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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Brady’
Steve’s Quick Reaction: Ravens Bury The Patriots at Foxboro; How Can New England Possibly Bounce Back in 2013-2014?Posted: January 21, 2013 in Professional Sports
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots, Super Bowl, Tom Brady
Tom Brady, 10-0 in his first 10 playoff appearances, has since been 7-7 since; Hernandez should have gone out-of-bounds on that pass right before halftime; we had way too many penalties called against us; there was NO pressure put on Flacco; since when can Welker not catch a ball?; the Ravens’ offense had complete control of the Patriots defense in the second half; Anquan Boldin is an absolute freak; Brady looked rattled, especially on that pass where he could have easily ran for a first down; the team is dropping like flies; Terrell Suggs is still one ugly dude.
Are these all completely random, negative-minded facts stemming from the Patriots vs. Ravens match-up on Sunday? Maybe, but in reality, they are every single observation, verbatim, that I texted myself throughout the highly anticipated AFC Championship match-up so I would not forget all of the plays that caused me to feel like my stomach was going to jump out of my body.
We got outplayed. I’m not going to sugarcoat it; plain and simple, the Baltimore Ravens completely outplayed the New England Patriots last night. At half time, I felt very confident in the fact that the Patriots would come out with a force. I loved that Mallet came in for the fake punt, forcing the Ravens to take a timeout; I loved Dennard playing lockdown defense on Torrey Smith; I loved the direct snap to Woodhead for the first down; I loved the pressure that we were putting on the receivers; there was no serious deep threat the entire first half. Then, everything changed. Before we knew it, Aquib Talib was on the sidelines. Then, Joe Flacco was running his offense like he had won some kind of sick bet against Tom Brady that allowed them to switch legacies at half time; the tables had completely turned.
The Baltimore Ravens completed took off in the second half, and they deserved to win this game. Every time the Patriots had dropped a pass, not made a stop, or gave up a big gain, they all had looks on their faces like they had just taken the hottest girl in class out on a dinner date, and their debit card was denied; this is not how I pictured it; this is not how it was supposed to happen; now what the hell do we do? Plain and simple, the Ravens just had more will and – I can’t believe I’m saying this – seemed much more disciplined than the Patriots. Maybe we have been in the spotlight for too long; maybe our offense never truly clicked; maybe our defense just wasn’t good enough; maybe Ray Lewis propelled his team to the promise land. However you want to cut it, in my mind, the Baltimore Ravens are already the 2013 Super Bowl Champions. If that isn’t bad enough, the New England Patriots need to make some changes, or else this loss may very well signify the downfall of this organization as a whole.
QUESTIONS GOING INTO 2013-2014
1) CAN LLOYD STEP IT UP, OR DO WE NEED A NEW DEEP-THREAT? – Let’s face it; Brandon Lloyd was not what we all thought he would be. He was encouraging: he made some great catches, but he was never truly a deep threat. I don’t know about you guys, but I miss seeing Tom Brady completely air it out down the field for a large gain. We all know he is more than capable of doing it, but right now, he does not have that deep-threat target to rely on. Lloyd either needs to step it up and improve his down-field play, or the Patriots need to trade, draft, or sign a serious target. With the likes of Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe headlining the 2013 NFl free agent class for wide receivers, they have some interesting options on their plate heading into the off-season.
2) WHAT HAPPENS WITH WELKER? – After slapping the franchise tag on Wes Welker last season, the Patriots are forced to decide what they will do with their 32 year-old slot receiver heading into free agency. We have all known Welker to be one of the most reliable New England receivers we have seen in some time, averaging 112 receptions and 1,234 yards during the regular season in a New England uniform. Although, if he is seeking a long-term, lucrative deal, I could easily see the Patriots’ deciding to move on without him as long as long as Hernandez and Gronkowski can show that they can consistently stay healthy as big-time tight-ends. But, I think they will leave the decision in Welker’s hands; if he wants to accept a shorter deal to play for a team that competes for a Super Bowl year in and year out, then they would love to have him back; however, if another team is willing to sign him long-term, they will have no problem seeing him to the door. My prediction is that we will see Welker in the playoffs next year – in a Denver Broncos uniform.
