Brady talks bounce-back after flat performance

191543.jpg

Brady talks bounce-back after flat performance

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran DETROIT - There was no great search for a silver lining in Motown Saturday night. An all-system failure in the Patriots 34-10 loss to the Lions left Bill Belichick in an "I hate everything" mood. But the bowel-shaking aftereffects outside observers suffer from after losses like this doesn't generally extend to the locker room. Disappointed? Embarrassed?Yup and yup.But, as Tom Brady articulatedduring a rather muted postgame, they're not wondering if they'll ever win again. "I don't necessarily think losing a game and playing poorly ever helps," Brady said after a night spent under siege by the Lions defense. "I think we have to understandwhen you play well, there's thingsyou need to do better; when you lose there's things you need to do better. You don't want to ride the wave of emotion, 'We're great' and 'We suck','We're great' and 'We suck'. "We're confident as a team," he added. "We just have togo play better and that's up to each of us individually. Coach asks us to do your job and he means it. I'm the starting quarterback and he says, 'Do your job' he wants me to do it very well."Even when provided with time to do it well - which wasn't often - Brady was uncharacteristically off. He had three outright misfires. The biggest was a short-hopped throw to a wide open Wes Welker in the seam in the second quarter. On the Patriots' next drive, they went back to a similar play and got a 44-yardtouchdown. But that was really the lone bright spot. Brady said the offensive line wasn't necessarily to blame. "We were trying to get the ball downfield a little bit so you're going to try and hold it," said Brady. "They have a good pass rush. We held up out there (on the offensive line) for a decentamount of time. I have to do a better job making quicker decisions and getting rid of the football and getting it to guys who can do something with it."During the week, Brady stressed that he wasn't quick enoughin Tampa. He wanted to be quickerSaturday night.He wasn't. "In practice it was better but when you get on the game field where it actually means something it didn't really show up tonight."Brady didn't make a single hookup with an outside receiver. Deion Branch didn't see a pass. Taylor Price was targeted once and didn't come up with a back-shoulder throw. Chad Ochocinco and Brady seemed to miscommunicate on a ball Brady threw for a pick (Welker injured his neck making the tackle). Ocho had a tough night. In addition to the interception play, he had two drops as well - one was egregious, the other glanced off his hands - and a holding penalty wiped out a 15-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski on the Patriots first drive. He politely declined to talk after the game. "We communicate quite a bit," Brady said when asked about his long sideline talks with Ochocinco during the second half. "That's what it takes. He hasn't had the luxury of an offseason program and we really have to cram a lot of stuff in but he's very receptive to it, hes very competitive. He wants to do the right thing as we all do."Riffing off that though, Brady added, "I wishI could say we could go out there and everything would be perfect every single game that we play and every snap. Every drive we score a touchdown. But look it's football. When you make a bad play you gotta overcome it. And there's resiliency that comes into this game and mental toughness. And those are all things were trying to build as a team, trying to figure out what kind of team you have. "Things don't start well, you have to figure a way to turn it around," he continued."If one bad drive leads to a bad quarter, which leads to a bad half which leads to a bad game, we'll never win any games because you always have adveristy in this game. We've always got to find ways individually, collective and as offensive and defensive units to try and perform at a high level. And if it doesn't go well, to try harder and turn it around."In an exceptionally curt postgame,Bill Belichick did allow one nugget of specificity to leak. He said the Patriots would probably change their approach to next week's preseason finale against the Giants. That would likely mean the starters get rolled out there for extra activity That would be fine with Brady. "I'd love for us to get out there and play a lot better than we played tonight," he said. "There's gonna be a lot of us who'll be itching to get back out there. After days like this you want to get back on the practice field so you can see the film, figure out the technique errors and decision making errors and make those a point of emphasis."Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Garoppolo: Get the little things corrected, or they'll bite us in the butt

patriots_jimmy_garoppolo_2_082616.jpg

Garoppolo: Get the little things corrected, or they'll bite us in the butt

 

This felt like a step backward for Jimmy Garoppolo. 

The preseason had been shaping up so nicely for him, too. He'd be able to ride the wave of momentum following his strong performance last week against the Bears, and carry that into Carolina, where he would take on a very good defense on the road. What better way to simulate what he'll see in Week 1 of the regular season in Arizona?

Then something happened. Garoppolo, who looked cool last week at Gillette Stadium, seemed rattled by the Panthers defense. The quarterback who hadn't turned the ball over all preseason very nearly gave it away twice. Whereas he made calculated risks in the red zone last week, this week there were head-scratchers in the same area. 

