Brian Hoyer

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.

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“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.

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Hoyer's decision was made when Patriots came calling

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Hoyer's decision was made when Patriots came calling

FOXBORO -- It was brief, but Brian Hoyer was a free agent for a period of time last week. The Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco, and the Niners released Hoyer instead of trading him outright to New England. There were other teams that could have used a quarterback -- the Packers, for instance, were reportedly interested -- but Hoyer had his heart set on New England. 

He said it was a "no-brainer" to return to the place where his pro career started.

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"To me, an opportunity to come back and be with this organization, I didn't really want to pass it up," Hoyer said. "And also, when you move around a lot, to move back to somewhere where you've lived before -- especially for my wife and kids and stuff like that -- theres a familiarity there. I think that had part to do with it, too."

Hoyer has played for five teams since the Patriots released him before the start of the 2012 season, but his travel time has been extensive over the course of the last couple of weeks even by his standards. His final game with the Niners was in Philadelphia so, after being in the East, he flew back to San Francisco before finding out he was traded. He arrived in Foxboro on Wednesday, then flew back to the Bay Area during the bye week to get some things in order. Now he's back. 

Five cross-country flights in nine days . . . and all the while he's trying to get caught up on the basics of an offense that he's familiar with but still needs to brush up on. Assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski has been instrumental in helping him get prepared for this week's game with the Broncos, Hoyer explained. 

Having an understanding of how the locker room operates, and what it's like in a meeting run by Bill Belichick, has helped. 

"To go back into that team meeting and listen to Bill, it was almost like a flashback," Hoyer said. "It was like a dream. It's great to be back, and to come back somewhere where you've been."

Hoyer added: "It's kind of cool to see some of the guys that I came in with are now some of the veteran leaders on this team. We're the old guys . . . If it had to happen, to be able to come back into a place where you started out, and you know a lot of people, and you can walk in Day 1 and you have a pretty good grasp of the base offense and see some familiar faces, it was definitely exciting."

As for what's changed, if anything, with Tom Brady, Hoyer smiled and said, "Just looks a little older, I think."

He then credited Brady, Belichick and the Patriots system for helping him carve out a career that's lasted since he signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie out of Michigan State in 2009.

"I really don't think I would've lasted this long had I not been in New England to start off with," he said. "From learning from Tom, from learning from Bill . . . I think that allowed me to have the career I've had to this point."

And now it'll continue in the place it began.

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Belichick goes with what he knows in bringing back Brian Hoyer

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Belichick goes with what he knows in bringing back Brian Hoyer

Bill Belichick's reasoning for wanting Brian Hoyer as his team's backup for 2017? Pretty simple.

"We've had him," Belichick said during a conference call on Monday morning.

The Patriots and Hoyer worked together for three-plus years between his rookie season in 2009 and 2012, when he was released just before the start of the regular season. That relatively brief marriage still provides more than enough in terms of background for Belichick and his staff to understand how Hoyer will work once inside the Gillette Stadium walls.

It's not just that Hoyer understands the Patriots system, which is significant, obviously. But it's that there aren't the same number of unknowns involved with Hoyer that there might be with another player brought in off the street. The Patriots know what he can handle and how he'll fit into the locker room. What he's done in the five-plus years since leaving New England did nothing to turn them off to bringing him back. 

"We knew what he could do," Belichick said. "He's been productive. He's been in a lot of big games and big situations so . . . just try to get him ready to go."

This season, as a member of the 49ers, Hoyer completed 119 of 205 attempts (58 percent) for 1,245 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. For his career, the 32-year-old carries a 59.3 completion percentage and he's thrown 48 touchdowns against 30 picks.