Week-to-week game plan key for Patriots offense

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Week-to-week game plan key for Patriots offense

If there's one thing we know about the Patriots' offense, it's that Tom Brady has several weapons on any given play.

But deciding which weapons to use on Sunday is a strategy that changes every week, every play.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien talked about utilizing their offensive weapons in a conference call on Monday following their 41-23 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

The topic came up because of Aaron Hernandez' big nine-catch, 129-yard game, while Rob Gronkowski finished with only four catches. Lately, those numbers had been the other way around.

Hernandez was Tom Brady's go-to target against the Broncos, but that was just something that developed as the game went on.

"I think it really comes back to the execution of our offense, as far as reading the defense and getting the ball to the right people," said Belichick.

"As much as you'd like to think that only one guy's going to get the ball, that's just not the way it works . . . If BenJarvus is open, then hopefully we'll throw it to BenJarvus. If Aaron is open, then hopefully we'll throw it to Aaron. If Chad Ochocinco's open, hopefully we'll throw it to Chad."

"They did a lot of different things to Gronkowski," said O'Brien. "They hit him at the line of scrimmage, or they put two guys on him, or whatever it was. So, whenever that happens, that means that, there's only 11 players on the field. So you can't double everybody. And Aaron benefited from that, and the backs benefited from it. And that's a good thing. So we'll just have to keep seeing how teams are playing us, and get ready game-to-game, week-to-week."

O'Brien said his receivers are taught to run "multi-purpose routes" and are -- as cliche as it sounds -- a "game plan offense."

"If they take this part of the route away, then this other part of the route should be pretty good," said O'Brien. "And that's how we've coached the passing game since I've been here. Tom does a good job of recognizing coverage, both pre-snap and post-snap, and tries to throw it to the open guy, which is always the goal here. Just get it to the open guy, the guy that's got the best chance to make yards with the ball.

"We look at the defense that we're playing that week, and we say, 'OK, how can we put our players in position to do the things that they do best, every week?' And it's a very challenging deal, not only for the coaches, but for the players."

Hurley: Why the rush to clear Manning's name?

Hurley: Why the rush to clear Manning's name?

Michael Hurley discusses the NFL's investigation into Peyton Manning's alleged PED use with Toucher and Rich. Hurley wonders why their was such a rush to clear a retired player and continue the probe into still-active players.
 

McCourty addresses challenge of life without Brady for Patriots

McCourty addresses challenge of life without Brady for Patriots

Nobody is under the impression that being without a future Hall of Fame quarterback is a real positive for the Patriots.

Still, we’ve encountered resistance from Patriots over the years when it comes to acknowledging obvious adversity.

On Quick Slants Monday night, Patriots safety Devin McCourty said in reply to a viewer’s question that life without Brady is going to be a challenge. 

“Everyone’s going to talk about Tom, obviously. Starting quarterback, obviously our leader for the last decade-plus not being able to play in the first four games,” said McCourty. “We understand that. It’s been something that’s been over our head the past two years. Past that, we’re like every other football team. Guys have to come out and earn spots and compete.”

I asked McCourty if a silver lining to Brady accepting the suspension is the team being able to mentally move on from the uncertainty. 

“I would have rather had last year’s turnout because he wound up playing, but I think we know what we have to do,” said McCourty. “Obviously we support him and all the decisions made towards it but this is what it is now and we have to prepare and go out there and play.”

Camp opens on Thursday but all players are due to report on Wednesday. McCourty, Matthew Slater and all of the Patriots’ assistant coaches are scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday.

 

Former EIU coach: Garoppolo's release second-quickest behind Marino

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Former EIU coach: Garoppolo's release second-quickest behind Marino

He may be biased, but former Eastern Illinois head coach Dino Babers thinks Jimmy Garoppolo is "exceptional."

Now the head coach at Syracuse, Babers stopped by ESPN's Mike and Mike show where he was asked about Garoppolo, who will likely start at quarterback for the Patriots while Tom Brady serves a four-game suspension to begin the 2016 season.

"You could see it after five passes. Jimmy Garoppolo was the William Tell, to me, of college football," said Babers, who was at Eastern Illinois for Garoppolo's final two collegiate seasons in 2012 and 2013. "I've never seen a quarterback that could hit exactly what he was throwing at. And I'm not talking about putting it on a guy's body. You put your hand out there, and he's sticking the ball right in the middle of your palm.

"You take that accuracy and you put it with someone that has the second-fastest release I've ever seen -- the only release I've ever seen faster was Dan Marino's . . . second fastest release I've ever seen -- and you got an outstanding quarterback."

That's some pretty lofty company for a player who has thrown just 31 passes during the first two seasons of his NFL career. But Babers has good reason to be a believer in Garoppolo's ability. In Babers' two seasons as head coach, Garoppolo threw for 8,873 yards and a whopping 84 touchdowns, breaking the school mark for career touchdown passes set by Tony Romo. 

"Dont' get me wrong," Babers added, "Tom Brady is the best of all the best. And I'm not saying he's going to take Tom's job. I'm just telling you, this young man is exceptional. If Bill Belichick put a second-round draft pick on him, he knows what he's doing."