Blake Bortles: Patriots 'schematically mess with you a little bit'

Blake Bortles: Patriots 'schematically mess with you a little bit'

FOXBORO -- What Blake Bortles said about the Patriots defense following Tuesday's practice was either a) a sign that Bill Belichick is already getting somewhat exotic with his scheme, or b) a sign that Bortles is having a tough time reading vanilla coverages.

What typically happens around the league in the preseason, especially early on, is that teams keep things relatively vanilla when it comes to their design. The goal is to have the basics down before starting to meddle. You also don't want to show anyone too much too early.


But what Bortles described Tuesday sounded like a Patriots defense -- and in particular a Patriots secondary -- that has already blown past vanilla and has moved on to chocolate peanut butter pretzel with a caramel swirl.

"They do a lot of different things in coverage with their safeties, whether they’re sprinting their guys down or staying too high and doing different stuff," Bortles said. "It’s been good going against different looks. It’s definitely different than what we see in Jacksonville."

It's very possible that the Patriots are already mixing things up, even in joint practices, because they have the personnel to do it. Not only are they deep with starting-caliber players at both safety (with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon) and corner (with Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones), but only one of those players (Gilmore) is brand new to the system.

Combine their skill level with an in-depth understanding of Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense, and they can afford get creative this early in camp. On Tuesday, when the Patriots defense took the field for the first 11-on-11 period, McCourty, Harmon and Chung were all out there.

"I think they do a lot of different stuff with their safeties," Bortles said. "They do a good job disguising coverages. I think schematically they mess with you a little bit and take away different things. They make you think they are taking something away so you go the other way. You have to be sharp in what you are doing pre-snap."

Maybe that's just a 25-year-old quarterback who's unsure of what he's looking at. But it could also be that the Patriots are pretty far along in terms of their ability to execute multiple defensive looks. They'll have four preseason games, two more joint practices against the Texans, and about a month on the calendar to get even more creative before the Chiefs visit Gillette Stadium for the season-opener.

Game notes: Pats unroll a record air attack vs. Texans


Game notes: Pats unroll a record air attack vs. Texans

FOXBORO -- Game notes from the Patriots' 36-33 victory over the Texans . . .

-- New England ended Houston’s streak of 31 straight games (including the postseason) without allowing a 300-yard passer by throwing for 378 yards against the Texans. It was the first 300-yard game against Houston since the Jaguars had 331 yards at Jacksonville on Oct. 18, 2015.

-- Tom Brady now has eight career games in which he's thrown a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minut. He now has 52 career victories after facing a fourth-quarter deficit.

-- Brady threw for five touchdowns in a game for the 27th time in team history, the third-most four-touchdown games in NFL history. He also set an NFL record with his 22nd game with four or more touchdowns and no interceptions. It is Brady’s sixth game with five or more touchdowns, tied with Dan Marino for the third-most all-time. It is his sixth game with five or more touchdowns and no interceptions, second to Drew Brees (7).

-- Brady followed a 447-yard effort the week before at New Orleans with a 378-yard effort against Houston. He has now followed a 400-yard game with a 300-yard game six times. (2002, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016).

-- Brady had 447 yards at New Orleans and 378 yards against Houston for 825 yards in the last two weeks. It is the second-most yards in team history in a two-week span. Brady had 940 yards (517 and 423) to start the 2011 season with 517 at Miami on Sept. 12, 2011, followed by 423 yards vs. San Diego on Sept. 18 2011. Brady’s 940 yards ranks second all-time in consecutive games to Phil Simms, who holds the record with 945 yards (432 yards and 513 yards).

-- Brady had his sixth straight game with no interceptions. He now has a streak of 215 straight pass attempts without an interception.

-- Rob Gronkowski scored his 70th career touchdown reception on a five-yard pass from Brady in the first quarter and became the fastest tight end to reach 70 career touchdown receptions, doing so in his 91st career game.