Patriots' passing attack hits rock bottom against Lions

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Patriots' passing attack hits rock bottom against Lions

The Patriots fell to 1-2 on the season with a stunning 26-10 loss in Detroit against former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Click here for the boxscore, and here to watch what the coaches, players and analysts were saying after the game.

Fast start, fast start faststartfaststartfaststart!!!! That was the mantra we heard this week (which is a similar mantra to the one we were hearing late in 2017). Annnnnd, the Patriots went three-and-out on their first three drives against a Lions team that had -- prior to Sunday night -- been run over by the Jets and 49ers to the tune of 357 yards on the ground.

The Patriots' first drive was undone by a run stuff. The second was stopped by a pair of Tom Brady-and-Phil Dorsett missed connections. The third halted when Shaq Mason got driven into the backfield by Ricky Jean-Francois on a third-down piledriving of Sony Michel.

The Patriots have nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to rely on with their passing attack right now. They will complete some throws if their playcall hits against the defense called, but on level ground, Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson and Dorsett are not hard to cover and the throws are contested. They are also contested when they go to Gronk, but at least he’s big enough to wall people off and provide a more substantial target.

I point these things out to make this observation: Sony Michel got the ball a lot because the Patriots can’t throw the ball. Michel finished with 50 yards on 14 carries. The ever-professional James White had another four carries for 37 yards.

Brady had one of those sore thumb games that will stick out on his record -- 14 for 26 for 133 yards and a touchdown. This had nothing to do with his date of birth, everything to do with the supporting cast.

It will improve when Julian Edelman returns. That’s the hope. Maybe it will get a boost as well from Josh Gordon. But for right now, the guys they have are not playing to their capabilities and the discarding of Dwayne Allen on a third-and-1 in the second quarter that led to a squishing of James White is another play I just remembered.

Meanwhile, Gronk – the player Bill Belichick wanted to trade? --  caught four passes for 51 yards. Modest for him, perhaps, but still the only player the Patriots had who provided a matchup edge on their offense on Sunday night.'




Cowboys reportedly releasing Allen Hurns; could Patriots have interest?

Cowboys reportedly releasing Allen Hurns; could Patriots have interest?

The New England Patriots seemingly are looking to add wide receiver depth. And as fate would have it, a veteran wideout is hitting the open market.

The Dallas Cowboys are releasing wide receiver Allen Hurns, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday.

Hurns suffered a gruesome ankle injury in last season's playoffs that required surgery, but NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports he's healthy entering 2019 training camp.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are expected to be without top receiver Julian Edelman for about three weeks due to a recent thumb injury. They reportedly brought four pass-catchers in for workouts Monday, suggesting they'd like to add another body in Edelman's temporary absence.

Hurns likely wouldn't come cheap; he was scheduled to make $4 million in base salary this season with a $6.25 million cap hit and reportedly turned down a discounted Cowboys offer to test the open market.

Still, the 27-year-old has a proven track record that includes a breakout 2015 season of 1,031 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns with the Jacksonville Jaguars and a career-high 69.6 percent catch rate in 2017.

If New England is willing to pay a bit more than the minimum to add a receiver ahead of the first day of training camp Thursday, Hurns may be worth looking into.

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Patriots are overcomplicating Tom Brady's contract

Patriots are overcomplicating Tom Brady's contract

Tom Brady wants to finish his career with the Patriots. The Patriots have said they intend to make sure he does exactly that.

But each day that passes brings Brady closer to playing a regular season game in the final year of his deal. 

Which brings into play all that accompanies that reality. Risk of injury. Possibility of free agency. The mind-boggling fact a player who’s taken tens of millions less and helped earn the franchise hundreds of millions has to go hat in hand to get his last deal.

This is the best quarterback in NFL history on the most successful dynasty in NFL history. This final contract adjustment will be the transaction that keeps him from following legends like Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre into a vagabond end to his career.

And the Patriots don't seem to have a cohesive plan on how they want to get it done. 

There’s a perceived inevitability that Brady will get a new deal before the start of the season. My understanding is that timetable is no sure thing and that — until substantial progress is made — no outcome should be ruled out.

What’s the deal with the deal? The two sides are talking. That’s progress. That wasn’t happening prior to the Super Bowl. It wasn’t happening in March. It wasn’t happening in May. And Brady wasn’t discussing it at minicamp in June.

I haven’t gotten the impression it’s a Cold War but it’s not terribly collegial either. Which is status quo when Brady and his agent Don Yee pull up to the table and try to determine a fair wage.

There’s a salary cap to deal with and there’s Brady’s age to consider. And there’s the sense the Patriots aren’t sure exactly how to proceed and want to wait.

I remember speaking to Bill Belichick’s father in February 2002 on the day before Super Bowl 36. Steve Belichick said his son was the most decisive person he’d ever met. So how does one explain this foot-dragging?

Sometimes, not making a decision is a decision in itself. As in 2017 when the Patriots passed on trading Jimmy Garoppolo prior to the season, sat on him as insurance in case of a Brady injury/slippage and then dealt him at a reduced price to San Francisco. The decision to make wasn’t clear in April so the Patriots decided not to make one.

There must come a point, though, where Brady thinks, “What the hell?”

The five $1M incentives Brady was offered last year — of which he hit none — didn’t really sow seeds of gratitude .

Nor did the team’s efforts to replace him with Garoppolo from 2014 to 2017 and Yee — who’s also Garoppolo’s agent — has an understanding of how much the Patriots were willing to spend to keep Garoppolo around to watch Brady play out the string.

So we got ourselves a layered situation. And that’s why Jonathan Kraft’s answer of “let’s see what happens when training camp starts” from Super Bowl week is proving to be a little optimistic.

The Monday report by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero that there’s no new deal “on the horizon” is accurate.

Belichick has encountered a lot in his NFL career, but Brady has become an unsolvable riddle. Belichick planned as if he was going to follow the Bernie Kosar/Drew Bledsoe route with Brady when he drafted Garoppolo. Brady beat that challenge back and sealed his own legacy and Belichick’s in doing so.

Now Brady’s 42, playing like he’s 32 and Belichick still seems to be waiting for some kind of epiphany before he tethers himself to a player Belichick is worried might start playing his age.

Robert Kraft has given every assurance that Brady is here for the duration. Brady wants the same. It’s only as complicated as Belichick decides to make it.

And — with training camp about to start — it’s way more complicated than it has to be. 

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