Tom Brady and the Patriots rank 27th in the NFL in passing offense.  (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots are 27th in the NFL in passing offense. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Tom Brady looked visibly frustrated after Sunday’€™s 30-7 win over the Vikings and for a valid reason — the offense, especially the passing game, hasn’€™t performed to their capabilities through the first two games of the season.

Over the first two weeks of the season, the offense ranks 27th in the NFL in total offense and 27th in passing. Brady threw for 249 yards in Week 1 against the Dolphins and 149 yards last week against the Vikings. Their 368 net passing yards is only ahead of the Jaguars, Jets, Texans and Buccaneers.

“We have a long way to go,” Brady said Wednesday. “€œLike I said, every week it starts again and whatever we did last week we’€™re trying to make improvements so that we come out the next week and play better. There is more margin of error because we’€™re doing things better, more crisp with better anticipation and confidence in one another. We’€™ll ultimately see how it plays out. It’€™s really early in the year and we have a lot of football left.

“We’€™re still trying to figure out what we’€™re good at and we’€™ll probably be trying to figure that out for a long time. All the way through the season we have to adapt to changes with the guys out there and with what we think we need to do to win. We’€™re trying to make improvements. I don’€™t think we’€™re ready for the Super Bowl this week, but I think we have a lot of work to go and certainly playing against Oakland is a big challenge because they have a great pass defense and we need to understand where there strengths are and execute better than we have in the first few weeks.”

In comparison to the 149 passing yards last week, Brady has thrown for less than 149 yards only three times since 2009 — two of them coming last year.

One of the major things that stands out in the passing game is the way the ball is being distributed. Brady has 78 pass attempts this year with 70 of them being targeted at a receiver. Of those 70, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have been targeted 46 percent of the time and of Brady’€™s 44 pass completions, 20 of them (45 percent) have been to Edelman or Gronkowski.

Brady admits he needs to do a better job of throwing the ball to more receivers and getting everyone involved in the passing game.

“€œI think that’€™s definitely a big part of what we’€™re trying to do offensively — to make us hard to defend — is to be able to throw the ball to everybody,” Brady said. “You’€™re right, those guys have seen the majority of the throws and I have to do a better job of finding the other guys because there are a lot of good routes, big targets, guys are working really hard to get open. Hopefully it shows up this week in our passing game and we’€™re going to work hard at it this week to see if we can all be on the same page more often.”

Fortunately for the Patriots, it is only Week 3 of the season and there are 14 more regular season games to improve from where they currently are. The group certainly knows what they are capable of as they have finished in the NFL’s top 10 in terms of total passing offense in four of the last five seasons and in the top five three times.

“€œI think great offenses are ones where you go where the reads take you and you throw it — when we’€™re open we make the catch, the blocking is good, the throws are good, the timing is good — that’€™s what we’€™re working towards,” Brady said. “€œIt’€™s a lot of practice. We’€™re still early in the year and we have a lot of work to do. … Hopefully we can go out and do a better job. Like I said, we have a lot of work ahead — it’€™s a long season. The better we practice the more confidence we have in each other in games and hopefully the better it shows up in a game.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Wes Welker can now begin getting ready for NFL action. Brian Tyms and Brandon Browner presumably must still wait.

Under terms of the new NFL/NFLPA drug policy, players who tested positive in the offseason for stimulants banned under the old PED policy will be reinstated.

Aaron Hernandez has been mostly quiet since his incarceration in 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd, but through a court filing released Tuesday, the former Patriots tight end revealed some of his thoughts about the case.

When police investigated the murder in June 2013, they searched the Hernandez home and also wanted Hernandez’s cell phone. Hernandez said in the document that the investigation of his home made him worried for his the rest of his family.

“I felt helpless in the face of the occupation of my house by the police,” Hernandez said. “I was also very concerned about what would happen to my fiancee and our baby if I refused to answer their questions.”

The court filling is an attempt to support a motion that would suppress evidence from Hernandez’s cell phone. During the occupation of the house by 10 officers, Hernandez said police asked for the phone and its password.

The day before the investigation of the home, lawyers told police that all questions about the case should be directed toward them and not Hernandez. The ex-player’s attorneys also said Hernandez should have been read a Miranda warning to remain silent.

Hernandez’s legal team also is looking to suppress evidence that police took from his SUV, saying the warrant to search it did not have probable cause.

