Brady not concerned with style points


Brady not concerned with style points

By Mary Paoletti

FOXBORO -- It wasn't pretty. But Tom Brady wasn't concerned with style points.

"A win's a win. It doesn't really matter if you win by 50 or by one,'' New England's quarterback said Sunday. "Because the following week, it really makes no difference how you did the previous week. It's like a chapter. Once this chapter's over, you move on.''

And so the Patriots will move, right on down the coast to meet another AFC East foe, Miami, in a Monday night matchup. Thing is, Brady knows it can't be a clean break from Week 3 to 4. He stood at the podium after New England's 38-30 win over Buffalo and he smiled and nodded; he even laughed when asked about visibility issues with the undersized Danny Woodhead. ("It's hard. He crouches down. He's tucked in there behind the center.'')

But Brady also fidgeted a bit. When asked if he feels more pressure to perform opposite such a young defense, the NFL veteran crossed his left leg over his right, needling one foot with the other.

"As a quarterback, that's a big responsibility that you have. You've got to be consistent. You've got to always be prepared and always into the game,'' he said. "There's no practices off. You can't not bring the enthusiasm or the energy. I wouldn't say it's different having younger guys. I've got to do it regardless, along with the other veteran players, too. I think that's the responsibility.''

So there among the usual praise of Randy Moss, the more recent nods to strong tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, talk of overcoming adversity and looking ahead to the next week, was something different: Brady feels pressure. It was a nakedly honest response. When considering the mantle Tom Brady has assumed for the New England Patriots, it's not surprising that he gets tired under its weight. It's just that he didn't want to shrug it off this time.

"It's a daily basis; it's practice, it's meetings, it's walkthroughs, it's games, it's Mondays, it's Tuesdays. It's not like, 'Hey guys, everything's great.' And the next day, 'Everything sucks.' And then, 'Everything's great.' And then you ride that roller coaster. You can't do that.''

He has to hold them up.

And the gravity of Sunday's game was further weighted with the loss to the Jets in Week 2. Brady had to steer the Patriots toward a bounceback. He did.

He went 21-27 for 452 yards, 3 TDs, and a 142.6 QB. He took his time, he used the clock. Instead of forcing plays through the air and leaning on Moss as he did in New York, he established a methodical ground game.

Brady even ran nine yards out of a scramble for a first down. After he slid under Buffalo's tackle, he jumped up and roared as he pumped his fists. The crowd roared back at its toiling Tom Terrific.

"I was just excited. I always say I'm the slowest guy on the field, so it was probably the last thing the Bills worked on. They were in man coverage, and I got flushed a little. It turned out to be a good play for us,'' he said.

It's silly phrasing when you think about it: "turned out to be." When you're an NFL quarterback you don't leave things to chance. You don't throw the ball in the air and hope it lands near a receiver. You don't take just risks and keep your fingers crossed. Every decision has to be walled with confidence, every play carried out has to be the best play for the team. If Brady runs the ball nine yards it's because there is no option that's better. Period.

Imagine the exhaustion of always claiming certainty. Especially when the plan fails.

The plan executed against the Jets did fail; the Patriots lost. This Sunday it was the Bills who went home unhappy and that meant success for Tom Brady. So that's why those style points don't mean a damn thing to him. The amount of time and energy he spends on leading his team to a win is more than enough. You can't blame him for fidgeting a little. And you can't blame him for circling back to the expected answers in the end.

"It was a good win,'' he smiled. "This week will be a great week.''

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Jimmy Garoppolo can't help but hear trade rumors that involve his name. He heard all about them during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Now his mom's keeping him up to date. 

"My mom loves telling me the news updates," Garoppolo told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "so she’s all over that stuff, but it’s been working really well . . . 

"I’m telling you, she could be your assistant. She’s all over the place. Her and my dad on Twitter and stuff like that. I don’t even think they know how to tweet, but they always have something going on . . .

"They know what to hit me with and what to keep quiet. They know me so well that they know what I’d like to hear and what I don’t need to hear. There’s a couple slip-ups here and there, I’m not going to lie to you, but they’re just so excited about it. It’s an exciting time, and they’re loving it."

Garoppolo tried his best to deflect questions about his future as he prepared for Super Bowl LI, but he could only insulate himself so much from those conversations. After six quarters of well-played football, he's chummed the waters for quarterback-starved franchises. As the draft nears, offers are expected to hit the Gillette Stadium offices, and it will be up to Bill Belichick and his staff to determine whether they should part ways with Tom Brady's backup. 

Schefter asked Garoppolo about one team in particular that could be interested: the Chicago Bears. Their general manager Ryan Pace is an Eastern Illinois alum, like Garoppolo, and Garoppolo is a Chicago-area kid. 

"I get asked about [that possibility] all the time from my friends and family back in Chicago," Garoppolo said. "They’re good reporters, my family. But I keep telling them I really don’t know how it would feel until . . . if it was to happen, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel until it did, you know? So it’s kind of one of those things, it’s hard to say right now."

Garoppolo added: "For the most part I am just trying to stay level-headed, trying not to think about it, over think it too much because at the end of the day I am still under contract. It is not my decision if I get traded or if I don’t, so I am just trying to take it all in stride. At the end of the day, you just have to enjoy it. The NFL, it is a hard place to be, hard place to succeed and when you get an opportunity you have to go and take advantage of it."

The idea of getting an opportunity, though, is an enticing one. Before the 2016 season, Garoppolo was very open about how he looked forward to his opportunity to start with Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season. And with Schefter, he acknowledged that there are times when it's hard not to be impatient when you're the guy behind the guy.

"There’s times," Garoppolo said. "Obviously the kickoff happens and you are ready to roll. The juices get flowing again. You get the adrenaline, the butterflies. It’s football, you have to love the atmosphere . . . 

"We all play the game. We all want to be out there on the field and get an opportunity to play. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there is probably the best way to put it. We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to be out there, I want to be out there competing and playing with my teammates.”