3) WHO STOLE TOM BRADY’S SWAG, AND HOW DO WE GET IT BACK? – As mentioned earlier, Tom Brady was once 10-0 in the playoffs and he is 7-7 since. As sad as it is to admit, Brady and Belichick are slowly killing their legacy with every playoff loss they tally up. Tonight, Tom Brady did not look like the Tom Brady we have gotten to know; in 4 trips to the Raven’s red zone, the Patriots only scored a touchdown on 1/4, while the Ravens scored on 4/4. Brady and the offense did not capitalize on key opportunities and the confidence just was not there in the second half. Tom Brady may only have 3 or 4 elite years left in him at max, and due to these recent heart-breaking losses, these upcoming performances will ultimately define his career; your move, Tom-Terrific.
It was a heat-breaking loss, but I do not believe that the Patriots’ run as a dominant organization has come to an end. They will need to make some changes in the upcoming off-season and will be right back in the thick of things next year; but the window of opportunity is quickly closing. That’s all for now, but stay tuned this week for more from your favorite sports website!
Intern Steve’s Initial Reaction to Patriots vs. Texans, Plus 3 Positives and 3 Question Marks Heading Into Next Week’s Match-up vs. the RavensPosted: January 15, 2013 in Patriots, Professional Sports
Tags: AFC Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco, NFL, Shane Vereen, Steve Falzone, Stonehill College, Tom Brady
Hi BSD readers – my name is Steve Falzone and I am a junior Communication major at Stonehill College. I will be interning as a sports writer for BSD this semester and am excited to hopefully provide you guys with some pretty good articles! Now, let’s talk Patriots.
…..Well that just seemed way too easy, didn’t it? After the 42-14 shellacking New England put on the Texans in week 14, it was hard to think that a team led by the league’s best coach in Bill Belichick and arguably one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, Tom Brady, would somehow manage to squander this one away. Even with the loss of Gronk, the Patriots offense clicked as we have seen it do the entire season, with players stepping up for a 41-28 win at Foxboro. The Patriots are headed to their 7th AFC Championship game under Belichick, in which they hold a record of 5-1 – not too shabby huh? Brady and Co. are set to face-off against the Ravens on Sunday at 6:30, let’s take a look at the 3 positives and 3 question marks the Patriots are facing as they head into Sunday’s match-up.
1) BRADY BEING BRADY – Tom Brady showed up to play on Sunday, to nobody’s surprise. The polished QB went 25/40, throwing for 344 yards with 3 TD and 0 INT. His accuracy was pinpoint, showcased by his perfect throws to Gronkowski and Vereen for big gains. After this performance, you can’t help but feel good having the NFL’s most winningest QB in the playoffs on your side going into next week.
2) THE EMERGENCE OF SHANE VEREEN – With Gronkowski out, the Patriots needed someone to step-up and have a big game. Not only did Shane Vereen step-up, but he went OFF for 41 rushing yards with 1 rushing touchdown, while also having 5 receptions for 83 yards and 2 TDs. If this is any indication of things to come, Vereen should play a large role in the upcoming games. Either way, I am sure his emergence is somehow messing with the Ravens’ game plan heading into Sunday.
3) HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE – In the history of the Patriots, their all-time winning percentage at home during the playoffs is .813, tied with Denver for the best in the league. The Pats have won 13 of 16 playoff games at home, and on Sunday, all 68,756 seats will be rocking…need I say more?
