Pats backup QB's role-play to mirror Eagles' style

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Pats backup QB's role-play to mirror Eagles' style

The quarterback styles of Tom Brady and Michael Vick are well documented and very different.

For that reason, you can bet that it's a little tougher for the Patriots to replicate an offense that will be similar to that of the Eagles' come Sunday, meaning the Pats defense could be in for a few surprises.

Bill Belichick isn't going to have Brady play the part of Vick and waste precious practice time that is obviously needed with the offense -- specifically Brady's wide receivers.

That's where backup quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett come in.

No, those QB's aren't scramblers either -- and of course neither have the skills that somebody like Vick has -- but they can at least offer probable scenarios for the Patriots defense to respond to.

"We try to get it, yeah, we try to get it with the quarterbacks running around, whether its Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer running around some," Belichick said. "Some of their plays are conducive to that their bootlegs plays and roll out plays and things like that, where it's just part of the play.

"But there are also other plays where we tell them if it breaks down to scramble around. Of course we cant simulate his speed and athleticism; I don't think anybody really can, but we can at least build an awareness of it and try to simulate it the best we can, but it's not quite the same."

As far as how the Patriots plan on defending Vick, it's yet to be determined. The pass rush has been an improvement as of late on the Patriots' defensive line, but getting to either Vick or Vince Young will take some extra work.

"Well, the players who are pass rushing the quarterback have a responsibility to keep him within the framework of the pocket," Bill Belichick said. "Depending on what the defensive call is, sometimes we have a person assigned to a scrambling quarterback; sometimes we dont, again depending on what defense we're in and what the call is. Weve done that both ways. If we assign somebody to him, then obviously that guy has him and the other people can be more aggressive in the rush."

To keep Vick or Young in check, the Pats will need to come around from the edges (think Andre Carter and Mark Anderson) and keep them in the pocket. Don't be surprised if you see a linebacker or two "spy" on Vick, waiting for the potential scramble and rush. We've all seen what he can do with just a few yards of open space.

"If we don't assign somebody to him, then everybody has to be more lane conscious," Belichick said. "It's kind of like, on a smaller scale, a punt return, where somebody has to be outside, somebody has to be inside and you have to keep the ball leveraged."

Celtics-Hawks preview: Thomas 'not worried about' Schroeder

Celtics-Hawks preview: Thomas 'not worried about' Schroeder

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. –  Isaiah Thomas has respect for the Atlanta Hawks team.

So when I asked him about the Hawks, Thomas spoke glowingly about Paul Millsap as being a “special player” and Dwight Howard having a huge impact on shot attempts whether he’s blocking them or not.

But he knows all eyes will be on him and Hawks point guard Dennis Schroeder who had some not-so-nice things to say about Thomas following Boston’s 103-101 win at Atlanta on Jan. 13.

The two waged a feisty, highly combative game most of the Jan. 13 game with Thomas getting the better of Schroeder in just about every statistical category such as scoring (28 points for Thomas compared to 4 for Schroeder), assists (nine to three), and minutes played (36:16 to 22:36).

And then there was the one statistic that mattered most … the win.

But after the game, Schroeder told reporters that Thomas had spoken badly about his mother.

“I’m playing basketball,” Schroder told reporters after the game in January. “If he think that he got to curse at my mom or say some dumb stuff about my family, that has nothing to do with basketball. That’s his choice. I’ve got too much class for that. Next one, we are going to get it.”

The news got back to Thomas who emphatically denied he said anything along those lines.

“I don’t talk about nobody’s mom,” Thomas said when he became aware of Schroeder’s comments. “I don’t cuss at anybody’s mom and I don’t talk about people’s family. So whatever he said, that’s a 100 percent lie and he knows that.”

When I asked Thomas about Schroeder following Boston’s 104-98 win at Detroit Sunday night, he had little to say about the Hawks point guard.

“Man I’m past that. I’m not worried about that guy,” Thomas said. “Once he did that the last game, where he tried to damage my character, (saying I was) talking about his parents … I’m past that. Hopefully we can beat the Atlanta Hawks. I’m not even worried about him.”

Schroeder may not be on Thomas’ radar as a major concern, but the players he spoke of earlier – Millsap and Howard – are two players who can have a significant impact on whether the Celtics can continue to build off of the good things they did against the Pistons.

And Atlanta (32-26) will come in extremely thirsty for success having lost their last three games – all by 15 or more points - and four of the last five.

Despite the Hawks recent struggles, the Celtics understand that despite their success this season they are in no position to take any team lightly.

“They’re a good team. They play the game the right way,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “They have some really good players, some really good shooters, really good bigs down low. We have to come out and play harder than them, match their intensity, execute, move the ball, share the ball and have fun.”

Shaughnessy: Why I'm not a fan of Celtics not trading at deadline

Shaughnessy: Why I'm not a fan of Celtics not trading at deadline

Dan Shaughnessy joins Sports Sunday and talks with Felger about why he hated the Boston Celtics not making any moves at the deadline.