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."

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

FOXBORO -  A verrrrrryyyy long time ago, the Patriots targeted September. There were t-shirts and everything printed back in 2002 as the Patriots came off of their first Super Bowl title.

The names of that season’s first four opponents – Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Chargers – were all listed on a bullseye.

How’d that work out? Well, they hit the bullseye for most of September, winning the first three. Then they lost four in a row and the notion of “targeting” a segment of the schedule around these parts went the way of the Dodo bird.

Which may be why, as truly remarkable as this September’s been, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any bows after three damn wins.

“We’re just really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick told me Friday morning when I asked about whether winning the first three in the face of some adversity was a point of pride. “I don’t really care about last week. I don’t really care about two weeks ago. I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care. I think we’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week.

“The rest of it – it’s in the books. It is what it is,” he said. “So write whatever you want to write about it. It’s good, it’s bad, I mean I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job of what we have here with Buffalo. We can’t live in the past. And I respect where you’re coming from, I really do. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it, but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month really has anything to do with this week.”

Things change after Sunday. The best player the franchise has ever had rejoins a team that – in spite of the adversity – flourished without him. Even though the competition wasn’t what one would call “stiff” compared to challenges Brady faced as recently as last January, it’s still remarkable.

Asked about Brady’s looming return, wide receiver Julian Edelman also redirected.

“We got a game before that,” he pointed out. “When he comes back we'll obviously be happy but we got a job ahead of us with the Buffalo Bills.” 

Asked if there’s some pride taken in the beginning, Edelman replied, “It’s just having pride in your job in general. Really just focusing every week and trying to improve. I say it every week on these cameras, if you try to get better and you get better every week, you're gonna do these things. 

“It tells you that you have a mentally tough team that goes out there and works hard and prepares hard and does the extra things,” Edelman added. “I've been around here a little while and that's just the mentality we've always had and continue to have. We have a tough one against the Bills and we'll see how it tests out against these guys.”

 

 

Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

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Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

The inury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

OUT
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)