1) CAN THE PATRIOTS OVERCOME THE EMOTIONAL OUTPUT OF THE RAVENS? – Let’s face it: Ray Lewis and the entire Ravens team for that matter, are absolutely insane. Besides that, Terrell Suggs could be one of the scariest human beings on the entire planet – he’s pretty damn ugly, isn’t he? Anyways, before I get off-track, the Ravens are as determined as any team out there right now with the announcement of Ray Lewis’ retirement. Especially after their performance against the Broncos on Saturday, it is clear that this team refuses to give up. They want to win one last one for Lewis – and they’re hoping he doesn’t do anything to kill their chances (was that in poor taste?) However, according to ESPN, out of the QBs that Ray Lewis has faced 5+ times in the regular season and 1+ in the playoffs, Tom Brady is the only one vs. whom he has 0 INT and 1 or fewer sacks. The Patriots are grinders who are always fired up for competition, but will it be enough?
2) WILL THE LOSS OF GRONKOWSKI HAVE A LARGE IMPACT ON THE PATRIOTS? – Before Gronk got injured this season the Patriots were 7-3; however, without him, the Pats have kept a highly respectable 4-1 record. Not bad for a team who is without one of their main stars and one of the best targets in the league. We have obviously seen that the Patriots can be successful without Gronk, but there is no denying that the team is much scarier and better with him on the field. New England has kept up a good reputation without their star off the field, but they need somebody to step-up and have a big game in order to not feel the effects of an absent Gronkowski.
3) CAN THE SECONDARY DEFEND THE DEEP BALL? - Two names: Boldin and Smith. Joe Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league, and as we saw last week, he is not afraid to throw the deep ball to these two lethal targets. Last time the Patriots played the Ravens in week 3, Flacco has 382 passing yards with 3 TDs, 2 of which found themselves in the hands of Torrey Smith. The secondary needs to step-up and have a big game or else the Patriots will get burned down the field all day.
Either way, Sunday is measuring out to be a damn good match-up. Stay tuned this week on BSD for my AFC/NFC Championship picks, plus more!
Tags: AFC Championship Game, AFC Title Game, Baltimore, Danny Woodhead, Joe Montana, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Steve Young, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Q: Can you talk about Shane Vereen’s performance tonight?
TB: Yeah, you know, there were a bunch of guys that made good plays. Shane had a great game. Really just a huge growing up moment for him, so very special. It was for everybody. There were a lot of guys that made a lot of plays. We needed it. It was a good football team with a lot of good plays, but we have another one coming in next week.
Q: What is it like for you to pass Joe Montana in most postseason wins?
TB: Well, I hope I’m around for a few more years. I know this was an important win for our team and that’s always the number one goal for me.
Q: Can you talk about mental toughness this week and guys making plays? There were a lot of changes and you lost a lot of players. How hard was it to make those changes and how important was it to see guys rise to the challenge?
TB: Yeah. I think that’s been the mark of our team. We’ve won 11 of 12. We were down 31-3 at home and battled back. I think we’re going to be in it. We have a lot of tough guys, mentally tough guys. Whatever happens, like what happened on the first play of the game, you’ve got to overcome it. We made some key plays when we needed to. Shane made them, Wes [Welker] made them, Brandon [Lloyd] made them, so it was a great effort. Offensive line was awesome, as usual.
Q: What are your thoughts on losing Rob Gronkowski for the playoffs?
TB: I don’t know anything about that. I haven’t heard anything.
Q: As a kid, did you ever think you would pass Joe Montana in the record books?
TB: I love playing and I love competing. I love being a part of this team and this organization. It’s a lot of mentally tough guys I think I’ve just been fortunate to play on some great teams over the years. I very much appreciate that and I never take that for granted. I’m always going to try to be the best teammate and leader I can possibly be.
Q: In the back of your mind, is there any disappointment that it won’t be a Brady-Manning AFC Championship game?
TB: I think the two best teams are in the finals. Baltimore certainly deserves to be here and so do we, so it’s very fitting. We played them early in the year; they got us. We blew a pretty big lead there at the end. We’re going to have to play our best game this week.
Q: You seem a little subdued. Has your mind already clicked forward a little bit?
TB: I’m tired, man. There was a lot of emotional energy spent: it’s a big build up to the week and we had four days of practice and you’re up and you’re down, you’re up and you’re down. I’m tired. I’m ready to go home.
