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Bill Belichick: Patriots ‘absolutely’ have to cut down on penalties

09.15.14 at 12:28 pm ET
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The Patriots were flagged for 15 penalties on Sunday in their win over the Vikings, not including the calls that were declined or offset. Through two games, New England has been hit with 24 penalties and assessed 263 penalty yards. That stands in stark contrast to last season, when the Patriots had seven penalties in their first two games of the season and didn’t hit the 24-penalty mark until their fifth game of the year.

On a conference call with the media, coach Bill Belichick said it was something that the Patriots “absolutely” need to address going forward.

“It’s way too much. We can’€™t keep doing that. We had a lot of penalties last week, we had a lot of penalties this week,” he said. “it’€™s not just the penalties — it’€™s the yardage, it’€™s too many personal fouls. We had two interference penalties on their last drive that got [Minnesota] almost down there the whole length of the field. It must have been almost 60 yards in penalties it seemed like. Things like that, we just can’€™t afford them.

“One is too many. If each player gets one penalty, we’€™d set an all-time record. It can’€™t be well, ‘€˜I just had one penalty.’€™ We have to play penalty-free. We have to do a better job of that. We have to coach it better. We have to. Not that we haven’€™t spent a lot of time on it because we have, but that’€™s certainly an area that we need to improve in.”

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Chandler Jones on MFB: ‘Guys were just flying around yesterday, and it was just fun being out there’

09.15.14 at 12:25 pm ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, who had the highlight of Sunday’s 30-7 victory over the Vikings with his return of a blocked field goal for a touchdown, made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB and recounted his run to glory. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Bill Belichick noted after the game that the team works on blocking field goals every day in practice.

“Coach Belichick was right, we work on that every day. We work on it week in and week out, no matter who we’re playing. That’s one of the things we try to take pride in here in New England,” Jones said. “The biggest thing was, with blocking that kick, that was a team effort. A lot of people probably don’t understand — everyone thinks Chandler Jones went out and blocked that kick and stopped and scored — but that was 100 percent the 11 men on the New England Patriots, that was all of them. I feel like what people don’t understand is that other guys have to get penetration. Once everyone’s getting effective penetration, certain gaps opened up.”

Aided by his teammates on the outside making a charge, Jones burst through the middle to swat the ball down.

“That’s exactly what it is — guys on the outside giving 110 percent off the edge and it’s opening up things on the inside, and my gap happened to be open. Now as far as me scooping it, that was just a lucky bounce, I feel like. I blocked it right into my running lane as I was attempting to block it and the ball just one-hopped right in front of my hands and I just started running. Devin McCourty threw a great block. It was a great 11-man team effort.”

Jones said he wasn’t sure who was running alongside him, so he just kept the ball and ran as hard as he could.

“I had an interview yesterday and they asked me what was going through my mind as I ran down the field,” Jones said. “First of all, I didn’t know it was that long. I didn’t think it was that long. What was it, 58 yards? It didn’t feel like 58 yards. Our coaches do a great job of conditioning us.”

Added Jones: “What was going through my mind was just, ‘Don’t get caught. Don’t get caught.’ Because I just know when I come into the meetings Monday and we put that up on film the whole team’s probably going to laugh at me if I’m running too slow or if I get caught by a placekicker. … That’s what was going through my mind, just, ‘Don’t get caught, don’t get caught, don’t get caught, don’t get caught.’ And then I crossed the line and I said, ‘Yeah, I didn’t get caught.’ ”

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Vikings announce RB Adrian Peterson will return to team this week

09.15.14 at 11:59 am ET
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The Vikings announced Monday running back Adrian Peterson, who was deactivated for Sunday’s game against the Patriots because of a domestic incident involving the disciplining of his 4-year-old son, will will fully participate in this week’€™s practices and meetings and is expected to play this Sunday in New Orleans.

The following is the statement from the team:

Today’€™s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’€™s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.

To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’€™s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.

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5 things you have to know about Raiders

09.15.14 at 11:10 am ET
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Rookie quarterback Derek Carr is at the controls in Oakland. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr is at the controls in Oakland. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Here are five things you have to know about the Patriots next opponent, the Oakland Raiders, who will help New England open up its home portion of the schedule Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium:

They are a bit of a mess.

The Raiders are old (they are the oldest team in the league, on average) and slow and lacking depth on both sides of the ball. Their defense cannot get off the field on third down (teams are converting at a rate of 52 percent) and is allowing an average of 200 rushing yards per game. Their offense has yet to score a meaningful touchdown (they have one touchdown outside of fourth-quarter garbage time) and have been outscored by a combined margin of 40-7 over their first two games. In addition, the offense cannot sustain drives (their average time of possession through the first two games is just over 23 minutes, and they are converting on third down at a rate of 24 percent). It’€™s no surprise they’€™re one of three 0-2 teams left in the AFC, and no surprise that head coach Dennis Allen is likely coaching for his job over the next few weeks.

