Patriots

Quickness, extended plays leading to hits? Brady says no, 'I am what I am'

Quickness, extended plays leading to hits? Brady says no, 'I am what I am'

FOXBORO -- Before you can get to the answer of how the Patriots might be able to better keep Tom Brady upright this season, you first have to understand why he's being knocked down in the first place. 

It's not necessarily that he's holding onto the football longer, allowing deeper routes to develop, Brady explained on Wednesday. It's not that he's without Julian Edelman running shorter routes; Danny Amendola and James White have had productive seasons as Patriots quick-hitters, Jerod Mayo pointed out on the latest Quick Slants the Podcast.

It might be because the Patriots haven't controlled games and have been forced to throw. It might be simply bad execution between Brady, his offensive line or his receivers. Or all three.

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One reason Brady definitively scratched from the list this week: He's older, he's getting faster, and he's held onto the ball longer to extend plays, leading to more punishment. 

That was one hypothesis posed to Brady jokingly during his weekly press conference at Gillette Stadium.

"That’s not it, nope," he said, smiling. "I wish I could do that. Yeah, I am what I am. Who said that? That’s a very famous quote. Popeye said that."

Brady has never claimed that he's continuing to get quicker as he ages. He did say last season, however, that he believes he's faster than he was coming out of college. 

"I'm never going to run a 4.7 [second] 40," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show. "I mean, I'll never . . . I never have been able to do that. I never will be able to do that. But I've timed my 40 from what it was when I was coming out of college, and what it is now, and it's maybe two or three tenths faster than it was."

It's long been Brady's goal to do whatever he can to imitate some of the younger more mobile quarterbacks in the league like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. He openly lauds -- and is in awe of -- their ability to tap into their athleticism to help them make plays. 

Brady's not going to reach their level when it comes to the use of their legs, and he knows that. But he has done enough work that his quickness is at a place that allows him to continue to be successful 18 years into the league. 

"So much for me is just that initial step," Brady told WEEI last fall. "If you can have a little quickness in the pocket to evade an oncoming defensive lineman, you can extend the play. If it's a lethargic first step, then they always kind of get you.

"I’ve really tried to work on that first step. I don’t think my instincts in the pocket to move and scramble -- well, I would say to scramble -- those aren’t really inbred in me just based on my style of play. It never has been. I’ve just tried to stay in the pocket and buy time in the pocket to allow my receivers to get open."

That ability to buy himself time, though, hasn't reached the point where Brady is actually giving defenders more opportunities to hit him. And that's exactly what they've done through five games. He's on track to absorb a career-high in terms of sacks and quarterback hits.

There are a multitude of reasons for why that is, but even the 40-year-old with the maniacal regimen will acknowledge that it isn't because he has too much in the way of mobility.

Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

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Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

Monday night, Cameron Wake will be trying to hurt Tom Brady. Pain – inflicting it, enduring it, the specter of it – is a football fact of life.

And no matter how hard the NFL tries to legislate out the danger of the game, it will always be inherent. Brady gets that better than Wake does. He’s been on the receiving end of it a lot longer than Wake’s been dishing it out. And while Brady’s gets to do his job with plenty of protections, he spends a lot more time prone and vulnerable than Wake does.

The Dolphins defensive end went deep last week talking about the nature of the game, the protections afforded, the risks players take and what he sees as the inconsistencies.

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Asked about the injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier last week, Wake said, “I’ve seen a lot of injuries so, unfortunately, that comes along with. This is my thing: I want to hurt everybody I play. I don’t want to injure anybody.

“I want you to be able to get up and go to the next play or feed your family and play next week but I want you to say ‘Man, Cameron Wake …’ ” Wake continued. “I don’t want you to be off the team or like not playing. I want you to obviously be physically defeated. I want to intimidate. I don’t want you to be harmed beyond tomorrow at all. It doesn’t always work that way.”

Continuing, Wake did a little math to make a very good point.

“We have 10 guys on IR or whatever? I’m sure every team has about that with 50 players on a team and then when you think about a 90-man roster … That’s a 20 percent chance every time you’re on the field, a 20 percent chance that whatever happens to you, you’re not going to play football this year.”

As appetizing as the NFL tries to make its product for the masses, the truth is that every single one of the players in the league has reconciled himself to the brutal, primitive nature of the game in which an opponent isn’t just defeated but beaten – literally.

Which means you will see a quarterback exhibit the fencing response as Tom Savage did Sunday, a linebacker unable to walk off the field because he can’t feel his legs as Shazier did last Monday or a well-liked tight end go barbaric on an opponent who made him mad as Rob Gronkowski did last Sunday.

Consumers, advertisers, social media and fans recoil. But violence is as much a part of the game as the football.

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."