Q: Is it deflating to see Rob Gronkowski leave the field with an injury?
TB: Sure. Like I said, we had a whole plan built for him and Woody [Danny Woodhead]. We run the first series of the game and all those plans change. I think a little of it was ‘What are we going to do now? How are we going to adjust?’ But we seemed to settle in there midway through the first quarter and put together a pretty good game. Obviously it’s a bummer to lose anybody, but someone of Rob’s importance or Danny’s importance, we need guys to step in and fill the void, whether it’s this game or any game after.
Q: Did you actually change the plan you had in place, or just change the players within the plan?
TB: Well, there are adjustments – like I said, we have certain plays for certain guys and Rob and Danny are a big part of the plan. That’s what Josh [McDaniels] does best: he gets guys in the best position to make plays and always comes up with a way to adapt and scheme things up and third down and red area, there’s’ no one better in the league.
Q: What was the explanation on Stevan Ridley’s forward progress call?
TB: I wasn’t happy. He wasn’t happy either. You know, that’s part of the game. He’s a good official. All the best officials are working this weekend. I think it’s just the heat of the moment and I get excited.
Q: That’s good.
TB: Yeah, it’s always good.
Tags: AFC Championship Game, Bill Belichick, Danny Woodhead, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich, Ryan Wendell, Shane, Tom Brady
BB: It’s good to be able to play in the AFC Championship Game next week. I’m really proud of our players; I thought they worked hard all year. Today was a big win for us. The Texans are good football team, they fought hard, they battled us all the way to the end. They have a lot of good football players but fortunately we had a bunch of guys step up today and make the plays we needed to make. It wasn’t perfect and there were certainly a lot of things we can do better but it was a good win. I’m happy for the players. I think they really earned it. They had a good week of practice. I thought they really did a good job preparing for this game. It was good to see us make enough plays here to win. We know Baltimore is tough. We had a great game with them down there earlier in the season. We know that will be a great battle. We’ll enjoy this one for a little while and then get on to the Ravens tomorrow.
Q: You lost Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski early in the game. How much did that impact you?
BB: Hooman [Michael Hoomanawanui] and Shane [Vereen] stepped in there and both did a good job for us. Shane obviously made a lot of big plays but Hooman did a great job too, as he’s been doing for the last month. These kinds of games, you never really know when the dial spins, where it’s going to wind up, who it’s going to end up on. Those guys were prepared. Offensively we were able to move the ball, put up some points. It’s a credit to everybody to be ready.
Q: Did Rob Gronkowski break his arm again?
BB: I’m not sure.
Q: Did he go to the hospital?
BB: I just walked off the field, I don’t know.
Q: How big was Devin McCourty on the opening kickoff?
BB: Yeah, it was a huge play. Devin has done that a couple times for us. He has great speed, tracking [Danieal] Manning down. Obviously Manning did a great job. They had used him on kickoff returns all year until last week. He led the league in Chicago. We have a lot of respect for him; we knew what he could do. We didn’t do a very good job of it most of the time, but that was a huge play by Devin to really end up saving [four] points. The defense went in there and had a big stop on the sudden change on the big return. That was really a huge series in the game. [We] didn’t get off to a good start but at least minimized the damaged and held it to three points.
Q: Was there any question whether Rob Gronkowski was ready to go?
BB: He wouldn’t have played if he wasn’t.
Q: Do you have any regret in playing him, seeing as he has the same injury as before?
BB: The doctors handle the medical decisions.
Q: Can you talk about Rob Ninkovich and what he means to the defense?
BB: Rob has been really productive for us all year. He’s had a great season. His production is right up there at the very top of the league at his position. He’s made big plays for us in the past – sacks, strips, fumbles, recovered fumbles, tackles for loss, all that. We know he’s got good hands. He’s had many interceptions before; made a great play there. We blitzed from the outside, he dropped down inside, got underneath the route and really made a great catch on the ball. It was high, tough catch but Rob’s a good athlete. He makes it look easy; he catches the ball well. That was a huge play for us, big stop and we were able to convert that into points offensively. That was a big key play in the game for us.
