Patriots look to improve red zone offense

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Patriots look to improve red zone offense

If there are seven deadly sins in football, failing to convert in the red zone is one of them.
The Patriots were ranked No. 4 in red zone scoring (touchdowns only) last season at 65.05 percent. Though three games in 2012, they're No.16 with 50 percent success (6-for-12).
In Sunday night's 31-30 loss to Baltimore, New England scored six on 3-of-5 red zone opportunities. Tom Brady said in his post game press conference that his team needs to start winning close games. With the Patriots' two losses being by a total of three points, the red zone would be a good place to start.
Bill Belichick shouldered the load on his Tuesday conference call.
"It starts with us, it starts with coaching, making sure we have a good plan, making sure that we put our players in the best possible position to be productive and to be able to do their jobs, making sure that the plays that we run we practice, we know what to do, we can execute so if something different happens down there, which is always a problem because it all happens so fast.
"Theres so little space that youre involved in, all the plays just happen much quicker than they do out in the field. Running game, the holes close quicker; passing game, there are smaller windows and less space to throw in and all that.
"When we get inside the five-yard line, our goal-line type offense, we have to be able to get it in down there as well as from farther out. We just have to keep working on all those things and try to do a better job of them. I think we have good players and we have good coaches and weve certainly scored plenty of points down there in the past and weve gotten down there plenty of times. We just have to make a little more out of it, have to come out of there with more touchdowns and fewer field goals."
The Patriots coach had even more to say about red zone logistical difficulties.
Though there's less area to cover, which is obviously ideal for offenses, that area is packed in tightly with defensive land mines. Normal game rhythm gets thrown out the window and adjustments must be made instantaneously.
No space to throw, no room to run.
In the first quarter Sunday, New England was poised to strike on the Baltimore 20. Brady went back into shotgun and tried to find Julian Edelman on a third-down post route. Ed Reed made an excellent play to crush Edelman and force the incomplete.
The next missed opportunity came when the Patriots got to the 8 by third-down. Baltimore's 'D' was solid all series, and even though New England got into prime position, the Ravens were able to continue pressure and force a field goal.
Especially disappointing for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is the fact they'd converted a similar series in the two-minute offense before halftime.
"We only go out there for one reason on offense and thats to try to score seven points every time we possess the ball," McDaniels said. "Its something that I think you just continue to work at. The red zone is always a tough place. Things happen faster down there and theres a mix of pressure and coverage that you have to be able to adjust to during the course of the play. We can improve in that area of the field as well."

Patriots undrafted free agent signing Josh Augusta cut out pizza and lost a lot of weight

Patriots undrafted free agent signing Josh Augusta cut out pizza and lost a lot of weight

FOXBORO -- There are a lot of things in Josh Augusta’s past in football that makes him an intriguing player as the undrafted defensive tackle enters his pro career. Among them: a high-school career as a 320-pound receiver and fullback reps in college. 

Also in his past: About 50 pounds. 

That’s how much weight the Missouri product says he has lost since the end of last season, when he began slimming down from 390 pounds to where he is now with the Patriots. 

How did he do it? Cutting out pizza, for one. 

“I cut out all the fast food, late-night eating, cut out all that,” Augusta said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. 

There were ample reasons to lose the weight. He’s had asthma all his life and has also dealt with sleep apnea and a thyroid condition in recent years. He wanted to be able to not only move better, but breathe better. 

Now in the 340s as he nears what he previously set as a 335-pound target weight, Augusta’s body is getting closer to what it was when he arrived at Missouri. 

“I feel faster. My breathing’s getting better, just because I lost the weight,” he said. “Just stay on track and hopefully everything still goes right.”

For Augusta, everything going right would entail him enjoying a long NFL career. For all the potential versatility with Augusta -- he says he could still see himself playing some fullback for the Pats if they wanted -- there was little surprise when he went undrafted given that he was not a consistent starter throughout his college career, which he finished as a second-stringer. There were also questions of his stamina, which he feels the weight loss has helped.

Yet the Patriots have done plenty with works in progress, particularly ones who can be used in multiple spots. As he looks to shape his professional career, Augusta thinks New England is the best-case scenario. 

“I feel great here,” he said. “I know I know I’m in good hands, just because of the history they have.” 
 

Quick Slants The Podcast: Arkansas coach discusses his Patriots pipeline

Quick Slants The Podcast: Arkansas coach discusses his Patriots pipeline

Listen to Phil Perry’s interview with Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who has funneled his college players — James White, Trey Flowers, and others — to the Patriots in this edition of Quick Slants The Podcast.