ESPN's Jaworski pans Brady performance

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ESPN's Jaworski pans Brady performance

By Phil Perry
CSNNE.com

It didn't take an expert's eye to see that Tom Brady was off his game against the Jets in the AFC semifinal.

On Tuesday, ESPN's Ron Jaworski confirmed the historically unflappable quarterback was rattled, saying Brady saw "ghosts" in the 28-21 loss.

Jaworski was on WEEI's Big Show to discuss what he saw when he analyzed the tape from the Patriots-Jets game. He spent the bulk of his time discussing Brady's surprisingly ineffective performance.

"I went to the tape, and there were some plays on the field that Tom Brady did not see," Jaworski said. "I think Tom began to play a little bit fast and -- the term I use -- he began to see 'ghosts.'

"I think there were some opportunities, particularly early in the game," Jaworski continued. "On a key third-and-3, you have Danny Woodhead coming out of the backfield in the flat and Tom doesn't throw him the football. It's a play Tom's probably seen 50 times this year and completed 50 times, and for some reason he didn't throw the football. I don't know if he got spooked by the interception (earlier in the game) or what, but he did leave some plays on the field."

Brady finished the game 29-for-45 for 299 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

Jaworski insinuated that the Jets defensive pressure made Brady uncomfortable to the point where the quarterback missed chances to complete longer passes down the field.

"I think Brady had a poor game," Jaworski said. "I've always said Tom is one of the mobile quarterbacks in the game. I'm not talking about runaround quarterbacks. . . He's always been really good at moving in the pocket, those subtle little movements in the pocket left or right to compress and allow those receivers to uncover. I just felt those times he had opportunities, he kind of flinched. There was a perception of pressure (from the Jets defense) and at times it wasn't there."

The Jets didn't do anything exotic on defense, Jaworski thought. In fact, the Jets disclosed their game plan in the week leading up to the game, and they were still effective in stopping Brady and company.

In the days leading up to the game, Jets linebacker Bart Scott told Michael Kay of ESPN Radio that their defense struggled during their regular season game in New England (a game the Patriots won, 45-3) because they didn't "funnel" the Pats' offense to the middle of the field.

Well, according to Jaworski, that's exactly what they did on Sunday.

"They seemed to funnel everything back to the inside," he said. "All the defensive backs were shading to the outside, they brought a safety down into the robber position, funneling things to the middle."

That created congestion for the Patriots' offense and seemed to perplex Brady.

Discussing when the Jets' Drew Coleman sacked Brady in the second quarter, Jaworski said, "It's a blitz Tom's seen 1,000 times in his career. You just have to see it, know it's coming, and get the ball out of your hand . . . He's gotta get the ball out of his hand and he didn't, which made it even more confusing for me."

Patriots fans know the feeling.

Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

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Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place. 

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013. 

Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million. 

With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games. 

Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

There’s no way to spin rookie Jacoby Brissett starting a game rather than three-year NFL veteran Jimmy Garoppolo or future Hall of Famer Tom Brady as preferable.
 
But can the disadvantages be mitigated? Can the fact there is no “book” on a player be helpful?
 
“I think there’s always an element of the unknown when you’re dealing with a player or something you haven’t seen or scouted as much,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I don’t know if there’s an advantage there, it’s just that you don’t have as much information on a player or on some scheme that they may use, which then forces you to figure some things out as the game goes along and do some quick self-scouting as you move through the first cquarter, the first half, whatever it is, just to make sure that if it is something new you haven’t seen before, if it is a player that you haven’t played against and don’t have a lot of volume of tape on, that you have an opportunity to evaluate quickly what is going on.

"What’s happening in the game? How much of an impact is that player having? Are they trying to  do something that’s disrupting what you’re trying to do with their scheme? I think that happens a lot of weeks during the course of the year based on health and availability, new players, guys being called up, someone that just got signed and you don’t really have a lot of experience watching them play in their system. I would say that’s a common occurrence for us.”
 
With a fullback or UDFA guard pressed into duty, there’s not a helluva lot that will be altered in terms of scheme. With players like Garoppolo and Brissett, though, the Patriots' long-established offense can take on an entirely different look if different areas are emphasized.
 
For instance, jet sweep is a play the team won’t use much with Tom Brady except as a “keep ‘em honest” on the edges kind of play. With Garoppolo, quickness when he gets outside the pocket has to be respected so if he fakes that jet sweep and rolls to the outside, he’s a run-pass threat with speed and downfield accuracy. With Brissett, he’s a threat with elusiveness, size and power as a runner. Additionally, if the Patriots wanted to try the old Elway Throwback to the opposite sideline, Brissett may have more arm power than either Brady or Garoppolo.
 
McDaniels said the Patriots aren’t looking necessarily for ways to “surprise” opponents as much as they are looking for ways to accentuate players’ strengths.  
 
“We’ve got to take the guys that we get to play with, based on health and other factors, and then we consider the defense that we’re getting ready to play against, and the great players and the scheme that they use, and then we try to formulate the right plan to allow our players to go out there and play fast, play well, and do the things that suit their talents the best,” McDaniels explained. “I don’t think that our mindset has changed.

"Some of the variables have changed from one week to the next, which is always the case,  and of course, when you get a group of guys a plan and then you work so hard to get ready for Sunday or Thursday night and go out there and watch them play and execute and take care of the ball and do the things you need to do to try to win, and then they enjoy it so much, that’s really the thing that you take the most satisfaction from as a coach.”