NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to talk about the Patriots’ rocky start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to talk about the Patriots’ rocky start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots improved to 2-1 with Sunday’s 16-9 victory over the Raiders, but the offense continues to struggle, as evidenced by the single touchdown against a low-ranked Raiders defense. The finger has been pointed at the offensive line as the main culprit.

“It’s a big concern, because I’m sitting there with coach [Tony] Dungy and we’re watching them, and they’re just getting their butt kicked,” Harrison said. “The tackles, the guards, they’re just getting their butts kicked and getting pushed around. They just look so big and stiff, no knee bends, anything. It just looked bad. And Tom [Brady], you could just tell, Tom never felt comfortable, he doesn’t feel comfortable, he doesn’t trust that offensive line.

“They really need to either get that run game going, they need to do something. If it was one guy, like coach Dungy pointed out, then you can shift and you can use the running back and you can run some screens, stuff like that. But unfortunately it’s not just one guy, it’s a multitude of guys. This is a big concern for me, because if Tom gets hurt they’re in trouble.”

Richie Incognito, let go by the Dolphins in the offseason after being suspended for his role in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal, remains a free agent. The talented but troubled offensive lineman reportedly is talking with the Eagles this week.

“He can play, man. He can play,” Harrison said. “[Bill] Belichick, he’s one of those guys that can bring certain people in — Corey Dillon and Randy Moss and myself — and people said, ‘Hey, these guys are troublemakers and they’re not good people.’ You can bring him in — he’s the one guy I think in the league that can get a guy to come in and fit in.

“A lot of people deserve second chances. Richie, he seems like he paid his dues. We all make mistakes in life. I think he can still play. I think you get a guy like that, you can get him for cheap, he’s hungry. Why not bring him in? If he doesn’t work out, cut him. It’s not like his salary will be guaranteed anyway.”

The offensive woes can’t entirely be blamed on the line. Aside from Julian Edelman, the receivers have yet to make an impact.

“You look, and a lot of times certain guys, they’re just not open,” Harrison said. “And Tom has to play better, too. … You see those type of [missed] throws every game. It just seems like the one guy that he has that rapport and trust and chemistry is Edelman. But you can’t just win with one guy. You have to kind of spread the ball around. I think Josh [McDaniels], knowing that this offense is struggling, he’s going to have to find different ways to get Brandon LaFell into the game so he can build his confidence. I think once Brandon starts to catch on and catches four or five passes in a game I think you’re going to really see this young guy take off.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On Darrelle Revis: “I look at Darrelle and I say, you know what? He’s working his way back. He’s learning the system, he’s getting comfortable. And that’s the problem. When you go out and you get a guy like Darrelle Revis and you pay him a bunch of money, people start thinking that no one’s going to complete a pass. With these rule changes you can’t be a shutdown corner, it’s impossible.

“But the one thing that they went and got him for is for like when they’re playing against the Denver Broncos in the playoffs and they need that guy that can move around and shut that one — not even really shut him down, but go against that No. 1 receiver. It’s not like a Richard Sherman type where he only can play the left side. Darrelle can move to the right side, he’s played a little bit in the slot. So that’s what you go out and get Darrelle Revis for. But at the end of the day, if I had my choice of cornerbacks and I’m trusting [one], I’m trusting Darrelle Revis over any of those guys.”

On the high expectations for the Patriots in New England: “The fans assume because you have Brady, and people assume automatically once you just go out and get anyone, they put on the jersey and all of a sudden they’re going to be a productive player. It doesn’t necessarily work like that. I think fans, they start to appreciate what they had back in the day with the Christian Faurias and Tedy Bruschis and all those great players that they had. I think when you have those type of expectations, it’s unfair to the guys now. Because people expect you to win, people expect you to go to the Super Bowl and do those type of things.”

