Patriots learn from Sunday's reality check


Patriots learn from Sunday's reality check

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Before leaving Monday's film session, Patriots players came to a group understanding.

Their execution has to be better than it was in Sunday's 34-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"Everybody looked at each other in that room, before we walked out," said Deion Branch after Monday's meetings at Gillette Stadium. "You could see it in the guys' eyes. Nobody said anything. Everybody was real ticked off at their play. The coaches were very critical. And they should be."

But Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England's coaching staff, didn't come in and jump down the players' throats. They showed the film. And that's really all that had to be done, to make a statement.

Because the bottom line is, Sunday was a reality check for the now 6-2 Patriots.

Their 20-point loss to the Browns was as bad a game as you'll see from this team. The reason for that? Poor execution.

And the reason for that? An even worse week of practice, heading into the game.

"We just got to come out and prepare a whole lot better than what we did last week," said Branch on Monday, while pointing out that it wasn't the coaching staff's fault.

"We killed ourselves," added Branch. "There wasn't anything, going into the game, that we didn't know about. We just weren't executing.

"It takes all 11 guys to do one job. If we run the ball to the right, everybody's got to set up and do everything right. We have to block right, if we're trying to throw the ball. If we're passing, the receiver's got to be at the right depth, when Tom's ready to throw the ball. Tom has to make the throws, we have to make the catches."

The lack of execution of specific plays was an overriding theme in the Pats' locker room on Monday. So how do you make that better? Put more emphasis on the team's base offense.

And that starts at the beginning of the week.

"Whatever you do in practice is going to show up in the game," said Branch.

"The biggest thing is just staying focused, and going out and doing what the coaches ask us to do, instead of just doing what we want to do, and just running around, making up plays, making up routes," he added.

"You would think something like this right here, we would have got this out of the way in the preseason. I think the stuff that we put on the field Sunday was bad. I mean, that was just bad football. Especially around here. You don't expect that type of play to be around here. I think you want to try and get that mess out of the way in the preseason."

Instead, the Patriots got it out of the way at the midway point of the regular season. And they left Monday's film session knowing exactly what they did wrong, and are confident that they know how to fix it.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Patriots-Falcons injury report: Gilmore, Rowe out


Patriots-Falcons injury report: Gilmore, Rowe out

As expected, after not practicing all week, Patriots cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and Eric Rowe (groin) have been ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The full Patriots and Falcons injury report:

Tom Brady: Injuries like his, Gordon Hayward's 'big reality check for all of us'


Tom Brady: Injuries like his, Gordon Hayward's 'big reality check for all of us'

FOXBORO — You’d have to go back to 2008 to find the last “you’ve got to be kidding me” injury to open a Boston season before Gordon Hayward. 

That injury, of course, was the torn ACL suffered by Brady on a hit to the left leg from Bernard Pollard with 7:27 left in the first quarter of Week 1. Brady missed the rest of the season and the Pats went on to miss the playoffs despite going 11-5 under Matt Cassel. 


Brady, who reached out to Aaron Rodgers last Sunday after the Packers quarterback was lost for the season, said he felt for Hayward after the Celtics’ key free agent acquisition suffered a fracture-dislocation of his left ankle 5:15 into the season opener against the Cavaliers Tuesday.

“It’s just a big reality check for all of us because we all think we’re invincible to some degree, and then you go and you have this really tough injury that just happens,” Brady said. “It is tough and everyone probably goes through something a little different or it hits them at different times, and I feel bad for [Hayward and Rodgers], but I’m sure they’ll both come back stronger and better than ever. 

“That’s what you have to do as an athlete. You’re always faced with adversities and you’ve got to overcome them. Mental toughness is a big part of that. I know both those players have a lot of that.”