FOXBORO –  Nate Solder and the rest of the offensive line know now over a month since Logan Mankins was traded, it’€™s time to pick it up.

FOXBORO –  Nate Solder and the rest of the offensive line know now over a month since Logan Mankins was traded, it’€™s time to pick it up.

“€œExtremely high, as high as it can get,”€ Solder described the urgency of the offensive line and team going into Sunday’€™s game with Cincinnati. “€œMoving forward we have to improve. We have to get better, we have to play better.”

Through four games this season quarterback Tom Brady has been sacked nine times and hurried another 38 times in 147 drop backs, per Pro Football Focus. Brady hasn’€™t put up the numbers he has in the past, as his 59.1 completion percentage is 14th in the AFC with only E.J. Manuel and Jake Locker being worse. Part of the reason for his low numbers is the pressure he’€™s been under and feeling uncomfortable in the pocket.

The team changed things up last week with starting two rookies in center Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming, who moved to right guard from right tackle for the first time in his entire football life, and deactivated guard Jordan Devey who had started the first three games of the year.

When asked how the unit was operating without their former captain in Mankins, Solder explained it’€™s a group effort.

“œWe all work together,” he said. “€œWe have a captain with Dan [Connolly] and we have several guys that have played a lot of ball so we’€™re moving forward.”€

He added: “€œWe keep moving forward. We have plenty of guys that can do it.”

Solder knows with the team 2-2 and the offense ranked 29th in yards per game and dead last in yards per play, it as an offensive line needs to pick up its play and protect Brady better.

“€œThe things that happen on the field are a result of the way that we play and so our play has to improve,”€ said Solder. “Anyone we’€™re going against — Cincinnati this week — we have to play better.”

Sunday night won’€™t be easy as the Bengals are coming off a bye and have tallied seven sacks in three games. They also lead the NFL in turnover differential at plus six, forcing seven turnovers on defense.

Cincinnati is the only thing on the offensive line’€™s mind as they are taking it one game at a time and making sure they are as prepared as they can be for each week’€™s opponent.

“€œThe one opportunity we have is this week and that is the next opportunity we have to be prepared,” Solder said.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk about what the Patriots need to do to turn things around before Sunday night's game against the Bengals.

[0:00:59] ... on Wednesday was asked. Is there a point blank enough talent around Tom Brady to get the job done -- -- up offensive line. Depth certainly not on the perimeter of the offensive line to help Tom Brady enough weapons for Tom Brady. And all Bill Belichick would say -- think we candidates eleven or twelve were on the Cincinnati references. That's not a surprise that got the man's ...
[0:02:15] ... it will be able to rise to be occasionally clusters team did. Tom Brady also spoke as he normally does -- Chris on Wednesday's. And he was asked is there enough talent around here what do ...
[0:05:50] ... of that this week if the bank. All right it in short Tom Brady says the problems that the patriots have. He hopes their correct to -- and say they are correct to -- he hopes. ...
[0:06:34] ... when state will seek move on quickly to the three and -- Cincinnati Bengals the only undefeated team. In the AFC won -- two in the NFL. I look at this team and I look at G open art and I asked Bill Belichick about this they use him in many different ways and I had a chance to talk to Marvin Lewis on Wednesday. It takes the pressure off Andy -- They have a very complimentary offense I think that's the phrase that comes ...






FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the many issues and problems facing Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots as they prepare to take on the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Christopher Price, WEEI.com, was at the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady press conferences today. He spoke w/ MFB to talk about the upcoming game at home against the undefeated Bengals.

brightcove.createExperiences();

FOXBORO — Questions about the Patriots’ organizational depth and quality are now being directed at Tom Brady.

Tom Brady and the Patriots have struggled through the first four games of the season. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots have struggled through the first four games of the season. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The more Tom Brady talks, the more you hear him talking about organizational issues with the Patriots.

Brady was asked Wednesday during his 10-minute press conference if he thinks the issues with the struggling offense are correctable based on the talent around him.

“I hope they’re correctable,” Brady said. “That’s what we’re trying to do and that’s why we go out and practice. There’s always going to be mistakes in football. Every team is very competitive. They have very good players. They draft high. They have a lot of talent. They have the same money they can spend on their team as we can spend our ours. It’s a tough league and when you don’t play, and certainly you don’t play well on the road, and we go behind, those are things we’ve got to try to correct. We have to try to certainly do a better job of playing from ahead and try to get ahead and stay ahead.

“It’s a great opportunity for us this week to do that. This is a team that also likes to get ahead and stay ahead. They’ve done that in all their games this year. That’s why they’ve been pretty successful.”

Brady is referring to the fact that the Bengals, the opponent Sunday night, have taken big leads in each of their first three games to post a 3-0 record.

Brady was asked if he heard the comments made by ESPN analysts Trent Dilfer and Steve Young, claiming that the Patriots ($11.4 million under the cap) aren’t spending nearly enough to provide him with the offensive weapons and line that he needs for protection.

“Nope,” Brady said. “I don’t. I haven’t paid attention and I probably don’t pay attention much because I understand what’s going on. I know probably a lot more information than you guys have, a lot more information than they have. We’re just trying to focus on things we can do to get better. I said earlier today that it’s not like we’re going to come out and say all the things. We’re going to try to let our opponents figure out the things we’re not doing well, the things we are doing well. It’s a long year so we have a lot of football to play.

