Patriots

Bean's thoughts from Patriots-Texans: Brissett's win streak vs. Texans finally ends

patriots_jacoby_brissett_081917.jpg

Bean's thoughts from Patriots-Texans: Brissett's win streak vs. Texans finally ends

Jacoby Brissett’s dominance over the Texans has ended. 

The third-string quarterback led a comeback effort on New England’s final drive of the game, but a fumble while trying to throw in the red zone led to the ball going out of the end zone for a touchback to secure a 27-23 Houston victory Saturday night. 

The loss for the Pats dropped New England to 0-2 this preseason, taking the Patriots from being considered Super Bowl favorites to for sure remaining Super Bowl favorites. 

MORE: 

Ultimately, Saturday’s game wasn’t about Brissett, however, but rather Tom Brady. The 40-year-old quarterback made his preseason debut, playing two series for New England. Rob Gronkowski also played, taking the field for two series in his first preseason action since 2012. 

THE QUARTERBACKS

Tom Brady: 6-of-9, 67 yards, 1 TD, O INT
Jimmy Garoppolo: 15-of-23, TD, INT, lost fumble 
Jacoby Brissett: 5-of-10, 36 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT

TD-REX 

Tom Brady sassed Rex Burkhead for not hurrying back to the huddle after a first down on the Pats’ second drive, but that was the lone hiccup in an otherwise whopper of a drive for the duo. 

Brady and Burkhead connected twice on the drive, capped by a 22-yard touchdown on an angle route for the former Bengal. Burkhead’s other catch on the drive went for 16 yards, with him rushing for 12 yards during the series. 

Burkhead, who got the start, totaled seven rushes for 20 yards and three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. 

JIMMY GAROPPOLO: BAD PRACTICE PLAYER, GOOD ACTUAL PLAYER, GOOD PRESEASON PLAYER, BAD PRESEASON PLAYER

The back-and-forth surrounding what kind of player Jimmy Garoppolo went from “good preseason player” last week back to “possibly bad preseason player.” I don’t think the hourly update on the guy is exactly necessary, but we’re pot committed at this point. 

Garoppolo was being chased in the backfield early in the fourth quarter when, seemingly in an attempt to throw the ball away, he instead gave it away. The fourth-year quarterback didn’t sail his throw nearly high enough, and thus it was picked by Denzel Rice. The Texans scored a touchdown on the ensuing series. 

Worth keeping in mind as we closely monitor Garoppolo’s practice snaps and preseason throws: He’s never thrown a pick in an actual game. 

ROBERTS HURT

Elandon Roberts was carted off in the third quarter after a collision with Jonathan Freeney. Shortly after, the Patriots announced he had a rib injury.

Earlier in the game, Vincent Valentine suffered what looked to be a left leg injury, but he returned to the game. Malcolm Mitchell was repeatedly spotted grabbing his right knee after plays. 

NOT MUCH COOKIN’ WITH TOP RECEIVERS

The second preseason game saw such receivers as Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola play, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on in their limited action. Cooks caught the only pass that was thrown his way for a seven-yard reception, with Amendola also making one catch for six yards. Edelman didn’t catch either of his targets, while the only pass Brady threw to Hogan was intercepted, but ruled an incompletion given that the defensive back didn’t have both feet in bounds. 

ROUGH START FOR BUTLER 

Stephon Gilmore lost out on a fumble recovery because the play on which he scooped up the ball was ruled an incomplete pass, but he probably couldn’t complain considering how the night started for fellow corner Malcolm Butler. 

The fourth-year corner was beaten along the sideline by Bruce Ellington on a jump ball for a 37-yard play on Houston’s first drive. On the following drive, Jaelen Strong beat Butler in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.  

CYRUS JONES BEGINS COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR BID

Hey, speaking of corners, something good involving Cyrus Jones happened. 

The second-year player had a 32-yard punt return in the second quarter and then a 15-yard return in the fourth. He got burned for long touchdowns zero times, which is two times less than he did in the preseason opener against the Jaguars. Progress. 

STARTERS

Offense: Cameron Fleming, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, James Develin, Rex Burkhead, Tom Brady

Defense: Kony Ealy, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Trey Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, David Harris, Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty

Bill Belichick: 'Incomprehensible' to think Patriots would pick up from where they left off last season

patriots_bill_belichick_101517.jpg

Bill Belichick: 'Incomprehensible' to think Patriots would pick up from where they left off last season

Bill Belichick knows that people outside his organization expected big things from his team this season, but he gave a long explanation for how those expectations should have been tempered headed into 2017. 

Belichick was asked during a conference call on Monday how he balances week-to-week adjustments with the foundation of the system his team installed before the season began. What resulted was a 789-word response on how teams have to come together early in the year -- and why it's difficult for things to look like they're running smoothly through the few weeks of the regular season. 

It felt like Belichick had something he was itching to share on the topic, so here is Belichick's response in full . . . 

"Well, I’ll just say that when you start the season, you have, let’s call it 20 practices, not including the spring. So let’s call it 20 practices and some preseason games, and during that time you’re trying to evaluate your team, work on a lot of basic and fundamental things and I’ll say basically get your team ready to play not only on the opening day, but for getting conditioned and build your fundamentals and all that so that you can compete in the 16-game regular season.

