Patriots

Kraft: Football's life lessons worth the risks

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Kraft: Football's life lessons worth the risks

BOSTON -- Attending a Team IMPACT's Game-Day Gala at the Seaport World Trade Center on Thursday night, Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft responded to a New York Times report regarding flaws in the league's concussion research

Asked if he had seen the report, Kraft replied, "Have you seen the NFL's reaction to that?" 

"I'll just say this," Kraft continued, "any contact sport, whether it's women's soccer, hockey or football, there are going to be concussions. I'll tell you this, that I think the game has never been safer from an equipment point of view, from a medical point of view. I know I played, two of my sons played, my three grandsons play so we have three generations playing the game, and I think the life lessons that you get playing football are worth the risk."

The NFL released two separate rebuttals to the Times article earlier in the day on Thursday, saying that the piece "is contradicted by clear facts that refute both the thesis of the story and each of its allegations."

When a reporter began a question to Kraft by saying that the NFL acknowledged the reporting of concussions was "incomplete," Kraft responded quickly, saying, "Inaccurate. Inaccurate. They put out a 50-page reply to it. But we're here to celebrate Team IMPACT tonight, and I'll let you deal with those issues."

In the initial rebuttal published by the NFL, it wrote, "The studies never claimed to be based on every concussion that was reported or that occurred. Moreover, the fact that not all concussions were reported is consistent with the fact that reporting was strongly encouraged by the League but not mandated, as documents provided to the Times showed."

Team IMPACT, which was co-founded by Dan Kraft and Jay Calnan, pairs children who are facing chronic or life-threatening illnesses with college athletic teams.

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Matt Nagy: Flowers might not be a big name, but he is for coaches

Matt Nagy: Flowers might not be a big name, but he is for coaches

FOXBORO -- The Patriots rank last in the league in sacks, tied with the Raiders and Giants, with seven. Just a shade over one per game on average.

Not great.

But going into last weekend's game with the Chiefs, the Patriots ranked second in the league in pressure percentage, according to ESPN. And they hurried Patrick Mahomes into some bad decisions. Pressures on the quarterback led to Duron Harmon's interception in and Stephon Gilmore's pass-breakup -- both of which occurred in the end zone.

One week prior, Adrian Clayborn -- who leads the team with 20 quarterback pressures, but hasn't sacked the quarterback -- hit Andrew Luck to force an interception by Patrick Chung.

Bears coach Matt Nagy acknowledged that the Patriots haven't had much production in terms of sacks, but he insisted they made life difficult for quarterbacks at different points.

"That’s kind of what they do . . . and I don’t think that’s ever necessarily changed," Nagy said. "Again, they have a belief in their system and how it goes and how it works and they’ve been successful. Whether there’s a game where they have a lot of pressure or there’s a game where there’s not much, you’ve got to be able to adapt to it. Again, being around the football, tipping the ball in the air, making plays in the red zone, not giving up touchdowns and having three field goals kicked, that type of deal is always going to work when you just do what you’re supposed to do and that’s what they do."

Though Trey Flowers missed almost two full games -- he suffered a concussion early in Week 2 and missed Week 3 -- he's second on the team with 17 total quarterback pressures.

"He’s not the quote-unquote big name guy, but he’s the big name guy amongst the coaching world," Nagy said. "We know who he is and what he can do and we respect him and know he’s a hell of a player. As you would anybody, you always want to know where they’re at and how they do things and that happens in film study. He can hold the point, he’s strong, he’s quick, he’s fast, he plays in front of the quarterback. We know that he’s a good football player."

Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores said he values pressures a great deal. If his defense can put pressure on the Bears Sunday, even if they're not necessarily sacking the quarterback, they should be in OK shape.

"Well, I think anytime you can sack the quarterback, that's great," Flores said. "With that, when you're sacking him, you're pressuring him, and I think no quarterback likes having pressure on the edge or up the middle. So, yeah, I value pressures a lot, and I think that goes a long way toward marrying a rush and the coverage and playing really good defense. 

"So, getting pressure on the quarterback is, I would say, definitely something that we strive to do. I think we've gotten that. I would say Adrian Clayborn's a guy who he doesn't have a sack this season, but he's put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that's led to some mistakes. He put some pressure on Mahomes that led to some mistakes from Mahomes last week. I think the pressure definitely helps us to create some turnovers. It created some turnovers for us [last week], and hopefully we can continue to do that moving forward."

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