Patriots

Tom Brady oozes disappointment after Patriots offense struggles vs. Eagles

Tom Brady oozes disappointment after Patriots offense struggles vs. Eagles

PHILADELPHIA — Tom Brady’s temporary home at Lincoln Financial Field was on the far wall of the visitor’s locker room, last spot on the left.

When we media slithered into the locker room at about 7:58 p.m., there was a travel bag perched on the folding chair in front of his locker but no Brady. Not terribly unusual. Sometimes he’s there, sometimes he’s not. Eventually, though, he’ll wander through, pluck his stuff and head for the interview room.

Except, this time he didn’t. In the 20 minutes we were wandered around collecting insights from his teammates, there was no sign of him.

When Brady stepped to the podium at 8:29 p.m., he barely had any expression on his face at all. Eyebrows slanted down, mouth set, eyes slowly surveying the room to field questions he answered in a voice barely above a murmur after the Patriots 17-10 win.

Despondent Tom and the Otherwise Happy 52. Brady answered questions without elaboration. There were no, “Good to be 9-1…” “Tough to win on the road…” platitudes. He wasn’t looking to put a dollop of whipped cream on an offensive performance that he likely felt looked like crap.

This is the transcript of Brady’s media session provided by the Eagles media relations crew.

Q: On struggles in the red zone:
TB: “Yeah, yeah. I don’t have anymore. I don’t know.”

Q: On whether there is a way to remedy it or if it’s just about practicing and execution:
TB: “Yeah, I think that’s right. Practice and execution.”

Q: On the offense at this point of the year:
TB: “Up and down. That’s what it looks like to me. We could probably do everything better.”

Q: On how he would describe their defense:
TB: “They are doing a great job. Keeping us in every game.”

Q: On whether he is discouraged:
TB: “Well, we just played for three hours. So I think everyone is a little tired.”

Q: On battling and games like this late in the season:
TB: “Yeah, it’s good to win. It’s good to win. Go on the road and win is always tough. They all count the same. But anytime you go on the road and beat a good team is a good feeling.”

Q: On whether he is concerned about the offense or if it’ll work its way out:
TB: “I don’t think it matters what I think, it matters what we do.”

Q: On how much WR Julian Edelman reminds him of his [Edelman’s] passer rating:
TB: “Not much. It was a good throw. So thank you guys.”

The Patriots were 5 for 16 on third down, 1 for 3 in the red zone and punted eight times. Brady threw 47 times for 216 yards. That’s 4.6 yards per attempt. He's only been under 5 YPA three times since the start of 2014, and it's happened twice this year — at Buffalo and at Philly.

A would-be touchdown pass was dropped by Julian Edelman. A couple of would-be picks were dropped by Eagles defenders including one where Brady airmailed James White on a screen pass.

For the third time this season, Brady completed less than 56 percent of his passes. He hasn’t had more than three games with a completion percentage lower than 56 percent since 2006. He’s got six games to go with an offense that’s spinning its wheels when it tries to run and has to work way too hard to get anything done through the air.

The last time Brady went against an Eagles defense he threw for 505. Five. Oh. Five. Seems like a long, long time ago.

The Patriots won this game thanks to defense, special teams, field position and their ability to avoid penalties and turnovers.

Brady’s bound to come in for a pile of criticism this week for being bummed out after a win. On one level, that makes sense. A whole lot of his teammates played great and the team’s most important player looks like his dog got run over.

On the other side of it, after 20 seasons, Brady knows what good offensive football looks like. The Patriots aren’t playing it now and barely have all season. There are no signs that they are about to become potent. Brady knows that games when an opponent is going to be full strength and capable of hanging 30 on his defense are inevitable. Can he help them keep pace? He’s said in the past he’s at the stage where he now feels he has the answers to the test. Only problem is, with this offense, he’s taking the test without a pencil.

They’re running sprintout passes to the right to keep Brady away from blindside pressure from the left. They averaged 3.4 yards per carry on the ground (22 carries, 74 yards). It’s the ninth time in 11 games they averaged 3.5 yards per carry or less. Brady completed 10 passes that were at or behind the line of scrimmage. He completed 13 that were between one and 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.  

As the Patriots left the field, Bill Belichick called to Brady to “laud him for doing a good job” and clapped Brady on the chest, according to Mike Giardi of NFL Media.

As Brady left the interview room, he pulled up the hood on his sweatshirt. He walked past rubbernecking security and stadium personnel. He never broke stride as people called his name. Head down, he silently marched straight toward the Patriots bus and out of Philadelphia.

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Let the Terrell Suggs speculation begin: Ravens reunion? Patriots pickup?

Let the Terrell Suggs speculation begin: Ravens reunion? Patriots pickup?

Could the Patriots be seeing a familiar, old rival in the playoffs? Or could they be seeing him on their own defense for their playoff run?

The Arizona Cardinals released longtime Pats nemesis Terrell Suggs, 37, on Friday and he'll be on waivers until Monday. While the Patriots, at 10-3, are far down on the waiver list to claim him, the former Pro Bowl linebacker's old team, the Baltimore Ravens, with the NFL's best record at 12-2, are last in line, so a potential reunion appears to be a long shot.

