Patriots

Brady: Boger's officiating crew over-eager with penalty calls against Patriots

Brady: Boger's officiating crew over-eager with penalty calls against Patriots

During his weekly radio interview, Tom Brady admitted that the Patriots offense could have done more even though it put up 30 against the Panthers. But he also implied that he felt as though he had two opponents at times on Sunday: Ron Rivera's defense and Jerome Boger's officiating crew.

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“Yeah, I mean they called it pretty tight on us yesterday," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show. "I’ve watched the film a bunch of times. We just didn’t get the calls. I guess they got the calls and we didn’t get them. I don’t know what to say."

The Patriots were docked for two offensive pass interference penalties -- one each on Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola -- as well as two hands-to-the-face penalties on Stephon Gilmore. In all, they were flagged seven times for 55 yards. The Panthers were flagged once for 33 yards on a pass-interference call that was made when Gronkowski was contacted down the field.

The Gronkowski offensive pass-interference penalty seemed to be handed down after minimal contact. Amendola's was more obvious because of the amount of contact, but it seemed as though the defender cut off Amendola mid-route.

Brady clearly didn't love either call.

"Gronk is doing what he’s got to do to get open. There was such minimal contact and the ref just felt . . . they were cued up ready to throw it," Brady said. "It is what it is. We didn’t get it. We overcame that one and the one to Danny, we didn’t overcome. Danny is just trying to get across the guy's face. The guy kind of contacted him, Danny is trying to shed him on his route. I don’t know what they can do more than that."

Brady indicated that there's a history of Boger's crew calling things closely while working Patriots games. Since 2007, Boger’s crew has consistently thrown more flags for more yards than the league average. 

“Again, they were calling it tight on us," he said. "From previous [games], that crew has called much more penalties on us than the other team. We just have to figure out how to play and tighten it up. If we don’t get the calls, we don’t get them, we still have to go out and play better than we’ve played. It’s just about us doing our job better, all of us. And we can. It’s not like that was the best game we could possibly play and we lost.

"I think we all know we can play better and if we play better we’ll win. It’s got to be done, just not talked about. That brings more urgency to everything we’re doing. The meetings, the practices, the games. We can’t let up for one second. We have to keep pushing each other to be at our best. Hopefully over the course of the next three months we can rise to a much higher level than we’re at high now."

QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

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QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

3:00 Why has Bill Belichick been so surprisingly positive of his team’s performance in tight wins?

6:30 Phil Perry breaks down what grades he gave the Patriots on his report card following the win over the Jets

15:00 Reaction to the Austin-Seferian Jenkins overturned touchdown, and what changes need to be made in the NFL replay system. 

23:00 Why was Patriots offensive line much more effective against Jets?

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25:00 Patriots-Falcons preview, how did Falcons blow a 17 point lead to the Dolphins?

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

FOXBORO - We’re not quite at the point of fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, or 40 years of darkness, or even dogs and cats living together, but this Patriots season isn’t headed down the right path, despite a 4-2 record and the top spot in the AFC East. 

There are several elements that appear missing at this juncture - chief among them a defense that actually has a clue. Please don’t celebrate holding the Jets to 17 points - I’m looking at you, Dont’a Hightower. Josh McCown threw for just 194 yards against the Cleveland freakin’ Browns for goodness sake, but he got you for 354 and two scores?! Even the 2009 Patriots defense is offended by that.

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We’d be foolish to think the Pats can’t get this leaky unit fixed for reasons so obvious I won’t state them in this space so as not to waste my time or yours. We also know - long before Bill Belichick’s 6 1/2-minute explanation on the Monday conference call - that it's not supposed to be perfect right now. Actually, it’ll never be perfect. That’s not how this game works. 

Yet week after week, we see uncommon breakdowns and one defender looking at the next as if to say, “I thought you had him?” or more to the point, “what the hell were you doing?” It started Sunday at MetLife on the third play of the game. Malcolm Butler, playing 10 yards off Robby Anderson, looking as if he’s never played the position before, inexplicably turning his back on Anderson even though the wide receiver makes no real move to the post. That results in just about the easiest completion of McCown’s life, a 23-yarder on third-and-10. 

On the same series, on another third-and-long, the Pats rushed four and dropped seven into coverage. Defensive end Cassius Marsh continued his season-long trend of rushing so far upfield he ended up in Hoboken. With Deatrich Wise ridden outside on the opposite edge, McCown wisely stepped up and found prime real estate with New York City views. He wanted to throw and could have when the Pats fouled up a crossing route from the backside of the play. But with that much room to roam, McCown took off, scooting for a quick 16 yards and another first down.

Fittingly, that drive ended with a Jets touchdown on yet another dumb play, this one courtesy of Mr. Hit or Miss, Elandon Roberts. Channeling his inner Brandon Spikes, the second-year pro blew off his key and responsibility on third-and-goal from the 1, charging hard to the line. This, despite one of the most feeble play-action fakes you’ll see. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a real play-action fake. Anyway, score it as a touchdown to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and an indictment on David Harris, who apparently can’t vault past the erratic Roberts on the depth chart.

Similar to the week prior in Tampa, the Pats found better footing after that. They forced three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter and then helped turn the game when Butler intercepted an ill-advised throw by McCown just prior to the half. They got another turnover to start the third, with Butler coming off the edge on fourth-and-1 and forcing McCown into panic mode. The veteran QB fired an off-target throw to - get this - a wide open receiver who went uncovered on a drag route and Devin McCourty was gifted an interception.

But this group frowns on prosperity. It took a little-seen rule to prevent a Seferian-Jenkins touchdown in the fourth, and on the game’s final drive, the Pats allowed a 32-yard completion on fourth-and-12. Then, on what turned out to be the Jets final play, the Pats let Tavaris Cadet leak out of the backfield and run unchecked 20 yards down the field. Had McCown not soiled himself again, Gang Green would have had a first down and at least one crack at the end zone. Then, who knows what the heck happens?

It was just a season ago that the Patriots led the entire NFL in scoring defense. If you’ll recall, we spent a better part of the year wondering if that defense was championship quality. Turns out they were. Right now, we’re wondering once again if this defense is of that ilk, but through an entirely different prism. It’s on the players and staff to change the current outlook, or those cats and dogs will have to figure out their shared space.