Brady: We have quite a bit of work to do


Brady: We have quite a bit of work to do

Though their performance in New England's first preseason game of the season was far from explosive, Tom Brady knows he has a variety of weapons with which to work this season. He talked about the composition of the Patriots offense, as well as a variety of other topics, when he joined WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning.

"There's quite a bit of veteran depth at the receiver position and kind of youth depth at the running back position, and at the tight end position two guys who are returning who were very productive for us last year," Brady said. "So, there's definitely places to throw the ball. It's just a matter of how things really come together here in the next four weeks before the season starts. We have quite a bit of practices, we've got three preseason games. Based on last week's performance against the Saints and through training camp, we still have quite a bit of work to do. So, that's why we're going out there today to practice."

The Patriots beat the Saints 7-6 in last week's exhibition. It wasn't the immediate offensive outburst many might have been expecting, but as the first team offense receives more repetitions with one another, the number of points they post should surge proportionally. One player who could play a major role in the offense's production this fall is Brady's new outside-the-numbers threat Brandon Lloyd.

"He's one of the guys that has come in as a veteran player and he's had familiarity with what we're doing, based on being in Josh's offense for I think three or four years," Brady said. "A lot of it is just trying to understand each other a little bit better, what he's looking for and what I'm looking for. Like I said, it hasn't been long. We've only been at it for three weeks. We're constantly communicating about -- in order to be a good offense, you really have to anticipate what's going to happen before that actually happens. You can't really be reactive out there necessarily as an offense. Brandon and myself are constantly talking and trying to really get on the same page."

Lloyd's excitement to be playing for Josh McDaniels -- with whom he spent time in both Denver and St. Louis. -- has been well-documented. But Brady, who thrived under McDaniels' system when he set passing records in 2007, is just as excited to see his old offensive coordinator back in Foxboro.

"He and I are extremely comfortable with one another," Brady said of McDaniels. "He's a great coach. I love being coached by him. He comes prepared every single day. He's always got something new to add to us. He brings a lot of energy to our offense. He's a great coach."

Of course, not even McDaniels' offense can run without a functioning offensive line. The big boys in front of Brady have been very busy during training camp, trying out different combinations and different positions. Brady praised the group Monday morning.

"Always in training camp there's a lot of players in there that are competing for jobs. Certainly, the offensive line that played the other night, they've been in there a lot throughout the course of training camp," Brady said. "Honestly, it's not my job to worry about those guys. I have a lot of confidence in that group in general, not just the individuals. The longer offensive lines play together, typically the better that they play, the more comfortable they are with one another. Offensive line is very similar to an offense in general in that the more trust you have in one another, the better that you typically play. It's still early in training camp, and certainly we don't have all the answers three weeks into the year. I wouldn't expect us to peak here in early August. We've got a lot of practices, we've got a lot of communication, a lot of meetings, a lot of walk-throughs that we're going to need in order to be ready when the season really kicks off."

While he's confident that the Patriots offense will put in the work necessary to reach its considerable potential, he's not making any lofty predictions just yet.

"We're a long ways from the start of the year," he said. "We're a long ways from being the team that ultimately we're going to be. We haven't even had a regular-season practice yet. A lot of people want to make predictions this time of year -- and that's probably a fun thing to do -- but for us players, it's really a matter of just kind of putting our head down and going through the grind of training camp and the preseason games and making mistakes and learning from our mistakes and talking about the mistakes so that ultimately, when it really matters the most, we can be at our best. That's why the training camp is so necessary."

Brady touched a few other topics in the interview:

On Plaxico Burress' workout with the Patriots: "I have no idea. Those decisions aren't up to me, and like I said, I'm a player on this team, I don't make any of those decisions or decide who visits our team and so forth, or who we draft. I kind of find out like everybody else. We have a lot of receivers that have worked really hard over the course of the offseason and through training camp that are competing for a job, so it's a very competitive position, and every single one of those guys on this roster that I've had a chance to be out there with I have a lot of confidence in. However it presents itself with the final roster, those are really Coach Belichick's decisions. He's made those since the day I got here and there's really no one that can talk him into or out of anything, he's the one that makes all those decisions. That kind of the way that it goes."

On Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen: "I had quite a bit of time with them last year, and I spent the entire last season and a lot of communication with both of those guys. Obviously it looks like they've really learned a lot from last year, and judging by the way they played the other night, they're obviously very talented players, it's just a matter of, like I said, consistency and dependability of everybody on our offense. And certainly at the running back position, when you haven't played as much, it's fun to get out there and play and really see the work you put in the offseason and see how it plays out on the field. They're both excitable and they're fun to have in the huddle. They made a bunch of great plays the other night, so that was fun to see."

On the replacement officials: "None of it's for us players to worry about. We have to go out there and do our job. We have plenty of things on our plate that we have to take care of. The other night, for example, the last thing I was thinking about was the refs and their calls. I was worried about trying to complete passes. Whoever's out there is out there. I really could not care less who's calling the game. I've got to go out there and do my job as best I can."

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track. 

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.