Q: What did you do schematically to control J.J. Watt during the game?
BB: I think you have to give credit to the guys up front. It’s not about ‘Xs’ and ‘Os’ – somebody has to block him. Whether it was Dan [Connolly] or Wendy [Ryan Wendell] or Logan [Mankins], of course he moves around a little bit and then when they stunt, he could end up on the tackles; Sebastian [Vollmer] had him a bunch. Whoever has to block him, just has to block him. They run games and they move him around a little bit. He’s a great football player but the credit goes to the players. It’s not blocking him on the chalkboard, you have to get out there and block him. The credit goes to the offensive line and the backs. The backs did a good job reading the holes and getting through there. We tried not to dance around. We found some daylight and Stevan [Ridley] and Shane [Vereen] hit it. That’s good execution there in the running game at times, too.
Q: Can you talk about Tom Brady passing Joe Montana for all-time playoff wins?
BB: Of course Tom has meant a lot to us since he’s been here. He started winning playoff games the first year he really got a chance to participate in them. Tom is a great competitor. He had a great week of preparation as he always does for every game but especially the playoff games. He’s our leader and we all follow him, we all respect him and he led the team today, along with a lot of other guys but he certainly did his job, as he’s done many times before. There’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady.
Q: Can you talk about Shane Vereen? You guys had him outside a lot. Did you see a mismatch with the linebacker or did you just want to get him in space?
BB: We used some different formations to try to move some people around. As Tom [Brady] usually does, he finds the best matchups depending on the route and the coverage and so forth and getting the ball to the guys that have a good opportunity to win on those routes. A lot of credit goes to Tom for finding him but also to Shane for running good routes, catching the ball in tight coverage, running after the catch, all those things. Obviously it’s something we worked on during the week. When Tom saw matchups he liked out there, he was able to take advantage of it.
Q: It looked like you matched up Aqib Talib with Andre Johnson. How beneficial is it to be able to match up a corner with a receiver like that?
BB: It was a great battle; it’s two good football players. Johnson is a great receiver. He’s arguably one or two all-time, he’s tremendous. He’s big, fast, has great hands, good route runner. Aqib competed with him every down, just like he did the first half of the first game. That’s two good football players and that’s a battle. We didn’t give him a lot of help. Johnson caught a few but Aqib battled him pretty well there. It was a good matchup.
Q: Can you talk about the job you did on third down?
BB: We had him in some long yardage situations, which are good. We had them in the third quarter in a couple long yardage situations before Rob’s [Ninkovich] interception let them off the hook. Third down starts on first and second down. It just comes down to team defense – good pass rush, good coverage and keeping the yardage longer by playing better on first and second down. I thought we did a good job in the running game until we got to the last drive in the second quarter and [Arian] Foster hit a couple long runs to the weak side on us. They scored right before the half. Because we were able to hold off a few of those runs, that put them in some third-and-long situations. It was good team defense; I don’t think it’s any one guy. Third down obviously is critical for us and our red area stop was big too.
Q: You did a nice job on Arian Foster. Is he quite different from Ray Rice who you’ll have to deal with next week?
BB: They’re both great backs. Foster is fast, he’s really fast. Not that Rice isn’t, unfortunately we’ve seen the back of his jersey a couple times. Foster does a good job of hitting the crease and he gains a lot of yards with his speed running away from people. Similar to Chris Johnson, I’m not saying that fast, but that type of guy. They’re different; they’re both good.
Q: You seemed to rely on Wes Welker a lot early in the game. It was a big catch down the sideline.
BB: Yeah, it was a great catch. Wes is a tremendous receiver, a great competitor. Again, we felt like at times there was a good matchup with him in the slot. He did a good job in there. Again, Tom made some good throws. Wes is quick, he’s tough to cover. Tom had some good weapons to work with and he was able to move it around and get it to a bunch of them. I thought we had good balance offensively, overall it was pretty good.
