Brady: Unrealistic to expect Pats to execute at highest level for four months

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Brady: Unrealistic to expect Pats to execute at highest level for four months

The Patriots know that their third win of the season didn't earn them much in the way of style points. They made it difficult on themselves with 12 penalties for over 100 yards, two turnovers, three sacks allowed and over 400 yards of offense allowed. 

But Tom Brady reiterated what several of his teammates said following the game: On the road, coming off a loss, they'll take a win however they can get it. 

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"The thing about the NFL is it's such a week-to-week league," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show. "If we won by 50 points the other night, what does that really matter against the Jets this week? We'd all love to do that, and we'd all love to play our very best and execute at the highest level every week for four months. It's just, that's relatively unrealistic, but you're trying to win any way you can and score more points than the other team whether that's playing really well offensively or playing really well defensively."

Of all the numbers listed above, the sacks may be the one that's most concerning for the Patriots. Brady is playing at an MVP level at 40 years old, though it's fair to wonder how his body will hold up if he continues to get hit at this rate. He's on pace to be sacked 51 times (most in his career) and hit 105 times (eight more than he took in 2015 behind a banged-up offensive line). 

Brady had no real explanation for the number of hit he's taken other than to say things are still a work in progress offensively.

"I think in general we're not a finished product right now," he said. "We're still trying to figure out what we're good at and what we need to do consistently to score more points. Any time you lose players, like [Rob Gronkowski] the other night, you have a plan and all of a sudden he's not available. Things shift. And then you're trying to still find ways to move the ball down the field and score points. 

"No matter who's out there, the goal is still the same. It may look a little bit different based on the skill set of the players who are out there. We're making adjustments with injuries based on a season-ending injury like Julian [Edelman] and then weekly injuries, whether it's the offensive line, running backs, tight ends, receivers. Those go into the course of a long football season. It's still relatively early . . . Hopefully our best football is ahead of us."

Up next for Brady and his teammates are the Jets, who are tied with the Patriots and Bills for first place in the AFC East at 3-2.

"They're doing a lot of things really well," Brady said. "They're a tough rival. We play on the road. We gotta win by one point or more. That would be fine for me."

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Keeping Amendola may have been the Patriots most important offseason move

Keeping Amendola may have been the Patriots most important offseason move

FOXBORO - Is it possible that in an offseason of wheeling and dealing, the most important move the Patriots made was to keep a guy who's been on the roster since 2013? 

Potentially. That's how critical Danny Amendola has been to making the Patriots one of the most potent offenses in football. 

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Despite missing Week 2 with a concussion, Amendola is on pace for one of the best seasons of his career with 23 receptions on 27 targets for 267 yards and a touchdown in four games. He's already tied his receptions mark from 2016, and if he stays healthy he's tracking toward an 86-catch, 1,000-yard season - both would be career-highs. 

The key for Amendola is always his health -- he played in 12 games last season and he missed two in 2015 -- but with Julian Edelman out, he's become a key part of the offense. 

If he plays 15 games, and if Tom Brady looks his way at the current rate, he'd hit 100 targets for just the third time in his career. According to STATS, he's tied for second among receivers in third-down conversions (7) behind only San Diego's Keenan Allen.

Against Tampa Bay, Amendola turned in one of his best performances of the young season, catching all eight of his official targets for 77 yards. He had three more catches that were wiped out due to penalties -- one of those was his own offensive pass-interference call, but on the next play he caught one for 14 yards and a first down. It was one of five first-downs he converted in the game.

Amendola also returned three punts for 51 yards, and his 40-yard return may have gone for more had he not been run into by teammate Brandon Bolden.

"I thought Danny gave us a lot of critical plays in the game," Bill Belichick said on Friday. "He gave us punt returns, some catches and he blocked well. He had a couple of key blocks in the running game, as well, so I thought he really did a solid job for us in all the areas, in all of the things that he was asked to do, which he usually does. He's one of our best and most dependable players."

It's hard to believe that in the offseason, as the Patriots started to build up their roster, there were some who wondered if the team might actually part ways with Amendola, 31. 

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder was never going to remain on the books at his originally-schedule base salary of $6 million, so a reduction, or a release, was inevitable. To stick with a winning organization, in a system he knows, in an area where he has family, Amendola agreed to his third reduction in salary in as many seasons. 

But even after that financial nod, there were some who wondered if he'd be kept on to play behind Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and possibly Malcolm Mitchell. 

After injuries to Edelman and Mitchell have led to an increased role for the 31-year-old, that restructure now looks like one of the wisest moves the Patriots made all offseason. 

The Brandin Cooks trade is right up there. He has come as advertised, helping the Patriots win a thriller last Sunday against the Texans with 131 yards receiving and two scores. He's played almost 90 percent of the offensive snaps. And despite a bad drop over the middle against the Bucs on Thursday night, he led the team with 85 yards receiving on five catches. 

After that? Stephon Gilmore? Dwayne Allen? Mike Gillislee? Rex Burkhead? David Harris? Lawrence Guy? Kony Ealy...? 

There's not a single offseason move that's helped the Patriots more than keeping Amendola.

"The guy, he’s a great football player and he does a lot of things well," Josh McDaniels said Friday. "He’s tough, he always makes an impact when he’s in there, he blocks hard, he gets open in the passing game, he catches the ball, he’s hard to tackle, he returns punts, makes big plays in the kicking game, he’s a great teammate. 

"There’s nothing I don’t love about Danny Amendola. Every time he’s out there, you feel good about what may happen if the ball is headed towards him, and he always comes up big in the biggest moments or biggest games. Danny’s having a very good beginning to the season, and we want to continue to try to do that."
 

QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Breaking down Patriots win vs. Buccaneers

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QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Breaking down Patriots win vs. Buccaneers

1:00 Regardless of how good it looked, Patriots thrilled to just get the win

4:00 Should Patriots fans be encouraged about Patriots getting a run game going?

7:00 Will the hits that Brady has been taking catch up with him?

13:00 How did Dwayne Allen have zero impact with Gronkowski out?

15:00 Was the Patriots secondary motivated to prove the doubters wrong?

18:00 Can the Patriots defense build off this performance?

22:00 Should the Patriots permanently move Hightower to the middle?