Brady on huddling vs. hurry-up

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Brady on huddling vs. hurry-up

FOXBORO -- Sunday night provided a case study in the "Huddle Up vs. Hurry Up" debate.

For most of the first half in New York, the Patriots took their time and didn't put pressure on the Jets defense to deal with their fast break, so to speak.

But after falling behind 9-6 late in the first half, the Patriots took over on their own end and went no-huddle. A couple hours later, the Jets defenders were just getting their breath back and sucking on a 37-16 loss.

Tom Brady spoke Wednesday about trying to go up-tempo without being haphazard. And he cited examples where, unlike the Jets game, it didn't work.

"Wetried to run it against Dallas and we didn't score a lot of points and we tried to run it in Pittsburgh and didn't score a lot of points," pointed out Brady. "To me it's more about the execution than the tempo of the game. ... Sometimes when you try no huddle and it doesn't work we say, 'We're not gonna do that anymore' and then you guys wonder why we didn't go no-huddle."

The communication necessary to run any offense is critical. And because the Patriots are generally good at communication, you'll see in most every game the points when Brady lets the play-clock dwindle so he can get everything set after the defense declares. That would be the huddle-up.

"(At the line) you're trying to get everybody on the same page," Brady said. "If I'm doing one thing and the offensive line is thinking another or the running back is thinking something different from the two of us then that's where it gets challenging. I really think that at times we've done a good job of it this year, especially on the road where things are more difficult."

Sunday wasn't one of those nights. Which is why the Patriots finallyopted to speed things up.

The quick change, said Brady, can leave a defense up the creek.

"(If the defense says), 'Let's disguise, let's disguise' then I go up and say 'Blue go!' and the ball's snapped and there's a guy totally out of position, (that's bad for the defense)," Brady noted. "There's a fine line between what you're doing. If we feel that it's gonna be a big disguise game then there's gonna be a lot of quick counts (to catch the defense in its dummy formations). Ultimately, if they're showing you what they're doing then you take your time. That's just the cat and mouse all day long with good defenses and good secondaries. You can have one guy that's trying to disguise but then if nobody else is, then that makes no sense.

Ultimately it's a coordinated effort by a defense to try and disguise. You can try to disguise all you want but if the offense is making the plays, the coach is going to say, 'You just have to get up and cover your guy.'"

And the tough thing for any defense -- and this week's opposing defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel -- is knowing that the Patriots can do it either way.

So too is knowing when to play games with the defense.

Report: Belichick may be called to testify in Hernandez trial

Report: Belichick may be called to testify in Hernandez trial

Bill Belichick, identified as "William Belichick," has been added to the list of potential defense witnesses who could testify during the upcoming double-homicide trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, according to the Boston Herald.

Per the Herald, the new list of potential witnesses for the defense also includes Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who was Hernandez's teammate at the University of Florida. 

Belichick, McDaniels and Pouncey aren't guaranteed to testify, but their presence on the civilian witness list makes their presence in court a possibility. 

Hernandez's trial is scheduled to start next Wednesday. He's accused of killing Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Furtado back in July of 2012. Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of the murder Odin Lloyd in 2013.

Patriots To-Do List: Figure out what’s up with Cyrus Jones

Patriots To-Do List: Figure out what’s up with Cyrus Jones

Personally, I would buy a crapload of stock in Cyrus Jones. In part because – after his nightmarish rookie season – stock can be bought on the cheap. But also because he’s too talented, too committed and too smart to suck like he did in 2016 when he handled punts like they were coated in uranium and never made a big contribution in the secondary.

(Listen above to hear Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss Cyrus Jones on the Quick Slants podcast.)

Because of his disappointing year, Jones is an overlooked player on the Patriots roster, but he’s in a pivotal spot. With Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon approaching free agency, Malcolm Butler’s contract expiring after 2017, Pat Chung on the edge of 30 and a free agent after 2018 and the other corners being Justin Coleman, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones is going to get his shot.

The reason I included safeties Harmon and Chung in the discussion is that when the Patriots go to six DBs, roles are less stringently defined. And because of Jones’ size (5-10, 200), powerful build and short-area quickness, he can be the kind of versatile player who covers inside against quicker slot receivers as well as being on the outside if necessary. Kind of like Chung can cover on the back end or drop down to cover tight ends.

The Patriots are confident that Jones will get it right. His teammates in the secondary are unanimous in saying he’s got all the talent he needs.  

PATRIOTS TO-DO LIST:

But as 2016 wore on, it was apparent that Jones was miserable and let his failures consume him. Jones muffed or fumbled five kicks in the 2016 season.
 
By the time the Patriots played the Ravens on a Monday night in December, he was so inside his own head that he stalked a bouncing punt he had no business being near (for the second time that game) and had it bounce off his foot setting up a Ravens touchdown. That night, Jones exited the Patriots locker room and made his way to the players parking lot before the field was even clear of equipment.

Jones either expected things to come as easily in the NFL as they did at Alabama and wasn’t prepared to deal with adversity. Or the mistakes he made caused him to wonder if he really was good enough to play in the league.

Either way, Cyrus Jones was all about Cyrus Jones in 2016. And his comments to the Baltimore Sun over the weekend were evidence that the world he’s concerned with ends at the end of his nose. 

"I honestly felt cursed," he said. "I reached a point where I didn't even want to play. I just didn't have it...What I did this year was not me," he said. "I don't care how anybody tries to sugarcoat it. Yes, I was a rookie. But I feel I should always be one of the best players on the field, no matter where I am.
 
"But honestly, it was hell for me," he said. "That's the only way I can describe it. I didn't feel I deserved to be part of anything that was happening with the team. I felt embarrassed that these people probably thought they wasted a pick on me."

The first thing Jones needs to do this offseason is get over himself. He can look one locker down and talk to Devin McCourty about getting crushed for shaky play in 2012, battling through it and then turning into a Pro Bowl-level safety. He can talk to fellow Alabama product Dont'a Hightower about Hightower’s being benched in the 2013 season against the Broncos and labeled a bust before flipping his season around and being the team’s best defender by the end of that year.

But he’s going to have to figure it out. Draft status means nothing to New England and, as it now stands, undrafted corner Jonathan Jones out of Auburn has more demonstrated value to the team that Cyrus Jones does. In two months, the Patriots are damn sure going to add more secondary players.

This offseason, Jones needs to check his ego, simplify his game and simply ban outside perceptions from fans, media or coaches from infect his on-field decision-making.

His conversation with the Sun didn’t really indicate he’s ready to do that. Asked about criticism, Jones said, “It pisses me off. You can say shut it out or don't listen, but I know people are talking, and it's negative. I'm not a dumb guy. It definitely affects me. What it should do is piss me off in a way that I want to shut them all up."

From the limited number of times I spoke with him and from his teammates regard for him, I can confirm Jones isn’t a dumb guy. That doesn’t necessarily make life easier though. In 2016, Cyrus Jones’ brain got in the way. The Patriots need him to shut that thing off in 2017.