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano
Wes Welker claims he did not knowingly take a banned substance. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Wes Welker claims he did not knowingly take a banned substance. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Wes Welker can now begin getting ready for NFL action. Brian Tyms and Brandon Browner presumably must still wait.

Under terms of the new NFL/NFLPA drug policy, players who tested positive in the offseason for stimulants banned under the old PED policy will be reinstated.

However, the joint announcement released Wednesday morning named only three such players who qualify to return this week: Welker, Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick and Rams receiver Stedman Bailey.

But the joint announcement from the league and the union identifies only three players to return: Broncos receiver Wes Welker, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and Rams receiver Stedman Bailey.

This brings up the question of why Browner and Tyms, two Patriots with pre-existing four-game suspensions, must still serve their suspensions.

Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan also argued that his four-game suspension came from taking a banned stimulant.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the league and players union have agreed to a higher threshold for a positive marijuana test and a two-game suspension upon conviction or plea agreement for driving under the influence.

HGH testing, according to the release, should begin by the end of the month and will be fully implemented this season. NFL.com’s Albert Breer reported Wednesday that union sources claim there should be approximately 20 players affected by retroactive enforcement of the new policy.

The names of all the players who are affected by the new policy won’t be made public, according to Breer. Some players who had entered into the early stages of the program will simply be moved back a step. Names are kept confidential in the early stages of the league’s drug program. Players on the first or second step of the marijuana policy could be moved back according to Breer.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Chandler Jones had the best all-around game of his three-year career on Sunday in Minnesota. On Wednesday, he was rewarded with his first AFC Defensive Player of the Week award.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

FOXBORO — Chandler Jones had the best all-around game of his three-year career on Sunday in Minnesota. On Wednesday, he was rewarded with his first AFC defensive player of the week award.

Jones sacked Matt Cassel twice (matching a career high), had eight total tackles (six solo), hit the quarterback three times and recorded three tackles for a loss. The Patriots allowed a touchdown on the opening drive but held the Vikings scoreless the rest of the day in a 30-7 win.

Jones also blocked a field goal attempted and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown just before halftime. That play would fall under special teams recognition, not defense.

While this is Jones’ first player of the week honor, it’s not the first time he’s been recognized. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November last season.

The last time the Patriots earned an AFC Defensive Player of the Week honor was Week 10 of the 2011 season when Andre Carter tied a team record with four sacks at the New York Jets on Nov. 13, 2011.

Last season, the Patriots earned two AFC Player of the Week honors (QB Tom Brady in Week 12 and RB LeGarrette Blount in Week 17) and two AFC Player of the Month honors (K Stephen Gostkowski ‘€“ Special Teams Player of the Month for October and DE Chandler Jones ‘€“ AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November).

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Columnist Jim Souhan from the Star Tribune in Minnesota joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Adrian Peterson situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Adrian Peterson might miss the rest of the season while he deals with legal issues related to his beating of his son. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Adrian Peterson might miss the rest of the season while he deals with legal issues related to his beating of his son. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Vikings have faced criticism all week, including a lot from Souhan, on how they handled Peterson after the running back was charged with abuse of his 4-year-old son. Initially, the Vikings planned on letting Peterson play Sunday against the Saints. But the team eventually bowed to public pressure, putting the player on the exempt-commissioner’€™s list, meaning Peterson has to stay away from all team activities.

Souhan said the league and the Vikings had no other choice but to pull Peterson from the field.

“[The league] did the right thing after they saw the second Ray Rice video, which nobody had to actually see,” Souhan said. “The Vikings have more arrests than anybody in the NFL since the year 2000. They’ve had more off-field embarrassments than team in professional sports. And that’€™s saying something. That’€™s a high bar. And they still have no idea how to handle crises — none. [The Vikings] embarrassed themselves on Monday.

“The only reason they deactivated [Peterson] over the weekend was because they didn’€™t know what to do. It wasn’€™t like they were making a grand gesture. They just didn’€™t know what to do. They were in such a panic.”

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has come under fire for the way he’€™s handled the situation, especially after he initially voiced support for Peterson.

“Actually, I don’€™t think he’€™s a bad guy,” Souhan said of Spielman. “He’€™s adopted a lot of kids. He and his wife, they try and be really good parents. Away from the field, I think he’€™s a good guy. But he’€™s a classic stopwatch football guy. He has 40 times going through his head. He has 18 million stats, and he has vertical leaps. He has all that stuff built in his head. He can’€™t process this kind of stuff. He’€™s a football guy. That’€™s the problem ‘€“ the organization has nobody who can or will deal with big picture issues. The Wilfs are gutless. Ziggy’€™s incapable of public speaking.”

