Patriots

Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

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Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the mechanics of his throwing motion that he was concerned about. For Jacoby Brissett, it was the way in which he was seeing the Texans defense, the length of time it took to get a feel for the game, and how his night ended that bothered him. 

"I felt like I was getting my rhythm," Brissett said after the Patriots lost their exhibition with the Texans on Saturday, 23-20. "But you can't really remember all that stuff when the last play happens like that. It's the last one."

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Though the outcome of the game meant nothing, Brissett and his teammates were looking for a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left when Brissett had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. 

Brissett's night finished up with him going 5-for-10 for 36 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured on seven of his 15 drop-backs. 

The reserves playing for the Texans in the fourth quarter made life difficult for Brissett and his teammates as their first two drives resulted in punts. Brissett was hit twice on those drives, and his first third-down attempt failed when Houston sniffed out a screen. The Patriots had what looked like a third-and-21 conversion on their next sequence, but Devin Lucien bobbled a catch deep over the middle of the field that fell incomplete. 

Brissett seemed to make a couple of relatively difficult throws during his time on the field -- he nearly had a game-winning touchdown pass completed to Cody Hollister on a fade to the back corner of Houston's end zone, but Hollister got just one foot in-bounds -- yet he wished he could have done more to spark the Patriots offense quickly.

"I think I'm throwing the ball good," he said. "I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more so just my eyes and the timing of everything. I don't think it's throwing -- actually throwing. I think it's the mechanics of playing the game."

There was some good to be taken from Brissett's brief outing. After taking over possession with less than two minutes left, he helped the Patriots get deep into Texans territory with completions to Lucien, Sam Cotton and a third-down strike to DJ Foster. He also avoided a near sack, getting out of bounds to stop the clock, and he wisely spiked the football into the turf when he realized Houston had figured out another screen was coming.

Brissett looked back on where the third-team offense was at the start of camp -- with players like receivers Tony Washington and KJ Maye having just been added to the roster -- and pointed out that he felt they were significantly ahead of where they were then.

"I think we've gotten a lot better," Brissett said. "Just this two-minute drive is a good example. Last week we didn't make it past, what, the 40-yard line [against Jacksonville]? This week we're in the red zone with a chance to win the game. I think a lot of our young guys are stepping up and making plays and we're getting a little continuity together."

As for Brissett himself? The 2016 third-round pick has been the subject of some media speculation as to whether or not his spot on the 53-man roster is safe. After seeing some inconsistency in his play during camp practices and last week's game against the Jaguars, there were those who wondered if he was progressing at a rate that would help him survive this year's cutdown date. 

Asked to give a self-evaluation after the Texans game, Brissett said, "I definitely want to do more and play better, but there are good things getting done, good learning experiences. Moving in the right direction . . . 

"I feel like I'm still getting better. I think I'm doing good things. I mean, this league is hard. You just continue to work on things and continue to get better. Yeah, [tonight] the end result is a loss, but there were some good things we did out there. Some things it's good to get on film and learn from. It's a learning experience. That's what this is right now."

Whether the coaching staff sees the improvement Brissett described is unclear. 

"We've all got a long way to go," Belichick said following Saturday's game when asked about Brissett's progress. "I don't think anybody's where we need to be. Any player. Any coach. Any anybody . . . Just grinding it out. It's going to take a while."

Brissett insisted that coaches have been just as tight-lipped behind the scenes when it comes to how they've seen him grow summer. 

"I don't know what they think," Brissett said with a smile. "They don't tell me . . . I'm putting my best foot forward. It's up to them if they think I've been getting better or not."

Report: Gisele tried to get Brady's friend to convince Tom to retire

Report: Gisele tried to get Brady's friend to convince Tom to retire

This past spring, Gisele Bundchen tried to have Tom Brady's college friend, former kicker Jay Feely, convince the Patriots quarterback to retire, according to a Sports Illustrated story.

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Here's that anecdote from Greg Bishop's profile of Brady in this week's SI: 

Last spring Brady and his family vacationed with retired kicker Jay Feely, a close friend from their college days at Michigan. This being Brady, Feely prefers not to disclose the locale, but he does share that Brady’s wife, the supermodel Gisele Bündchen, spent time on that trip “trying to get me to convince [Tom] to stop playing.” And, Feely adds, “‘she was dead serious.’”

Feely says he looked at his friend and told him, “Play as long as you can.” Brady smiled back and winked.

Brady has been pretty adamant about wanting to play until he's 45. At about the same time as the story Feely told SI, Bundchen spoke about a concussion she said Brady suffered last season. And Brady tried to clarify that in training camp this past summer by basically saying it was nobody's business. Expect plenty more of the how-long-will-you-keep-playing questions next week at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis. 

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Belichick: Tuesday a 'major working day' as Patriots prep for Eagles

Belichick: Tuesday a 'major working day' as Patriots prep for Eagles

FOXBORO -- Tuesdays are generally very important days at Gillette Stadium. That's when the finishing touches are being put on the game plan for the coming weekend so it can later be disseminated to players who then go to work on it throughout the remainder of the week. 

This Tuesday, two Tuesdays before the Super Bowl, is a little different. The Patriots have plenty of time to game plan so there's not the time crunch of a normal week. 

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But because the Patriots aren't all that familiar with the Eagles, they're getting down to business anyway.

"Every year is not the same but in this particular case, today is very much of a major working day, and I would say kind of a catch-up day for us because we just don't know very much about Philadelphia," Bill Belichick said during a conference call.

"You know, other years when we had played a team more recently like Seattle, who we had played two years before but in a regular season game, but there was some carry over from that or in the [New York] Giant years where we had played those teams in the regular season, there was a little bit less of an acclimation to the opponent this week because we had some background with them. In this case, we really don't know very much about Philadelphia." 

The Patriots played the Eagles two seasons ago, but that was a very different team than the one they'll see in Super Bowl LII. Back then, Chip Kelly was Philly's head coach and Pat Shurmur its offensive coordinator. Sam Bradford was the quarterback. Billy Davis ran the defense. 

Now? Now it's Doug Pederson's show. Frank Reich is the offensive coordinator. Nick Foles is the quarterback. Jim Schwartz runs the defense. 

There's plenty the Patriots will be familiar with. Schwartz worked in Cleveland for Belichick in the mid-90s. LeGarrette Blount is one of Philadelphia's top two backs. Chris Long has helped provide the Eagles with depth on the edge. Kamu Grugier-Hill is one of their top special-teamers. Ronald Darby is a corner the Patriots saw twice last year when he was with the Bills. 

But with new schemes and new personnel to learn, Tuesday is being used as a key preparation day as the Patriots try to figure out how to handle their next opponent. 

"It's a lot to sort out and then pull together pretty concisely because, again, for all those games that we look at – let's call it 18 games, just to pick a number – I mean that's probably 2,500 plays in all three phases of the game and there's just going to be 160," Belichick said. "So they can't do everything that we've ever seen them do any more than we could run everything that we have experience running . . . 

"We have to be prepared for a lot of things but at the same time, we can't be overly distracted by things that either have a low percentage chance of coming up or probably wouldn't be the type of thing they would do against us. We try to eliminate some of those and make sure we work on the things that we feel are most problematic or may be most likely to occur."

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