“€œWe suck,”€ Oakland’€™s veteran safety Charles Woodson said after Sunday’€™s 30-14 loss to the Texans. “œThat’€™s as blunt as I can put it.”

Things don’€™t figure to get much easier for them this week for a few reasons, including the fact that they’€™re a West Coast team coming east to play a one o’€™clock game. That rarely ends well for a visiting team. It’€™s going to be a long season for the Raiders, who have to travel a league-leading 36,078 miles this year.

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr is a bit of an unknown who has shown some promise.

While the Raiders are a mess, rookie quarterback Derek Carr is an intriguing prospect who has shown some positive signs over the course of the first two weeks of the season. The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder, taken in the second round out of Fresno State this past spring, supplanted veteran Matt Schaub for the starting role over the course of the summer, and the rookie is 47-for-74 (64 percent) for 414 yards, with three touchdowns and two picks to this point in the season. That includes a relatively respectable 27-for-42 for 263 yards, one touchdown and two picks in Sunday’€™s loss to the Texans. He did have 58 rushing yards on Sunday against Houston, and has shown an ability as a collegian to take off and make plays happen with his legs when things start to break down.

Despite having a pair of relatively well-known running backs, they don’€™t get much of anything on the ground.

With 57 rushing yards in two games, Carr is Oakland’€™s leading rusher. That puts him ahead of veterans Darren McFadden (16 carries, 62 yards, 3.3 YPC, 1 TD) and Maurice Jones-Drew (9 carries, 11 yards). Jones-Drew has struggled with a right hand injury, while it’€™s tough to try and figure out if the 27-year-old McFadden has just hit his expiration date, or if he needs a chance of scenery. (He hasn’€™t averaged more than 3.3 yards per carry over the course of a season since 2011.) One intriguing prospect is Latavius Murray, a second-year player out of Central Florida who didn’€™t play last season (a foot injury landed him on injured reserve) but had 23 carries for 94 yards in the preseason. Murray has flashed positively as a kick returner this season, averaging 24.3 yards per return in seven chances — if Jones-Drew continues to have issues with his hand, Murray could get an opportunity against the Patriots.

Despite having some interesting names on defense, they’€™ve been a disappointment.

The Raiders went out and picked up a couple of intriguing veterans over the course of the offseason to try and bulk up on defense, including Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, but they’€™ve been underwhelming to this point in the season. They also utilized their first-round pick on heralded linebacking prospect Khalil Mack, who has 12 tackles and a pass defensed in their first two games from the outside linebacking spot. Mack has looked impressive and disruptive at times, with Oakland coaches saying he had his best week of practice this past week in the days leading up to the Houston game. But for the most part, the defense has been a disappointment (just read the lead to this story and tell me you don’€™t think Tuck is having regrets), with the low point coming when Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt lined up as a tight end and caught a pass in Houston’€™s win over Oakland on Sunday.

“Obviously, we don’€™t have any time to sulk, because we have New England coming up and we’€™re out there,”€ Tuck said of the prospect of gong from facing the Texans to the Patriots. “€œEveryone knows what kind of team they’€™ve got and how prepared they’€™ll be. We have to fix this and get it figured out quickly.”

They don’€™t get flagged for a lot of penalties.

Maybe the one nice thing you could say about them is the fact that they really haven’€™t gotten flagged for a lot of penalties over the first two games. Not counting calls that have been declined or offset, the Raiders have been hit with nine penalties for 44 yards to this point on the season. By way of comparison, New England has been hit with 24 penalties for 263 yards.

Read More: Charles Woodson, Darren McFadden, Dennis Allen, Derek Carr

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I really don’t want to be involved’ in NFL controversies

09.15.14 at 10:25 am ET
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Coming off the Patriots’ first victory of the young season, quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan to discuss the game and address the recent NFL controversies. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The big news in the NFL this past week was the controversies surrounding Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, both of whom are out indefinitely due to domestic abuse issues. Brady declined to offer his take on either matter.

“I try to stay in my lane. All of those things, none of it’s really my business or my control,” he said. “I’ve just been focusing on the games and what I can do better. The things that are taking place on other teams or league-wide decisions, those are a different pay grade than me.”

Pressed to offer an opinion, Brady said: “I certainly have a lot of personal feelings toward all those things, but it’s just, there’s nothing I can do. If I make a comment about it, there’s nothing I can do to make a difference. The owners of the league, the commissioner of the league, the teams themselves, the players that are involved, they’re the ones that are speaking on it. It’s not really my responsibility to speak out about those things, because there’s a lot of other people doing the talking.

“I really don’t want to be involved in any of those things. I try to live and make the best decisions possible on and off the field and represent our organization and represent my family as best I can. Those things are happening. I just don’t want my name mentioned in any of those situations that are happening.”

