Collins returns to practice; Mayo absent

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins (thigh) returned to the practice field on Wednesday, but another important linebacker was missing.

Jerod Mayo, who played all 68 defensive snaps in Sunday's 30-7 win against the Minnesota Vikings, was not seen during the stretching portion of practice. It is unknown why Mayo was absent from the start of practice, and it is something that we will monitor when the team releases its injury report on Wednesday afternoon.

Collins had missed Friday's practice and did not travel with the team to Minnesota. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard also returned to practice Wednesday after being a surprise scratch on Sunday (left shoulder).

Linebacker Darius Fleming, who is now on the practice squad, was back to wearing his No. 58 jersey. New practice squad members Caylin Hauptmann and Kona Schwenke were at practice. Hauptmann was wearing No. 68 and Schwenke had on a No. 97 jersey.

There was also a player wearing a No. 41 jersey.

The Patriots give black jerseys to the practice players of the week, which signify the players who best prepared the team leading up to a victory as determined by the coaching staff. Tight end Tim Wright, wide receiver Josh Boyce, running back Jonas Gray, defensive lineman Joe Vellano and linebacker Ja'Gared Davis all wore black jerseys Wednesday.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Lamar Miller failed to consistently produce last season when the Miami Dolphins made him a feature tailback. The Dolphins were 27th in rushing with Miller leading the way and he finished with just 709 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games.

Still, that hasn't shaken Miller's confidence now that the opportunity has come once again to lead Miami's offense in 2014. Knowshon Moreno's elbow injury, which is expected to sideline him for several weeks, has opened the door for Miller to get more carries.

Miller is averaging a career-best 4.8 yards per carry this season in two games. The Dolphins (1-1) hope that continues when they host the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

"I'm looking forward to it," Miller said. "Every running back wants the ball in their hands. So I feel like the more carries you get, the more comfortable you get with the team you're going against. I'm pretty up for the challenge."

Miller started both games for Miami, but in reality he was the Dolphins' No. 2 option. After signing Moreno, the Dolphins found a good niche with Miller as a change-of-pace back.

However, Miller is back in the lead role that he struggled with last season. The Dolphins only gave Miller 20 carries or more once in 16 games. Miller is aware this may be the type of smash-mouth game where Miller has his number called a lot.

"I wish it was here tomorrow, but we've got to prepare and just get ready for this upcoming game," Miller said. "I'm going to do anything to help this team win."

Behind Miller, the Dolphins also will rely on rookie backups Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa. Miami also re-signed former Dolphins draft bust Daniel Thomas on Monday, but he's not expected to have a major role with limited practice time.

Williams, who has shown promise as an undrafted rookie, is expected to assume the No. 2 tailback role behind Miller. He rushed for 19 yards on five carries last week in a 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Miller and Williams should get a bulk of the carries Sunday against the Chiefs, who are ranked No. 23 against the run.

"I'm very hungry. You've got to stay that way," an eager Williams said. "Being able to do what I did and then that last Sunday's game, being able to get a couple of carries, that showed that the coaches trust me to have the ball in my hands and do what I've been doing."

Belichick touches on Raiders ... and T-Birds

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick covered everything from the Oakland Raiders to the T-Birds, his middle school football team, during his Wednesday press conference.

Experienced Raiders team: Belichick knows the Raiders, who are the NFL’s second-oldest team as it relates to opening-day rosters, have a valuable asset: experience. “A lot of familiar faces, but guys we are used to seeing in different uniforms,” Belichick said. “The thing that jumps out about the Raiders is how experienced they are -- how many veteran players they have.”

Raiders are "where we were a week ago:" The Raiders are 0-2 after a rough 30-14 loss at home to the Houston Texans, but Belichick is not looking past them. “With the leadership they have out there with the veterans on this team, guys that are used to winning, guys that they brought in that have been in all those playoff games, Super Bowls, I mean, look, this is where we were a week ago,” Belichick said. “This is the same thing we heard in here last Wednesday after the Miami game. I’m sure the way they feel after the Houston game is the same way we felt after the Miami game. Last week doesn’t mean anything in the NFL, it’s what happens this week. That’s all we can focus on is what we need to do to get ready for this game.”

