Patriots

Broncos defense will try to confuse Brady

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Broncos defense will try to confuse Brady

FOXBORO -- One of the keys to defeating the Denver Broncos on Sunday will be for Bill Belichick's defense to disguise and surprise Peyton Manning, keeping him off-guard all game.

But it's safe to say that the Patriots won't be the only team using that defensive style.

Throughout the first four weeks of the regular season, Denver has utilized a defensive formula that has all 11 players standing up before the snap.

Belichick said it makes for a "who's who" game.

"They have kind of a defense where nobody's down, and they kind of walk around," said Belichick on Friday. "They don't really have anybody in a three-point stance, or maybe sometimes one guy will get down. They've down that, they've shown that, I'll say, in every game, or, a number of times during the year. It's not like a one-time thing against Oakland. They've been doing that.

"They have some versatile guys, that, sometimes they rush, sometimes they cover. And they like to bring a lot of defensive backs, when they get into their six or seven defensive-back defenses. So, they're really like linebackers, but they're defensive backs. It just becomes an identification thing for the offense. Who's a DB, who's a linebacker, who's got who, who's down? And so, you potentially have 11 guys in coverage, instead of, just say, seven, which is a traditional four-man line.

"They've done that, and again, that's one of the many things they do that creates problems for you, preparation-wise," added Belichick. "They do it every week, then that's something you've got to be ready for, because you kind of know that sooner or later, they're going to give it to you."

Nate Solder says Super Bowl rematch talk nothing but a distraction

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Nate Solder says Super Bowl rematch talk nothing but a distraction

Remember how irate some of the Patriots veterans were after the first game of the season with where the team’s collective head was at? We heard it from Tom Brady. We heard it from Nate Solder. We heard it from Duron Harmon. 

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No one gave an example of the lack of preparation and intensity players supposedly engaged in. But the start-to-the-season mindset still rankles Solder to the point where he brought it up again this week.

When asked during Quick Slants about a Super Bowl rematch with the Falcons this Sunday, Solder visibly bristled and referred back to the start of the season.

“The first few games of the season, there was a lot of baggage drawn in from last season which really wasn’t helping anybody,” Solder said. “People are gonna bring all that stuff back up this week and it’s really just a distraction. They have different players, they have things going on that weren’t going on before, it’s a different part of the season. We really just have to work really hard to be prepared for a different team.”

We’ve beaten and re-beaten the dead horse pertaining to offseason expectations that turned into a millstone for this team.

Bu the unanswered question is why – for a team that’s had so many successful seasons and negotiated Super Bowl success prior to this year – did this year’s team fail to ignore the noise, as Solder indicates it did?

Was it the avalanche of positive pub? Other Patriots have been anointed but this year’s optimism outpaced any other defending champ’s propaganda because there wasn’t the same class of competition league-wide (it appeared) and the Patriots seemingly made moves to improve its roster. Did that get in their heads?

Was it the outflow of leadership caused by free agency, retirement and injuries? The loss of big personalities like Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett and Julian Edelman and pro’s pros like Logan Ryan and Rob Ninkovich may have been underrated.

What is clear is that, while it still irks Solder, Bill Belichick has moved on verbally flogging the team for its entitled approach and has taken a different approach. He’s now directing his ire at the people that put that juju on the team. 

The process continues Sunday night as the Patriots (and Falcons, for that matter) attempt to bury the ghosts of 2016 by confronting each other.

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Patriots donate 200 tickets to military members for tonight's game

Patriots donate 200 tickets to military members for tonight's game

Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona is also an officer in the Navy. He was instrumental in having the team donate 200 tickets to military members for tonight's game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium.

As ESPN's Mike Reiss pointed out, Cardona and teammate Matthew Slater were behind the plan to provide the tickets. The military personnel will also be on the field before the game. 

"It's a number that far exceeded expectations," Cardona told Reiss. "It was a collaborative effort. I was talking to Matt Slater, we were thinking of ways to reach out, especially to our local military community, and show how much we value them. My point of view was, 'Let's give these men and women the experience of coming to a big game.' Let's get them a personal feel, them being our personal guests, guests of the team."

The 200 tickets were provided by Patriots players and coaches, who each receive two tickets to a home game and the opportunity to purchase others 

“My point of view was, 'Let's give these men and women the experience of coming to a big game,'“ Cardona said in Reiss' story. “Let's get them a personal feel, them being our personal guests, guests of the team.”