Patriots

Belichick likes how Patriots worked through communication issues

Belichick likes how Patriots worked through communication issues

The Patriots had some trouble communication-wise against the Chiefs in Week 1. Despite some technical difficulties in Week 2, Bill Belichick highlighted his team's ability to communicate as one of its strong suits.

"Situational things came up, we handled those pretty well," Belichick said after beating the Saints, 36-20. "I thought Matt [Patricia] and Josh [McDaniels] did a real good job on the sideline with the communication issues we had to work through during the game. And that was challenging, but they handled that very well. We didn’t really have, all things considered, too many problems."

PATRIOTS 36, SAINTS 20

Belichick was spotted working with the communication equipment before the game, which actually delayed the kickoff briefly. He acknowledged afterwards that it was an issue throughout the afternoon.

"Communication," Belichick said, "was difficult . . . before the game and all game."

Asked to expand on the readiness required to thrive despite difficulty relaying signals offensively and defensively, Belichick stopped the conversation.

"I’m done talking about it," he said. "I said what I had to say."

The communication problems that players (specifically defensive players) highlighted last week were more specific to what would happen after a play was called in from the sidelines. But the fact that the Patriots were able to succeed, that the communication was still relatively fluid, in New Orleans despite the technological glitches was a sign that everyone was on the same page this week. 

Here are a few more quotes of note from Belichick's postgame press conference following his team's win over the Saints . . . 

On getting third-down stops against the Saints (No. 1 in third-down conversions in 2016): "It was huge. Third and fourth down (we were) both able to get off the field defensively. That was the good part, but we gave up some plays which wasn't so good. We were able to convert on third down. That was key for us. That's a tough offense to stop. They have a lot of good players that are very well-coached and a great quarterback. Anytime you can get them off the field or even let them get down into the red area and hold them to a field goal, it is a good job by the defense."

On his team's fast start (20-3 lead after the first quarter): "We were able to do that, so it was a good night. We always try to do that. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. We were able to do that today. They turned the ball over, offensively, which is a good thing. We were able to make fourth down stops on defense. Those were key for us. Those aren't turnovers, but they are turnovers."

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer did his best Sgt, Schultz impression Thursday afternoon.

He saw nothing, he knows nothing and, had we asked him, Hoyer probably would have denied even Tom Brady’s existence. The Patriots backup quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight because of the right-hand injury Brady suffered in practice Wednesday. Though Brady appeared at the media access portion of today’s session, the team listed him on the injury report as not having participated. That would mean Hoyer -  as the team’s only healthy signal caller - had to get more reps than usual, right? 

“Define what is usual,” he said. “Since I’ve been here there’s been days where I’ve taken a lot of reps and days where I’ve taken any. I just do what’s asked of me.”

MORE BRADY:

So, you were asked to do more today?

“You’ll have to check the injury report. I don’t know if they put that on there or not.”

Okay then. This was just the beginning of a question-and-answer session that provided many of the former and almost none of the latter. Hoyer said he “wasn’t there” when the injury happened. When asked if Brady threw any passes today, the normally genial Hoyer paused before saying tersely, “you have to ask somebody else that question. I’m not going to answer that question.”

There were also a couple of “I’m not going to speak for him” or “you have to ask him” responses. Not unexpected given the nature of the queries but also handled better by every player we spoke to today, from Trey Flowers saying he’s not a hand doctor to James White joking the world will never know how Brady was injured to Kyle Van Noy saying of Brady: “He always looks good. He’s handsome”.

What Hoyer did have a good handle on was what he needs to do to be ready if his number does get called Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t...that’s not really up to me. I did the one thing I can benefit from since I was the backup here - I played a lot of football. I’ve been a starter for three different teams. I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I’m given those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I take as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and I try to think who I’d go to, who would I’d make the Mike [middle linebacker] on this play. Whether I’m getting the reps or not I’m always preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called.”

The Patriots hope it doesn’t come to that. Hell, maybe even Hoyer hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“If I don’t play, that’s good for our team.”

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

FOXBORO -- You would have to be either supremely confident or supremely behind on current events to place a bet on the Patriots in this weekend's AFC title game. 

Tom Brady suffered a hand injury in Wednesday's practice and he was held out of Thursday's session (for all but the stretching portion), leaving him one final chance to practice on Friday before the Jaguars make their way to Gillette Stadium for a shot at a Super Bowl berth. 

MORE BRADY:

It's unclear how Brady's hand issue will impact his ability to play on Sunday. The expectation is that he will play, but his effectiveness . . . for now seems somewhat uncertain. And the line has moved as a result. 

The Patriots were once nine-point favorites at Caesars Palace, and they are now favored by 7.5 points. Westgate's line made the same move from Patriots -9 to Patriots -7.5. 

For those who feel as though Brady will be OK as he takes on the league's top-ranked passing defense, this represents a golden opportunity. For everyone else, this is probably a good time to focus your gambling efforts on the NFC Championship Game.