A different coverage look: Unlike the Patriots' previous two opponents, the Raiders like to play close to the line of scrimmage, especially against wide receivers. “Play more man-to-man, more press coverage,” Belichick said when asked about how the Raiders’ defense is different from others. “They mix their mans and their zones and they make some pressure in there. ... I’d say more man-to-man than we have seen in the last couple weeks.”

Like the Raiders of many years ago: The dominant Raiders teams that played in the 1970s and 1980s were known for size and speed. Belichick said the 2014 Raiders return to the historical look of the franchise. “I think that this team looks like the big, fast team that the Raiders have been known for,” Belichick said. “They are big at every position -- their line is big, the receivers are big, the backs are big, defensive line is big, secondary is big, kicker is big. I don’t how many guys they have under 4.45, but it has to be a dozen, maybe more than that. They are fast at linebacker. DBs are all fast, even the safeties are fast.”

Reece, the matchup dilemma: It’s rare that fullbacks receive a lot of attention, but in the case of Raiders fullback Marcel Reece, his versatility has caught Belichick’s eye. Belichick called Reece, who is a former wide receiver turned fullback, a “matchup player,” meaning it’s difficult to find the right way to contain a player with his skills. “You put a big guy on him, he’s probably going to have a hard time matching up with Reece’s speed and quickness,” Belichick said. “Put a smaller guy on him, he might match up with his speed and quickness, but it would be hard to match up with his size. I’d say that’s a dilemma. Who do you have that has the same skill set as Reece?“

Professor Belichick: The press conference ended with Belichick giving a 10-minute crash course on unbalanced lines, the single-wing formation and his eighth-grade football days for the T-Birds in Annapolis. It was as though Belichick was reciting chapters from a book like his dad, Steve Belichick’s “Football Scouting Methods.”
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 2.

Spiller returned a kickoff 102 yards in Sunday's 29-10 win over the Miami Dolphins. This is the second consecutive week the Bills have taken home the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honor, with kicker Dan Carpenter earning the recognition in Week 1.

This is also the second time in Spiller's career he has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. The first time was in Week 3 of the 2010 season.

Film review: Get it together, Rex

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
One last look at the New York Jets' 31-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers:

Rex needs Rx for mistakes: The major takeaway from the game is this: Rex Ryan needs to get his house in order. The timeout fiasco has overshadowed a number of other inexcusable blunders, including: Three wasted timeouts because of communication issues; a penalty for 12 men on the field that nullifed an interception (heck, there were two plays in which they had only 10 on the field); Muhammad Wilkerson's ejection for fighting; and, of course, Sheldon Richardson's ill-fated timeout from the sideline.

Right now, the Jets are an undisciplined football team (18 penalties in two games), and that falls on the coach. Ryan isn't a taskmaster, we all know that. His players like his easygoing style and they play hard for him, but there has to be a happy medium. A team with middling talent can't overcome these type of unforced errors. It's unbecoming, and it's a recipe for a losing season.

Oops: Speaking of penalties, I'd like to throw a flag on myself. On Monday, I recognized rookie safety Calvin Pryor for not making any major mistakes in the game. Upon reviewing the tape, I noticed at least three significant errors -- plays in which he reacted late and took bad angles. That was the knock on him in the draft.

It showed up late in the second quarter, toward the end of the Packers' 97-yard touchdown drive. Cornerback Antonio Allen surrendered a 24-yard completion to Davante Adams, but he was expecting inside help from Pryor, whose misplay allowed Adams to gain a chunk of yards after the catch. On Jordy Nelson's 80-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, Pryor -- in the deep middle -- was late on the scene after Dee Milliner was toasted. Pryor took a poor angle and missed the tackle at the Jets' 41, springing Nelson for the play that changed the game. Pryor also was late on a 33-yarder to Nelson, with Milliner in coverage.

Basically, Pryor is playing out of position. He made his mark as a "box" safety for Louisville, highlighting his hard-hitting style, but he has been playing mostly away from the line of scrimmage with the Jets.

