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Brady says continuity key to Patriots offense

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The Sports Xchange

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are off to quite an impressive start to 2015 as they head into their bye week.

The defending Super Bowl champs are 3-0, thanks largely to a No. 1 offense buoyed by the NFL’s No. 1 passing attack that has the Patriots No. 2 in points.

In many ways it’s a continuation of what pushed New England to another Lombardi Trophy – aided by a Darrelle Revis-led defense. But people also forget that at this time a year ago many were questioning a 2-2 Patriots team that had just been blown out on Monday Night Football in Kansas City. Some were also wondering if the then-37-year-old Brady was showing his age.

Those questions are now long forgotten. According to Brady, a big part of the Patriots’ early-season offensive success is about the familiarity of the unit. While there have been changes on the interior offensive line and Dion Lewis has taken over for Shane Vereen in the passing back role, key targets like wide receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Rob Gronkowski and others are well trained in the Brady way of doing things.

“We have some veteran players on offense, guys that I think have worked together for a long time,” Brady said of the unit hitting stride right out of the gates. “I think that continuity certainly helps. Hopefully, you can get off to a really good start, and you can build on things over the course of a lot of practices, a lot of throws, a lot of conversations. When you start fresh all the time, I think that can get challenging. So, I think the passing offense is all about anticipation. It’s about trust, being on the same page. The only way to do that is to have experience.”

The group has also injected tight end Scott Chandler to the mix. And last week, even young trade addition wide receiver Keshawn Martin, who arrived via trade from the Texans.

“It doesn’t always necessarily need to be together,” Brady continued. “I mean, if someone has a lot of years of experience in the league, you have a lot of belief that that person knows how to get open in a pro-style offense against a pro-caliber corner or safety. So you just try to build up on those types of things. We worked pretty hard in the spring, had a good camp and we got off to a decent start. So hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Given his career success and fact that Patriots teams generally improve as the season plays out, that’s probably a safe bet. The unit will also get some potential additions in the coming weeks off of PUP. Second-year starting center Bryan Stork and receiver Brandon LaFell, Brady’s third option last fall, should only add to the potent attack.

Health willing, the offense will continue to roll.

But in the end the questions in New England at the bye week are the same as they were heading into training camp. Same as they’ve been at various times in the past.

Can the defense be good enough to be a complementary part of a championship team?

Revis and Co. proved themselves to be just that last winter.

Now the likes of Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, budding star linebacker Jamie Collins and others will have to prove it again for a defense that hit the bye ranked 19th in the NFL (23rd against the run and 18th against the pass). The group was also 15th in points allowed.

The New England offense is clearly good enough, maybe good enough to challenge some records.

The defense still faces its questions.

Of course that’s where Brady and the offense were at this point a year ago.

And look how that turned out.

–Running back Dion Lewis ranks eighth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. He’s found a nice role as the passing back in the middle of everything the Patriots offense is doing through the first month.

But it’s probably not surprising that a guy who was out of football last year and had never started a professional game until doing so three times to open his first season in New England isn’t necessarily secure in his role.

“I’m just doing what I’m asked to do. Whenever I’m given the opportunity to do something I try to do it best I can,” Lewis said. “Just trying to take it day-by-day and just keep working. I still have a lot to things to do to get better and I’m just taking that approach.”

–The Patriots practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday of the bye week before head coach Bill Belichick dispatched his team for four days of freedom.

But according to quarterback Tom Brady, the early bye-week break from the grind of weekly NFL action doesn’t feel as long as one might think.

“It actually goes really quickly, so before you know it, we’ll be back here Monday getting back to work,” Brady declared, noting when the Patriots will return to work at Gillette Stadium to begin preparations for a Week 5 trip to Dallas to take on the Cowboys.


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