Here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.
Brady Humble, But Focused Heading into 2017 – If you’ve followed this team closely over the years, there’s been an odd shift in the dynamic over the past couple of weeks as the drum is quietly beginning to beat for those wondering how many more times #12 will take the field here in New England.
There have been several pieces recently pondering Brady’s remaining years, with the quarterback obviously closer to the end than many would like to think. However, one piece on ESPN by Ian O’Connor seems to instead be pondering his legacy and how he compares with other such players who have changed the game forever.
In the NFL, there aren’t many who fall into that category. You can go back to players like Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Jerry Rice and Jim Brown, among others, and it becomes an interesting conversation. The NBA obviously has Michael Jordan, who is the measuring stick in terms of his impact on the game and it’s the exact subject that O’Connor pondered as he conducted a recent interview with Brady.
Brady’s drive and determination is well-documented here in New England. He wasn’t a naturally gifted athlete, but he’s certainly one of the best examples of how hard work can often make up for a lack of athleticism that plenty of other players who have played in the NFL were lucky enough to have had but were never able to take advantage of.
When you look at what Brady’s accomplished over his career, he’s in a unique situation considering he’s won 5 championships and his team appears loaded heading into 2017 with enough talent to potentially win number six. It’s an incredible resume, and as he gets closer to the end of his career it’s hard not to begin the discussions about where he ranks among the best ever.
Is Tom Brady the “Michael Jordan” of the NFL?
But is he the greatest? Here in New England, most of us believe it to be true and he’s been getting additional support from others in both the media and his peers who also agree. But Brady doesn’t feel he’s worthy of those accolades, and he believes that it’s the situation he’s been in that has played the biggest part in his success.
“I don’t agree with that,” he said via ESPN, “and I’ll tell you why. I know myself as a player. I’m really a product of what I’ve been around, who I was coached by, what I played against, in the era I played in. I really believe if a lot of people were in my shoes they could accomplish the same kinds of things. So I’ve been very fortunate. … I don’t ever want to be the weak link.”
When asked about the “weak link” statement, Brady simply reminded O’Connor of his past history of already falling behind other players and constantly having to prove himself.
“I was the backup quarterback on an 0-8 team in my freshman year of high school,” said Brady. “I got to Michigan, I was seventh [string], and I had a hard time getting to be No. 2, and when I finally got to No. 1 there was someone else [Drew Henson] they wanted to be No. 1. I got to be a sixth-round pick behind a great player, Drew Bledsoe, and then I got an opportunity, and I’m still trying to take advantage of it. Part of who I am now is very much who I was, and that was cultivated growing up.”
As he heads into this season, where he’ll be the elder statesman at the age of 40, Brady sounds as relaxed as ever. He’s already said previously during this offseason in a podcast with Peter King that the game is a little easier now because he’s already seen so much and “knows the answers to the test”. The only problem is, if he slips up and starts accidentally getting any of those answers wrong, there is a quarterback on the roster who his coaches seemingly have confidence in thanks to the fact Bill Belichick held on to Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason.
Knowing the history since the team drafted Garoppolo, Brady hasn’t let his guard down and hasn’t been affected by his presence. That’s something that already puts him ahead of past greats considering how he’s thrived instead of becoming bitter and frustrated. Competition doesn’t scare him, and Brady said it continues to drive him.
“When you’re a member of a team sport, the best guy plays,” Brady said. “So I always want to make sure I’m the best guy, and I give our team a great chance to win. But if you’re ever not [the best guy], part of being a great teammate is letting the other guy do that, as well. Competition is what has always driven me. I’ve never been one that was hand selected, to be this particular player. … In high school, college, professionally, I think the greater the competition, the more that it really allows me to dig deep and bring the best out of me.”
Winning a fifth championship was pretty remarkable, especially considering what they overcame in order to make it happen. As special as it was, Brady told O’Connor he’s aware of the significance behind winning a sixth title and it’s yet another challenge he’s looking forward to going after this season.
“The great part is the next one for me is No. 6,” Brady told him, “and I’m not on No. 1. I’m trying to reach No. 6 and I’m on No. 5. If I got to No. 6, that would have great meaning to me. It’s not trying to keep up with my idols. It’s not Magic, Jeter, Mariano [Rivera], Kobe, Duncan, guys more my age who I always admired. I just want to win because I owe it to my teammates. I’m working this year like I have none, and hopefully it results in a magical season.”
He can credit the system but it’s his attitude and his approach that will determine his future. The drum may continue to beat as those out there wonder when it will end, but for Brady, it simply looks like he’s ready to keep marching on.
Belichick has done things his way, and it’s worked out pretty well.
