Game within the game: Patriots' slow start has got to go

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Game within the game: Patriots' slow start has got to go

Who gets the drop on the other guy? The Lions had a pick-6 to open their season and immediately burped up that lead against the Jets, fought back, then got their doors blown off. There was a strong scent of give-up from Detroit in the first game and if the Patriots – in front of a national television audience – begin to de-pants Patricia, expect the Lions crowd to jump ugly. Meanwhile, the Patriots have been staggering around offensively and defensively in the early portions of games going back to last season. Can’t have it. Can’t.



James White. Sticking with him since I’m thinking the Lions will tilt the field to Gronk and just hammer the message to not lose White in space.

Golden Tate. Even though Kenny Golladay’s put up the bigger numbers (13 catches, 203 yards), Tate (14 catches, 188) is so useful, smart and threatening at every level. He’s a third-down pain in the posterior.

“I’ve seen a lot of defenses - we have, just as an offense - and you just never know what you’re going to get. You never know the game plan. You’ve got to be prepared for all and just got to go out there and execute. It doesn’t matter what you see, if you know what’s coming -- it doesn’t matter unless you go out there and execute.” – Rob Gronkowski on trying to anticipate what will be thrown at him
“He’s hands-down the best, in my opinion, that ever played the game. He knows everything. He knows what defense you’re in. So, we just have to do a good job of doing our job of getting the rush in his face, trying to throw different stuff at him. But at the end of the day, it’s about us. They’re coming in our house trying to eat off our plate. We’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do to get a win.” – Eli Harold, Lions linebacker, on Tom Brady.

Patriots 34, Lions 23



Why Antonio Brown won't face criminal charges from Allegheny County DA

Why Antonio Brown won't face criminal charges from Allegheny County DA

Antonio Brown still could face repercussions from the civil lawsuit filed against him, but they won't come from the Allegheny County District Attorney's office in Pennsylvania.

The Allegheny County DA recently contacted the lawyer of Britney Taylor, Brown's former trainer who accused the New England Patriots wide receiver of rape and sexual assault on three separate occasions in 2017 and 2018, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Fowler noted the DA's office intended to investigate Taylor's allegations, but the DA told NFL Network in a statement Wednesday that her allegations come with a two-year statute of limitations.

Since two of the alleged incidents Taylor described occurred in 2017, it means the DA cannot pursue criminal charges against Brown for those allegations, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport explained.

One of the incidents that led to Taylor's allegations happened in Pittsburgh, which is in Allegheny County. That means the DA potentially could have looked into legal action against the ex-Steelers wide receiver had they acted sooner.

For now, the civil lawsuit involving Brown and Taylor is being handled in the Southern District of Florida by federal judge Rodney Smith.

The NFL also met with Taylor on Monday and is looking into disciplinary action against Brown, although the Patriots wideout remains eligible to play as his complicated case gets worked out.

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Bill Belichick: Patriots could expand offense for Antonio Brown, still have to be efficient

Bill Belichick: Patriots could expand offense for Antonio Brown, still have to be efficient

FOXBORO -- It didn't take long for Antonio Brown's athletic gifts to avail themselves during his first game as a member of the Patriots. His craftiness off the line of scrimmage, his speed to threaten deep or to win the edge as a jet-motion runner, he ability to win contested catches. They were all apparent in his first go-round with Tom Brady.

As of now, he's still eligible to play against the Jets in Week 3, and he's expected to be on the practice field Wednesday afternoon to prep for his second game under Bill Belichick. 

With three more practices to hone his connection with his quarterback and to further develop his overall understanding of the Patriots offense, Brown might also now have enough time for Josh McDaniels to design something particularly for him -- something that had he and his physical skills never landed on the doorstep at One Patriot Place never would've become part of the Patriots offensive equation in 2019.

Belichick acknowledged that there are things the Patriots can do to take advantage of Brown's skill set. But there are things to consider. First is time. How much practice time does the team really want to devote to a new play for a new player? Second is payoff. If they're going to spend time on it, it better be worthwhile.

"Yeah, sure," Belichick said when asked about adding things into the playbook for Brown. "There's things we can utilize him for, or Josh, or anybody else. It's just a question of volume and time and reps. You can't put in 20 new plays. If you have, call it, 90 plays in practice over the course of the week, you can't put in 20 plays and expect to be able to rep those and get 'em right and then do all the other things you have to do. 

"You have to be selective. If you want to put in something new, how much time can you allocate to it? How much are you going to use it? How effective is it going to be? Do you really want to put in a play that's going to gain five yards and waste 10 percent of your practice reps during the week on that? I don't know. I'd rather work on a play that's going to gain 50 yards. You just have to decide how you want to do it." 

The Patriots, of course, are already owners of one of the most complex offenses in football. It has been developed over the course of the last two decades with Brady at quarterback, Belichick running the overall operation, and McDaniels in-house for the vast majority of those years.

But part of what makes the Patriots offense so dangerous on an annual basis is not only its breadth but its ability to adapt. Whether it's adjusting mid-season to emphasize an old-school running attack, taking advantage of the rule book to toy with the concept of eligible receivers, or exploiting the individual skills of players who come and go over the years, the triumvirate of Belichick, Brady and McDaniels are anything but stuck in their ways. 

They could continue to add to their missile-motion concepts with a speed threat like Brown in the mix. (Brown had one end-around carry for five yards last week in Miami and was used as a diversion on another play that gained Sony Michel 10 yards.)

They could turn to more passing concepts that highlight the vertical passing game. Something as simple as a four-verticals concept is not something you see the Patriots utilize very often because their personnel hasn't been exactly rife with speed demons. But now with Brown, Gordon and Phillip Dorsett in the mix, that could be the type of play that stresses deep safeties and leaves a down-the-field threat in single coverage.

They could also further emphasize their middle-of-the-field attack with Brown in the fold. With opposing defenses focused on limiting Brown and Gordon's explosive abilities on the outside, then perhaps the area of the field that has always been Brady's bread-and-butter zone -- the short-to-intermediate area between the numbers -- sees even more attention as defenses are no longer able to flood the middle with defensive backs to stop the likes of Julian Edelman and James White.

But the Patriots are also aware of the downsides of trying to get creative. If, for instance, they want to add to their playbook because they have a talent at the receiver position unlike any they've had since Randy Moss then that's fine. But they have to be efficient about it. 

"Can you expand it? Sure," Belichick said. "But it's not infinite. We're not in training camp. We've gotta get ready for a game. There are other considerations with other parts of the team, other players on the team. We just have to try to balance all that out. I'm sure each week we can add a little more with new players whether it be with [Marshall] Newhouse or Korey [Cunningham] or Antonio or Josh or Matt LaCosse -- there's another guy who hasn't played very much football -- all those guys as they get worked back into the offensive flow. Yeah. But it's not limitless."

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