48, (67 percent), 346 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 2 sacks
3 games: 35-for-54 (65 percent), 404 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 1 sack
2 games: 18-for-33 (55 percent) 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (no sack information available)
3 games: 34-for-44 (77 percent), 374 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (no sack information available)
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