Brady bristles against finesse tag

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Brady bristles against finesse tag

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady was asked Wednesday about Rob Gronkowski, specifically, if the tough, rangy tight end gives the offense some edginess. Brady confirmed the idea but he didn't stop there. The question sparked something in the Patriots quarterback.

He almost became defensive.

"Football's all about playing physical. It's a physical sport, and if you're a finesse team you don't usually last very long. And that's what we're trying to be; we're trying to be a physical team that's tough."

Ah. The dreaded "f" word.

Finesse.

"Whether you're on the line of scrimmage and they're pressing you that you get off the line of scrimmage; whether you're running the ball, or whether you're running the ball out at the end of the game; when you're in a third-and-1 situation or a goal line situation. All of those things really relate to the toughness of the offense. And that's stuff we're trying to build on."

He didn't say the Patriots are battling a stigma but the notion is safely assumed. New England is not a ground-and-pound offense. Days before the teams faced off in Oakland, Raiders linebacker Rolando McLain tagged his opponent as "just a finesse team." For what the word is worth in the NFL, he might as well have insulted Belichick's mother. It means the offense is pretty with no power.

Finesse not force. One or the other.

Brady says he knows what makes a team tough. And he thinks his guys have what it takes to cultivate that identity.

"I think it comes down to those situation plays that I talked about. Like, third-and-1, you're not throwing it. First-and-goal on the one, you're not throwing it. Four minutes left in the game and you've got a lead, you're not throwing it . . . Like we did against the Jets, where we ran it 9-of-11, or 10-of-11, times right at the end of the game to end it. That's what it means to be tough and physical."

While the point is well taken, there's evidence to the contrary. Last week in Pittsburgh the Patriots got the ball back with 6:03 left on the clock, down 23-14. Brady ended up with a third-and-1 on the Steelers' 1-yard line toward the end of the drive. He threw the ball. Fourth-and-1, he threw the ball. Ryan Mundy intercepted the pass to Rob Gronkowski but the pick was nullified by a penalty. First-and-1 on the Steelers' 1. Brady threw the ball.

The Patriots got the touchdown. But one yard short and you get three plays on three throws? What does that say about the rush?

"Finesse in football? Yes, it's a dirty word," Brady said. "This isn't a finesse sport, so, you won't go very far as a team."

How far will the Patriots go? Forget time; only toughness will tell.

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

The Patriots should always be motivated heading into games against the Ravens. After all, Baltimore might be the team’s primary rival. 

Yet Monday’s matchup might be about more than past meetings. It could be a revenge game for the Ravens’ role in the Deflategate fiasco. 

As Tom E. Curran notes in the above video, the then-recently eliminated Ravens set off the ordeal when they tipped off the Colts entering the 2014 AFC Championship game. From there, the year-and-a-half-long saga played itself out, ultimately resulting in Tom Brady accepting a four-game suspension from the league. 

Curran and Mike Giardi discussed whether Monday could be a revenge game, with them both concluding that they feel the Patriots are still “pissed off” at the Ravens. 

"I’m just reading the tea leaves,” Curran said. “Bill Belichick will usually throw bouquet after bouquet at the Baltimore Ravens any time they play, from Ozzie Newsome, to George Kokinis, to Eric DeCosta, to John Harbaugh, Dean Pees, everyone. Not a lot of that today. Make of that what you will; I don’t think it’s a coincidence because I do know that when the Patriots were going through the process early on, the fact that the Ravens had dropped a dime -- their assistant special teams coach Jerry Rosburg calling the Indianapolis Colts and saying, “Look there was some foolishness going on with the K balls.’

“Additionally, when that email from the Colts to the NFL was sent to Mike Kensil, it said, 'It’s well-known throughout the league that the Patriots screw with the balls after they’ve been checked by the officials.' So if that conversation was going on during the week between those two teams, one certainly has to surmise that they also spoke about the fact of deflating footballs. 

“So as much as John Harbaugh has tried to dissuade anyone from thinking there was involvement, Dean Pees was interviewed by Ted Wells, Jerry Rosburg was interviewed by Ted Wells. Those are the only two principals from other organizations who were involved, so yeah, I think they’re still probably pretty pissed off about it.” 

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

FOXBORO -- Ever wonder what might've been if Bill Belichick had remained the coach of the Browns, and later the Ravens, after they moved from Cleveland? He says he doesn't.

[And maybe it's a good thing that he doesn't, as his last memories with the organization saw fans literally rip the team's stadium apart and throw it onto the field.]

"I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, no," Belichick told Baltimore reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. "I try to think ahead and make the best of the situation that I’m in, which is what I tried to do when I was in Cleveland. I took a team that wasn’t very good in 1991, prior to free agency and all of that, had a real good team in 1994. The team moved in 1995."

The decision to move the team helped undo the Browns season in 1995, and Belichick was later fired. There's little denying, though, that he left the pieces of a competitive roster behind. And he helped stock the Ravens' cupboard with valuable assets.

Five years after Belichick's tenure in Cleveland had expired, the franchise won a Super Bowl with linebacker Ray Lewis -- drafted with a pick Belichick had acquired -- as its foundational piece. 

"We made a trade that provided two first-round picks that Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job with," Belichick continued. "Ozzie and Ray Lewis were two of the cornerstones of that eventual championship team.

"I have a lot of confidence in my ability, I had a lot of confidence in the coaching staff and the players that we had at that time – 1995 wasn’t obviously a great year for us. I don’t think we need to talk about that. We all know what happened. But yeah, I think we would have been competitive if I had been the head coach there. I think we would have been competitive. We had a good team, we had a good staff, and we had a lot of good players.

"Ozzie did a good job with that team and made it better, and they won a championship five years later [with] some of the same players that we started with. But you know, it wasn’t my choice, Ted [Marchibroda] came in there and was going to transition that for what they needed at that point in time. But I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, no."