Jordy TD postscript: A funny thing (well, not funny) happened on Nelson's touchdown. The other cornerback, Darrin Walls, blitzed from Aaron Rodgers' backside and came within a split-second of hitting him before the throw. Ryan rarely blitzes his corners, but this was an unusual case because the Packers didn't have a receiver on Walls' side of the field. This is a game of split seconds, all right.

No sign of 'prevent': Ryan took some heat for getting conservative with his defensive calls on the Packers' 97-yard drive at the end of the half, but nothing could be further from the truth. He sent four or more rushers on nine of the 10 pass plays, including a seven-man rush (a 14-yard completion) and a six-man rush (Randall Cobb's 6-yard touchdown catch). Cobb beat nickelback Kyle Wilson, who was on an island with no safety help. Jason Babin's roughing-the-passer penalty was huge.

Discount triple-check: Rodgers took a lot of grief for avoiding Seattle Seahawks All-Pro corner Richard Sherman in the season opener, not throwing at all in his direction. Against the Jets, Rodgers spread the ball evenly, picking on all three corners. An unofficial breakdown on how they fared:

Milliner -- Seven targets/five completions, 136 yards, one touchdown.

Allen -- Nine targets/four completions, 58 yards (plus a 27-yard penalty for pass interference).

Walls -- Seven targets/four completions, 49 yards.

Positives from Geno: Geno Smith cooled off after the first three drives, but there were some encouraging moments. His best play was the 29-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker, who faked Sam Shields with a nifty slant-and-go. Clay Matthews came free on a delayed stunt and blasted Smith just as he released the pass. He didn't flinch at all. On his 12-yard flip pass to Bilal Powell, Smith -- under duress -- kept his eyes focused downfield, never looking at the pass rush. That's an important trait for a young quarterback.

Smith took the blame on the interception, saying he should've thrown it a split second sooner, but I don't fault him for that. Left guard Brian Winters missed his block, giving Smith no time to step into the throw. Also, Zach Sudfeld could've done a better job of playing the ball. In that situation, with the ball hanging in the air, the receiver has to become like a defensive back and try to knock it down.

Winters chill: Winters had a tough game. Aside from the missed block on the interception, he allowed a sack and missed a block that resulted in a 6-yard loss on a run by Chris Johnson.

Odds and ends: How did the Jets blow an 18-point lead? Well, they got away from the running game. While building the 21-3 lead, they called 18 running plays and 10 pass plays. From that point on, it was 16 rushes and 26 passes. Yes, the Packers did a surprisingly good job of defending the run, but I think Marty Mornhinweg got caught up in the Packers' quick, pitch-and-catch style, trying to keep pace with Rodgers. Mornhinweg said he didn't trust Smith on the ill-fated timeout, but he sure trusted him to throw a lot in the second half. ... When linebacker Quinton Coples lined up wide on one play to jam Nelson at the line, the Packers responded by calling a run against the Jets' light box. Smart cookie, that Rodgers. ... Coples (one sack, four QB hits) had one of his better games, exploiting fill-in right tackle Derek Sherrod.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins received some good news on Tuesday. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey returned to practice for the first time since having major hip surgery following minicamp.

Pouncey missed all of training camp, the preseason and the first two games of the regular season to rehab. His participation is a sign that Pouncey could be close to returning, potentially as early as Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs or the following week against the Oakland Raiders in London on Sept. 28.

The Dolphins certainly can use Pouncey. Miami allowed four sacks and struggled against the running game in a 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

We will have more on Pouncey following Tuesday's practice.

Belichick: No idea how policy impacts bans

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
With the NFL closing in on a new drug policy, the attention switches to the players who have the potential for reinstatement or reductions in suspensions.

The New England Patriots have two players suspended for the season’s first four games in cornerback Brandon Browner and wide receiver Brian Tyms. Browner was initially suspended for a full-season in 2013 but already has his suspension reduced during the offseason to four games.

Coach Bill Belichick said the team has no knowledge of how either player might be impacted by the impending new drug policy.

