New England Patriots: 5 Things Tom Brady Can Still Learn from Training Camp
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Tom Brady is going into his 13th season as a professional football player and has been a part of many training camp drills and practices, but there are always new things to learn.
Brady has played with countless players on the offensive side of the ball and not one has been exactly like another. He’s had to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each to ensure success for that player as well as himself so that he can lead the New England Patriots to victory.
Training camp is a time to work out the kinks so that everything gels nicely once the regular season starts. It’s about studying the playbook and formations and knowing when to audible a play or call a hot route. Brady has seemed nearly perfect at learning and adjusting over the course of his storied career, but he’s not a genius either.
Tom Brady can still learn some things in training camp.
How to Use Brandon Lloyd
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Brandon Lloyd will be one of Tom Brady’s biggest weapons this season, but Brady needs to learn everything about Lloyd, and in a short period of time. Lloyd is an experienced receiver who’s worked with several different types of quarterbacks, but none quite like Brady.
Brady needs to find the perfect way to utilize Lloyd’s strengths on the field. Lloyd isn’t much of a deep threat, but will provide the Patriots the ability to stretch the field a little longer than they’ve been able to recently.
Brady has to recognize what Lloyd does and doesn’t do well so that there isn’t any confusion once they break the huddle. If Lloyd isn’t comfortable with a certain route, there’s no reason for Brady to force it to him in that situation.
Brady has done a great job over the years learning about what his receivers do well and how he can make them even better. There’s no reason why Lloyd and Brady shouldn’t have a strong relationship on the field.
Who Are Britt Davis and Jeremy Ebert?
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Britt Davis and Jeremy Ebert are two wide receivers vying for a spot on the New England roster. Although the Patriots are very deep at receiver, there is a chance that at least one of them makes the final roster after camp breaks.
Davis rarely saw any time last season and Ebert is a rookie out of Northwestern. Both are pretty new to professional football and could be considered “raw” talents. The good part about Brady is that he’s capable of making you into something that you aren’t, or what you haven’t been before, and that’s what he can do with these two.
Look at what Tom Brady did for Julian Edelman, for example. Who would’ve thought that Edelman could be the receiver he turned out to be? If Brady could help teach Ebert or even Davis how to be a better receiver, it will make him a better quarterback.
I think that Ebert has a better shot at making the team that Davis does, but it still helps to learn about their strengths and weaknesses just in case they do see significant time for one reason or another next season.
Weaknesses of Offensive Line
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The New England offensive line is going to look a little different than it has recently and Tom Brady needs to adjust to it. Matt Light is gone and Brian Waters is currently on the reserve/did not report list, according to the team’s official website. That doesn’t leave a ton of experience or skill on the line going forward.
The offensive line will still be led by Dan Koppen and Logan Mankins, but they aren’t getting any younger. Nate Solder could turn into a solid lineman, and Sebastian Vollmer has shown bright spots throughout the first couple years of his career, but that’s about it.
Brady was sacked 32 times last season, the most since 2003, and that was with Light and Waters playing. Obviously Brady isn’t the swiftest of quarterbacks, but he should expect a little more pressure and maybe could incorporate some running this upcoming season.
The AFC East shouldn’t be too tough to win, but Brady now has to watch out for new Buffalo Bills lineman Mario Williams, which could be a nightmare. Brady has to know who his lineman can block and for how long before he has to get rid of the ball.
Working with Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley
Tom Brady has worked with a ton of running backs during his 12 years as a professional quarterback, and will have to mold Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen—who should get the majority of the carries in 2012—into impact halfbacks.
In order for the Patriots offense to continue its overpowering abilities, it has to be effective on the ground as well as through the air. Obviously one is more likely than the other, since Brady leads the pass game.
For the Patriots run game to be effective, Ridley and Vereen are going to have to mature quickly since BenJarvus Green-Ellis is gone. They lack experience, which is why Brady needs to work closely with them during training camp to help them develop fast. If they can’t perform at a high level, the New England offense is going to be off-balance.
Brady needs to figure out who he’s more comfortable with in different situations. This also goes into the hands of the coaching staff, but Brady also plays a big role. If he doesn’t think Ridley can catch the ball, there’s no point in having him out there for passing downs when Vereen might be a better option, for example.
Josh McDaniels 2.0
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The last time Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for a Tom Brady-led offense in a regular season game, Brady suffered a season-ending injury. All of New England hopes that doesn’t happen again. McDaniels was a great OC for Brady and they had plenty of success, but how will it turn out this time?
Brady has been used to working with Bill O’Brien and now has to make the adjustment of working with McDaniels. Fortunately for Brady, he knows what kind of coach McDaniels is and how he likes the offense to be run. McDaniels seemed to do a great job of showcasing the strengths of Brady’s arm in the past and should continue to do this in the future.
With McDaniels having head coach experience now, he may look at some situations differently than when he was just a coach on the staff. If this is the case, Brady and him need to get on the same page as to what to look for in situations and what the best play is to put the team in a good position to score.
The continuing relationship between Brady and McDaniels is one of the most important pieces of New England having a successful season. For all we know, McDaniels could end up being Brady’s head coach someday. For now, though, he’ll just be calling the plays on offense.