McDaniels lauds Brady's pocket awareness


McDaniels lauds Brady's pocket awareness

Early Monday, Tom Brady said he spent his bye week thinking about football. Weirdo.

Of course, that's what makes him brilliant. So good, in fact, that even when he rolls up a first half in which he throws 16 touchdowns and three picks and is on pace for a 5,000-yard passing season, there's rumbles of slippage.

On Monday, I asked offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for an appraisal of Brady's work in 2012.

"I think that the quarterback in general, and Tom specifically, is really evaluated on his decision making, his accuracy and his ability to take care of the football and then ultimately get our offense into the end zone," McDaniels began. "There are certainly things that he can do better than what weve done in the first portion of the season. I know hell work hard at trying to maximize his performance going forward."

Brady's ability to manage the game from the pocket and be aware of pressure has always been seen as a strength. There's rarely been cause to question his stomach for standing in against pressure. But he has, in 2012, occasionally shown happy feet. And his willingness to get rid of the ball and fight another play has been seen in some circles as a sign he's an aging quarterback concerned about contact.

It's really nothing different than anything he put out there earlier in his career -- he generally subscribes to "discretion is the better part of valor" when a play is going South. He undeniably avoids contact, whether running with the ball and hitting the deck fast, going down quickly in the face of a rush he cannot beat or getting involved in tackling on an interception return.

But McDaniels says Brady's awareness continues to be exemplary.

"I think his pocket awareness and the things he does in the pocket have always been strengths of his," said the offensive coordinator. "I think he does a great job of understanding the quarterback position. There is always kind of an invisible clock in your head and you know based on the scheme or the protection how many blockers were keeping in, how many receivers were sending out and that may change or alter how much time you have to deliver the football.

"I think hes very aware of those different dynamics that can happen on each pass play," McDaniels added. "He does, generally, a really good job of distributing the ball where it needs to be distributed and also understanding on certain plays there is a time and a place to hold it and there is a time and a place to take the check down or throw the ball underneath or even throw the ball away and move onto the next play and try to get the first down some other way. Hes somebody who obviously understands our passing game and his ability to operate within that system and do the right thing is certainly a big thing for us and will be going forward."

As each season enters crunch time, Brady often shows a little more doggedness in the pocket. Witness some of the punishment he stood in to accept in the last two Super Bowls. The clock in Brady's head moves a little slower when the games get a little bigger.

David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure


David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure

The Bruins look like they’ll be without gritty veteran forward David Backes for at least the next couple of games, and probably more like the next couple of weeks.

It was announced that the gritty Bruins forward underwent a procedure on Monday remove the olecranon bursa from his elbow, and that “his condition will be updated after the weekend.” The procedure is commonly performed when bursitis in the elbow becomes an untenable, and seems more like an injury that worsens over time rather than anything that happened in a particular game this season.

Backes’ effectiveness did seem to be impacted after he got into a fight with Nazem Kadri in the second game of the season in Toronto, but it’s unknown if there’s any connection between that sequence and the forward’s elbow issues. According to the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) website, it may take “10-14 days” for the skin to heal following the procedure, and three-to-four weeks before a doctor would clear the average person to resume normal activity.

The 32-year-old Backes is off to a good start for the Bruins with two goals and four points in five games prior to missing Tuesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, and his absence makes an already-thin Bruins forward group smaller, softer and much less dangerous. With Backes on the shelf for at least the next two games against the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, the Bruins have recalled young center Austin Czarnik after his short stint with the Providence Bruins.

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

BOSTON – The fact that the Bruins goaltending wasn’t up to snuff was well-documented in Tuesday night’s 5-0 home loss to the Minnesota Wild.

But the Bruins are also experiencing some major defensive problems along with injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, and that has been a major factor in things suddenly taking a turn for the Black and Gold. Perhaps it’s also a byproduct of playing higher quality NHL teams that can exploit some of those issues, and that’s exactly what the Canadiens and Wild have done in scoring eight mostly easy goals against the B’s in the last two games.

“We give up two quick goals in that [second] period that just deflated us at that point. But you know, our game right now has to be better without the puck and the kind of goals we’re giving up are killing us. They’re taking momentum out of our hockey club. We’ve had some decent starts we haven’t been rewarded for,” said Claude Julien. “We haven’t scored first now in six games, so you’re playing that kind of a game and the minute you give up a goal you’re playing from behind.

“You’ve got to find a way to score that first goal but at the same time I think we need to be much better without the puck and respecting that part of our game a little bit better. Mistakes, or lack of coverage and not being in the right place [in the D-zone] right now, are doing a lot of damage to our game. It’s hurtful at the end because you end up with this kind of a result.”

The first goal allowed by Subban was a lost battle in front of the net as Charlie Coyle took the puck from Danton Heinen in a 50/50 battle, and then the B’s rookie goaltender allowed a fluttering puck to get through his pads on his glove side. Then 12 seconds later a really big breakdown by the Bergeron line and John-Michael Liles/Colin Miller pair left Chris Stewart all alone in front with a point blank chance in the slot.

That was a defensive punch to the gut that knocked all of the wind out of the Black and Gold, and they were never recovered. It was also an inexcusable mistake in a Julien-coached system that is supposed to suffocate any attempts by attackers to get into the slot area for scoring chances.

“It’s really, you know, getting away from playing the way we know how to. We talked about not cheating on the offense, not giving up the slot, and you know giving them the outside as much as possible. When you don’t do that obviously it’s going to be hard on the goalies,” said Patrice Bergeron. “You know obviously it’s a team game, it’s about everyone and [the young goalies] are definitely not to blame tonight. We talked about being a strong, defensive team and being tight in our zone. We did that in the first, I thought, and the second was ugly.”

Give Subban credit for making a stop on Marco Scandella after giving up the two goals in 12 seconds, but a soft power play score allowed to Ryan Suter resulted in the rookie getting pulled from the game despite whatever was happening defensively in front of him. For good measure, an Adam McQuaid turnover in the B’s defensive zone quickly turned into a Jason Tucker goal through traffic to make it 4-0, and the Bruins were well on their way to their worst loss of the season.