Q: Another matchup with Ed Reed next week. How much do you look forward to playing him?
BB: I don’t look forward to it at all. I’m glad we’re [in the game] playing him, let’s put it that way. Ed is a great football player. Ravens have obviously an outstanding team – defense, special teams, offense. They’re good all the way around; very well coached. We thought they were as a tough as anybody we played all year. We had a great game with them down there at the beginning of the season. Now it comes back to a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game. We know it will be tough and hopefully we can play our best game next week.
Q: It looked like Arian Foster was short. What was told to you?
BB: That it wasn’t short. I thought we had the ball out there in the third quarter on that fumble and they ruled forward progress so we couldn’t challenge the play. They ruled him down by forward progress. That was a tough call. Then the fourth down call, which we were able to stop them on the following sequence, but still, that was a huge play there. I thought when his elbow went down, the ball hadn’t crossed the line but evidently they didn’t see enough evidence for that. Those were a couple calls that…one we would have challenged but we couldn’t because it was forward progress. And the touchdown catch, the official right on the spot thought it was moving and called it incomplete and then that one got overturned. You’d have to ask the officials exactly what they saw but that’s kind of what we saw.
Q: How would you describe this playoff ride you’ve had with Tom Brady?
BB: I don’t know. I think right now our focus is just happy to win this game and get on to Baltimore. We can reflect back on some other years some other time.
Q: The Ravens are on an emotional high. Do you try to match their intensity emotionally or is it all ‘Xs’ and ‘Os’?
BB: They’re a great football team, they’re well coached. They have a lot of outstanding players; they have some great veteran players. They have guys that can score, guys that can rush, guys that can defend, guys that can return, guys that can cover. Look, that’s why they’re here. When you’re playing at this time of year, each game gets tougher, each game gets bigger. I think the Ravens certainly showed how physically and mentally tough they were to go out there and come from behind and beat Denver in a tough environment. That showed a lot of character, resiliency and toughness. Our game with them this year, our game with them last year, went down to the last possession, the last play, however you want to look at it. Our other games with them over the years have usually come down to that too – the final possession or sometimes the final play – even going all the way back to ’09, unfortunately not the playoff game but in the regular season. That’s what we’re going to prepare for this week – a tough team, mentally and physically, that has a lot of talent, that’s very confident. They’ve gone on the road and won. I don’t think that will phase them. We just have to go out there and play and coach better than they do and that will be a big challenge but that’s what we have to do.
Tags: AFC Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens, Danny Woodhead, Rob Gronkowski, Running back, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Tom Brady
(On whether he expected to play as much as he did)
“I don’t come into the game knowing how much anyone is going to play. I come into the game ready to go and if my number is called I do my best for the team.”
(On losing Danny Woodhead to injury)
“We hate to lose Woody. He is such a key part of our offense, but at the same time all of the running backs hold ourselves accountable to be able to step up when somebody does go down.”
(On whether he gets excited to match up against a linebacker)
“Yes and no. I knew that the matchup was in my favor. But at the same time they are great defenders as well. So I have to do a great job at getting open. ”
(On playing the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship)
“It is going to be a great match up. It always is between us and the Ravens. We are going to have to go to work this week and get ready to play a great team.”
Tags: AFC Championship Game, American football positions, Dont'a Hightower, Gillette Stadium, Houston, Houston Texans, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, Rob Ninkovich, Tom Brady
(On his interception)
“It was just good execution on the play; me coming inside, reading the quarterback, dropping back into coverage. It was just a good play overall. (Jerod) Mayo made a good call, telling me to do that. I’m happy it worked out for us.”
(On adjustments made at halftime)
“You come in, see the things (Houston) did well because they will go back to that. So come in, settle down, try and stay under control since you have another two quarters to play, then go out there and play tough.”
