Belichick didn't consider taking Brady out with score out of hand

Belichick didn't consider taking Brady out with score out of hand

FOXBORO --- Bill Belichick’s Patriots weren’t playing their best game Sunday, not by a long shot,. However, they were still seemingly in control of the Dolphins, leading by double digits for the better part of the afternoon. 

Almost from jump, quarterback Tom Brady was under siege, taking one hard hit after another. It was a throwback to the first month or so of the season when the Pats offensive line had difficulties keeping their most valuable player upright and - eventually - in one piece.

True to form, Brady stood in there and took it, delivering the goods despite the punishment. No question it wore on him at points - Brady threw only his 3rd interception of the season - but still finished with 227 yards passing and 4 touchdowns.


“I definitely took some shots,” said Brady. “They're a tough d-line. They've obviously made a lot of investments in that group and those guys play really hard. You're right, they got some good shots on me today but I'll be back at it and be ready to go Wednesday.”

As the game wore on, and the Dolphins seems to be taking some liberties both during and after the play. Social media - and a few in the press box - believed it might be best for Brady to put on a baseball cap and let Brian Hoyer finish up the game. One reporter decided to pose that question to Belichick in his postgame press conference. It went as you would expect…

Were there any thoughts about taking Brady out of the game late with the score out of hand?

“What – on the kneel downs? What difference does it make?” the coach wondered.

The question continued. Before that. Belichick contorted his face and had at it.

“No. I mean it’s easy for you to sit there and say the game is out of hand. I mean, if you watch games in the National Football League, a lot can change in a hurry,” he scolded. “The only time I think the game is in hand is when they’re not going to have enough possessions to get the number of points that they need. Sorry, we just see that one totally differently.”

Thus ended the exchange, but reopened a debate that has been had many a time during the Belichick era. Should Belichick be more protective of Brady?

The answer now is no. It’s always been no.

Brady’s backups don’t tend to get many snaps, even in lopsided games - anyone remember the 2007-08 season? - and nothing has changed, not even with Brady turning 40 before the season started. No, this is the way Belichick coaches. He keeps his QB in late, has his starters take snaps on special teams from wire-to-wire (Rob Gronkowski broke his arm on an extra point once in a one-sided game with the Colts) and continually insists that no one player is bigger than any other. That might not be entirely accurate, but Belichick is sticking with his story until he tells us otherwise. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.


Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

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."