On where the Patriots stand in the AFC: “I still believe that the Denver Broncos, they’re the best team in the AFC. I think the Patriots are going to have their hands full with the Cincinnati Bengals. I think they’re probably the second-most complete team. Hugh Jackson, he’s come in there and he’s really done some wonderful things from the offensive standpoint. They’ve got some guys that can rush the passer. I still think you can’t discount the Patriots. I look at Tom Brady, he hasn’t played particularly well, his offensive line is struggling, and after three weeks they’re 2-1. If you look at what they did against Oakland and what they did against Miami, it was like, this team almost should be 1-2. But they’re 2-1, and I just believe with the coaching staff, with the veteran players, I think they’re going to get it right. I think they’re going to correct it.”

On players he didn’t like when he played defensive back: “I probably didn’t like Jerry Rice on the field. I respected him, and Jerry’s a nice guy off the field, but I hated Jerry Rice on the field. … Randy Moss was another guy I just absolutely hated on the field because I just felt like at times he was just a crybaby. And once again, you have these preconceived notions about a guy, but once you get a chance to know him, Randy Moss was a true pro, he worked his butt off, I didn’t know he was as smart as he is. But guys like that — Jerry Rice, he’s a nice guy, but he always used to kick our butt when I played in San Diego, so I just hated him on the field.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Former Patriots safety and current NBC Sports analyst, Rodney Harrison, spoke about the Patriots offensive line struggles. He talked about being hated in league and hating Jerry Rice and Randy Moss at points in his career. He thinks Josh McDaniels needs to get Brandon LaFell involved, and what to expect from Darrelle Revis going forward.

With the Patriots offensive line struggling, there is speculation that the team might consider bringing in former Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito, who remains a free agent.

Incognito was suspended last season for his role in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal, and the Dolphins cut ties with him after the season. He also has a long history of off-field issues. However, he is considered a talented player who is popular among his teammates.

(Read Chris Price’s analysis of the situation here.)

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr

Welcome to the Week 3 waiver wire! Hopefully you are here looking for the talent you need to get to 4-0, but we’ve got your back whether you are fighting for playoff positioning or for your fantasy life. I’ve got teams in both situations right now, thanks to all the injuries and legal tribulations so far in 2014.

The byes hit this week, and we’ve got you covered. There are a lot of hot teams taking a rest this week.

Get ahead of the curve and make your moves early. This is not a week to wait. There are a few very appealing options out there like Jordan Matthews and Donald Brown. Get in on it.

As I said last week, the ownership percentages are listed for each player. The rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective. What really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’ll need to do the legwork on that. If you play in really big leagues, as I tend to do, you should head on over to Rotobahn later and check out my expanded wire. The expanded edition gives you about twice as many options. To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my good buddy Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.

QUARTERBACKS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — 76 percent

He’s the most available of the obvious guys. Grab him if he’s there in your league. The Steelers have the offense in about-to-click mode. Things are looking good if they can get and stay healthy.

Kirk Cousins, Washington — 48 percent

He might not be a long-term solution, but then again, maybe he is. Robert Griffin III will be out at least another six weeks and probably a few more. Whether he is handed his job back is potentially debatable depending on how Cousins plays and if the team is winning. We all saw Cousins’ potential last week. He can be your starter in large leagues and he makes a fine QB2 in smaller ones.

Eli Manning, Giants – 37 percent

He stepped up last week and he could get Odell Beckham, Jr. back soon. I am buying Eli shares right now because they are ungodly cheap and because the Giants‘ schedule gets plenty light in the coming weeks.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars — 5 percent

He plays behind a bad offensive line, so don’t get too excited. He also has too many injuries to his receivers and to TE Marcedes Lewis as well. Bortles’ fantasy intrigue largely is due to his mobility. He can get you foot-points if the coaching staff gives him the green light as it should. If you are not familiar with Bortles, check out my scouting report on the former UCF star.

Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings — 4 percent

I’d say he’s a potential breakout, but he lost two incredibly crucial cogs while he was waiting for his chance to start. Adrian Peterson would have been a huge benefit for a young quarterback, and, to make matters worse, he lost his starting tight end last week for more than a month with an ankle injury. Bridgewater is a guy to add if you need some QB help, but he’s got fringe QB1 upside at best right now with such a limited supporting cast. On the positive front, the Vikings’ schedule lightens up going forward.

Mike Glennon, Buccaneers — 1 percent

He could be the guy for the rest of the year, and that could be worth getting excited about if Vincent Jackson‘s wrist injury proves to be something he can play through. The Bucs have been playing without their offensive coordinator so far this season, but they get him and Doug Martin back this week. That’s very positive news.

RUNNING BACKS

Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts — 74 percent

Here’s the prize for those in need of immediate help. Check his availability just in case he happens to be out there. If you get him, you can ride the wave of health for as long as it lasts. Bradshaw is playing very good football right now. Add him in all formats if you can.

Donald Brown, Chargers — 50 percent

Brown now is the man. It’s not the way we wanted it to happen, obviously. In the last two games, the Chargers have lost Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. The offseason signing of Brown now looks like a master stroke. He’ll have RB1 upside in plus matchups and should be added in any league where he’s available. The ninja move is to add Brown and then add Mathews in a few weeks when his owner dumps him in a bye week crunch.

Bishop Sankey, Titans — 55 percent

He finally got a decent run in terms of snaps and touches in Week 3 and he looked pretty good. HC Ken Whisenhunt still is looking for improvements (specifically with his footwork) and he may not get the keys to the business just yet, but Week 3 was very encouraging. Those who’ve lost running backs in the last few weeks should be targeting Sankey right now. He could be a weekly starter soon. Here’s a look at Sankey’s scouting report if you don’t know his game.

Knile Davis, Chiefs — 76 percent

His ownership rate is through the roof due to the Jamaal Charles injury. Charles owners still can add Davis in about a quarter of leagues, and that’s a no-brainer if you can pull it off. If not, look for an impatient owner to drop Davis this week if Charles is back at practice in full. As I’ve said all along, Davis is a must-own player for all Charles owners.

Khiry Robinson, Saints — 42 percent

He’ll be the lead back for a few more games and is a great way to skate through the bye weeks. Robinson will improve on last week’s numbers going forward. The Saints are still calibrating their new offense a bit. Things aren’t clicking as they normally do. They will soon.

Jeremy Hill, Bengals — 57 percent

The Bengals look like a team that will be playing with leads, and that’s good news for the big rookie back, who can play on all three downs and is a bad man at the goal line. Hill needs to be owned in all leagues and by all Gio Bernard owners, too, as a seriously high-end handcuff option.

Carlos Hyde, 49ers – 60 percent

Frank Gore is old. He may not break down, but Hyde already has become the primary goal-line back in San Francisco. He could be in a time share before long and he should be owned in all leagues for his upside alone. If you own Gore, do yourself a favor and find a way to roster Hyde, too. If you do not own Gore, consider Hyde as a stash who can be used as a bye week replacement. If Hyde starts at some point, he has RB1 value. Yes, RB1.

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers — 36 percent

This is a week to add him as he could be a feature back if he can make his return from a thigh bruise. If he plays, he comes back to a backfield that will be missing both Jonathan Stewart (knee) and Mike Tolbert (leg) for this week’s game against the Ravens in Baltimore. Not bad for a bye week option.

Isaiah, Crowell, Browns — 18 percent

It’s impossible to watch this kid run over defenders and not think big thoughts. He runs like Marion Barber III but with more burst and all the anger and determination. Browns HC Mike Pettine obviously is a fan, and he has been somewhat non-committal about how the Cleveland backfield will roll once the injured starter Ben Tate returns. Crowell now is a stash as Cleveland heads into its bye week. Roster him if you can.

