McDaniels on ball security: Carelessness will be addressed

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McDaniels on ball security: Carelessness will be addressed

On his Tuesday conference call, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was prodded to talk about ball security. Specifically, he was asked if he has a coaching philosophy regarding players who may be struggling in that area.
McDaniels kept his answer as general as the question, but the unspoken context was Stevan Ridley.
New England's No. 1 running back has fumbled in his last two games, against Houston and San Francisco -- two of the biggest games of the season.
In the Patriots' 41-34 loss Sunday night, Ridley lost a ball in the third quarter that the Niners recovered and ran back for 66 yards. The turnover was converted into a touchdown just one play later.
"I think we want all of the skill players to protect the football," McDaniels said. "We work at it and try to emphasize that and generally I think weve done a decent job of it during the course of the season. There are certain times when the defense either gets it out or maybe we dont necessarily possess the type of ball security that we need on a certain play or in a certain game.
"In terms of a particular game or a specific, How many times does the ball need to be away from a players body or how many throws does the quarterback make that the defense touches before you get him out of the game, Ive never really had a specific chart or philosophy on that. I think more or less youve got to try to make sure that each player who touches it is securing it and taking care of it and if you feel like there is too big of a risk, then certainly you need to address it either that day or in the week of practice."
Ridley's 1,105 rushing yards on 252 attempts lead all Patriots ground gains by a lot; the risk has been worth the reward to this point.
But New England doesn't really have a choice, either. Last season, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis on the roster and leading the charge, Ridley was benched for the AFC Championship and Super Bowl after fumbling once in Week 17 and again in the divisional playoff.
He currently has two weeks to sleep tucked in beside the football. If there is an issue with Ridley's ball security, the Patriots will want it worked out before the postseason.
"If were being careless and the carelessness is repetitive and the ball is obviously not protected, we need to address that as a group; we need to address that and make sure that we try to fix it so that we dont hurt our team."

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.