"In those 20 practices and however many preseason games certain players play in – two, three, four, whatever it is – against other teams that are doing the same thing, so you’re not getting schemed, you’re not getting game planned, you’re not getting some of the more sophisticated and the higher degree of difficulty things in any phase of the game. You’re in more of an evaluation mode and a fundamental mode. That’s where you’re at, and then as you get into the season, you build on that and you have things that attack certain schemes or you have to use to address certain issues that your opponent is trying to pressure you with.

"Maybe you just sit in your base, whatever it is, to handle it. Maybe your basics handle it, but maybe you need to go a little bit beyond that or maybe you see opportunities to create a play that you might install on a weekly game plan basis, and then all that accumulates. So, when you go from 20 practices to, let’s call it 60 practices over halfway through the season, maybe 80 practices at the end of the season, you’re going to have a lot more in with 80 practices and you could probably triple the number of meetings on that and everything else then where you’re going to have after a relatively short period in training camp. So, along those same lines, I mean, if we keep running the same play all year, the same ones that you put in in training camp and keep running those same plays all year, it’s not that difficult in this league to figure out what those few things are and game plan accordingly.

"So, if you don’t increase the volume of your scheme on offense, defense and special teams, then every week, your opponent’s just looking at a handful of things and probably most of them they’ve seen before. So, I don’t know how much problem, how much stress you’re really putting on your opponent if that’s the way that you do it. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing because you can play your basic stuff, and if it’s working well and if you’re doing well with it and people can’t handle it, then there’s no reason to change it. But I don’t know how many teams in the league fall into that category. I wouldn’t say it’s an exceedingly high number and it never really has been, based on my experience in the league. Although, I’m not saying that can’t happen, but I would certainly say that’s not the most common way that teams evolve throughout the course of the year. 

"So, you do what you need to do each week to try to win. You put in the plays, make the adjustments, you don’t want to overload things – I mean, nobody’s talking about putting in a new offense every week. That’s not it at all, but are there some modifications you can make? Sure, and as you rep those and you use them and if those situations come up again, then maybe you can fall back to that same type of scheme. But to think realistically, which it’s incomprehensible to me, but, I mean, I don’t know. 

"Maybe I just can’t figure it out, but it’s incomprehensible to me how anybody could think that a team that’s practiced for six months and played 19 regular-season and postseason games and had triple-digit practices, five months later, after not playing a game, after having a fraction of that type of experience, could be anywhere close to the level of execution that they were five months before that after all of the things that I just listed. I mean, it’s impossible in my view. So, each year, you start all over again. You start that process all over again. You build your team over the course of the year though practice repetitions, through preseason to regular season games, through the evolving of your scheme, and that’s why each year is different and unique. But, I understand I’m in the minority and most other people don’t see it that way, which is OK, but that’s the way I see it."

Malcom Brown helps spark Patriots run defense vs. Jets

new-england-patriots-camp-gallery-malcom-brown-81515.jpg

Malcom Brown helps spark Patriots run defense vs. Jets

The Patriots use a defensive scheme that often asks its defensive tackles to do the dirty work. Two-gap. Take on multiple blockers. Free up linebackers to crash down and make tackles in one-on-one situations with opposing running backs. 

It's not the most glamorous job. Sometimes it's difficult to see in real time when one of the big bodies up front is executing his duties effectively or not. But it's a critical role all the same.

On Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the Patriots got some solid work from their tackles to help limit the Jets to 3.1 yards per carry and just 74 rush yards total. Malcom Brown stood out as the team's top tackle on the day, and one of his team's best defensive players overall. 

The third-year 320-pounder had four tackles that limited to the Jets to gains of two yards or less. He also picked up a sack when he chased Josh McCown across the field and touched him down behind the line of scrimmage in the third quarter.

Brown was flagged for a defensive holding call just before Austin Seferian-Jenkins' fumble -- he locked onto the first blocker that engaged him and then didn't release quickly enough when that blocker tried to move on to another Patriots defender -- but overall it was a strong day, according to his head coach.

"I think Malcom’s improved pretty much every week," Bill Belichick said on a conference call Monday. "I know he’s definitely helping us making some significant plays for us out there and, again, eating up a lot of plays in front of him so that other guys, like Elandon [Roberts], Kyle [Van Noy], Dont’a [Hightower] and those guys, can fit in and make the tackles."

Brown wasn't alone. Lawrence Guy was in on a pair of run stuffs that went for two yards or less, and he was credited with three total tackles. Alan Branch played in 22 snaps after being made a healthy scratch in Week 5, and Adam Butler saw 17 snaps on the line.

"I thought we got contributions from all those players . . . They all have a little bit different playing style, but they were all productive," Belichick said. "It certainly helps our linebacker play when the defensive line plays consistent and they can do a good job in front and then the linebackers can do a good job and then the secondary can fit off them, so it works in front of that. 

"But, I thought our defensive line did a lot of good things yesterday. There’s still a lot of things we need to work on, obviously. I’m not saying we’re there yet, but we did a lot of good things up front."

Coming into the game allowing 5.0 yards per rushing attempt, what the Patriots were able to accomplish against the Jets in the run game -- behind a stout performance by Brown and his teammates in the trenches -- can certainly qualify as a step in the right direction.