Matt Asiata, Vikings — 54 percent

Is un-special a word? After watching Asiata run for two weeks, I really think it should be. This guy is decent. He doesn’t do anything wrong, per se, but he’ll break about one tackle a week at best. I still feel strongly that he’ll start losing time to rookie Jerick McKinnon as the year wears on and assuming that Adrian Peterson stays in NFL purgatory. Asiata still can provide you with some short-term points, but don’t get too excited.

Alfred Blue, Texans — 24 percent

Arian Foster owners, listen up! You want this kid if you haven’t already made the move, and judging by the numbers, you haven’t. Blue could have had a big day in Week 3, but the Texans got away from him after a hot start and didn’t get back to him until the second half. I have a feeling that HC Bill O’Brien won’t make that mistake again as Ronnie Brown and Jonathan Grimes are as un-special as Matt Asiata and then some. Blue is a solid handcuff option for Arian Foster owners.

Jerick McKinnon, Vikings — 18 percent

Yes, he was seemingly an afterthought last week, but the Vikings did try to throw to him a few times and, don’t forget, they switched quarterbacks during the game. They may have kept the flux to a minimum because of that. This week will be a better sample of what the Vikings plan on being with no Matt Cassel and no Adrian Peterson, not to mention the injured Kyle Rudolph. I’m still stashing McKinnon wherever I can afford to. He’s a potentially special player if he gets his chance.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens — 8 percent

After a bit of a breakout performance in Week 3, he’s obviously on the radar now, but it’s hard to say how things will shake out when Bernard Pierce is healthy. Taliaferro is a rookie out of Coastal Carolina and he could eventually become the back to own in Baltimore. He’s a guy they like and he fits the new zone scheme that OC Gary Kubiak runs. I’m adding this kid in most leagues just in case they decide to give him a long-term shot at the starting gig.

Denard Robinson, Jaguars — 0 percent

Speaking of getting a chance. Robinson split carries with starter Toby Gerhart in Week 3, and while it was a blowout, you have to wonder if the Jaguars might go to the quicker, more athletic back more often now that they have a power-running quarterback in Blake Bortles. Robinson is an electric runner when given some room to operate. He’s not a bad stash if you have some bench space to play with. He’s a must-add talent in bigger leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Jordan Matthews, Eagles — 18 percent

You don’t miss two scores, and nobody will in typical fantasy leagues. Hopefully you listened and already have Matthews on your team, but if he’s out there in your league, I would go out and get him as he is very much available. He’d be my top priority at receiver this week because he has a big ceiling in Chip Kelly’s offense.

Brian Quick, Rams — 38 percent

Quick found the zone last week and he also got some help from his teammates, which is a good sign going forward. Quick is a talented weapon and a red zone option, too, so I’d make sure he’s owned in any league I’m a part of.

Cecil Shorts, Jaguars — 57 percent

He’s back and he found the end zone as he often does. Shorts is a player to own in all formats as long as his health holds up. He’s the one truly dependable weapon that the Jaguars have.

John Brown, Cardinals — 8 percent

He has three scores already and, if you read your Rotobahn this preseason, you know why. Brown may be from Pitt State, but he’s got NFL skills and HC Bruce Arians is not at all shy about using Brown as a red zone weapon — getting him matched up against weaker corners while the better ones are busy with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. What can Brown do for you? Quite a bit — even in 10-team leagues.

Davante Adams, Packers — 7 percent

No, he did not do much last week, but he appears to have passed Jarrett Boykin for the job as third receiver, and Aaron Rodgers‘ third receiver usually has significant fantasy value. Pick up Adams in all leagues as a stash option you can play in a pinch. Here’s a look at Adams’ scouting report. This kid can jump through the roof. He’s a serious athlete.