“Certainly nothing that I can share with you because I don’t have any idea -- no knowledge at all -- zero,” Belichick said on Tuesday’s conference call. “You would have to talk to the league or other people that are involved with that.

“Drug policy in the NFL is an extremely confidential and sensitive area. I would say that in most cases you probably know more about it than I do. We don’t have any knowledge, input or really involvement whatsoever in the league’s drug policy and any information that we get comes from wherever it comes from -- I don’t even know where it comes from. I’m not even sure exactly how the process works from the other end.”

Belichick affirmed that if and when the changes are made that the team will deal with the Browner and Tyms situations individually.

“I just know that when we receive information that we act on it as we receive it,” Belichick said. “And it’s not anything that I am involved in whatsoever other than being the recipient of the information of suspension or if it is revoked, or amended or adjusted or whatever. I am just the recipient of that information. I am not in any way, shape or form whatsoever involved in any part of the process.”

As of now, five players are set to be to be reinstated and two players are supposed to have reduced suspensions (Link: Former Patriots and current Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, Rams receiver Stedman Bailey, Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick, Giants lineman Eric Herman and former Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy will be reinstated. Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and former Colts wide receiver LaVon Brazill will have year-long suspensions reduced to 10 games.

There is no word on whether Browner or Tyms will have their suspensions reduced or lifted.

“So whatever happens, when it is announced that we know about it, then we will deal with it,” Belichick said. “Until then, it’s 100 percent out of our hands.
Some blunders, such as the Butt Fumble, just happen without warning and without reason. The main characters in that drama were Mark Sanchez and Brandon Moore's butt. Sunday's timeout fiasco for the New York Jets included 10 seconds of build up and involved four principals: offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Sheldon Richardson, Geno Smith and Rex Ryan.

Here's a nearly second-by-second breakdown of what went wrong (and why) on the fourth-and-4 play from the Green Bay Packers' 36-yard line with a little more than five minutes to play, which resulted in the touchdown that wasn't:

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Mike RoemerSheldon Richardson (left), Rex Ryan and Marty Mornhinweg (far right) each deserve part of the blame for the New York Jets' timeout fiasco Sunday.
5:14 (13 seconds on play clock): Bilal Powell, lined up to the right of Smith in shotgun, raises his arms, confused. He's not sure if he's in the proper position.

5:12 (11 seconds): Following Smith's command, Powell moves to the quarterback's left.

5:10 (9 seconds): A cat-and-mouse game develops. Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett, seeing Powell's shift, walks up to the line of scrimmage and positions himself outside right tackle Breno Giacomini. Burnett is in blitz position, staring at an empty backfield on that side of the formation. The Packers have seven at the line of scrimmage, showing heavy blitz. Mornhinweg recognizes the situation and starts walking toward Ryan while trying to speak to him on the headset. Ryan can't hear him because he's on the defensive channel.

5:08 (7 seconds): Unable to speak to Ryan, Mornhinweg tries to get Ryan's attention by gesturing for a timeout, frantically. He makes the "timeout" gesture no fewer than nine times. Line judge Byron Boston briefly turns his head to his left, noticing Mornhinweg's antics. Boston ignores Mornhinweg, fully aware of the rule that only a head coach can call a timeout from the sideline, with one exception: The line judge, instructed not to turn his back to the field when the snap is imminent, can award a timeout if he believes the command comes from the head coach.

5:07 (6 seconds): Smith sees the shift in the Packers' defense and calmly points to Powell, instructing him to shift again. And so Powell does, flipping back to the right side of the quarterback.

5:06 (5 seconds): Mornhinweg, managing to keep his eyes on the field as he's gesturing, notices Smith has corrected the formation issue. Immediately, Mornhinweg changes his mind, motioning to call off the timeout. He extends both arms like a baseball umpire on a "safe" play. Ryan, standing six yards away from Mornhinweg at the Packers' 37, apparently sees none of this. His eyes are focused on the field. Simultaneously, Richardson -- only one yard to Ryan's right -- steps forward toward Boston.

5:05 (4 seconds): Richardson, only a few inches from Boston's right ear, leans in and calls the timeout.