(On the quick turnaround for next week)
“Pretty much, come in tomorrow, get a workout and look at some of the things we didn’t do well. We are able to have home-field advantage so it’s good for us.”
Tags: AFC Championship, AFC Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens, Denver, Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
(On where he thinks the offense is at this point in the season)
“I think we are just where we are. We made a lot of good plays, had a lot of good drives out there and then we had some bad ones too. So it’s kind of back and forth. We played well, but I feel like we can be a little bit more consistent.”
(On what it means to go back to the AFC Championship)
“It’s one step forward in the right direction. It’s one thing done that we have taken care of and now we’re moving onto the AFC Championship and [we’ll] get ready for that.”
(On losing Rob Gronkowski to injury)
“It’s unfortunate, but guys have to step up. Guys have got to come out, make plays and make up for his absence.”
(On if there is a silver lining in the fact that players stepped up when Rob Gronkowski missed time earlier in the season)
“I think we’ve shown that guys can step up and play that role. Everybody kind of upped their game and knows that we’ve got to step up.”
(On what he expects from the Baltimore Ravens next week)
“It’s going to be a tough, physical football game. They’re a really good team. They really battled in that game against Denver. So it’s going to be a tough, physical game and we’ve got to get ready for it.”
Tags: Houston Texans, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots, NFL, Super Bowl, Tom Brady
JM: I think more of the prediction of where he may be centers around what defense they are actually in on the field at the time. He plays the strong side end – a four or five-technique end – when they’re in base defense most of the time. You have an idea of where he is going to be when they sub that base group out and go to sub nickel or dime packages. You have an idea of where he is going to be more based on the personnel than you do [based on] anything that we would be doing or any guessing on when they’re going to move him around and so on and so forth. They do happen to displace him some, but based on who they put on the field, he generally lines up where you would expect him to. But because he plays to the strength of the formation sometimes, that’s why our guys on the right and on the left will both be challenged with handling him along with the rest of their great front on Sunday.
Q: What is it like working with Tom Brady around this time of the year? Is he still the same guy or is there something different about him when the playoffs come around?
JM: Tom has a great approach and demeanor about his work every day. I think that’s really a great thing to have as a quarterback. If you can be consistent with the way you approach your job – how hard you work and the intensity with which you prepare for each opponent – I think that generally that sets a great example for your teammates and for anybody who is looking at you for leadership, in terms of how you would expect them to do their job too. We all get excited when you’re in the postseason, I mean this is really what we play and coach for, is to try to have an opportunity to play in these types of games and to coach in these types of games. I’m sure Tom is no different than any player who is really excited for our opportunity this week. But I think that Tom is a pretty consistent guy who has a great approach to doing his job every day as well as he can do it.
Q: The Texans’ front seems to be better with Brooks Reed back on the field. Can you assess how he makes that group different?
JM: Brooks Reed is another young, talented edge guy that plays with a great motor. [He’s] certainly been disruptive when he’s been in there and gives them another guy to play on the edge. I thought [Connor] Barwin and [Whitney] Mercilus, who we saw in the first game, did really good job and I think they do a great job. I think Reed just comes in and really provides some explosiveness off the edge. [He’s] a guy that can pass rush, can really play in the running game, has a great playing style about him and he’ll be another big challenge for us that we didn’t see a few weeks ago.
Q: What do you see out of the Texans’ secondary? Can you assess some of the players they run out there?