Allen Robinson, Jaguars — 2 percent

If you read my scouting report on Robinson, then you know how much I like his playmaking ability. With all the injuries in Jacksonville, Robinson is getting a chance and he’s taking advantage for the most part. While fellow rookie Allen Hurns, with his prior knowledge of the Jaguars offense due to his time with OC Jedd Fisch at the University of Miami, has been the story so far, don’t be fooled. Robinson is the more talented player and has the highest ceiling of all the Jaguars receivers, including Shorts and Marqise Lee, due to his red zone potential. Add him in all leagues for his upside.

TIGHT ENDS

Travis Kelce, Chiefs — 48 percent

He’s still the tight end to target as you can get him in more than 50 percent of leagues. Kelce has plenty of unexplored ceiling. If he stays healthy all season, he’ll eventually become a weekly TE1 in most formats. Add him now if you can.

Owen Daniels, Ravens — 27 percent

We all know the veteran can play, but now he’s back in the starter’s saddle due to the season-ending injury to Dennis Pitta. Can Daniels hold up himself? Who knows, but he’s a starting-caliber option for as long as he lasts. He knows the Kubiak offense better than any player in Baltimore, including Joe Flacco. Add him.

Dwayne Allen, Colts — 24 percent

He’s been used less than I was anticipating, but he should continue to become the staple option he has the potential to be. Allen does have two touchdowns so far this year, and that underscores his fantasy potential if they start using him more. Add him in all leagues as a high-upside TE2.

Jared Cook, Rams — 17 percent

He’s been involved enough where he is a viable bye week or injury replacement option. Will it last long? Probably not, but ride the wave while it’s there.

DEFENSES

Chargers – 12 percent

They get Jacksonville at home this week, and that’s reason for excitement. The Chargers defense has some momentum, and now it gets a rookie QB making his first road start. Adding and playing San Diego this week is good business.

Steelers – 13 percent

Speaking of good business, the Steelers are very much available and they have a home game against the Buccaneers, who were so flat in Week 2 that that they almost had to call the game at halftime. I’m looking to play the Steelers this week against Mike Glennon and company. I don’t think they can stop the bleeding in one week.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

Every week, we list the Patriots’€™€™ “offensive touches,”€€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’€™€™s a breakdown of the 2014 New England offense after three games:

RB Stevan Ridley: 55 (52 carries, 3 catches), 4 negative runs
RB Shane Vereen: 30 (20 carries, 10 catches) 1 negative catch
WR Julian Edelman: 26 (4 carries, 22 catches)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 11 (11 catches)
RB Brandon Bolden: 9 (8 carries, 1 catch), 1 negative run
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (6 catches)
QB Tom Brady: 5 (5 carries), 7 sacks, 3 kneeldowns
WR Brandon LaFell: 4 (4 catches)
WR Danny Amendola: 3 (3 catches)
TE Tim Wright: 3 (3 catches)
FB James Develin: 2 (2 catches)
WR Aaron Dobson: 1 (1 catch)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui 1 (1 catch)

Notes: The Patriots had six negative plays from scrimmage on Sunday, a season-high –€” two sacks of Brady, three negative runs from Ridley and a negative catch from Vereen. On the season, New England has run 211 plays from scrimmage, and 13 of them have gone for negative yardage, not including kneeldowns. …  Against the Raiders, the Patriots ran 71 plays, nine of them in no-huddle (7.9 percent). In addition, 20 of their 71 snaps (28 percent) were in shotgun formation. … On the season, the Patriots have run 19 of their 211 plays out of no-huddle (9 percent) and 67 snaps in shotgun (32 percent). By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps. … Dating back to the end of the 2013 regular season (and not including the preseason), Brady has now completed 104 passes without an interception. … With his 20 touches on Sunday, Ridley has now gone 118 touches (dating back to the 2013 regular season, but not including the preseason) without losing a fumble. … Sunday marked the first game of the season where the Patriots’ offense was able to string together four drives of 10-plus plays. The 15-play drive (which ended with the lone touchdown of the game) was longest offensive series of season. … Over the last four years, here’s a look at the points per game average for the Patriots over the course of the first three games of the season:

– 2011: 104 (34.6 per game)
– 2012: 82 (27.3 per game)
– 2013: 59 (19.7 per game)
– 2014: 66 (22 per game)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Every week over the course of the 2014 season, we’€™€™€™ll€™€ provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. Like all stats, the numbers have to be placed on context of game-situations and personnel. And while sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Currently, the Patriots are tied for ninth in the league in sacks with seven. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™€™€™€™€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after three games for the 2014 regular season:

Sacks (via gamebooks)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 2 (22 yards)
DE Chandler Jones: 2 (7 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 1 (10 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1 (9 yards)
DB Kyle Arrington: 1 (0 yards)

Quarterback Hits (via gamebooks)
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 4
DE Rob Ninkovich: 3
DE Chandler Jones: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2

Quarterback Hurries (via PFF)
DE Chandler Jones: 6
LB Jerod Mayo: 5
LB/DE Rob Ninkovich: 4
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 4
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 2
DL Vince Wilfork: 2
DL Chris Jones: 1
DL Dominique Easley: 1
DB Tavon Wilson: 1

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™€™s a look at the target breakdown after three regular-season games this year.

WR Julian Edelman: 22 catches on 28 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 11 catches on 23 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 10 catches on 16 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 4 catches on 14 targets
TE Tim Wright: 4 catches on 5 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 3 catches on 7 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 3 catches on 3 targets
FB James Develin: 2 catches on 2 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 1 catch on 3 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 1 catch on 2 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 1 catch on 1 target

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Darrelle Revis went head-to-head with James Jones for much of the day Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis went head-to-head with James Jones for much of the day Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the understanding that the all-22 game film (which is usually made available sometime on Tuesday) could shed some more light on how his afternoon went, here are a few preliminary notes on Darrelle Revis‘ performance Sunday against the Raiders.

– By our unscientific count, Revis played 58 snaps on the afternoon. He was lined up on the left side 34 times, and on the right for 24 snaps. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw in his direction seven times, and completed five passes for 63 total yards, with one of the incompletions coming on a pair of offsetting penalties. Carr clearly wasn’t intimidated by Revis, throwing two key passes in his direction in the fourth quarter with the game in the balance. (One of those was completed along the Oakland — more on that shortly — and another fell incomplete.)

– Veteran James Jones did most of the damage against Revis, catching three passes for 43 yards. The sweetest connection of the afternoon came late in the fourth quarter — on Oakland’s final drive of the day, Carr delivered an impressive back-shoulder throw to Jones along the Raiders sideline for an 18-yard pickup that was as nice a throw-and-catch as we’ve seen all season, given the situation. Jones added a 13-harder over the middle, and had a 12-yard pickup on an out route. (Jones did not catch anything else when matched up with anyone else all day.)

– One thing that did catch our eye as it relates to Revis: the Patriots moved him from one side to another all afternoon, and matched him up on various receivers throughout the day, including Rod Streater (who had one catch for nine yards on Revis in the early going) and Denarius Moore (who also had an 11-yard reception when matched against Revis). However, on Oakland’s final drive, he appeared to be almost solely focused on going head-to-head with Jones. On the Raiders last eight plays, he was against Jones on five occasions, including matching up with him in the slot on one play while Logan Ryan went against Andre Holmes on the outside. (That was the play where Ryan was flagged for pass interference.)

– By our count, through three weeks, Revis has yielded eight catches on 16 targets for 103 yards, with one interception and three pass breakups. (We’ll have more after watching the all-22 when it’s released, which we’ll include in the weekly edition of the “Revis Report.”)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Bill Belichick has been less than thrilled at the amount of penalties this year. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick has been less than thrilled at the amount of penalties this year. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

For a Bill Belichick team, the numbers are astounding.

