Patriots

Tom Brady fired up to talk about why the playoffs are different

Tom Brady fired up to talk about why the playoffs are different

FOXBORO -- It's been a relatively mellow year for Tom Brady when it's come to his podium visits.

You'd be hard-pressed to come up with any signature hot-and-bothered moments the likes of which we've seen from him occasionally in years past. Last season, after a Week 1 defeat at home to the Chiefs, Brady bluntly called out his teammates. He did the same after a Week 2 win in Minnesota in 2014 because he wasn't happy with what he'd seen. 

This year? Not much sizzle.

In Jacksonville, he smiled when he came to the podium. In Detroit, he was more despondent than angry. "We're just not doing anything well enough." Tennessee's headline was, "Just a bad day for all of us." After the Miracle in Miami, he pointed out, "Football is a crazy game." In Pittsburgh, he grinned and shook his head. "Didn't get the job done."

On the field, it's equally hard to recall (on the pissed-off end) blown gaskets on the sidelines, or (on the jacked-up end) screaming, shaking-with-excitement, face-mask-to-face-mask touchdown celebrations. And in recent weeks, whether because of injury or something else, we've pointed out that he hasn't done his usual pregame fire-up-the-crowd fist pump at the end of the stadium opposite the Patriots tunnel.

If he's been consciously conserving, maybe it's because he's been tired. Maybe it's because he's been focused on things like balance and positive energy -- things he's spoken about for years, but at times, in the heat of the moment, has put to the side.

Maybe the dialed-back approach could be explained by his belief that this team can gather itself in tough times without his prodding. Or maybe there have been tough times when he's felt as though his prodding wouldn't make a dent so why bother? Maybe the prodding has taken place behind the scenes. 

Or maybe, just maybe, Brady has been saving it? Maybe he's focused on pacing his emotional releases in his 41-year-old season.

On Thursday, we got what felt like a mini-release, a rare show of emotion at the microphone. It was sparked by a question about why he enjoys playing in the postseason.

"There’s been so many plays," Brady said, "that I’ve seen in my career that had we not made that one play, which could be just an extra effort, could be an arm tackle, could be just one extra push of the pile that ends up being the difference in an entire game and really, an entire season. 

"That’s what it’s all about. It’s great when it comes out for us and I think you just try to express that I don’t think you can compete any less than what you’re ultimately capable of competing at. That level, that’s intense and it’s every play and it’s just, you max out. You can’t leave everything behind. You’ve just got give everything you’ve got."

Cliched as some of that might read, his delivery felt genuine. It felt like he might be referencing Dont'a Hightower's tackle on Marshawn Lynch in Super Bowl XLIX or Danny Amendola's two-point conversion push against the Falcons two years later. It felt like something he might say to other players.

If Brady has been pacing himself, what better time than now to let it out, in the process letting his teammates and everyone else know that this is when every little thing matters? 

The urgency is what stood out. There was an urgency to Brady’s tone that hasn't been heard much this season, an urgency that indicated that even after almost two decades of postseason play, there's nothing else like it for him.

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Does Caserio's contract clause with Patriots violate NFL rules?

Does Caserio's contract clause with Patriots violate NFL rules?

The tampering dispute between the Patriots and Houston Texans over Pats director of player personnel Nick Caserio appears to be settled - for now - after an exchange of statements Friday between Robert Kraft and Texans CEO Cal McNair.

Still, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out that the clause in Caserio's contract that keeps him from leaving for other teams being questioned. "Some in league circles are now asking whether the Caserio clause complies with league rules," as Florio puts it.

Other teams thinking the Patriots are violating league rules? When has that ever happened?

This is the part of the NFL's anti-tampering rule that's the focus of the issue:

"..the inquiring club is prepared to offer a position as a high-level employee . . . the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.”

Seeking a Patriots employee to become your team's general manager would certainly qualify as "high-level." Florio reports that one source says at least one other team's non-"high-level" employee had a similar clause and when it was challenged, the NFL ultimately invalidated it.

The NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that the Texans asked what they would have to give up in a trade to get Caserio, whose Patriots contract is up after the 2020 draft.

The Texans will reportedly go without a GM this season. Sounds as if this is far from over.

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Chandler Jones motivated by trade from Patriots: 'I never want to be traded again'

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Chandler Jones motivated by trade from Patriots: 'I never want to be traded again'

Chandler Jones has settled in as a member of the Cardinals, but he isn't getting too comfortable.

The former Patriot knows the nature of the business in the NFL and that he can be traded any given moment. Jones found that out the hard way when he was traded from New England to Arizona back in 2016, and he still uses that trade as motivation three years later.

“I feel like at any time I can be traded,” Jones said, via Kyle Odegard of azcardinals.com. “It might sound bizarre to say, but I’m someone who has been in that situation. I’ve been traded before and that little sense of rejection is a crappy feeling, honestly. That’s what drives me. That’s what motivates me. I never want to get traded again.”

Jones shifted from defensive end to linebacker after joining the Cardinals, and he continues to produce at a high level. The 29-year-old has racked up double-digit sacks in each of his three seasons with Arizona (11 in 2016, 17 in 2017, 13 in 2018).

But it appears Jones may have learned a valuable lesson from his time under Pats head coach Bill Belichick: it isn't all about stats.

“It’s not about getting double-digit sacks,” Jones told Odegard. “The big thing is just being consistent. Speaking from a coach’s perspective, you want a player that’s consistent. You want a player that you know what you’re going to get day in and day out, on and off the field. A lot of that gives credit to some of my numbers, and hopefully I can stay consistent.”

Jones signed a five-year, $82.5 million extension in 2017, so using his trade from the Patriots as fuel certainly seems to have paid off.

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