5:04 (3 seconds): The ball is snapped, a split-second before Boston blows his whistle and raises his arms to kill the play. A frame-by-frame review shows the shotgun snap is halfway to Smith when the play is blown dead. Technically, the play should've counted -- a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley. As it turns out, it's only a four-man rush by the Packers. Powell runs a pass route to the right sideline, drawing Burnett in coverage. What will never be known, however, is whether the Packers slacked off, knowing the play didn't count. Judging by the reaction, some players -- including safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the end zone -- knew there was no play.

"You know what? It really doesn’t matter now," Ryan said Monday.


1. Richardson -- To his credit, he stepped up after the game, taking full responsibility. Obviously, he meant well, but he has to know that players play and coaches coach. The rule book states that only the head coach can call a timeout from the sideline.

2. Mornhinweg -- He panicked with nine seconds left on the play clock. He should've trusted Smith to get it fixed on the field, which he acknowledged Monday.

3. Ryan -- He's the head coach, so the buck stops with him. If there's a communication breakdown on the sideline, the ultimate blame falls on the head coach. Judging from the replay, Ryan had no idea who called the timeout. After the game, he provided no clarity. It was reminiscent of the Santonio Holmes debacle in the final game of the 2012 season, when Ryan admitted he didn't know what was going on.

4. The Jets -- By not making Mornhinweg available after the game, the team hung Richardson out to dry for 24 hours, letting him absorb the heat. That's bad form.

Stat check: Raiders at Patriots

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
A look at the 1-1 New England Patriots in our weekly "stat check," while also bringing the team's next opponent -- the 0-2 Oakland Raiders -- into the discussion:

Points per game
This week: 8th (25.0)
Last week: Tied-16th (20.0)
Last season: 3rd (27.75)
Raiders in 2014: T-28th (14.0)

Points allowed per game
This week: 14th (20.0)
Last week: 26th (33.0)
Last season: 10th (21.12)
Raiders in 2014: T-21st (24.5)

Third-down offense
This week:
28th (10 of 31, 32.3 percent)
Last week: 23rd (5 of 17, 29.4 percent)
Last season: 16th (83 of 221, 37.6 percent)
Raiders in 2014: 31st (5 of 21, 23.8 percent)

Third-down defense
This week:
25th (opponents 11 of 24, 45.8 percent)
Last week: 27th (7 of 13, 53.8 percent)
Last season: 26th (98 of 232, 42.2 percent)
Raiders in 2014: 29th (14 of 27, 51.9 percent)

Turnover differential
This week: T-2nd (plus-5, 7 takeaways, 2 giveaways)
Last week: T-11th (plus-1, 3 takeaways, 2 giveaways)
Last season: 8th (plus-9, 29 takeaways, 20 giveaways)
Raiders in 2014: T-20th (minus-2, 2 takeaways, 4 giveaways)

Red-zone offense (based on TD percentage)
This week: T-8th (4 of 6)
Last week: T-1st (2 of 2)
Last season: 15th (36 of 65)
Raiders in 2014: T-1st (3 of 3)

Red-zone defense (based on TD percentage)
This week: 6th (opponents 3 of 7)
Last week: T-10th (3 of 6)
Last season: 16th (28 of 50)
Raiders in 2014: T-7th (4 of 9)

EXTRA POINT: In a stat right in Bill Belichick's wheelhouse this week, the Patriots lead the NFL with 263 penalty yards assessed against them. The Raiders have the fewest penalty yards assessed against them, 44.

Philbin, Lazor support Ryan Tannehill

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
DAVIE, Fla. -- It's no secret that this is an important Year 3 for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The former first-round pick received nearly unanimous support from Dolphins fans in South Florida in his first two seasons, but expectations are higher in 2014.

So far, in two games, Tannehill has not met those expectations. The Dolphins beat the New England Patriots in Week 1 mostly because of their running game and lost to the Buffalo Bills Sunday because of a lack of running game. Tannehill was average in both contests.

This is the time in Tannehill's career when he must prove he can carry an offense. That hasn't been the case early this season, and some are starting to wonder about Miami's struggling passing game.

