FOXBORO - It was interesting to hear Bill Belichick discuss on Tuesday the in-game alterations teams make defensively to the Patriots offense. Interesting because, in some ways, the Patriots have seemed reactionary during their early-game struggles over the course of the season. Speaking specifically about teams defending Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Belichick said, "Weve seen a lot of different (schemes designed to stop the pair), no question about that. I think that started last year. Prior to last year, we hadnt had a lot of production out of the tight-end position . . . in the passing game; some, but not to the degree that its come in the last two years. Weve seen things head in that direction moreso than in some other years, given the production at that position. But yeah, they started to see that last year and we still see it."Continuing, Belichick said, "Tom Brady's seen a lot of things. He does a good job identifying what the defense is trying to do and trying to do the best thing for us offensively as a team to attack it. They only have 11 guys, so they can push the problem, but you can strengthen one area and that leads to other weaknesses. Hopefully we can find those and attack them."There is a probing that Brady seems to do on the first few drives of a game, a feeling-out process. Could his investigative work and analyzing as opposed to simply attack be part of the reason for the team's slow starts?"I think really its we just need to do a better job of coaching, we need to do a better job of executing what we do," corrected Belichick."When we do that we have more success. If we dont block, we dont catch the ball, if we dont have plays that give our offense options so we can handle different things . . . the chance of it working is not as high."That last part about having play-calls without checkdown or alternate reads is interesting. Especially since offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has done such an outstanding job in so many areas with this offense while the early-game outputs, when the team is just getting into his offensive script, is so meager. Explaining the morphing of a game plan, Belichick said, "You go in with a game plan and you see how it unfolds against whatever your opponent is trying to do and then you modify it if you need to and if they adjust to what youre doing, then you have to readjust. Its a constant back and forth. It just doesnt go one way and then, okay, it stays that way for the rest of the game. A lot of times it changes from series to series or after a couple series after something has happened that has gone good, you might continue to see more of what theyre doing. If youre hurting them with it, then they do something to do adjust to you then you have to find something to counter that."As for O'Brien, who's drawn interest from the Jaguars and Rams so far, Belichick said, "Hes done a great job for us since hes come here. I really cant speak to him in any other position. Right now, really our focus is just on getting our team prepared for the bye week here and trying to improve the most that we can and trying to get ready for next weeks opponent, whoever that is thats our focus, not anything else."
She hadn't been able to get to a game all season, but Tom Brady had a feeling that his mom would be well enough to make it to the last one.
"He said, 'You'll be ready for the Super Bowl,' " Tom Brady Sr. told NFL Network's Andrea Kremer. "He told us that in the middle of the season. At the end of her five months was going to be two weeks before the Super Bowl."
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Brady's mom, Galynn, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2016 and was undergoing chemotherapy throughout that season. As she focused on her treatments (which were scheduled for Thursday mornings), Galynn and Tom Sr. spent Sundays watching their son's games from afar.
"Everything centered around 10 o'clock on Thursday morning," Tom Sr. said, "and then 10 o'clock on Sunday morning when we focused on the football games."
The Patriots continued to win, and the end of their season continued to be pushed back, making it possible for Galynn and Tom Sr. to attend their son's seventh Super Bowl. She was cleared for travel by her doctors on the day before the family's scheduled trip to Houston.
"I just wanted to be there for Tommy, and I wanted to be there with my family," she said. "Everybody was going to the Super Bowl, and I didn't want to miss that."
Kremer's piece aired Sunday on NFL Network's NFL GameDay Morning, as the league and the American Cancer Society work together this month on their Crucial Catch campaign. It's online now at NFL.com.