The End of a Dynasty (no kidding)

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The End of a Dynasty (no kidding)

Are the Patriots still a dynasty?

It's been a while since I've heard anyone ask that question. It's been even longer since I've considered the possibility. Are the Patriots still a dynasty? Of course not. They haven't won a Super Bowl in eight years. They have only two guys on their roster who've won a Super Bowl at all. Are the Patriots still a dynasty? Are you out of your mind?

Are they a great team? Yes. Are they the model of prolonged success in this era of free agency and cap craziness? Yes. Are there any fans in New England who would have rather spent the last 12 years rooting for a different team? Hell no.

But the dynasty's over. It's been over for much longer than it ever existed.

I don't think anything that I just said comes as a shock. I don't expect my inbox to suddenly flood with e-mails from angry Patriots fans with horrible things to say about my intelligence and most likely my mother. Are the Patriots still a dynasty? Is this still the same team, with the mystique, that demands the same fear and respect every time they take the field?

I don't imagine there's anyone who still believes this to be true.

So that why I was surprised that Rob Ninkovich received all the attention he did yesterday afternoon for basically just stating the obvious.

"That whole era is over with. Its gone," Ninkovich told WEEI. So this is a whole new team. Its a different bunch of guys. We all have to experience it and learn for ourselves what its like. Getting in the Super Bowl last year and losing left a bad taste in my mouth.

If anything, I found Ninkovich's words to be refreshing, almost therapeutic. After all, we know even if it's somewhat clouded (in a good way) by the constant presence of Brady and Belichick how much things have changed. It's about time that this team is allowed to embrace that. Even as recently as a few years ago, I don't think a player like Ninkovich would have felt comfortable distancing himself and this team from the glory days, regardless of distant they may have really been. But in reality, although it's sad to say goodbye to who and what the Patriots were, it's good to see them laying the groundwork for the future, and building their own identity.

Especially since, as long as Brady and Belichick are around, the goals and expectations remain the same.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Report: Brady and Gisele spotted on Italian island of Capri

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Report: Brady and Gisele spotted on Italian island of Capri

Anyone know any good receivers Tom Brady can work out with on Capri?

With a little over a week left before he can return to the Patriots, Brady and wife, model Gisele Bundchen, were spotted in a restaurant on the island of Capri in Italy in photos published by TMZ.

Brady, of course, is serving his NFL-imposed, four-game Deflategate suspension. He will be allowed to return to the Patriots practice facility on Monday, Oct. 3 and is expected to play in the game in Cleveland on Oct. 9.

Last week, Brady traveled to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, to serve as honorary captain for the Wolverines game against Colorado. 

 

Patriots never really practiced play Brissett took for touchdown run

Patriots never really practiced play Brissett took for touchdown run

FOXBORO -- On a short week leading up to a Thursday night game, time is of the essence. Coaches have to be mindful that there is only so much they can install for their upcoming opponent, and players have to sort through a wealth of information on a compressed schedule. Practice time is almost non-existent. 

That's what makes what the Patriots did against the Texans so impressive. Without any real practice reps to speak of -- they held walkthroughs on Tuesday and Wednesday -- they installed plays they had never run before. Not only did they work, but one of them helped break the game open. 

Jacoby Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter came on a play that the team wouldn't call for Tom Brady. And if they felt like Jimmy Garoppolo could run it, it was one they hadn't installed and run for him. But given the combination of Brissett's athleticism, his ablity to execute play-fakes, and the look the Patriots thought they might get from the Texans, Belichick and his staff believed they could make it work.

Even though there was no opportunity to run it in a live practice setting.

When the time came, Brissett faked a run to the left for LeGarrette Blount, the Texans defense bit, and Brissett smoothly changed direction to run around the right edge. Patriots guard Shaq Mason sought out linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, who Belichick has called one of the best young 'backers in football, and cut him down. That cleared more than enough running room for the rookie third-rounder. 

Because Houston corner Jonathan Joseph was in man coverage on receiver Malcolm Mitchell, he turned and ran with Mitchell up the sideline and only finally turned around to see Brissett coming at him when it was too late. Brissett made a move to avoid free safety Andre Hal and dove into the end zone to give the Patriots a two-score lead.

"It was just we felt like we could get what we ended up getting," Belichick said. "We thought we could get outside, and there wasn’t really anybody left out there but the corner who was in man coverage and it’s just a question of – once we got outside – it was just a question of when the free safety would get there or if an inside linebacker would be able to get there quick enough. But because LeGarrette flowed across the formation that dragged the linebackers with him . . . there was, as you saw, nobody left."

Belichick credited players with being able to take the concepts given to them with that play and executing despite their limited time with it.

"The timing of the play between Jacoby and Shaq was really perfect, which is remarkable considering the fact we’ve never run the play other than just a walkthrough," Belichick said. "But Shaq cut McKinney down at the perfect time as Jacoby was getting outside of him. McKinney just didn’t really have a chance to recover."

There were other plays that were new to the Patriots for Thursday's game, both offensively and defensively; the counter option out of a two-back pistol set is one we have not seen from the Patriots this year in a regular-season game or a training camp practice. But they were able to hit on them successfully, which Belichick explained was a nod to the work that both the starters and the scout team did in walkthroughs that week.

"We gave them a lot of new things," Belichick said after the game. "We ran some plays that we haven’t run all year. We put them in and walked through them. We never got a chance to really run them, and a couple of those hit big. Defensively we tried to do some things that we just didn’t even practice them. All we could do was walk through them. It’s just not the same as repping them, but they understood . . . They’re a smart group. They’re an astute group. They understood how it needed to try and fit against the Texans and then we got out there on the field and they executed it very well tonight.

"Just a tremendous credit to those guys – the players on the scout team, our defensive and offensive scout teams, to try and replicate the Texans’ plays so we could at least walk through them. Again, we didn’t really run them at any tempo but at least we walked through and they give us a great look, and some of the communication that we needed to be able to execute those plays was really as a result of the scout team giving us the opportunity to practice it, and if we made a mistake correct it in practice and get it right tonight.

"It was really a great, great team effort over the last four days. The guys that played, a lot of guys that didn’t play, like I said, the coaching staff, not just the coordinators, the assistant coaches. We had a lot of guys really work hard this week. It’s gratifying to see those kinds of results. Not that we don’t work hard every week, but this is a tough week."