Patriots

Tom Brady persuasive in his arguments to officials vs. Saints

Tom Brady persuasive in his arguments to officials vs. Saints

Tom Brady was screaming at the top of his lungs. He held up the index finger on one hand as he made a peace sign with the other to convey his message. The gestures seemed completely unnecessary because he was yelling loud enough that it looked like he might strain a muscle in his neck. 

The Saints defense had 12 players on the field. Brady was sure of it.

What had the Patriots quarterback all riled up was that he didn't see any flags on the field. And given the fact that he had just thrown one of the ugliest interceptions of his career, he was ready to explain himself -- and at a ridiculous decibel level -- to anyone who disagreed. 

PATRIOTS 36, SAINTS 20

Brady twice had to lobby with head official Craig Wrolstad’s crew, and both interactions were successful. He probably didn't do anything for his reputation in the eyes of those who look at him as a pampered quarterback who complains for calls, but that's fine with him. 

"I snapped it, and I was looking right at him as I snapped it," Brady said of Saints linebacker Manti Te'o, who was eventually called for a too-many-men penalty after Brady's protest. 

"He was probably three or four yards from the sideline. We didn't even have a play. I was just trying to get the penalty. I didn't see a penalty on the field and I said, 'What the heck? I saw the guy!' They said they were going to review it, there was 12 on there, and we got the call."

Brady was asked if he was amused by officials coming together and making a call after he . . . lends them a helping hand. 

"I wish," he said, "they would have thrown [the flag] right away to take away all of the drama."

Brady was in the ears of the officials earlier in the game, at the end of the first quarter, when flags were thrown on Brandin Cooks for offensive pass interference after a Chris Hogan touchdown to make the score 20-3.

Cooks set a pick on Chris Hogan's defender near the line of scrimmage at the 13-yard line, and the officiating crew initially ruled it to be illegal contact. 

But Brady swooped in immediately. He was certain that Cooks was within one yard of the line of scrimmage. It was close, but the officials eventually sided with the future Hall of Famer. 

"There is no offensive pass interference," Wrolstad said as Brady jogged toward the Patriots sideline to celebrate. "The contact in question occurred within one yard of the line of scrimmage. Therefore, it is a touchdown."

When it was suggested to Brady after the game that he had been pretty persuasive, he smiled. 

"I thought it was [legal]," Brady said of his argument. "When I looked over there, he was pretty close. Those are some judgment calls, sometimes a yard or a yard-and-a-half. They ran something on the next drive and threw a touchdown pass. [The Saints player] was like three yards down the field.

"I was like, 'If we got away with one then, they definitely got away with one.' I thought ours was legal. It was just a man-coverage play. Everyone has them and the officials call them differently. But I thought we made a good play, and it was a big touchdown."

And a big reversal, thanks in part to the quarterback who doubled as a litigator on Sunday afternoon.

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What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

FOXBORO - We’re not quite at the point of fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, or 40 years of darkness, or even dogs and cats living together, but this Patriots season isn’t headed down the right path, despite a 4-2 record and the top spot in the AFC East. 

There are several elements that appear missing at this juncture - chief among them a defense that actually has a clue. Please don’t celebrate holding the Jets to 17 points - I’m looking at you, Dont’a Hightower. Josh McCown threw for just 194 yards against the Cleveland freakin’ Browns for goodness sake, but he got you for 354 and two scores?! Even the 2009 Patriots defense is offended by that.

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We’d be foolish to think the Pats can’t get this leaky unit fixed for reasons so obvious I won’t state them in this space so as not to waste my time or yours. We also know - long before Bill Belichick’s 6 1/2-minute explanation on the Monday conference call - that it's not supposed to be perfect right now. Actually, it’ll never be perfect. That’s not how this game works. 

Yet week after week, we see uncommon breakdowns and one defender looking at the next as if to say, “I thought you had him?” or more to the point, “what the hell were you doing?” It started Sunday at MetLife on the third play of the game. Malcolm Butler, playing 10 yards off Robby Anderson, looking as if he’s never played the position before, inexplicably turning his back on Anderson even though the wide receiver makes no real move to the post. That results in just about the easiest completion of McCown’s life, a 23-yarder on third-and-10. 

On the same series, on another third-and-long, the Pats rushed four and dropped seven into coverage. Defensive end Cassius Marsh continued his season-long trend of rushing so far upfield he ended up in Hoboken. With Deatrich Wise ridden outside on the opposite edge, McCown wisely stepped up and found prime real estate with New York City views. He wanted to throw and could have when the Pats fouled up a crossing route from the backside of the play. But with that much room to roam, McCown took off, scooting for a quick 16 yards and another first down.

Fittingly, that drive ended with a Jets touchdown on yet another dumb play, this one courtesy of Mr. Hit or Miss, Elandon Roberts. Channeling his inner Brandon Spikes, the second-year pro blew off his key and responsibility on third-and-goal from the 1, charging hard to the line. This, despite one of the most feeble play-action fakes you’ll see. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a real play-action fake. Anyway, score it as a touchdown to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and an indictment on David Harris, who apparently can’t vault past the erratic Roberts on the depth chart.

Similar to the week prior in Tampa, the Pats found better footing after that. They forced three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter and then helped turn the game when Butler intercepted an ill-advised throw by McCown just prior to the half. They got another turnover to start the third, with Butler coming off the edge on fourth-and-1 and forcing McCown into panic mode. The veteran QB fired an off-target throw to - get this - a wide open receiver who went uncovered on a drag route and Devin McCourty was gifted an interception.

But this group frowns on prosperity. It took a little-seen rule to prevent a Seferian-Jenkins touchdown in the fourth, and on the game’s final drive, the Pats allowed a 32-yard completion on fourth-and-12. Then, on what turned out to be the Jets final play, the Pats let Tavaris Cadet leak out of the backfield and run unchecked 20 yards down the field. Had McCown not soiled himself again, Gang Green would have had a first down and at least one crack at the end zone. Then, who knows what the heck happens?

It was just a season ago that the Patriots led the entire NFL in scoring defense. If you’ll recall, we spent a better part of the year wondering if that defense was championship quality. Turns out they were. Right now, we’re wondering once again if this defense is of that ilk, but through an entirely different prism. It’s on the players and staff to change the current outlook, or those cats and dogs will have to figure out their shared space.

Have the offseason changes negatively affected the Patriots locker room?

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Have the offseason changes negatively affected the Patriots locker room?

The Patriots improve their record to 4-2 with a win over the Jets, but there are still a lot of concerning factors for New England. Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen talk about something the team isn't used to - close games.

Giardi also dives into whether there is a major problem with the locker room dynamic, and whether all the moves they made in the offseason were blown way out of proportion by the media and fans of the talent added, but didn't factor in the personalities they lost.

Koppen and Giardi also look at how the offensive line play has fallen off, despite the same personnel as last year. Finally, discussing the late scratch of Stephon Gilmore due to a concussion. Anything to read into the timing?