Offensively, a mesh unit
Citing the need for practice and togetherness after an inconsistent preseason, Brady says the group remains a work in progress as new players join the mix
FOXBOROUGH - Tom Brady played in three of four exhibition games and he didn’t end the preseason overly excited about the performance of the first-team offense.
The Patriots had sparks of precision against the Buccaneers, but looked disorganized and scattered against the Lions. They were stagnant in limited snaps against the Giants.
“I think we’ve been a little bit inconsistent over the course of the preseason and we’re trying to get a lot of things straightened out,’’ Brady said yesterday. “We’re trying to do the things that we’ve consistently done well, whether it’s in training camp, in practices or in games. We haven’t had a ton of practices, so that’s where the inconsistencies come up.
“We’re a long way from figuring out where we’re going to be. I’m sure every week we’re going to improve and keep working hard at it, but we’ve only been together for five or six weeks. I’m sure [some] things are going to be good and [there’re] going to be things we need to correct. Hopefully we do enough to win.’’
Starting with Monday night’s season opener against the Dolphins.
The No. 1 scoring offense in the 2010 season has made some changes this season and it might take time for everything to fall in line, Brady said.
The Patriots are trying to incorporate veteran Chad Ochocinco into the offense. The offensive line is expected to work in veteran guard Brian Waters, who joined the team last week after the five-time Pro Bowler was waived by the Chiefs. And the running back corps now consists of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, and two rookies, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
With so many new pieces, there is only one way to move forward, Brady said.
“The way that you mesh is being together and playing, making mistakes and correcting mistakes,’’ Brady said. “As the season goes on, hopefully you make less and less mistakes.’’
The Patriots are expecting the Miami defense to pressure the offense. Linebacker Cameron Wake likely will lead that charge. He accounted for nine tackles and a sack in two games against the Patriots last season. Wake had 14 sacks last season, just his second in the NFL.
“A team like Miami, they put a lot of pressure on you in a lot of different ways,’’ Brady said. “We’ve got to understand what they’re trying to do to us by trying to study a lot of film and hopefully not make critical mistakes against them. By the time the ball is snapped on Monday night, we’re all hopefully going to be on the same page, doing the things that we need to do consistently to get the ball in the end zone, because offensive football, you need to make very consistent plays in order to sustain drives and get the ball in the end zone. If you don’t do that, then you’re not going to score points. If you don’t score points, you lose the game.’’
Practice is a good place to start, and the Patriots had everyone yesterday but offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer. Many also will be waiting to see if there is a place for veteran Deion Branch in the offense. Branch didn’t have a catch in the preseason, but continues to have the confidence of the coaching staff. Branch also has said he isn’t frustrated, he’s just working with the plans from week to week.
Coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday that Branch had a good camp and “he’s ready to have a good year.’’
Whatever challenges the Patriots offense may face, Brady said the answer is to find ways to be consistent again.
“If things don’t go well in the preseason, you correct them,’’ Brady said. “If things don’t go well in the regular season, you correct them. You’re always trying to see the things you did wrong so you can correct those things and improve on them, and then hopefully they get better over the course of the year.
“We’re working on getting them better. You wish you had every single problem solved in Week 1, but I think that’s the goal [and] how realistic it is, we’ll see when we take the field. I’m excited to see where we’re at. You’re basing it against some pretty tough competition. We have a great test on Monday.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.