FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are five things we learned from conference calls with New England Patriots coaches Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels (offensive coordinator) and Matt Patricia (defensive coordinator):
Texans have shown the Wildcat. When asked if the Houston Texans' offense has similarities to the Patriots' scheme, given the New England connections on the coaching staff, Patricia pointed out that one difference is the usage of the Wildcat. "A couple of different players they’ll put in the Wildcat position and try to catch you off-guard with some gadget-type or different-type looks there," Patricia said.
Amendola has impressed. After missing a game with a left knee injury, receiver Danny Amendola received high marks from the coaching staff in Sunday's loss to the Eagles. "Danny really competed hard. He’s physically and mentally as tough of a player as we have," Belichick said. "It was good to have him back out there, and he really fought hard. I don’t think he could have done any more than what he did."
How Texans have changed after rocky start. The Texans have won four of their past five games, and Patricia said one noticeable difference over that span is how quickly quarterback Brian Hoyer is getting rid of the ball. "I would say the biggest thing that they are doing recently and what they have done the last five weeks or so is really just settling the game down," he said. "He settled the game down with the run. He’s making quick and smart throws, good decisions with the football, not turning the ball over. He doesn’t hold it very long, gets the ball out quickly, doesn’t allow the pressure to get there."
Richards has been 47th player. Patriots safety Jordan Richards, the 2015 second-round draft choice from Stanford, has been a healthy scratch in each of the past two games. Said Belichick: "If we could have probably dressed one more player, it would have been him in both those games. Like to get him there, but we’ve had some situations at other positions that have unfortunately affected him. But nothing that he has done." Belichick seemed to be referencing the Patriots' taking one extra offensive linemen to games the past two weeks.
A lot goes into the quarterback sneak. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was 2-for-2 on quarterback sneaks Sunday, and McDaniels touched briefly on all that goes into those plays. "There's nobody who I've seen do it any better," he said. "I think it requires courage and toughness and want to and desire to stick your face in there and get a tough yard when you need it. It's kind of a science to it. I would say it's more complicated than maybe most people think in terms of just finding a soft spot and protecting yourself, protecting the ball, knowing how to get the yard that you need. There are a lot of little things that go into that in a hurry. Tom has obviously had a tremendous track record, very successful in doing that for us."