Brady says Pats defense doesn't pressure 'O'

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Brady says Pats defense doesn't pressure 'O'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's been a little edgy. There could be myriad reasons for this. Lack of sleep. Financial pressures. His freakin' defense can't stop anyone, which means he's got to lead the offense to 30-or-more points every game despite running an offense without a potent perimeter threat.

On Wednesday, I asked Brady if he ever concerns himself with the performance of the Patriots' defense while the game's ongoing.

"Well, were all pretty cognizant of the (game) situation," Brady began. "If youre up seven in the fourth quarter, you dont want to throw an interception like I did last week (the end-zone pick against Washington in the fourth). Thats not necessarily complementary football right there. A lot of it is just understanding the situation. Look, when you're playing ahead, you have to play smart. When youre behind, sometimes you have to take more chances."

What the defense does, though, is certainly impactful on the offense. They have done some good things -- in the red zone this season, the New England defense has turned touchdowns into field goals time after time.

But the length of opposing drives, both in yards and time elapsed, is a consistent issue.

The Patriots had the ball once in the first quarter against the moribund Colts. The Redskins held the ball for 37 minutes on Sunday; the Patriots for 23.

"I think the big part of it, for the defense, however theyre going to play, it doesnt matter, because we have to do our job," said Brady. "They get the ball to start the game, who cares what happens on the opening drive; when we get the ball, we have to go down and do something with it."

That reference to the start of the game, while innocuous, is another interesting one because while the Patriots used to be incredible starting games, they haven't been over the last two months.

In four of their last seven games, the Patriots have been held without points on their opening drive. They've scored 26 first-quarter points. In the first three games of this season, they scored touchdowns on their first possession.

In 2007, the Patriots scored on their opening drive for the first eight weeks of the season.

What needs to improve with the offense?

"Everything," said Brady. "Everything we need to improve. Everything needs to be better. Our execution of the passing game can be better, our execution of the run game and every position. Its just a matter of us committing ourselves on a daily basis to be more mentally tough than what the drain of the season does to you and to overcome fatigue and being tired and mentally being drained a little bit to putting your best foot forward to still going out there and doing whatever it takes to be healthy and prepare mentally and physically to go out there and play your best game.

"I think thats really been the focus for the guys this week," added Brady. "We have a huge challenge ahead of us and its a very important game for us."

Garoppolo on Kaepernick, anthem: 'To each his own, I guess'

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Garoppolo on Kaepernick, anthem: 'To each his own, I guess'

Jimmy Garoppolo joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Wednesday as the Patriots readied themselves to travel to New Jersey for their preseason finale against the Giants. During the interview, Garoppolo was asked for his thoughts on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who opted not to stand for the national anthem during a recent preseason game in order to express his political beliefs.

"It’s a touchy subject, but to each his own, I guess," Garoppolo said. "It’s not my idea of doing the right thing. But it’s his personal opinion, I guess. You’ve just got to let him stand by that. But I think we have a great thing going on in this country. Everything about America, it’s a great thing. We’re all very blessed to be here. And it’s good to realize that."

NFL teams have been required to be on the field for the anthem since 2009. Garoppolo said that he uses those moments as a time to soak in the chance he's been given to play football at the highest level.

"I can’t tell you what exactly is going through my mind, because it’s right before the game, you’ve got a lot of emotions rolling and everything," he said. "But it’s kind of one of those moments you get to sit back and really appreciate where you are and the opportunity that you have. The NFL is a tough gig to get into and a tough gig to stay in. I feel blessed to be in it. It’s a great opportunity. It’s one of those moments you get to just sit back and realize where you’re at -- then go kick some ass after that."

Belichick: Players don’t have time to be coaching each other

Belichick: Players don’t have time to be coaching each other

FOXBORO - It's been an ongoing conversation/fascination this summer. With Tom Brady's four-game suspension looming, how much knowledge, support and coaching was he going to give to Jimmy Garoppolo?

Bill Belichick was asked by Phil Perry on Thursday how much he expects from veteran players when it comes to coaching up teammates. 

The answer? Be an example, but let the coaches coach. 

"I think veteran players can be a good example for younger players in terms of their preparation, and their attitude, and their work ethic, and the way they go about things," said Belichick. "We have a lot of guys that I would put in that category that when you watch them do things they do them right and it’s easy to say to a younger player ‘Do what that guy does’, and you’d be off to a good start. 

"But you know, that being said, I think everybody on the team, really their number one focus is to get ready to play football. Our players aren’t coaches, they’re players, and they need to get ready to play, and as I said, I think every player needs to get ready to play. I don’t care how long you’ve been in the league, I don’t care what positon you play, I don’t care how long you’ve coached, I don’t care what position you coach. We haven’t done it for a long time, a number of months, and now we all need to sharpen those skills up. That’s every player, that’s every coach, so I don’t really think players have a lot of time to run around and be telling everybody else what to do."

The answer is not surprising. As much as the "Do Your Job" mantra is espoused in New England, to think Belichick or his mostly veteran staff of coaches would want players monkeying with the message is a little naive. Certainly, there are things players can impart to teammates who play the same position. Things coaches might not see from the sidelines or from upstairs. And Belichick's made a point of saying that in the past: there are things players on the field know and have experienced that the coaches may not be able to articulate as clearly. Junior Seau was a resource and touchstone for defensive teammates during his time in New England. 

But there's a difference between giving helpful pointers when they are sought or being a locker room sage and coaching. 

"Honestly, there is enough that all of them need to work on individually, and that would be every single player, that’s a full plate for them," added Belichick. "I don’t really think that’s their job, and I don’t think any player has enough time to do that because they all have things that they need to do to prepare for the season. But as far as being a good example and doing things right and all of that, I mean we have a lot of guys that fall into that category and that’s definitely a good thing. But, you know, that’s what they should be doing."

For two seasons and three offseasons, Garoppolo's had a chance to observe how Brady prepares, studies, interacts and leads. No doubt they've had countless conversations about the Patriots offensive philosophy and the throws and checks that need to be made in certain situations. But the job of actually coaching Garoppolo falls to Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. 

Any successes of failures Garoppolo has during the four weeks Brady is off campus will belong to him and his coaches. And that's how it should be. 

 

Slater signs one-year contract extension with Patriots

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Slater signs one-year contract extension with Patriots

The Patriots have their special-teams captain locked up through 2017.

Matthew Slater and the team have come to terms on a one-year contract extension that will keep him in New England for the next two seasons. He's due base salaries of $1 million and $900,000 in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Slater was made a fifth-round draft pick by the Patriots back in 2008, and since then he has established himself as one of the top soecial teams players in the NFL, making each of the last five Pro Bowls. He's also been a durable player, seeing action in all but nine games over the course of his eight-year career. 

The Patriots have a handful of young and talented special teams players on their roster, including Nate Ebner and Brandon King, but during training camp practices Slater continued to show his prowess when it comes to tracking down kick and punt returners. He's also taken on a well-defined leadership role in the Patriots locker room -- he's been a captain each year since 2011 -- and he serves as the team's NFLPA player representative.