“We have a lot of high character guys in our locker room. We have a lot of mentally tough guys and that’s what it takes. This is not the time to fold the tents up and call it a season. We’re 2-2. We’re tied for the best record in our division, not that that’s a great feat by any stretch but we’ll see what we’re made of as we continue to fight through these tough weeks. Hopefully, it builds character and resiliency. The mistakes that we made last week, we have to try to figure out a way to improve on those things so that we can come out and play a great game this week because that’s what it’s going to take.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions of games this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions of games this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — These Patriots are slow starters – and so far this season- they have had a lot of trouble getting up to speed.

Through the first four games, the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions and have allowed their opponent to score first in each of the four games.

Offensively on first drives the Patriots have ran three running plays totaling four yards and quarterback Tom Brady is 3-for-8 with 12 yards passing. Defensively, it has allowed 152 yards and two touchdowns on first drives — an average of 38 yards per drive, compared to just four yards per drive on offense.

“œWe have a high standard here, and we should,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Tuesday. “It’€™s a very competitive league, obviously, and we need to do a better job on offense regardless of the situation or circumstances. [Whoever] is out there we have faith and confidence in. Like I said, we can coach better and certainly need to. And we can play better. I think every year is a process that you go through, and I don’€™t think you’€™re really ever where you’€™re going to be when you start the year, but I think the key thing for us is we’€™ve got to improve each week.”

Fast starts are something the Patriots have been notorious for over the years, especially defensively. On opening drives last season the Patriots allowed just one touchdown –€“ they’€™ve allowed two in the first four weeks of this season. Offensively they had just five three-and-outs on opening drives — one shy of that through four games this season.

The offense has been out of sync to open games. Against the Chiefs Monday, instead of establishing the run against a team in the bottom half of the league when defending the run, the unit threw the ball on all three plays — a four-yard gain followed by two incompletions. A week prior against the Raiders, another team struggling against the run, the unit threw the ball on all three plays — two incompletions followed by a four-yard gain. Against the Vikings in Week 2 it was three straight runs — no gain, two yards gain and a seven-yard gain ‘€“ leading to yet another punt on the opening possession. Finally in Week 1, it was a run for two yards, a four-yard completion and an incompletion followed by a blocked punt.

None of those starts are what the Patriots are used to as in first quarter scoring it has been ranked in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 seasons. This year they are 13th. The last time the Patriots scored a touchdown on their opening drive was Week 7 against the Jets last season.

Scoring first has led to tremendous success as since 2010 the Patriots are 26-4 and since 2000 110-25 when having the first score of a game.

When searching for answers as to how the Patriots can get better and more consistent, it may be pretty simple: score first.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Tom Brady and the Patriots have struggled through the first four games of the season. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots have struggled through the first four games of the season. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Patriots sluggish start to the year on the offensive side of the ball has been stunning — through the first four games, New England is 29th in the league in total offense (298.5 yards per game), 30th in average passing yards per game (201.0), 23rd in average rushing hards per game (97.5) and 24th in average points per game (20).

The advanced stats aren’t any kinder to Tom Brady and the rest of the New England offense. The Patriots are currently 28th in the league when it comes to offensive DVOA — as measured by Football Outsiders — at -17 percent, ahead of only the Jets, Buccaneers, Raiders, and Jaguars. (By way of comparison, the Falcons lead the league at 26.6 percent.)

While the fall from grace has been stunning, it’s not unprecedented. Football Outsiders recently published a piece looking at four other teams who spent at least three seasons in the top 5 of offensive DVOA before falling to 20th or worse at the start of the following season. It reveals the 2014 Patriots to be in some pretty interesting company.

1999 Broncos: This wasn’t a complete surprise, as the Broncos lost John Elway to retirement and Terrell Davis suffered a torn ACL. As a result, their offensive DVOA was -23.0 percent after four games, 28th in the league. There was improvement over the course of the season, however, as young quarterback Brian Griese evolved into a starting quarterback, and Denver stood at 3.4 by seasons end while finishing with a 6-10 record.

2002 Rams: Another case where there was a change at quarterback, but in this case, it was Kurt Warner getting hurt and St. Louis turning to Marc Bulger as a placeholder. (Torry Holt missed five games. Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace each missed six games for a Rams team that ultimately finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs.) St. Louis was at -16.8 percent over the first four games, but their improvement to -10.2 percent left them 26th overall.

2003 49ers: This might be the most palatable comparison for Patriots fans. San Francisco, with Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens and running backs Kevan Barlow and Garrison Hearst, was at -12.7 percent after the first four weeks, good for 27th in the league (thanks in large part to a Week 4 blowout loss to the Vikings). But the Niners’ offense was able to gel down the stretch, and you could make the argument the only reason they missed the playoffs and finish 7-9 was because of a lousy defense and poor special teams. The 49ers finished the year with 7.8 percent DVOA for all 16 games, god for 11th in the league.

2012 Chargers: In what turned out to be a miserable year for quarterback Philip Rivers — his last with Norv Turner as the head coach in San Diego — the Chargers had an -11 percent DVOA after four games, 20th in the NFL. They were able to get their collective act together down the stretch (after losing seven of eight at one point) and end up at 7-9 and a -10 percent DVOA (24th).

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The tough questions are starting to come at Bill Belichick.