New England Patriots: Kenbrell Tompkins

Patriots preview: Make-or-break stretch

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
Tom Brady recently said that a team truly doesn't know what it has until December, and it's almost as if he was looking at the schedule when he said that. A Nov. 2 home game against the Broncos, followed by the bye and then a Sunday night road game against the Colts looks like the iron of the schedule. After a home date with Detroit, then it's a challenging back-to-back road set against the Packers (Nov. 30) and Chargers (Dec. 7) in which Belichick is considering keeping the team out West for the week leading into the Sunday night game at San Diego. That stretch should tell us all we need to know about the Patriots.

Complete Patriots season preview.

Bruschi: Expect to see more growing pains

September, 13, 2013

A frustrated Tom Brady couldn’t connect with rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson on Thursday night, targeting them a combined 17 times but completing just five of those passes. So what went wrong? And are New England Patriots fans going to have to get used to muddled offensive displays like they watched against the New York Jets?

“It’s going to take a while,” ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Friday on SportsCenter. “And it will only take a while when certain players come back. In the passing game you’ve got [Shane] Vereen, [Rob] Gronkowski and [Danny] Amendola. And all of these players are gone, so you bring in these players that are young, that aren’t familiar.

“You could see last night there are problems within the passing game in terms of catching the ball, running the wrong routes, not judging the ball properly in the air. Some of these are fundamental problems with the receivers and then the other problems are scheme and not being on the same page with your quarterback.

“You see a lot of frustration here by Brady. But he has to know, too, these are rookies here. They don’t have the same standard that Tom Brady has for himself and he has to know it’s going to take a little bit more time.”

Fellow analyst Herm Edwards pointed to the poor third-down conversion percentage (4 for 18) as evidence Brady doesn’t have trust in his targets, Julian Edelman aside.

Bruschi said Thursday was a “worst-case scenario” for the young wideouts. Not only did they have to get on the same page with a demanding quarterback, they had to try to catch a slippery ball in driving rain.

“All the thinking that’s going on with those guys post-snap,” Bruschi explains. “‘Where does Tom want me to be?’ ‘Where do I go based on my post-snap read in terms of my coverages?’ And then the rain came down, so as you’re thinking where you want to be, all of a sudden you forget that when it’s raining and your gloves are wet and your hands are wet, that’s when you have to focus even more on catching the ball. That’s a process these young receivers weren’t ready for."