Pick-free Pats will try to keep streak alive vs. Seahawks

Pick-free Pats will try to keep streak alive vs. Seahawks

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have gone through 32 quarters of football and 249 pass attempts without an interception.

The NFL record for fewest in a season -- five -- is shared by six teams (1960 Browns, ’66 Packers, ’90 Chiefs, ’90 Giants, ’10 Patriots and ’11 49ers).

What makes the Patriots’ start as impressive as any of those teams is A) the pace they are on, B) the amount of passing they do relative to most of those seasons and C) that they’ve gotten to 249 with three different quarterbacks throwing the passes.

Tom Brady was asked about it on Wednesday.

“That’s been a real strong point for our team and I think that’s been a product of a lot of things,” said Brady. “Sometimes it comes down to quarterback decision making, it comes down to protection in the pocket, it comes down to what the scoreboard looks like. If you’re down 14 points in the fourth quarter, that risk-reward scenario that I talk about a lot changes in your mind and you’ve got to start trying to make tighter throws.

“We’ve played with a lot of leads which has been very helpful, but yeah, this week is all about turnovers for us,” Brady added. “I know they preach that a lot. I know the coaches talk to us a lot about Coach [Pete] Carroll’s philosophy and saying, ‘It’s all about the ball, it’s all about the ball.’ They really thrive with turnovers. It’s a really turnover-driven defense. They’ve got a lot of playmakers at a lot of levels to get the ball off the quarterback, get the ball off the running backs, so it’ s going to be a big challenge for us.”

This Sunday night, the Patriots deal with Seattle in a Super Bowl 49 rematch. The last time New England saw Seattle in the regular season was 2012. In that game, the Patriots went up and down the field on the Seahawks as Brady threw for 395 yards but New England was 1 for 6 in the red zone scoring touchdowns and Brady was picked twice. The last time the Patriots saw Seattle, Brady threw two more picks.

Seattle’s picked off six passes so far this year and is traditionally one of the best in the league at creating turnovers thanks to their defensive mix of pressure, a cover-3 scheme and the ball skills of their secondary and linebackers.

“Turnovers are a huge, huge element and issue in this game and whenever you can control that in your favor it makes a difference and it generally leads to winning,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “It’s interesting that New England has done such a great job over the years in taking care of the football in terms of fumbles and now with interceptions – to be throwing a shutout? That’s a big-time factor that leads to wins. They do a fantastic job of it and we’ve always stressed and done a really good job over the years (of getting turnovers).”

Brady isn’t cowed by the complexity of the Seahawks defense. It’s the aggressiveness and confidence they play with that makes them so tough.

“I’ve told you guys a lot over the years, some of the best defenses I’ve played in my whole career, they just do what they do and they do it at an extremely high level,” said Brady. “This is one of those teams. They’ve led the team in scoring I think over the last four years, giving up the fewest amount of points. I wouldn’t say they’re going to run every defense in the book. I think it’s a relatively aggressive plan that they have. I think they all know what they’re responsible for and they all do a great job defending. It’s a very sound defense. They don’t give up anything and that’s why you can play that style. There are no voids in zones; there are no voids in the running game.  It’s hard to throw the ball on these guys. I think they all play pretty aggressively. Coach [Bill Belichick] says, if you love football, Sunday night here at this stadium is going to be a great place for it.”

Brady was asked if he’d go back to SB49 to prep for Seattle.

“Yeah, definitely,” he answered. “I’ve watched it a couple times, and I’ll watch as much as I can over the course of the week so I can play with anticipation; get to know their players and know their scheme. Sometimes, when you play in those Super Bowls, you’ve got two weeks to prepare, and I would say I watched more film that week than I’ve watched in my entire career. But you still have to go through that process this week and it’s good to have some familiarity with them. We practiced yesterday; we got off to a good start. We’ve got to keep it going over the course of this week, but it’s a big challenge for our team and hopefully we’re able to really meet the challenge.”

That game -- you may recall -- turned on a pick. It wasn’t Brady that threw it. And if trends continue, he won’t this Sunday either.  

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."