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If he goes unclaimed, he'll be a free agent, calling to mind two years ago when the Pats snapped up pass rusher James Harrison, then 39, after Harrison passed through waivers following his release from the Steelers. 

While it's not the Patriots defense, but an offense that hasn't scored more than 20 points in a game since Halloween, that could use a boost this season, the idea of the guy who once refused to say Tom Brady's name (he'd call him "the pretty boy up north") surfacing in New England was too good to resist for a couple of ex-players:

'What it's all about': McCourty twins donate to local Pop Warner team in need ahead of national championship

'What it's all about': McCourty twins donate to local Pop Warner team in need ahead of national championship

FOXBORO -- Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty get a number of requests throughout the course of a given year. They can't act on all of them, but one popped up on their shared Twitter account recently that caught their attention.

The Lawrence 10U Pop Warner team was on the verge of something special, but they needed a hand. They were one game away from having a chance to go to Orlando to compete for the Pop Warner national championship, but they were looking for help with funding.

"I looked into it and saw before the season they almost lost the team, I guess," Devin said. "They didn't have enough money. So they raised money for the team. If they lost [before going to Orlando], they were just going to put the money back into the organization. So we both sent checks to them figuring if they win, they go. If not, it'll help them going into next year. They won."

According to Bill Burt of The Eagle-Tribune, the McCourty's sent $5,000 apiece that would help the team cover expenses to go to Orlando.

"I was going back and forth with them on Twitter, and they offered to help," coach Ryan Mustapha told the Eagle-Tribune. "I was in shock . . . They loved our story, that we're a [urban] team in a struggling city. This really, really helps us going forward."

Devin McCourty, now in his 10th NFL season, has made a point to be involved in the community in a number of ways since his rookie season. Since Jason arrived to the team in the spring of 2018, he's been all-in on a number of local causes alongside his twin.

Their Tackle Sickle Cell campaign works to raise money, awareness and increase blood donations to fight against sickle cell disease. They helped head up the Social Justice Fund, established by Patriots players, which helped raise $450,000 in grants that went to five different organizations doing work in the areas of social justice and equality. The McCourtys were also very vocal in their support for the Student Opportunity Act, an overhaul of the state's funding formula for public education that was approved last month and promises to infuse $1.5 billion into school districts over the next seven years. 

For the McCourtys, their work away from the field has allowed them to become more familiar with a place like Lawrence.

"I thought it was cool. Just from all the stuff we've been doing, hearing about different areas of Massachusetts -- I've been here 10 years but I'm not from Massachusetts," Devin said. "Just hearing of different areas and knowing some of the struggles, the city of Lawrence. For some of these kids, this may be one of the best experiences of their childhood, to be able to go to Disney and compete for a national championship. And it's fitting because it's in Title Town . . .

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"To me, sometimes you hear things, and it just aligns with everything. I remember growing up and wanting to go to Disney and seeing that on TV. Soon as we saw it, we both screen-shotted it because that makes sense to us. I think that's what I've learned since I've been in the league. You gotta just do things that you're passionate about. A lot of requests that people give us are good things, but not everything is something you'd be passionate about."

Finding those passions and diving in head-first, Devin said, is "what it's all about."

"I think it's pretty sad if football only meant the games you played, the recognition you get from playing a sport," he said. "I think especially when you think about it growing up, I wasn't the best player growing up. I only had one offer coming out of high school. There were other guys in my area that were better and then obviously as you go, as you reach further out, kids get better. I think when you get blessed with an opportunity, it's for a reason. I think the reason is to make a difference off the field. 

"As professional athletes, it's sad, but we could say the same things that teachers, parents say to kids and they'll listen more because they'll think what we're saying means more. I think that's a responsibility that's very important. It's something you gotta take seriously. But I think it's also something you have to be proud of to have that opportunity to be a role model to kids who might have a similar background to you. Sometimes worse. You can be an inspiration, give them hope. 

"In a situation like this, you can bless them with funds. They don't care about the money, but they'll remember the memories and the fact that a professional football player took the time to invest in them. I hope means more to them as they get older and realize, 'I am important, I can accomplish things that I might not see people doing right outside my window, but I can accomplish things because there are people out there that care and want to invest in me and see me do good things.' "

The McCourtys played Pop Warner for the Valley Cottage Indians in Nyack, New York. They lost in the state championship as 12-year-olds, Devin told reporters earlier this season. "You don’t forget," he said at the time, "any time you play for a championship and you don’t win it." But the memory of playing on that team -- and competing against fellow future NFL players Ray Rice and Tyvon Branch -- remains a strong one. 

That's part of the reason why the McCourtys wanted to help the Lawrence 10U team. Devin, who tries to inspire Patriots defensive backs immediately before every game with a few words, even recorded a video to be played for the Lawrence players before their first game in Florida. 

"I basically told them to go have fun," he said. "That's what it's about. To have the opportunity to go out there and compete for a championship, but compete for a championship with guys that are your friends, guys you enjoy playing with. 

"So somewhat [like a Patriots pregame speech]. Just not yelling and screaming."

After beating Northbridge, New Jersey, and Proviso Township, Illinois, in the semifinal earlier this week, the Lawrence 10U team will compete for the national title against Palmetto, Florida, on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.