"The issue is our passing game is not at the level it needs to be," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said in defense of Tannehill. "Those are the facts. But it's a unit issue. It's not one player causing all the problems in the passing game."

Miami first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has been candid in his critiques of Tannehill. A big reason Lazor was brought to Miami was to take Tannehill's game to a new level. Therefore, Lazor has been very demanding with the expectation that Tannehill will respond.

Sunday was an ideal opportunity for Tannehill to step up. The Dolphins were on the road against an energized Buffalo team that has had Miami's number. The Dolphins could have used a dominant passing performance from Tannehill to stem the tide, especially after leading rusher Knowshon Moreno went down in the first quarter.

Instead, Tannehill had another mediocre performance (73.6 passer rating) and struggled with his accuracy and ball placement. The Dolphins lost by 19 points, and Tannehill fell to 1-4 against the Bills in his career.

"There's no doubt Ryan will tell you it needs to improve," Lazor said of his accuracy. "I thought Thursday was the best day that Ryan's had throwing the football since I've been here. So I'm very encouraged about Ryan. I'm very discouraged by the job I've done in the passing game. I'm very encouraged by where we're heading."

This is a no-excuse year for Tannehill. By all accounts, he has better weapons and a better offensive scheme. Yet some of the same issues we have seen with Tannehill in Year 1 and Year 2 are showing up early in his third season.

Tannehill must turn things around quickly to silence the doubters, starting with Sunday's game against the winless Kansas City Chiefs (0-2).
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Eric Decker's hamstring injury is a concern, but New York Jets coach Rex Ryan expressed optimism that the wide receiver could be back on the field for next Monday night's game against the Chicago Bears.

“We don’t know right now, we’ll see,” Ryan said. “Hopefully he’ll be ready to roll on Monday.”

Decker had four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown Sunday at Green Bay, but was unable to play in a crucial -- and scoreless -- fourth quarter. Decker dealt with a hamstring injury during training camp. Jets quarterback Geno Smith said the team had other options if Decker -- the Jets' No. 1 wide receiver -- isn’t in the game.

“We’ve got viable weapons,” Smith said. “We’ve got guys who can go out there and make plays. David Nelson made a clutch catch on fourth down. I think Jeremy Kerley did a phenomenal job at stepping up when Decker went down and we’ve got Greg Salas who can step in and make plays for us as well. So, we’ve just got to do a better job at finishing games and we had an opportunity to go in on the road and win the game, but we didn’t.”

Brian Winters, the Jets' starting left guard, missed a few plays with a dislocated pinkie finger, Ryan said.

So far, Brady only has eyes for Edelman

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady keeps saying that the offense is not where it needs to be.

“We just have to find ways to get everybody the ball and spread it around to different guys,” Brady said on Monday morning in an interview with WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan.

So is the key to a successful Patriots offense as simple as distributing the football to players other than wide receiver Julian Edelman?

Through two games, Edelman has 12 receptions for 176 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Brady is 44-of-78 for 398 yards and two touchdown passes. That means about 27 percent of Brady’s completed passes and more than 44 percent of all of Brady’s passing yards are to Edelman.

“I’m going to go out there and do my job and that’s to get open and catch the ball,” Edelman said in the locker room on Monday when asked about sharing the football in the passing game.

“I’m not the quarterback, so I’m sure -- it’s only two games, there’s a lot of season left -- there’s going to be games where other guys are going to get more rocks than me. But, I’m just going to continue to try to get better and do my job.”

Only tight end Rob Gronkowski has more targets (17) than Edelman (15). But from an efficiency standpoint, Edelman is the most productive of the receivers with 10-plus targets as he has caught 80 percent of passes thrown his way.

Edelman says the lack of distribution in the passing game is no cause for concern.

“It’s two games. We are just trying to go out there and we are trying to get better.”

Brady acknowledged that he needs to get wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell and tight end Tim Wright more involved in the offense, but put the blame on himself for not distributing the ball to them.

Wright said whether he is targeted is not his call to make, but rather a product of Brady’s decision-making and the game plan. In the case of Sunday’s game and so far this season, Edelman’s No. 11 jersey is the one Brady keeps seeing open.