Brady completed 15-of-22 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions Sunday, but he did not appear pleased after the 30-7 victory over the Peterson-less Vikings.

“I wasn’t unhappy. I was very happy we won,” he said. “I thought the defense played awesome. Special teams made some huge plays for us. Offensively I thought in the first half we did some real good, positive things. I just wish our execution overall would be a little bit better. That’s what we’ll work on this week, and we’ll try to make some improvements where we can, then hopefully we just continue to get better as we go.”

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Read More: Adrian Peterson, Danny Amendola, ray rice, Tom Brady

Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: ‘I would move on’ from Adrian Peterson

09.15.14 at 9:38 am ET
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Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the ongoing Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson sagas. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a video was released last week of him punching his then-fiancee in an elevator in Atlantic City in February. Later in the week, Peterson was deactivated by the Vikings because he beat his son with a tree branch. Many have wondered whether Peterson will play in the NFL again.

“It probably depends on what happens in terms of this thing getting played a little bit further,” Hasselbeck said. “Ray Rice‘s situation was just a reaction to public outcry, where this situation it appears to be very disturbing. In some way, I don’t think there’s any gray area in this situation, there seems to be a lot of talk about discipline vs. abuse by some people, which I don’t think is applicable here. But some people seem to be having that conversation, and because of that, there is a shot, depending how this plays out, he end does end up playing somewhere else.”

Continued Hasselbeck: “If it were me, I’d cut [Peterson]. And I know that people that are trying to discuss discipline vs. abuse. … From what I’ve seen I don’t think there’s a question about this stuff. Hitting the kid to the point where you’re breaking skin and he’s bleeding, it makes me sick thinking about it. I don’t what the league is going to do. I tell you what I’d do: I would move on and what be done with it. I think somebody needs to show leadership and do the right thing.”

The hosts wondered if crazy and troubled players from poor upbringings are just part of the everyday life of an NFL locker room.

“I don’t think there’s any question when you’re on a team with 53 guys, and people come from all different types of backgrounds and cultures, that you get a wide range of people,” Hasselbeck said. “I certainly was on teams where I thought, ‘That guy’s just a bad dude, he’s not a good guy.’ Probably every team I was on there was somebody I felt that way about. I can’t say I ever knew about somebody beating up their girlfriend or wife or knew about anybody doing something to one of their kids. But I definitely saw guys that I thought I wouldn’t turn my back one bit because you can’t trust them.

“But with that being said, I know all kinds of players that came from unimaginable backgrounds that turned out to be unbelievable teammates, trustworthy, honest, courageous men, that they were absolutely incredible. … Somebody’s upbringing isn’t always an excuse for behavior as an adult.”

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Bill Belichick on making history with 200th win: ‘I’ve coached a lot of good football players’

09.14.14 at 7:07 pm ET
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Bill Belichick is always teaching and planning when thinking of roster building. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick is always teaching and planning when thinking of roster building. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick’s first coaching win came on Sept. 8, 1991 in Foxboro against the Patriots in a 20-0 shutout in his second game with the Cleveland Browns.

Twenty-three years and six days later, Belichick became just the sixth coach in NFL history to coach his 200th win in the regular season.

Sunday’s win was much like many of his previous 199 over the years. His team gave up an early touchdown, rallied to take control through winning the turnover and special teams battles before cruising to a victory that featured sound fundamentals all around.

When the clock hit 0:00 on Sunday in Minnesota and Belichick walked across the field to congratulate his counterpart Mike Zimmer after a 30-7 Patriots’ win, Belichick improved his all-time regular season record to 200-106. Belichick joins Don Shula (328), George Halas (318), Tom Landry (250), Curly Lambeau (226) and Marty Schottenheimer (200) as coaches to reach the 200-win milestone.

What does it mean to the man wearing his traditional hoodie Sunday?

“It means a lot,” Belichick said. “What it really means is that I’ve coached a lot of good football players. Those are the guys that win the game. Players win games in this league. I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of great players. That’s really about them winning the games. But it’s certainly it’s an honor to have my name thrown in there with some of those guys, I’d say really all of whom, maybe other than Curly, that I looked up to as a kid and admired and maybe borderline worshipped as an NFL coach.

“I certainly never got into coaching expecting that to ever happen so it’s very gratifying to reach that milestone but what it really says is that I’ve had a lot of good players, that’s really what it says.”

Belichick can pass Schottenheimer with a win over the lowly Raiders next week in New England’s home opener at Gillette. But for now, Belichick just wants to savor one more win in the record books.

“Felt good. Every win feels good. It felt good, felt real good. Just proud of the way our team played today. We had a lot of good players. Our team played hard today.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Curly Lambeau, Don Shula, New England Patriots
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