Patriots

Redskins' WR Gaffney explains No. 3 role on Pats

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Redskins' WR Gaffney explains No. 3 role on Pats

FOXBORO -- Jabar Gaffney spent three seasons in New England. Since, he's spent two seasons in Denver, and is currently in his first season with the Washington Redskins.

And his presence on the field, Sunday, against the Patriots, may remind those in New England that it's not an easy task to try and find the right fit for a No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart.

That's what Gaffney was when he was with the Patriots. There was Randy Moss. There was Wes Welker. And then there were guys like Gaffney.

He was part of the 2007 powerhouse offense, along with Moss, Welker, and wide receiver Donte Stallworth. Gaffney finished that season with a career-high five touchdown receptions and 449 receiving yards.

These days in New England, the Patriots are still searching for that No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart. Technically, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez own that role, but still, they're listed as tight ends.

Gaffney offered some insight, during a conference call on Wednesday, as to why he was able to click with Tom Brady right away.

"Just all the attention to detail and his attention to detail," said Gaffney about Brady. "He pretty much lets you know what he expects and he puts in a lot of work. I was always a guy that didnt mind putting in work, so we got on the same page real quick."

In order to succeed as the No. 3 wide receiver in New England, Gaffney said, one has to "look at himself as the number one, because on any play, Brady really does probably the best job of any quarterback of reading the play and he will get it to you. You want to be reliable on that side because if he comes to you, you have to make plays."

That's something that guys like Chad Ochocinco and the recently cut Taylor Price have been unable to do.

"Its a pretty tough offense, and if youre not really used to it, it can be a little overwhelming," said Gaffney. "And with Bill Belichick, if you dont know your stuff, hes not going to put you out there and trust you in those situations.

"You have to be smart out there and you have to know everything. You can have four or five different routes on each play and you just need to be on the same page with the quarterback and reading the defense at the same time."

Brady and Belichick praised Gaffney on Wednesday for being able to come in and do the things he was supposed to.

"We know Jabar is an excellent route runner, hes a good receiver, very disciplined and dependable guy," said Belichick. "The Redskins change their passing game around from week to week. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan do a good job of that. They have a lot of core concepts but they build them from different formations, different personnel groups. And then they usually have a few patterns each week that really attack that particular team that theyre playing, whether its the individual personnel or the scheme that they're using and they do a good job of that."

"He could do it all," said Brady. He plays every position. I think thats the thing makes him such a good receiver, is his versatility. There are times when you're in the slot and then you have to go outside and now you're in a bunch of receivers or you're in a combination route with another receiver. Whatever it was, hed always figure out a way to understand what he had to do and then get open."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

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 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said, “you have to love challenges.”

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