“When your number is called to make the play, that’s how things went yesterday,” Wright said. “[Brady] was delivering to a receiver that came up with some great plays. [Edelman] got it done for us.”

Wright thinks the offense has a lot of room for improvement.

“At the end of the day, we are just trying to go back into the game plan and try to focus on areas we can clean up things,” Wright said. “Just the little things -- the small details that we can count on toward the end of games with those conversions and coming out with those touchdowns. It’s going to get us over the edge.”

The Film Don't Lie: Patriots

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
A weekly look at what the Patriots must fix.

Sometimes it's obvious. Other times, it's a bit more challenging to isolate one thing that stands above the rest when it comes to what the Patriots must address.

It's obvious this week, as the Patriots lead the NFL with 28 total penalties after picking up 15 against the Vikings. Of those 28, four have been declined.

What in the name of Ed Hochuli is going on here?

The Patriots are usually one of the NFL's least-penalized teams.

Last year, they had 82 penalties all season (69 accepted), the second-lowest total in the league. They had 98 accepted penalties in 2012 (ninth fewest) and 80 in 2011 (fifth fewest).

This year, they're on pace for 224 total penalties (192 accepted), and host the Raiders on Sunday.

Tedy Bruschi has told the story in the past about how when the Patriots struggle with fundamental plays, like the quarterback-center exchange, coach Bill Belichick will sometimes make reference to the local high school team: "If we can't execute that, we can't win football games, whether it's against Foxborough High School or the Minnesota Vikings."

That's what I thought about Sunday when the Patriots were penalized for being offsides on a kickoff for the second week in a row. That's just bad football, as is jumping offsides or being in the neutral zone.

While the Patriots' overall numbers are a bit skewed because of a few late penalties Sunday when the game was already decided, the Patriots have had too many of those "bad football" penalties in the first two games.

The way to fix it is simple. Play smarter football.

The Film Don't Lie: Jets

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A weekly look at what the New York Jets must fix:

Unfortunately for the Jets, there is no quick fix, especially with their upcoming schedule.

After surrendering 346 passing yards to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the Jets face the Chicago Bears at home -- and that spells potential trouble. The Bears have the type of personnel that causes problems for the Jets, which is to say they have a capable quarterback, Jay Cutler, and two explosive receivers, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

The Jets are struggling on the back end of their defense -- specifically cornerback. Against the Packers, their goal was to limit the vertical attack, forcing Rodgers to dink and dunk. As it turned out, Rodgers completed 6 of 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown on throws longer than 10 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Much of the damage was done by Jordy Nelson, who finished with a career-high 209 yards -- the most by a receiver against the Jets in the Rex Ryan era.

With Dee Milliner (ankle) still not 100 percent, the Jets used a three-man cornerback rotation, with Milliner, Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls. There were technique errors throughout the game, not to mention blown assignments, infuriating Ryan. The coach took responsibility, saying he has to do a better job of communicating. Truth is, this is a personnel issue.

The Jets dropped the ball in the offseason, failing to shore up the position after releasing Antonio Cromartie. It got worse with injuries and the release of Dimitri Patterson, a bad free-agent signing. Ryan can scheme up clever blitz packages, but that's not a panacea. This will be a season-long problem.

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

A position of strength for the Dolphins has now become a position of weakness after two games. Miami’s running back corps suffered a major blow with leading rusher Knowshon Moreno sidelined with an elbow injury. Early reports indicate Moreno could be out approximately one month.

How do the Dolphins fix this issue? It will be up to Lamar Miller and backups Damian Williams and Orleans Darkwa to step up and carry the load. So far that hasn’t been the case when Moreno isn’t in the lineup. On Monday, Miami also signed Daniel Thomas, who was cut by the team before the regular season.

The Dolphins average 5.5 yards per carry with Moreno running the ball this season. The other three running backs are averaging 3.9 yards per carry. Moreno also has more rushing yards (138) this season than Miller, Williams and Darkwa combined (133).

Miami will need more production from this trio to keep the offense balanced.