Tom Brady Downplays Challenges of Preparing for Former Patriots Coaches

Getty Tom Brady and Mike Vrabel.

Throughout Bill Belichick’s career, he has faced a former assistant or player as an opponent’s head coach on 24 occasions. Although the longtime New England Patriots head coach has over 300 wins in his career, only 12 have come against his former assistants.

Following a devastating loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Belichick is now just 12-12 in such games. One of those losses came last year against the Tennessee Titans and first-year head coach Mike Vrabel. A talented linebacker in his time with the Patriots, Vrabel earned a playoff berth with the Titans in his second season.

Considered like a second coach on the sideline, Vrabel featured as an outside linebacker and also as a fullback and tight end on the offensive side of the ball. Well versed in many of the Patriots schemes, he displayed his inside knowledge last season during a 34-10 rout over New England.

The teams even met in the preseason for joint practices down in Nashville, getting testy at times during competitive sessions. It was a week that resulted in N’Keal Harry heading to injured reserve and the Patriots walking away with a preseason victory.

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It Doesn’t Matter for Brady

While former Patriots players and assistants have their old team’s number as a head coach, Tom Brady doesn’t think there’s much of a connection.

In regards to the Patriots loss to Miami and even to Tennessee last year, the one thing that was missing for Brady was proper execution. In his Monday morning interview with Boston radio station WEEI, he explained that facing a former Patriots coach doesn’t give an opponent any type of edge.

I think it’s just good execution. If you look at Buffalo, their offensive coordinator used to be with us. You look at Miami, their offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, the head coach used to be with us. If you look at the Jets, Adam Gase coached with Josh McDaniels. And then Vrabel in Tennessee and Bill O’Brien in Houston. In the league, there’s a lot of guys who coached for the Patriots and are now in different places. Good football is good football and that’s keeping the fundamentals, throwing the balls accurately, and making plays in the passing game to execute more and win games. That’s what football comes down. You can draw up a lot of plays but ultimately it comes down to us getting the job done on the field and that’s what we’re going to have to do this week.

New England struggled to execute on both sides of the ball on Saturday. On Monday, Josh McDaniels said over a conference call that the Patriots failed to adjust to Miami’s double coverage of Julian Edelman offensively.

On defense, Stephon Gilmore had his worst game of the season, allowing DeVante Parker to grab eight catches for 137 yards on the day. Even though Dolphins coach Brian Flores is very familiar with the Patriots defense, New England did little to adjust themselves to the Dolphins tricky gameplan.

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