No Huddle: Brady comfortable in no-huddle

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No Huddle: Brady comfortable in no-huddle

BALTIMORE, MD -- From Tom Brady to Torrey Smith, there were plenty of players talking on both sides after Sunday night's 31-30 Baltimore win.
Here are some of the highlights.

Quarterback Tom Brady on if he was comfortable in New England's no huddle offense Sunday night:
"Yeah, I thought it put a lot of pressure on those guys. I don't think they fooled us very much with their different looks. They just played well when they needed to, especially in the red area."
The Patriots went 3-for-5 in the red zone (60 percent). On the first failed opportunity, New England got to the Baltimore 20 in a hurry after Brady connected with Wes Welker on a 59-yard bomb. But after that: Handoff to Stevan Ridley for no gain, handoff to Ridley for 1 yard, and on third-and-9 Brady went back into shotgun and tried to find Julian Edelman. No dice.
The next chance stretched from the end of the third quarter into the fourth. Score 27-21 Patriots, it was first-and-10 on the Baltimore 18. Ridley gained 14 on the carry. With just 4 yards to go, Brady went no huddle and Ridley got the ball again, but Bernard Pollard was ready. He stuffed Ridley for a huge 4-yard loss. Fourth quarter. Patriots again go no huddle. Woodhead gets the ball -- no gain. On third-and-8 Brady found Welker for 6 yards. The 20-yard field goal was good. Baltimore's defense was better.
Ravens cornerback Cary Williams on Brady having an active night:
"He's Tom Brady, man. He's not 'Joe Schmo.' He's a future Hall of Famer. He came out and did what he was supposed to do.
Ah, Williams should know.
Brady went 28-for-41 for 335 yards, one touchdown, and a 101.2 quarterback rating. His seventh drive was a 12 play, 80-yard monster that featured six first downs and some nifty passing: An 11-yard gain on first-and-10 for Brandon Lloyd (Williams on the tackle), 11-yard gain for Welker on third-and-5 (Williams), 10-yard gain for Lloyd on third-and-6 (yup, Williams), and 9 more yards to Lloyd on second-and-7 (Williams!).
Ravens running back Ray Rice on Justin Tucker's game-winning kick:
"I was already sending my farewells. I've seen him make those kicks in practice all the time."
True, the field goal was only 27-yards, but that's a lot of pressure on an undrafted rookie like Tucker. There was some controversy among Patriots regarding whether or not the kick was actually good. Vince Wilfork said, "A game like this, you have to" review such a close call. But it can't be done -- a ball that flies above the uprights cannot be reviewed because there's no reference point to measure against.
Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones on whether he watched brother, Patriots DL Chandler Jones, from the sideline:
"I checked him out a little bit and Baltimore tackle Michael Oher did a great job on him. Today wasn't one of his better days, but he's young and strong, and he's going to be one of the great ones."
More controversy -- and not just in the Jones family home this Thanksgiving. Where the Baltimore opinion may be that Oher "did a great job" on the dynamic rookie, there is another opinion out there that Oher "did a great job" of holding Jones all night. Unchecked holding was a problem with the replacement officials through the first two weeks of football and looked to be on Sunday as well.
Deion Branchon the number of controversial calls:
"It's not the first time we've played in a game with a lot of controversial calls. It was happening on both sides of the ball. I'm sure they were upset about some of those calls, too. But honestly, when we're doing what we do best, we take the game out of the referees' hands."
Leave it to Branch to be diplomatic. And he has a point -- of Baltimore's 28 first downs, just five came via penalty.
Former Patriot, current Raven, James Ihedigbo on playing against his former team:
"When you think about it, any time you get a chance to go against your former team, it's kind of personal. I went into this game with that kind of mentality, and when you put the history of these two teams on top of it, it just became a very personal and emotional thing. It was great the way it turned out. It couldn't be any sweeter."
Ihedigbo was picked up by Baltimore two days after being released from the Patriots on August 31. He served as a captain for Sunday night's coin toss. Jedi mind trick? Either way, he seems very happy with the Ravens.
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, on his emotions of the day after losing his younger brother:
"I didn't know how I would hold up, but thanks to my teammates and coaches and all the support from really everyone around the league, just everyone, everwhere. You know, I was getting texts and people were telling me on my Twitter. I just thank everyone on behalf of my family."
Smith's brother, Tevin Jones, was just 19 when he died in a motorcycle accident Saturday. The Ravens held a moment of silence before the game to honor Jones' memory. Smith paid tribute on his own by pointing skyward after his first touchdown reception Sunday night.

Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

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Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place. 

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013. 

Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million. 

With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games. 

Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

There’s no way to spin rookie Jacoby Brissett starting a game rather than three-year NFL veteran Jimmy Garoppolo or future Hall of Famer Tom Brady as preferable.
 
But can the disadvantages be mitigated? Can the fact there is no “book” on a player be helpful?
 
“I think there’s always an element of the unknown when you’re dealing with a player or something you haven’t seen or scouted as much,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I don’t know if there’s an advantage there, it’s just that you don’t have as much information on a player or on some scheme that they may use, which then forces you to figure some things out as the game goes along and do some quick self-scouting as you move through the first cquarter, the first half, whatever it is, just to make sure that if it is something new you haven’t seen before, if it is a player that you haven’t played against and don’t have a lot of volume of tape on, that you have an opportunity to evaluate quickly what is going on.

"What’s happening in the game? How much of an impact is that player having? Are they trying to  do something that’s disrupting what you’re trying to do with their scheme? I think that happens a lot of weeks during the course of the year based on health and availability, new players, guys being called up, someone that just got signed and you don’t really have a lot of experience watching them play in their system. I would say that’s a common occurrence for us.”
 
With a fullback or UDFA guard pressed into duty, there’s not a helluva lot that will be altered in terms of scheme. With players like Garoppolo and Brissett, though, the Patriots' long-established offense can take on an entirely different look if different areas are emphasized.
 
For instance, jet sweep is a play the team won’t use much with Tom Brady except as a “keep ‘em honest” on the edges kind of play. With Garoppolo, quickness when he gets outside the pocket has to be respected so if he fakes that jet sweep and rolls to the outside, he’s a run-pass threat with speed and downfield accuracy. With Brissett, he’s a threat with elusiveness, size and power as a runner. Additionally, if the Patriots wanted to try the old Elway Throwback to the opposite sideline, Brissett may have more arm power than either Brady or Garoppolo.
 
McDaniels said the Patriots aren’t looking necessarily for ways to “surprise” opponents as much as they are looking for ways to accentuate players’ strengths.  
 
“We’ve got to take the guys that we get to play with, based on health and other factors, and then we consider the defense that we’re getting ready to play against, and the great players and the scheme that they use, and then we try to formulate the right plan to allow our players to go out there and play fast, play well, and do the things that suit their talents the best,” McDaniels explained. “I don’t think that our mindset has changed.

"Some of the variables have changed from one week to the next, which is always the case,  and of course, when you get a group of guys a plan and then you work so hard to get ready for Sunday or Thursday night and go out there and watch them play and execute and take care of the ball and do the things you need to do to try to win, and then they enjoy it so much, that’s really the thing that you take the most satisfaction from as a coach.”