McDaniels, Pats need time to get in groove

McDaniels, Pats need time to get in groove

By Tom E. Curran

Coordinating an NFL offense is just like riding a bike.

Although it's like riding a bike with 10 other people. And, actually, you don't get to ride a bike at all. You have to tell 11 other people how and where to ride theirs. While 11 guys on enemy bikes try to stop you from successfully riding your bike where you want.

So, while we expect that Josh McDaniels should be able to climb astride the Patriots offense and ride it seamlessly, that's not reality.

As this past Sunday against Arizona showed, the road gets bumpy and wrong turns get made, even if McDaniels and Brady were the yin and yang of the most prolific offense in NFL history back in 2007.

Why isn't it easy to just crank it up again, as the volume of "Bring back Bill O'Brien!" tweets indicated Sunday afternoon.

"You work at it as hard as you can and at the end of the year you probably evaluate where you're level of comfort is," Brady said when asked about getting back in the saddle with McDaniels. "At this point, Josh and I are always communicating and I'm trying as a quarterback to do what I need to do and he as a coordinator is doing what he needs to do.

"When you score 18 points and it's really from not converting on third down and not being great in the red area," Brady added. "It's not that we're not moving the ball. We had quite a few yards in the last game and the first game, it's just a matter of taking care of critical opportunities on third down in the red area, putting touchdowns on the board instead of field goals. You have to be able to score touchdowns. I think that's how you eventually get into the flow of the offense is when you're getting into the end zone. "

The road remains rough this weekend in Baltimore with the Ravens in prime time.

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

JAMAICA PLAIN -- David Backes probably could have opted to have his introductory press conference inside the Bruins dressing room at TD Garden, or maybe even in some finished part of the team's new practice facility in Brighton, which is set to open a couple of months from now.

Instead, the new Bruins forward met face-to-face with the media for the first time while taking a tour of the MSPCA and, in the process, introducing Bruins fans to his “Athletes for Animals” charity, a foundation that promotes rescuing -- and protecting the welfare of -- homeless pets nationwide.

Backes took pictures with a pit bull named Greta that’s been at the MSPCA Adoption Center for the last seven months looking for a “forever home”.

And as he spoke, it became abundantly clear that this is what the 32-year-old former St. Louis Blues captain is all about.

“[Taking a tour of the facility] gives you a warm feeling inside, and makes you feel like you’re already a part of the city while helping give some attention to the great work that they’re doing,” said Backes, the owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty, Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly), who is house-hunting in Boston this week with his wife and 13-month-old daughter.

“Hopefully this will be just the beginning of our connecting with the community, and helping serve the people that are great fans of the Bruins and that will be watching us every night. [Hopefully] they’re watching us go on deep playoff runs year after year.”

Backes’ efforts with rescue animals gained national notoriety when he took time to help with the stray dog situation in Sochi, Russia during the last Winter Olympics. But the roots of his “Athletes for Animals” charity goes back to his college days at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," he said "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

For these reasons alone, Backes is a great fit in Boston. The Bruins donate heavily to the MSPCA and were one of the first NHL organizations to come up with the Pucks ‘N Pups calendar, which each year features Bruins players and their dogs, or strays from the MSPCA, to raise money for the animal welfare organization.

To learn more about Backes’ organization, “Athletes for Animals,” visit http://athletesforanimals.org .