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

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”