Paoletti: Is Brady truly happy with this win?


Paoletti: Is Brady truly happy with this win?

By Mary Paoletti

SAN DIEGO -- A win is a win, right?

That's essentially what Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on Sunday night.

"It feels good to win those games when you don't play great,'' he said. "You have to win these games when you have an opportunity."

He was right. The Pats' 23-20 victory over San Diego wasn't a "great" game by any stretch of the imagination. It was ugly, even. The Chargers shot themselves in the foot again and again -- three fumbles being just part of the problem -- but New England never decisively capitalized on the scoreboard.

Brady was asked about his team's first-half effort.

"What offense?" he responded. "We had a hard time moving at all. We couldn't get into a rhythm at all. The second half was better, but I don't think it was great by any stretch."

He criticized but did it gently. It was the expected response from the Patriots' perfect politician.

"I have a lot of confidence when we play a lot better. We are still working at it. I wouldn't say we are in playoff form. But I will say we are 5-1,'' he said. "We've played some tough teams and defenses. We are just trying to improve.''

Sure thing, Tom.

He made his statements and the reporters all wrote them down. But something was off. His smile held no warmth; the words didn't match the mood. For however thrilled Brady was to have an improved record, he wasn't a happy guy on Sunday night. He answered just six questions, delivered his answers vanilla, and took off.

Nobody had a chance to ask about his accuracy.

Maybe it's because the stats speak for themselves. Brady hasn't had a first half yardage tally as bad as Sunday's 35 since September of 2006 when Buffalo held him to a measly 30. The rest of the numbers were equally disconcerting: 6-for-16 on completions, three sacks, and a 66.7 quarterback rating.

How very not-Tom.

The sacks weren't exactly shocking. San Diego entered the game as best in the NFL in sacks per pass play (21 total). But to that point, the clever Brady met the weekend being dropped just eight times while holding the football.

He finally started rising to his own high standard in the third quarter. It was a similar turnaround to last weekend's come-from-behind win over Baltimore. Slowly and surely, Brady picked away at the Chargers' defense to piece together a 17-play possession that stretched over almost nine minutes and resulted in a touchdown.

"We needed that,'' he said of the drive. "We've done that scoring a couple times right after halftime. But we have to do a better job starting the game and taking advantage of turnovers. I have to do a better job of finding open guys.''

"But like I said, it's great to get the win,'' he added.

There's that bottom line again.

The finish line certainly wasn't where Brady's focus was during the last practice week. On Wednesday Brady said that "In a game like this against San Diego you can't just play 30 minutes of football." Well, the Patriots probably only played a solid eight minutes on Sunday.

But New England won the game.

Brady also said: "There's not one position on this team that can't have their best game." If he had stayed around long enough for someone to ask, the Patriots QB could not have said that he played his best.

But, again, New England won the game.

Not giving up is a good thing -- that much is fact.

"One thing that we've shown is that we are going to keep fighting all the way to the end," the quarterback stated.

You just have wonder how far the Pats can take this season being "good enough."

Tom Brady will undoubtedly think about it. No matter what he says.

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

Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day


Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day

Bill Belichick has counted both Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano among the list of coaches he trusts. On Thursday, the Patriots coach was in attendance at Ohio State's pro day to watch players who've been coached by both. 

Belichick has been closely tied to both Meyer and Schiano over the years, drafting multiple players from their programs when Meyer was at the University of Florida and Schiano was at Rutgers University. The Schiano connection has been particularly strong in recent years as Belichick's son, Steve, played for Schiano, and the Patriots had three key players in their secondary -- Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan -- for the last four seasons who studied under Schiano. 

Now the head coach and associate head coach/defensive coordinator, respectively, Meyer and Schiano have tutored some of this year's top draft prospects. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the top-tier talent hailing from Columbus this year . . . 

Malik Hooker, safety: The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder is expected to be the first true free safety off the board. His impressive ball skills made him a turnover waiting to happen in the Big Ten. 

Marshon Lattimore, corner: With a 38.5-inch vertical and a 4.36-second 40-yard dash time, Lattimore is one of the best draft-eligible athletes this year. He was hampered by hamstring injuries in college, but he's still projected to be one of the first defensive backs taken. 

Gareon Conley, corner: Among the draft's fastest risers after putting together a strong combine (4.44 40-yard dash, 6.68-second three-cone), Conley will give his next team good size (6-feet, 195 pounds) and length (33-inch arms). He may not be as polished as Lattimore, but still could very well be a first-round pick.

Pat Elflein, center: This smart, hard-working pivot may not have the world's best footwork, but he should be among the first players taken at his position. Elflein (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) is a former wrestler who has experience at both center and guard. 

Curtis Samuel, receiver: A true all-purpose threat in college (AP All-American, first-team All-Big Ten), he could have trouble adapting to life as a full-time receiver in the NFL. At 5-11, 196 pounds that's probably where he'll end up.

Raekwon McMillan, linebacker: At 6-2, 240 pounds McMillan was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some concern as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level. The Patriots, as we've noted, have been looking at the linebacker position throughout the pre-draft process.

FBI returns Brady Super Bowl jerseys to Gillette

FBI returns Brady Super Bowl jerseys to Gillette

The FBI returned Tom Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LI jerseys to Gillete Stadium Thursday, days after recovering the stolen items. 

After the FBI’s visit, Robert Kraft issued the following statement:  

"We want to thank the FBI, the Mexican authorities and the many different local agencies that were involved in the investigation and ultimate recovery of Tom Brady's Super Bowl LI jersey. Working along with the Patriots and NFL security, those agencies collectively coordinated an investigation that also led to the recovery of Tom’s missing Super Bowl XLIX jersey. It was great to have both jerseys returned to Gillette Stadium today. I don’t know that any agency could have accomplished this independently, but collectively multiple agencies -- both in the U.S. and in Mexico -- worked together to achieve the goal of retrieving the stolen property. It is another example of the importance of teamwork and what can be accomplished when everyone works together. We appreciate the effort of everyone involved and look forward to returning these jerseys to Tom when he gets back to New England."

Brady’s jersey was reported missing shortly after the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI victory over the Falcons, with it being learned in recent days that Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos of Mexican newspaper La Prensa was the culprit. Video emerged Tuesday of Ortega illegally entering the Patriots’ locker room and leaving with the jersey.