JM: This defense in general really does a great job of playing complementary – the parts of their defense play complementary roles to one another. It’s a secondary that’s asked to play man coverage. They pressure a lot, so they’re asked to play some coverages where they’re in single coverage when they blitz. They ask them to play in the slot some, depending on the formations and the personnel that you have on the field on offense. I think that [Johnathan] Joseph has really done a good job of matching up on some specific receivers during the course of the season. He’s really a talented guy and is worthy of all the accolades that he’s received and has done a great job of really competing well in some of those games where he has been matched up [with] really top notch receivers. The safeties are asked to play a lot of different roles too. [Danieal] Manning plays down near the front in some of their man coverages and is asked to cover the tight ends and I think he’s really competitive in that situation. He does a great job of getting the ball off of people and stripping the ball away and has had a history of that over his career. [Glover] Quin plays safety and also has played down in the front and blitzed and been a disruptive guy in their dime package. So there are a lot of talented players back there. The scheme, like I said, they have to hold up sometimes when they pressure and then other times they do a good job of really shutting things down in the back end and giving the front an opportunity to get to the passer. I think all of them will come up there in run support; they’re good tacklers. It’s a really good defense and there’s no question that the secondary plays a big role in that.
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VW: It feels good when you can shut out a team, especially a division rival. To go in here and do what we did tonight was some pretty good stuff. We played well together as a team. We made some plays; we executed very, very well. So I’m very proud of that. We’re in a one-game season now. We’ve got a bye, so we have a little time to rest up and get healthy and get treatment. Whoever we’re going to face is going to be a good team. I have no clue, but at this point it is what it is. We have to start playing our best game and tonight was a good night to start it. I think we did a lot of things well tonight that can win some ballgames for us. We’re going to move forward with this one, and like I said, it’s crunch time now.
VW: No. We said at the beginning, the only thing we can do is win. Win and everything else will take care of itself. Control what we can control and that was our own destiny. We knew coming in that we had to win the ballgame. From here on out, we have to win. That’s reality. There’s no beating around the bush. If you want to get to where you want to be, you have to win out.
Q: But when did you see that they had won? Did you see it during warm-ups?
VW: No, I saw it before we took the field, before we started. Then they said the score. At that point, we just knew – going into this week, we knew if we win, everything else will fall into place. If we got the bye, we got the bye. If we didn’t, then oh well. But we did what we had to do, which was win. Winning can take care of a lot of stuff. We came out, we won, we played well, we made plays, we executed our game plan the way we wanted to play, we scored points, and we didn’t give up any points. That’s always awesome when you walk away with a goose egg on the score board. That’s very, very satisfying
Q: With this performance, do you think the team is where you want it to be going into the playoffs?
VW: No, there’s a lot more areas we can get better. Each week we try to attack those areas and make sure we’re doing things that we need to do the right way. Sometimes it will be different things; sometimes it will be things that we’ve done already. But like I said, at this point, the most important thing now is to win. It might not be pretty, but it’s to win. If you lose now, you go home, so it’s up to us [to decide] what we want to do, how we want to be, what type of team we want to be. We’re in the driver’s seat right now, so we drive the car where it needs to go.
Q: With all the rookies on this defense, what’s the message you send to them when you have these two weeks? What’s the message guys like you and Tom Brady send going forward?
VW: I mean, basically, what we’ve been doing all year: we lead by example. I don’t think there’s much we can say. One thing we will say is that everything rises to a whole other level now. Every team you face is a good football team. You’re not playing any teams that are below average; you’re playing all top quality teams, so we have to be at our top. We have to be at our best every play, every situation [for] 60 minutes – sometimes it might be more. Every time we take the field, we have to understand that we have to make a play. These guys have done a really good job all year. They’ve done a really good job all year and I’m expecting for them to do the same thing, but just raise our level of play just a little bit each week. More and more each week and hopefully it will get us where we need to be.
Q: Does Coach Belichick do anything at practice to crank that intensity up?
VW: No. I mean, no. Over the years I’ve been here, I can’t remember him doing anything different. All of your eggs are in one basket. We might go in with a bunch of plays and we might try to do a bunch of things and try to cover a bunch of things just so we can have them, but other than that, I think this team, this organization, speaks for itself. I think when you come here, the bar is set so high. We expect to win. If you don’t expect to win, you can’t be part of this. Everyone expects to win. Every time we walk in the meeting, every time we walk on that practice field, we expect everybody’s best. If we play our best, we will be tough to beat. But it’s going to take all of us. It’s definitely going to take all of us.