Belichick: "I'm really proud of our players"

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Belichick: "I'm really proud of our players"

The following is a collection of quotes from the Patriots - Jets post game press conferences, courtesy of the Patriots media relations staff:

Bill Belichick

BB: Its good to come in here after a win against the Jets. It always is. A division game, a hard-fought game like it always is. Im really proud of our players. We stepped up and that was a great drive there offensively to answer the touchdown, field goal. I thought we played better on defense. There were some good things to build on. Weve still got a long way to go, and well see them again in a month, as well as the rest of our division teams later on this season. Its good to win and I'm really proud of our team. They had a good week of practice, they worked hard, pushed through a lot of bumps and bruises banged up and a long trip back from Oakland and all of that, but they hung in there and I thought they really did a good job this week. It was one of our good weeks of practice, so hopefully that was reinforced by what we did in the game.

What he saw from Aaron Hernandez in his return:

BB: Aaron has really worked hard the last couple of weeks to get back out there. Hes in here early, he stays late; he's leaving when the coaches are leaving. Hes getting a lot of extra treatment. He was able to come out and practice later on in the week and handle a little more each day and kept getting better, so we felt confident going into the game and he felt confident going into the game. Again, he got behind the defense a couple times, so he obviously got his speed back. I thought he had a good couples days of practice at the end of the week and was able to carry it over into the game. He's a tough guy to match up against. Hes a good player.

Q: How the defense was overall in getting the right plays without Jerod Mayo:

BB: I didnt think we had a lot of coverage problems or defensive adjustment problems where we couldnt get things lined up or that kind of thing. I think Patrick Chung and James Ihedigbo did a real nice job. James did a great job for us today in his overall communication and of course he was pretty familiar with the team we were playing. Hes a smart guy that really works hard, communicates well and practiced well this week. I thought he did a good job when he was in there, delivered a couple big hits and played well, so he helped us with the communication as well as Gary Guyton and Brandon Spikes and Rob Ninkovich. Those guys have been playing together and especially Spikes now has had a few weeks where hes been in there, and Gary and Rob, they had a good week of practice. I think its going better. Its not perfect, but were making progress and definitely getting better.

Tom Brady
Q: How impressed he was with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and how much Green-Ellis helped the passing game:

TB: He ran great, he always does. Hes a tough runner, hes a real smart runner, hes patient, he sees the holes. That was a big part of the win. I thought we were balanced. Ran the clock out at the end, that was important. We needed that win. When we call upon him, we need him and he makes the plays. That was great.

Q: How important it was to have the threat of running the ball after you didnt last year?

TB: We need to do it. We have to run the ball. If they have a lot of DBs out there, then we have to run it. If they put big guys in, we still have to run it. You just cant throw the ball every single down against these guys, they make it too tough. I thought we could have done better with running the ball; we could have done better passing the ball. Well try to make some improvements and move onto the Cowboys.

Q: Week after week being in the spotlight with the other team raising their game to go after you and the Patriots. What it's like to have your opponents be so up against you ever week and for you to be under attack every week:

TB: We dont think about it much like that, we really dont. Whoever we play, were expecting to go out there and rise up to them also. I dont think we ever have taken an opponent lightly. Every opponent is dangerous. Were going out there to play our best every week. We expect the opponents best every week too. Were not going to expect to go out there and get six turnovers a week and win by 40. You realize its going to come down to the fourth quarter and we have to make enough plays.

Vince Wilfork

Q: Stringing together three straight three and outs and how that can help the team pick up momentum and rhythm:

VW: You know, every time we did it, and the offense went out, and then we went right back on the field. I just remember guys saying to each other Hey lets do it again.' Because we knew eventually our offense was going to get back on track and put some points up. Every week we have that offense. So, I think the better we get defensively, the better this team will be. I think it is a start in the right direction. Thats one thing we are going to need to continue to build on. Especially going forward this week with the Cowboys coming to town, we are going to need another great week of practice. I think everybody can see what two good weeks of practices can do for us. I think everybodys momentum and confidence is up. We need to start stringing it together for 60 minutes.