Belichick Has a Reason For a Smaller Coaching Staff – Prior to this past NFL Draft, Bill Belichick appeared in an interview with ESPN’s Paul Rabil’s “Suiting Up” podcast and discussed a variety of topics, one of which involved his philosophy as it pertained to his coaching staff.
The Patriots have one of the smallest coaching staffs in the league, with Belichick joined by 13 total positional group coaches and assistants, and that doesn’t include their two strength and conditioning coaches. According to Belichick, the reason behind limiting that number is because it makes it easier to get the message across.
“My philosophy, really, is that less is more, so I’d rather have fewer people doing more work than more people doing a little more work,” Belichick said via Mike Reiss. “As long as everybody is busy, as long as everybody feels productive, they feel good about what they’re doing and they feel like they’re contributing; I think when people have lag time and kind of not enough to do, that leads to getting distracted and complaining or being less productive. So even though you have more people, sometimes less work gets done.”
Looking around the AFC East, the Jets have 19 positional group coaches and assistants behind Todd Bowles, the Bills have 20 behind Sean McDermott and the Dolphins have 19 behind Adam Gase.
With each of those other teams, there are coaches who carry titles like Offensive and Defensive “Quality Control” (which New England doesn’t have) and a larger number of assistants than the Patriots have. Belichick explained that having fewer chains of command is simply much easier when it comes to getting everyone on the same page.
“From a ‘getting everybody on the same page’ standpoint, which is critical, the fewer people you have to manage, the easier it is to get everybody on the same page,” said Belichick. “So if you’re talking to 10 people, it’s hard to get all 10 people doing the same thing or doing the right thing. Now you make that number 20, instead of 10, it’s even more difficult.
“If you have five people supervising another 15 people, now you have another layer there where you’re not dealing directly with everybody, and now you’re somewhat dependent on other people to relay the message the way you want it done and to monitor it that way. Certainly, there’s a degree of that, but as much of that I can eliminate, I think works better for me.”
It’s an interesting approach by a man who has obviously had plenty of success doing things his way. Oddly enough, it’s something other teams don’t seem like they’ve been able to figure out, although this offseason has seen Belichick be about as vocal and candid about some things from that standpoint than he has during his entire tenure.
It just gives you some insight into how he thinks, along with why he’s become one of the best coaches in the game.
The full podcast can be found in Rabil’s Tweet below, which contains some other terrific comments from New England’s head coach.
— Paul Rabil (@PaulRabil) May 15, 2017
PFF Has Interesting Brady Numbers – Pro Football Focus posted an interesting graphic Monday afternoon looking at how certain quarterbacks perform both when they’re able to be protected in the pocket vs when they’re under pressure, and last season saw Brady finish with one of the more notable stats as it pertained to what they were trying to point out.
What impact does pressure have on quarterbacks? Even the best see a dip in completion percentage when pressured. pic.twitter.com/cWjyCV1oR1
— PFF (@PFF) May 15, 2017
The one flaw in this graphic that needs to be mentioned is the fact that while Brady saw the largest reduction in his completion percentage compared to other quarterbacks when he was faced with pressure, it’s worth noting that the dip was so large because Brady was the second-most accurate among the quarterback’s in this group (75.4% completion rate) when he wasn’t under pressure, and also the second-most accurate (47.2%) when he was under duress. So it’s hard to really properly count this stat as a measurement aside from realizing just how good he is compared to the other names on the list.
It’s a reminder that numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and only further points out how good Brady was in 2016 despite what teams threw at him.
Quinn Defends His Defense During Super Bowl Collapse – Falcons coach Dan Quinn has had the entire offseason to relive the final minutes of their Super Bowl loss to the Patriots and when pressed recently about whether or not the moment was just too big for his team, Quinn disagreed and gave his reason behind why his defense couldn’t get a stop during New England’s historic comeback.
“That wasn’t it,” said Quinn via the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “The guys were gassed. We had never played in the 90s (snap count). We were not traumatized at all. You could tell there was nothing left in the tank. They would come to the sideline in the fourth quarter and nobody was talking because there was nothing left.”
However, give Quinn credit. He’s spent much of his time taking responsibility for the loss and he’s taken it about as well as a coach could be expected. It’s also lead to the mantra that he’s trying to instill in his team.
“Embrace The Suck,” Quinn reportedly repeated as he spoke to players during Friday’s minicamp. “Eat a crap sandwich with a smile. This is going to be hard. Your choice: It’s a victim’s mentality or a warrior mentality. It’s like, ‘I know this run is going to be long, and it’s going to be really hard. But here I go again.’”
Atlanta is a talented team with a bright future. Now Quinn begins the same process the Patriots are going through, and he’ll have the same challenge of trying to guide his team back as both clubs try and ensure their paths cross once more next February.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown