Brady beaming over running attack
August 10, 2013, 12:15 am
PHILADELPHIA –- Attach all the necessary asterisks, caveats and disclaimers.
It was preseason game No. 1 against a rebuilding Eagles team under a new head coach. So enthusiasm over the 248 rushing yards and LeGarrette Blount running through the Eagles like it was a Play60 commercial should be tempered.
But if the Patriots goal against Philadelphia was to run the ball well, they accomplished that.
Blount had 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yarder on which he was bottled up to the outside, reversed field and weaved through the Philly scrubs. He ran furiously, which is his style.
Stevan Ridley had 92 yards on eight carries including a 62-yard gallop on the first play from scrimmage. The Patriots ran the ball eight times on their 80-play opening drive with Ridley going in from the 1 to cap it.
After the game, Tom Brady pointed to that performance –- and the work of the offensive line –- as being a catalyst.
“It started with what we did up front,” said Brady. “Hand the ball off and get (62 yards on the first play)? To hand the ball off as many times as we did and get the ball in the end zone was great. The offensive line took a lot of pride in that and we’re challenged to be a tough football team and to do that and run the ball like we did was great.”
At this time last year, there was consternation about how well the offensive line would perform with Matt Light retired, Brian Waters AWOL, Sebastian Vollmer ailing and Dan Koppen in the midst of being replaced by Ryan Wendell.
Now, the Patriots running game –- because of the offensive line –- is a position of strength.
“It’s critical to run the ball when they know you’re going to run it,” said Brady. “We had big runs, we had short yardage runs where we needed to run the ball, we ran it in on the goal line so I mean, that establishes the identity of the team, how well you run, how well you stop the run and those guys all did a great job. They are big, strong, powerful runners that want the ball in their hands.”
On Brady’s second and final drive of the night, he made some outstanding throws, the best one being his 13-yard touchdown to Shane Vereen on a wheel route with Mychal Kendricks in coverage.
“I was trying to figure out what to do (before the snap),” said Brady. “I was looking and trying to figure out what’s the best thing to do because of the coverage and Shane and I had a little connection and it was good. He got his feet down in a tight area. He’s really continued to improve.”
Brady was locked in during the entire week of practice against the Eagles. The brilliant throw to Vereen was similar to many of the tight throws he made during drills and 11-on-11s.
“There’s a lot of things you can’t simulate when you go through a walkthrough or a practice,” Brady said when reflecting on the week’s work. “You get a rhythm for your defense and what we’re gonna do. We had all spring, the 12 or 13 practices then and the nine practices before we got here so it’s nice to come to a different team and see what you’ve got. This was real football.”
Satisfied though Brady was, this was the first of 20 games prior to the playoffs. It’s just the start.
“We’re a better football team than we were at the start of the week and we need to be a better football team at the end of next week than we are tonight. It’s a building process and we’re trying to make one play turn into two plays turn into three good plays and it’s not all going to be perfect. It’s going to be hard.”