Through the first three games of the season, the Patriots have been flagged for 30 penalties and 322 yards (not counting penalties that were declined or offset). New England is third in the league in penalties incurred (the Niners are first with 36, followed by the Steelers at 31), and leads the league in most penalty yardage (the Rams are second at 305).

Following 15 penalties in their second regular-season game against the Vikings — the most for any Belichick team in one game — the Patriots managed to cut back slightly Sunday against Oakland, finishing with six for 95 yards.

“It was one of the best things we did [Sunday],”€ Belichick said after the narrow escape against the Raiders. “We had fewer penalties in all three phases of the game. That was certainly a positive. We need to play more that way. It wasn’€™t perfect, but that was an improvement in all three areas.”

There was a marked improvement across the board, but at the same time, if the 2014 Patriots stay on their current pace, they’€™ll finish the year with 160 penalties and 1,717 penalty yards. That would set a mark for a Belichick-coached Patriots team (the 2003 team had 111 penalties and 998 penalty yards) and break the franchise record for penalties in a season (114, set in 1985) and most penalty yards in a season (1,051, set in 1992). It also would set an NFL record — the current league mark is 158 penalties, set by the 1998 Chiefs.

The penalties are all the more remarkable considering the fact that the Patriots were one of the least-penalized teams in the league last season when they took 69 penalties for 625 penalty yards, finishing second to the Colts in fewest total penalties and third in least penalty yards, trailing only Indy and Miami. It’€™s also interesting that all of this has taken place without cornerback Brandon Browner, who has been serving his four-game suspension to start the year. In his career with the Seahawks, Browner established a knack for physical. punishing play, but it was a style that drew plenty of attention from officials. He took five penalties in eight games in 2013, and he was flagged for 10 in 2012.

The popular narrative is that the increase in flags for the Patriots simply is representative of the new points of emphasis this year. But while we did see an increase in flags over the first couple of weeks of the preseason, the penalty numbers have come back to earth, and as a result have been relatively comparable to what we saw last year. According to Pro Football Reference, over the course of the first three weeks of the 2013 season there were 618 penalties called. With one game left in the third week of the 2014 season, there have been 645 penalties. An increase, yes, but not the dramatic spike that many believed would take place across the league.

As it relates to the Patriots, through three games it appears the crackdown on hand-checking and physical play by defensive backs hasn’€™t been the heart of their penalty problem. The Patriots have been flagged twice for defensive holding and have taken no penalties for illegal contact. New England has taken three defensive pass interference calls in three games, with two of them going against Logan Ryan. If there’€™s one player who has struggled the most with the points of emphasis, it’€™s been Ryan. The second-year defensive back out of Rutgers leads the team with four penalties — including one defensive holding and two defensive pass interference calls — and 73 penalty yards.

Instead, most of the penalties this season have come up front. The offensive line has been flagged more than any other positional group, having taken nine penalties through three games, almost one-third of the total calls against the Patriots. Offensive holding has been the most common penalty against the Patriots this year (six), with false starts (four) second.

To be clear, leading the league in penalties doesn’€™t necessarily mean you can’€™t be an elite team. After all, the Seahawks led the league in penalties last season but still managed to win the Super Bowl — Seattle was whistled for 128 penalties and was assessed 1,183 in penalty yards, both tops in the league. And then, there’€™s the fact that the two teams left standing at the end of the 2013 season were two of the top four teams in the league when it came to penalties (the Broncos were fourth in the league in penalties against). But that approach runs counter to the Patriots’€™ philosophy, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The New England offense is struggling to find some consistency right now, with every yard a precious commodity. Giving some of that yardage back because of an infraction is a luxury the Patriots cannot afford.

In the end, since he arrived prior to the start of the 2000 season, Belichick and the Patriots frequently have rewritten the record books, setting marks in several categories. Only time will tell if the 2014 Patriots will end up penning another, less memorable chapter to add to their franchise history.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price