Wes Welker
Q: Going deep and beating the Jets' secondary:
WW: It was just one of those plays where the safety was a little over-aggressive. We run a similar type play and ran the ball and so I kind of got a feel for what that safety was doing. I went down and then kind of acted like I was going to block him and then took off on it. Tom Brady made a good throw. Hopefully next time I can just finish that out.

Q: Starting to like going over the top?

WW: Yeah, I love it. Anytime you can get the ball deep and make some big plays like that, its huge for our offense. The more you can do out there, the better off were going to be. Just continue to try and make plays every time I get a chance.

Q: How much of a factor Darrelle Revis was covering Welker one-on-one:

WW: Hes always a factor. Hes a great player. You definitely have to make sure youre very crisp with all your routes and really set up him up with stuff and be smart about it. Every play is go-time when hes across from you. He does a great job with all that. Its a little game of cat and mouse sometimes with him. You just have to keep on plugging away and hopefully get some big plays every once in awhile.

Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think

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Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think

As Patriots fans across New England worked themselves into a fine lather at the sight of Arian Foster in Boston over the weekend, another running back of the same last name prepared himself for his first-ever week of OTAs. 

D.J. Foster may not have the resume that Arian Foster has racked up over the course of his seven-year career, but the undrafted rookie running back's skill set is intriguing nonetheless. And he's healthy, whereas the former Texans Pro Bowler is coming off of a season-ending Achilles ailment and hasn't played a full season since 2012. 

Foster could be considered one of the players on the Patriots roster who stands the most to gain from this phase of the team's offseason program. Not only will he be taught to put into practice that which he's learned during his brief time in Foxboro this far, but there could be valuable reps available to him as Dion Lewis works his way back from a season-ending ACL injury suffered last fall. 

Foster, who played receiver during his final collegiate season at Arizona State, may slot in behind veteran sub backs James White and Donald Brown, but he'll still have an opportunity to show what he can do this spring. This is considered a "teaching camp" by the Patriots, not a "competition camp," meaning the lines between first, second and third string are a bit more blurry than they might be during training camp. Everyone gets a shake. 

At 5-foot-10 and 193 pounds Foster may be considered slight to run between the tackles, but his quickness could help him make defenders miss in the hole. He ran a 6.75-second three-cone drill at this year's combine, which was fourth among wideouts. Had he been considered a back, he would've topped the list at that position for that drill. 

Foster worked primarily with running backs coach Ivan Fears when he first arrived at Gillette Stadium, making it sound as though he'll be in the mix as one of the team's pass-catching backs. But knowing the Patriots, they'll be open to splitting him out wide as well. 

Wherever he's used, Foster will have his work cut out for him as he learns the offense and tries to develop an on-the-field rapport with his quarterbacks. Slow going as his development may be, his ceiling is exciting. 

One thing's for certain: At this point, he's of more use to the club than a veteran back coming off of a major injury who isn't quite ready to pass a physical. 

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

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Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.

Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

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Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the Dan Patrick Show -- hosted by Ross Tucker on Monday -- to discuss the petition that was eventually filed to the Second Circuit requesting a rehearing for Tom Brady's case. 

During the discussion, Smith insisted that Brady made a settlement offer long ago that might've resolved things. But because the NFL wanted more, a deal was never struck. Now here we are, almost 500 days since the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015, and Deflategate is still a living, breathing thing. 

"Tom's a standup guy," Smith said. "And I think he made a settlement offer to resolve this. The league chose not to take it, and that's where we are . . . I don't want to go into details, but it was an incredibly generous offer to resolve this. The league asked for something that no man should agree to do."

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran explained on Monday's episode of Quick Slants that Brady was willing to accept a one-game suspension for a lack of cooperation at the outset of the investigation. But the league was looking for a face to take the blame, Curran explained. 

Both Jim McNally and John Jastremski were willing to take the heat off of Brady, but Brady insisted that he would not throw anyone else under the bus because he believed that there was no wrongdoing on his part or anyone else's when it came to the preparation of game footballs. 

With no one offered up to shoulder the blame, the NFL declined to agree to any proposal from Brady's camp. At that point, it would have been almost impossible to predict that this case would one day be only a step or two from getting the US Supreme Court involved. 

Yet here we are.