"Ups and downs," said Garoppolo, who beat the Panthers, 19-17, and finished the game 9-for-15 for 57 yards. "Just little things here and there we need to get corrected. We’ll take care of it."

Garoppolo's first third-down throw foreshadowed what was to come for the Patriots on third down Friday night. He threw what should have been an easy interception for linebacker Luke Kuechly when there was a miscommunication between him and receiver Julian Edelman. 

Edelman stopped and turned for a pass a few yards off the line of scrimmage. Garoppolo targeted him as though he was still moving, hitting Kuechly between the numbers at the Carolina 12-yard line.

The team started the night 0-for-7 on third down.

"It’s my fault. I can’t put it in the linebacker’s hands like that," said Garoppolo, who insisted splitting reps in practice wasn't to his detriment. "It’s just bottom line. Just got to be smart. It’s tight windows, tight throws. Just got to finish with touchdowns."

Later in the game, Garoppolo didn't recognize a Panthers pressure, he took a glancing blow from a defender and escaped the pocket. Rather than throw the football away, he tried to make a positive play and was stripped from behind by linebacker Thomas Davis. 

Patriots running back James White was there to pounce on the ball, and Garoppolo was fortunate to escape with his turnover column clean.  

Still, Garoppolo knows there are adjustments to make. In order to give the Patriots a chance to beat the Cardinals in Week 1, he'll probably have to play better than he did on Friday. 

“We’ll do our best to get in there,” Garoppolo said. “We have two weeks until then and we’ll work. There’s little things here and there. Overall, there’s some good things that we did tonight. 

"We just have to get the little things corrected or they’re going to bite us in the butt. We’re going to work our tails off to get to that point. We’ll get there.”

Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

patriots_dj_foster_082616.jpg

Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

CHARLOTTE – D.J. Foster began making his case to stick on the Patriots’ 53-man roster Friday night against the Panthers.

An undrafted pass-catching back from Arizona State who’d missed almost all of training camp with an unknown injury was pretty persuasive. He caught three passes for 33 yards, showing nice burst, carried twice for 9 and returned a punt for 16. He saw his action late in the third with fellow rookie Jacoby Brissett in at quarterback.

Foster punctuated his first reception – an 11-yard screen that Brissett (9-for-9 for 85 yards and a touchdown) – by lowering his shoulder and delivering a blow that Foster said he wanted to “get that adrenaline going.”

“It felt great,” said Foster. “It had been a long time. I was telling some guys, that was the first time I’d gotten hit since college. It felt good to get back out there. The coaches gave me a chance to get out there and show what I could do.”

James White will be the Patriots sub-back (or third down back or pass-catching back or whatever you want to call him) until Dion Lewis returns from his knee malady. But Foster showed the acceleration and quickness that made him such a productive player for the Sun Devils. With 222 receptions for 2,458 yards and another 2,355 on the ground, Foster would fit nicely in an offense like the Patriots that uses the short and intermediate passing game so well.  

He hasn’t had much chance to make a case to stick and the Patriots – with White, LeGarrette Blount, Tyler Gaffney, Brandon Bolden and Joey Iosefa all in the mix – may have to take their chances with releasing Foster and hoping he goes unclaimed so New England can bring him back for their practice squad. It’s a risk, but other teams are encountering the same issues at cutdown time. Do they pluck a player they passed on in the draft and put him on their roster ahead of players they’ve been working with since the spring?

Bill Belichick wasn’t effusive in his praise for Foster but did indicate it was a good opportunity to at least see him in game action.

“We played a couple of guys that haven’t gotten much playing time so we got a chance to look at them,” he explained. “D.J. is one of those so we wanted to give him a few opportunities to handle the ball because he hasn’t done it this year. I thought he did some good things. There are a couple of things that he could do a little better but we’ll look at the film and see how it goes. He did a couple of things with his chances out there.”

To make the most of those chances, Foster said he avoided getting too hyped before getting on the field.  
 
“Just keeping my calm and hearing the playcall and just doing the mechanics and all the fundamentals of being in the backfield (was the focus),” said Foster. "Coach Ivan (Fears, running backs coach) did a great job of keeping me mellow. I felt healthy, I felt really good. I got some punt returns, some kick returns, some special teams. I was seeking contact to get that adrenaline going.

“It’s a long process,” he acknowledged. “Talking to the veteran guys, they said it’s a long process. I knew battling my injury and come back healthy, I came back strong and I felt ready.”

We’ll see if it’s enough to carve out a niche on the roster. The cutdown to 75 players comes Tuesday.