With the allegations and pending legal action, many have wondered whether Peterson will suit up in a Vikings uniform ever again.

“I think he’€™s done, I don’€™t think he comes back here,” Souhan said. “He’€™s going to turn 30 this offseason. He’€™s going to turn 30 in an offseason where he’€™s going to go to trial and possibly will be given some jail time. The Vikings will already start to move down the road of most modern NFL franchises saying, ‘€˜Do we want to pay a star running back tons of money at position that just doesn’€™t make as much as difference as it used to in the NFL?’ They were already kind of gearing up to ask him to pay cut. They were already going to have some contractual issues in the offseason. This makes it obviously very convenient to cut him and move on.”

Continued Souhan: “But the real question to me is does an NFL team, another NFL team, pick him up? And of course the first team that comes to mind is the Cowboys. You have Jerry Jones, who likes spectacles, who doesn’€™t care about negative publicity as long as it’€™s publicity. Adrian grew up in East Texas, lives in Houston.”

Following are more highlights from the interview.

On whether Peterson will be paid for the rest of the season: “I haven’€™t confirmed it, but I believe it to be true. I think [the Vikings] hope by just suspending him that they get both things that they want, which is not having Adrian Peterson on the field and not having a huge legal fight with the either the NFLPA or Adrian’€™s lawyers. This is them kind of splitting the difference, get what they want. They’€™re basically paying Adrian Peterson off.”

On if Peterson was known as a bad guy before this incident: “No, I had no idea. I actually liked the guy. I admired him as an athlete, he’€™s maximum effort player. Truly as an athlete, he was completely admirable. In terms of effort, in terms of being a teammate, I know some of his teammates really rave about how he handles himself in the locker room. This was absolutely shocking.”

On Vikings fans and their support for Peterson: “There’€™s that small group of really stupid people who will support the local team and support the local star no matter what. They need their fix. They need their fix of good sport on Sunday. … Judging from emails from comment sections, any way you can judge public reaction these days, my guess is about 20 percent of Minnesotans are in that stupid category. I’€™d say maybe 30 percent of Minnesotans like the phrase due process. They don’€™t agree with what Peterson did but they think that it’€™s got to go for the full court system before you can make any judgment, which is stupid because due process has nothing to do with company relationships with their employees. And I’€™d say 50 percent of Minnesotans are absolutely disgusted.”

On the Vikings locker room and the players’ reaction to the events: “They’€™re all just giving me the most convenient line, which is, ‘€˜We support Adrian, it’€™s really none of our business, we’€™d like to have him back so we can win on Sunday. But we’€™re not going to get into the legal stuff.’€™ I don’€™t know what else they can say. … They’€™re caught in between.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano
Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Several former Patriots are among the preliminary nominees for the 2015 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was revealed late Tuesday.

All of the nominees who made it who have New England ties were on the defensive side of the football. Linebackers Tedy Bruschi (who played with the Patriots from 1996-2008), Willie McGinest (1994-2005) and Junior Seau (2006-2009) are all on the list. In addition, Rodney Harrison (2003-2008), Ty Law (1995-2004) and Shawn Springs (2009) made it as well. And defensive lineman Fred Smerlas (1991-1992) and Ted Washington (2003) were also named as nominees.

A total of 99 players and 14 coaches comprise the 113 nominees. A modern-era player or coach must be retired at least five consecutive seasons to be eligible. The selection committee will choose 25 candidates as semifinalists in late November. That list will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists in early January. The 2015 class will be voted on the day before the Super Bowl.

One senior committee nominee, former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, also will be on the ballot.

Several former Patriots have already reached the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including offensive lineman John Hannah, linebacker Andre Tippett and cornerback Mike Haynes.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

After initially deciding to activate running back Adrian Peterson on Monday, the Vikings gave in to public pressure and announced early Wednesday morning that the running back would be placed on the exempt-commissioner’s permission list, a move that will keep him away from the team while he deals with child abuse charges.

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision [Monday], after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian,” owners Zygi and Mark Wilfs said in a statement. “We want to be clear: We have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
We check in with Peter King from SI/MMQB for our weekly look at the National Football League and more.