Brady: Not much of a break during bye week


Brady: Not much of a break during bye week

Well, here they are again. After eight weeks, the Patriots are 5-3, just as they were last year. Easy to say that Tom Brady and Friends should be 8-0 considering their three close losses, but they're not. They're 5-3. Not perfect, but still good enough for first place in the AFC East.

Brady made his weekly call in to WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show on Monday to explain that the Patriots are what their record says they are.

"We're at where we really deserve to be," Brady said. "I don't think we've played any better than our record. We don't deserve to be anything better than we are. Look, every team can go, 'Wow, without these plays we could be undefeated.' Every team can say that. But we're not, and there's a reason why. It's not like we've played great football over these last eight weeks. There is a lot of improvement we need to make. There is a lot of things we can do better. We need to get some guys healthy. We have to get everybody moving forward and make a big push here in the second half because this is where the best teams really start to show themselves."

The Patriots seemed to make their push early with a 45-7 drubbing of St. Louis in London on Sunday.

"Thats what were hoping every week," Brady said. "We played pretty well. I thought all the guys contributed. The guys were really focused. We had a good week of practice there and went over there and executed against a good team, a team that beat Arizona and beat Seattle. They have quite a few good players on their team. It just wasnt their day and we capitalized on some of their mistakes. It ended up being, certainly not an easy game, but in the second half it was well under control."

Brady was 23-for-35 for 304 yards and four touchdowns against a normally-stout Rams pass rush. He credited his tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer for keeping him clean.

"Phenomenal job on two guys who can rush, who can really do the job, and guys that are really the heart and soul of their defense," Brady said of Rams ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn. "Nate and Sebastian have done that all year. Ive never had to worry about the defensive end or a pass rush. Its just something Ive never really had to think about. It seems like we play good ends every week, and they really step up to the challenge. They did a great job."

Now the Patriots go into their bye week. Time for some rest, right? Actually, no, not really.

"There's not much of a break, to tell you the truth," Brady said. "It's hard when you play quarterback to get away from of it. I'll talk to Josh McDaniels 50 times these next three days and then we practice on Thursday and I'm not sure what we have planned after that. This is still football season. This isn't mid-February, so I'm still thinking about what we need to do better, what I need to do better, my role on the team and things I can improve on."

Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision


Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision

WALTHAM, Mass. – Just like Avery Bradley comes back each season with a new element in his basketball tool box, defenses have adapted to some degree to try and counter whatever Bradley is doing a better job at.

Before it was take away the mid-range shot and make him a 3-point shooter. Now it’s run him off the 3-point line by closing out hard and fast against him.

Well, running him off the 3-point line is actually playing into the hands of two areas of Bradley’s game that have seen significant growth during the offseason: ball-handling and court vision.

Bradley’s improvement in those areas has been evident in the preseason, something the seventh-year guard hopes to continue in the regular season opener on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

“I worked on my ball-handling a lot,” Bradley said. “Instead of doing all the Kyrie (Irving) stuff that trainers have people do, I tried to focus on just one or two moves, just perfecting a few moves that I can put into my game.”

What we’ve seen from Bradley is better sense of when to attack players with his ball-handling and when to use it as a set-up to get his teammates good shots.

He attributes both to the work he has put in and just becoming an older, more wiser player on the floor.

“I’m able to make plays for my teammates because I’m a lot more confident in my ball-handling, in my play-making and my decision-making," said the 25-year-old Bradley. "I feel a lot more comfortable out there.”

While it may not seem like that big a deal that Bradley’s putting the ball on the floor more and attacking off the dribble, it’s actually really important for this Celtics team.

With Bradley now looking to attack off the dribble more, that means that the Celtics now have a starting five – Isaiah Thomas, Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and Al Horford – with each player comfortable and confident in their ability to take most defenders and their respective positions, off the dribble.

That makes Boston a significantly better team offensively in terms of being highly unpredictable and to a larger degree, tougher to contain.

“He’s a great defender, one of the best in the NBA,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told “But people sleep on his offensive game. He can hit the corner 3s, wing 3s, pull-up jumpers … he can pretty much do it all out there. Now that he’s looking to get to the rim more, that just makes him and our team really, much better.”

Indeed, Bradley sounds as though he plans to continue probing different ways to generate points for the Celtics.

One approach he’ll surely take is to do a better job of taking advantage of the mistakes defenses make against him, like players who try and chase him off the 3-point line.

“Me being  a better 3-point shooter should challenge me to think the game a little more,” he said. “If it’s drawing fouls … I know I should be drawing more fouls from the 3-point line. There are times when people are just running out of control at me at the 3-point line. I have to be smarter.”

Bradley added, “I worked on that this summer. It’s translated in practice, so now it needs to translate in games.”