Patriots

While backing up Brady, Hoyer learned his lessons well

While backing up Brady, Hoyer learned his lessons well

FOXBORO -- Over the last three days, there has been a familiar scene playing out at the tail end of every Patriots-Bears joint practice session: Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer exchanging hugs and handshakes, and chatting not just about football, but family.

Those moments, those conversations, had Hoyer -- now backing up Jay Cutler in Chicago -- taking a trip down memory lane to his first day in Foxboro as an undrafted quarterback, hoping to survive the day.

“[On] Day One . . . he came to introduce himself: ‘Hey, I’m Tom.’ I knew that already, but that’s the way he is,” said Hoyer, thinking back to the spring of 2009. “He is so humble. A great guy, and (he's stayed) in touch. He’s always been one of the first guys to text me after a game, whether it was good, bad or ugly, or whatever it was. It’s a friendship I've really cherished over the years.”

In three seasons with the Patriots, Hoyer didn’t start a single game, throwing just 43 passes during repeated mop-up duty. Like any young player, he craved the opportunity, any opportunity. But Brady stood in his way, just as he has with every backup to come through these parts -- Damon Huard, Rohan Davey, Matt Cassel, Ryan Mallett and now Jimmy Garoppolo.

Instead of growing impatient, however, Hoyer tried to learn from the master, however he could.

“I think, for me, (it was best to) just sit there and watch,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. But [Brady's] also a guy who goes out of his way to help . . . 

"I remember . . . just trying to sit back and watch and soak up everything, whether it was in the meeting room, on the field, training, whatever it might be. He’s an intense competitor. If you can just soak it all up, you just kind of gain it by being around him.”

That’s easier said than done, however. In Brady, we’re talking about one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- quarterbacks of his era and all-time. His brain functions on a different level. So do his muscles. That was a difficulty for Hoyer then, and for Garoppolo now.

“Sure, yeah, I mean at some point you gotta stop and say,‘Well, hold on, how are you seeing this?' Or 'How did you know that?’ " said Hoyer. "I remember that was the only question: 'How did you know this was going to be the coverage?' And he’d just go, ‘I’ve seen it years and years and years.’ So there’s definitely times you just have to stop and ask him, 'How were you even knowing to take the ball here, or check to this play?'

"But a lot of it was just seeing him operate: The intensity, demanding so much out of his teammates.”

Hoyer would eventually get his opportunity, starting 26 games over the last four seasons with Arizona, Cleveland and Houston. He was viewed as a leader in his last two stops and has wound up forging a perfectly acceptable career, especially when you consider where he came from.

Now Garoppolo, with a greater draft pedigree and potential, gets that chance, sooner than expected, and with Brady’s team. Garoppolo has a chance to put his stamp on this season and be a starting quarterback somewhere, be it with the Pats or, most likely, in some other NFL city . . . where he’ll have to prove he, like Hoyer, learned from Brady and can make at least some of those lessons translate on the football field.

QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: How the Dolphins made Tom Brady look so uncomfortable and how Miami’s defense was so effective

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QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: How the Dolphins made Tom Brady look so uncomfortable and how Miami’s defense was so effective

What happened in Miami? Jerod Mayo, Tom E. Curran and Phil perry break it down in a brand new Quick Slants Podcast, presented by Papa Gino's.

(1:05) Patriots have trouble running the ball with a limited attack. The battle between the Patriots offensive line vs. the Dolphins defensive line. (5:40) Tom Brady not wanting to plant his feet, having some trepidation against the Dolphins defense. Patriots offensive line looking somewhat confused with Dolphins pressures. (10:30) Kyle Van Noy and Trey Flowers not able to play. How much does that impact the defense? Are there too many injuries on the defensive side to overcome? (14:30) Could Bill Belichick have held out some injured players so they would be healthier for the Steelers game this week? (17:30) Breaking down the type of defense the Dolphins were playing, taking away the short passes of the Patriots. (19:40) Brandin Cooks and other receivers not getting separation from Miami’s cornerbacks. (23:50) How much is Tom Brady hurt and is it affecting his throws? (26:40) Josh McDaniels gameplan, the Patriots final series and play calling at the 1 yard line. How this Dolphins loss was reminiscent of the end of the 2015 season. (30:00) Malcolm Butler's now deleted retweet of Pro Football Focus stat about Jay Cutler throwing against the blitz (32:20) What Jerod Mayo thought of Duron Harmon’s speech on the sideline to the Patriots defense. Mayo shares a story about Junior Seau and his attitude towards giving up a big plays.

PODCAST: How ‘bad energy’ and ‘lack of mental toughness’ led to Dolphins upset over Patriots

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PODCAST: How ‘bad energy’ and ‘lack of mental toughness’ led to Dolphins upset over Patriots

Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen discuss the Patriots bad energy level on the road at night and Tom Brady’s 7-9 record in Miami. Should we have seen signs of this loss coming?

(4:30) Patriots didn’t come out and play with the sense of urgency that we normally see with multiple 3 and outs and going 0-11 on 3rd down conversions. (6:30) Dolphins defense played very well and were able to tackle effectively while the Patriots had trouble in that area. Patriots defense also made Jay Cutler look good throwing the ball around. (9:35) Was there a carry over from the previous game played against Miami for Tom Brady, knowing how much he would be getting hit? (14:40) Thoughts on the Patriots signing Kenny Britt after he was released by the Browns. (17:50) The Patriots lack of a running game, how you need to establish a running game with Gronk out, and the Patriots needing to change the tempo of the offense. (21:25) Dolphins having plenty of talent and the growing confidence of their secondary and Dion Lewis being taken out of the gameplan. (23:10) Did some players on the Patriots look ahead to the Steelers and overlook the Dolphins? (24:30) How did this performance affect Koppen’s confidence of the Patriots defense? (25:45) Will the Steelers defense be able to stop the Patriots offense? Are injuries starting to creep into the mind of the Patriots?