Patriots

Brady remembers sideline spat with O'Brien: 'He kind of let me have it'

Brady remembers sideline spat with O'Brien: 'He kind of let me have it'

Bill O'Brien spent five years with the Patriots, including two as the quarterbacks coach (2009-10) and one as the offensive coordinator (2011). But what he may be most remembered for in New England is one particularly fiery sideline spat with Tom Brady

It was a "Teapot" moment for the Texans coach, who will re-visit Gillette Stadium on Saturday for the Divisional Round of the playoffs. That's what Brady and backup Brian Hoyer nicknamed O'Brien for his quick temper, and it would be hard to imagine a moment when O'Brien was hotter than in the fourth quarter of a 2011 win over the Redskins. 

The Patriots were up a touchdown and knocking on the door to score again when Brady was picked off in the end zone. When he got back to the sideline, Brady told intended receiver Tiquan Underwood that he had to make a better effort to come back to the football since he had been under-cut.

But when O'Brien saw Brady talking to Underwood, he unloaded. Perhaps it was because he didn't like Brady's throw. Perhaps it was because Brady missed Wes Welker for an easy touchdown on the play before, throwing behind his wide open slot receiver. 

Either way, Brady and O'Brien then engaged in a shouting match that required Hoyer, receivers coach Chad O'Shea and head coach Bill Belichick to break it up. 

"He kind of let me have it. I deserved it," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show. "It was kind of a dumb throw. I deserved it. I kind of chirped back, and he didn't like it. I was kind of fiery at the time, too.

"We cooled off pretty quick. That's Billy's style. Billy's gonna let you know if he doesn't like something that you did. He handles it in the right way, in a way that you really respected. You know he's fiery, you know he just wants to get the job done. We cooled off. We ended up winning the game [when] Jerod Mayo made a great interception to end that game. By the time we got to the locker room we were good.

"There are a lot of emotions in this game. You wear them on your sleeve, and sometimes you just fire off. That's just the way it goes."

Brady said he remains friends with O'Brien and that they touch base from time to time. By putting in the "grunt work" of a lower-level assistant and quickly working his way up the coaching ranks in New England, O'Brien earned Brady's trust and respect. 

Though he generally roots for O'Brien's success, that stops this week as the two prepare to face off later this week with their seasons on the line. It will be the second time O'Brien has been to Gillette Stadium this season with the Texans. Back in Week 3 they fell to the Patriots, 27-0, with rookie Jacoby Brissett getting the start at quarterback. 

Brady said that Patriots players will have no problem getting themselves motivated for this one, though.

"This is a day-to-day league," he explained. "It really doesn't matter last time we played 'em or last year. Because things change so much with a game and a game plan and players. Coach talks about all the time it's not who you play, it's how you play, and we need to play well . . . " 

"You put together the process and a winning formula, and then you go out and execute it. If you don't execute it, you lose. I don't think you take anything for granted, I don't think you mail in your preparation. I think we go about it the exact same way same way we've gone about it all year, which is we put teverything into it. 

"We empty the tank in our practices which we always do, and then you come out at the end of the week with confidence and show everyone out there that we're prepared, and we can play because we're playing a really good team. We're playing a team that's earned this opportunity."

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is on pace for 5,224 yards passing in 2017, just a shade under his total from his career-high in 2011. He's on track to have 34 touchdowns and just five picks. Barring a continued run of ridiculous efficiency from Kansas City's Alex Smith, those numbers would be MVP-caliber in all likelihood.

But Brady's not thrilled with the way he's played of late. What gives? 

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In his past two games, he hasn't thrown the football as consistently as he would have liked. After starting the season with a 10-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he's 3-to-2 in the last couple of weeks. His accuracy has been at times pinpoint (as it was on his 42-yard completion to Brandin Cooks to help set up a Rob Gronkowski score against the Jets), but it has also been uncharacteristically erratic.

He was picked deep down the middle of the field by Buster Skrine last week, but the more concerning throw may have been the quick out-route to Gronkowski that Skrine dropped for what should have been an easy interception. Brady missed Phillip Dorsett on what looked like it could have been a long touchdown with Dorsett running free behind the defense. He threw behind Chris Hogan twice in the game, one of which opened up Hogan to a rib-shot that landed him on the injury report this week.

Against the Jets, Brady was not sacked and he was hit only four times -- a light day for him compared to other weeks this season when he's been battered. Yet he still completed just under 53 percent of his passes for 257 yards and a season-low 6.76 yards per attempt. 

"Well, I've got to hit the open . . . If the throws are there I've got to be able to make them," he said on Friday. "It's disappointing when I don't. To me, it just comes back to technique and fundamentals and making sure everything is working and that's the consistent daily thing that you're working on. I'm always working on my accuracy.

"I wish I hit them all. I'm capable of hitting them all and I need to be able to do that. I said last week that some of these games wouldn't be as close if I was playing better in the red area. I think some of those missed opportunities in the pass game with me hitting guys would really help our team. Hopefully, I can do a better job for this team."

Brady is no longer listed on the Patriots injury report, but he dealt with a left shoulder injury against both the Bucs and the Jets, and it's worth wondering if that somehow impacted how his passes traveled in those games. Balance is key in Brady's world, and even though he can make flat-footed throws look easy, perhaps an injury to his front side limited his ability to place the ball where he wanted. 

Keeping Brady upright could go a long way in helping the 40-year-old regain his form from Weeks 2-4 when he didn't dip below a 104 quarterback rating. Bill Belichick said earlier this week that part of the reason the Jets pass-rush wasn't quite as effective as others they'd faced this year was his team's ability to run the ball. Productive rushing attempts on first and second down mean manageable third downs, which mean shorter pass attempts. Those of course, in theory, lead to less time standing in the pocket and a healthier quarterback.

"It's great," Brady said of his team's recent surge running the football. "I mean, to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL is important for every offense. It does take a lot of . . . I wouldn't say pressure, it's just production. If 400 yards of offense is what you're looking for and you can get 150 from your running game, the 250 has got to come in the passing game. If you're getting 50 yards in the rushing game then it means you've got to throw for more.

"I don't think it's pressure it's just overall you're going to get production in different areas and the backs are a big part of our offense and handing the ball off to them is an easy way for us to gain yards if we're all coordinated and doing the right thing. But those guys are running hard. The line is doing a great job up front finishing blocks and so forth."

Against the Falcons and their talented -- though underperforming -- offense this weekend, the running game could be key. First, it could help the Patriots defense by controlling possession and keeping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman off the field. Next are the obvious advantages for the signal-caller who could use a stress-free day in the pocket to help him solve his recent accuracy issues. 

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