Win streak aside, Brady says Pa­tri­ots can do more

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - SPORTS -

FOXBOR­OUGH, Mass. — His­tor­i­cally, Tom Brady has been hes­i­tant to ex­press sat­is­fac­tion when it comes to the Pa­tri­ots’ of­fense.

His ap­proach has re­mained un­changed this sea­son about a group that only re­cently has started to find con­sis­tency af­ter a 1-2 start. The pass­ing at­tack par­tic­u­larly has suf­fered dur­ing that time be­cause of his lack of co­he­sion with a new group of re­ceivers.

Brady didn’t eclipse 300 yards pass­ing in any of New Eng­land’s first three games, av­er­ag­ing 208 yards through the air with six to­tal touch­downs.

Things have changed dur­ing the Pa­tri­ots’ cur­rent six-game win streak, in which Brady has av­er­aged 308 yards per game and thrown 11 TDs.

It’s progress, Brady said, but what he hopes is only a glimpse at where they can be as the Pa­tri­ots pre­pare for Sun­day’s matchup at Ten­nessee.

“I don’t think we’re there. Cer­tainly not. I think we need some more time to­gether,” he said Fri­day. “We need to be kind of bat­tle-tested in th­ese games.”

While Brady cred­its the en­tire of­fense’s ded­i­ca­tion in the film room and its at­ten­tion to de­tail in game plans, the ac­qui­si­tion of re­ceiver Josh Gordon in Week 3 and re­turn of Ju­lian Edel­man af­ter miss­ing last sea­son with a torn right ACL have been big fac­tors.

Gordon has shown a dif­fer­ent facet of his ath­leti­cism each week. He posted his best game in a Pa­tri­ots uni­form in last week’s win over the Pack­ers, fin­ish­ing with five catches for 130 yards and a touch­down. The score came on a 55-yard catch-and-run that gave New Eng­land some needed dis­tance on the score­board in the fourth quar­ter. It was his sec­ond 55yard catch this sea­son.

In six games with New Eng­land, Gordon has 22 catches for 396 yards and two TDs.

Like­wise, Edel­man has started to look like the go-to tar­get Brady has de­pended on in re­cent years. He fol­lowed his first 100-yard re­ceiv­ing game of the sea­son at Buf­falo in Week 8 with six catches for 71 yards against Green Bay.

“I think his men­tal and phys­i­cal tough­ness are just un­matched in a lot of ways,” Brady said of Edel­man. “I have so much con­fi­dence in him. He re­ally does all the dirty work for us, you know? He’s so scrappy and goes in there and blocks hard, catches balls over the mid­dle. We put him in a lot of dif­fer­ent po­si­tions and he al­ways seems to come through for us.”

In the af­ter­math of his trade, Gordon said he had no doubt he was go­ing to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity with the Pa­tri­ots fol­low­ing a tu­mul­tuous ten­ure with the Browns that in­cluded his re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for drug and al­co­hol de­pen­dence, and sev­eral sus­pen­sions.

He has flour­ished in New Eng­land’s strict en­vi­ron­ment, which he called com­fort­able and “a real home.” He’s also ben­e­fited from build­ing a quick rap­port with Brady.

“It’s great that he has a cer­tain amount of trust in me to put it in my di­rec­tion,” Gordon said. “And, I just want to come down and make a play on it.”

Brady said Gordon, who de­buted in the Week 4 win over Mi­ami, has ex­ceeded expectations.

“I think he’s done re­ally every­thing the coaches have asked him to do. Here early, stays late, al­ways get­ting ex­tra reps at prac­tice, takes as many reps as he can, and it’s been fun to see,” he said.

It’s all helped mask a drop-off in pro­duc­tion this sea­son by tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has missed two of the last three games with an­kle and back in­juries. He has 29 catches for 448 yards, but has only one TD on the sea­son.

Gronk is of­fi­cially listed as ques­tion­able for Sun­day af­ter be­ing lim­ited in prac­tice all week. He de­clined to say if he thought he was phys­i­cally ready to play, adding the de­ci­sion of whether he trav­eled to Nashville or suited up was not his own.

“It’s up to the coaches,” he said. What­ever per­son­nel Brady has avail­able to him, he is adamant that there’s still an­other level for this of­fense to reach be­fore sea­son’s end.

“Things that we do well we’re go­ing to keep build­ing on, and things that we’re not do­ing well, you try them maybe a dif­fer­ent year or dif­fer­ent play­ers,” he said. “We’re still try­ing to fig­ure those things out.”

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