Brady: Belichick keeps Patriots on even keel


Brady: Belichick keeps Patriots on even keel

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - It's all rainbows and unicorns with the football team these days. And that's great. They're playing well and should be celebrated. But the ironic thing is, fans and media - we ain't that consistent. And the thing that we laud about the Patriots - what makes them a unique and endlessly fascinating - is that they are. Hands on the wheel and 10-and-2, imperturbable in a monsoon or ona perfect 74-degree day. We - fans and media - are susceptible to the slightest atmospheric change. A little bipolar. And there are plenty of teams in the NFL that are the same way. There's a pretty good team a couple hundred miles to the South like that. Wednesday, Tom Brady talked about how Bill Belichick keeps things on an even keel.
"It's just on a day-to-day basis with him," Brady explained. "Basically, when we dont do things right, he lets us know. There is nobody that's off the hook. He holds us accountable on every single play and every single day."So . . . what was going on last year?When the Patriots wereputting together a soft 10-6 record and losing everygame played away from home in the United States except one?Whenpeople were wondering if Belichick knew what he was doing without Scott Pioli or ifBrady was in decline? What was going on then? Same thing. And the players - though perhaps not the best collection of employees for Belichick's style - were held to the same standards, which is why guys like Adalius Thomas and Shawn Springs watched a lot of football last year. They didn't buy in. Brady's voice and leadership, after an injury-forced season away from the team, wasn't as forcefully heard in 2009 in a locker room full of veterans and young players who'd lost their strongest leaders.Belichick never lost control of the Patriots. To go 10-6 in a bottoming-out season is pretty remarkable. But the Patriots take a helluva lot more pride in their work now than then. Brady gave an insight into how Belichick maintains the standards for the team. "When we come into a meeting at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning . . . he's got questions, 50 questions about the team that we're going to play," Brady explained. "We haven't had a meeting about the Packers or the Bears, but he's got questions. "And basically, he's trying to make sure that on Monday and Tuesday, we're doing what we need to do to be prepared for Wednesday morning," he continued. "It's pretty embarrassing if everybody is getting their questions right that he's asking them and then he asks you, and you really don't know the answer."So everyone prepares pretty hard on Monday and Tuesday for his meetings on Wednesday," Brady explained. "And that's the way it goes on Thursday. And ultimately on Sunday . . . that's our test for the week . . .
"When we come in Monday morning, he puts the tape on, and if you're not playing the way he expects you to play, you're held accountable. And I think that's the greatest thing about playing here. When you're a player, you don't have to ever hold your teammates accountable. The coach does that. And I think that's why everyone respects him so much. He coaches an 11-year veteran quarterback just the same way that he teaches a rookie tight end."The Patriots have a small coaching staffcompared to the rest of the league.There are no "coordinators" -- a reality that's caused Belichick to be called power-mad, arrogant and resistant to allowing his underlings to succeed.
It's all crap,of course.The man knows how he wantsthings done. There is a communal effort(near as we can tell and are told) in game-planning and game-day execution. But the process begins and ends with Belichick as -- simply put -- the teacher.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language


Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."