Mon Sep 24 8:16pm ET
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits on the bench during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Detroit Lions linebacker Eli Harold sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
BOSTON (AP) Two weeks, two head-shaking losses by the New England Patriots.
In Week 2, the Patriots' defense was deficient in a 31-20 loss to Jacksonville in which the Patriots were victimized on third down.
There were problems all over the field in Sunday's stunning 26-10 loss at Detroit, though it was Tom Brady and the Patriots offense that struggled the most against a defense coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator and new Lions head coach Matt Patricia.
It's left New England at 1-2 for the first time since 2012. Things won't get any easier as the Patriots prepare to open their division schedule against 3-0 Miami.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he sees problems everywhere on the field right now.
''We're not making enough plays in any phase of the game, so we've just got to perform better,'' he said. ''I think the energy and the effort and all of that - we're trying. Everybody's trying hard. We're just not getting it done, which is all that matters.''
One of the most surprising things in Sunday's loss to the Lions was how ineffective Detroit managed to render quarterback Tom Brady.
The reigning regular-season MVP completed just 14 of 26 passes for 133 yards with one touchdown. He also had a costly interception midway through the fourth quarter that helped the Lions seal the victory.
The 133 passing yards for Brady were his fewest in a game since he went 8 of 16 for 80 yards against Buffalo on Dec. 28, 2014.
What's more troubling, though, is an offense that over the past two weeks has gone 6 of 21 on third down.
''We're not scoring enough points. We're not executing well enough on a down-by-down basis. Certainly, at a high level, we should have our expectations set in,'' Brady said.
''The process has been the same, there's been a lot of talk about it in practice, and we're going through it and watching the film and correcting stuff, it's just not getting done on the field. And we have to get it corrected soon.''
One common theme in the way the Jaguars and Lions succeeded in limiting the Patriots offensively, was keying on tight end Rob Gronkowski. One of Brady's favorite options, Gronk has just 13 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown this season.
He hasn't scored in either of the two losses, hauling in only six total receptions.
But Gronkowski said no one inside the Patriots' locker room is panicking about starting 1-2.
''I mean, it's early, it's football and it's the NFL,'' he said. ''Some crazy things happen every single week and we've just got to bounce back. We can't put our heads down, we have to keep them up. We've got to keep on fighting and there's another week next week.''
''We've got a big division game next week versus Miami. We've just got to keep on fighting. It's a long season, I know we're 1-2 right now, but we've got to keep on fighting and keep on going. There's no other way to do it.''
New England Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon (concussion) did not practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 7 against the Bears. Quarterback Tom Brady's protection won't be as good as usual against a strong Chicago pass rush, although All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack (ankle) is questionable and was slowed by his injury last week. Still, it's something to keep an eye on for this Sunday. If New England's offensive line is struggling, expect the Patriots to get the ball out quickly, which would favor receiver Julian Edelman and running back James White.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler (groin) practiced in full all week and is no longer on the Week 7 injury report against the Redskins after sitting out in Week 6. While Butler could see a role against Washington, he has yet to catch a pass in 2018 and would be behind Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, rookie Michael Gallup and Deonte Thompson in one of the worst passing offenses in football, so you can continue ignoring him.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) will play again this season, but his long-term future is in doubt. Tannehill continues to battle injuries and has not lived up to expectations in the first seven weeks of the season. Before the knee injury that kept him out for all of 2017 he had a quarterback rating of 93.5 and completed 67.1 percent of his passes in 2016. His QB rating through five games this year is at 92.9 with a completion percentage of 65.9. Tannehill is scheduled to cost $26.6 million against the salary cap next year, while releasing him after the year take $13.2 million off the cap. It all likely depends on whether Tannehill can improve in the second half of the season when he returns from his right shoulder injury. Until then, Brock Osweiler will fill in under center. Tannehill will probably be dropped in shallow leagues with him likely to miss at least the next two games.
Detroit Lions RB Ameer Abdullah could see some action in passing situations with RB Theo Riddick (knee) ruled out against the Miami Dolphins in Week 8.
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith is expected to see a larger role after WR Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list, and Smith said he is 'ready for the opportunity.'
Fantasy Spin: Smith was able to show that he can be a threat down the field when he caught three passes for 111 and two touchdowns against the Washington Redskins in Week 5. He will be a boom-or-bust flex option against the Ravens in Week 7.
New Orleans Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) has a 'realistic' chance to return when he is eligible to come off the Reserve/Injured list in eight weeks, according to head coach Sean Payton.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Carlos Hyde won't overtake RB T.J. Yeldon for the lead back role against the Houston Texans in Week 7, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com.
Fantasy Spin: The Jaguars backfield could become quite crowded if Leonard Fournette is ever healthy, but until Hyde's role becomes clear, you should hang on to him in all formats. That being said, you won't want to start him in Week 7.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon will remain the 'main back' for the Week 7 game against the Houston Texans, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com.
Fantasy Spin: The Jaguars just acquired Carlos Hyde, but until he has a full week of practice with the team under his belt, it makes sense that Yeldon would shoulder most of the load. Yeldon can be a RB2 in most leagues.
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is always a start given his elite status but he will have a tough matchup this weekend against rookie cornerback Denzel Ward. Evans massive height gives him a natural advantage over the undersized Ward but he will have a difficult time getting separation. Back-to-back duds by Evans shouldn't discourage his owners from starting him this weekend since he's still Mike Evans. Just don't expect much more than low-end WR1 numbers against Cleveland.
Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen (toe) is dealing with a sprained left toe but should be available for the Week 8 game, according to head coach Steve Wilks.
Fantasy Spin: Rosen has struggled since taking over as the starting quarterback but will be working with a new offensive coordinator next week. Rosen should not be a starting option in any fantasy leagues, but owners may want to keep an eye on him to see if he improves over the next few weeks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Vita Vea will start at defensive tackle in the Week 7 game with DT Gerald McCoy (calf) sidelined, according to head coach Dirk Koetter.
Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (hamstring) is expected to play in the Week 7 game but will be on a snap count, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones.
Dallas Cowboys WR Tavon Austin (groin) will not undergo groin surgery at this time but is expected to be sidelined for several weeks.
Denver Broncos CB Adam Jones (thigh) likely will be able to play in the Week 8 game, according to head coach Vance Joseph.
Denver Broncos OT Jared Veldheer (knee) and LB Shane Ray (ankle, wrist) may have a chance to play in the Week 8 game, according to head coach Vance Joseph.
Los Angeles Rams PK Greg Zuerlein (groin) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 19, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Zuerlein is one of the top kickers in the NFL and is a must-start option in all leagues when he is healthy.
Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp (knee) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 19, and has been ruled out for Week 7. DT Michael Brockers (shoulder), LB Matt Longacre (back), WR Josh Reynolds (hand), OG Rodger Saffold (knee), C John Sullivan (non-injury) and OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) fully participated in practice and are not on the injury report.
Free-agent WR Auden Tate was signed to the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad Friday, Oct. 19.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (quadriceps) said he will be available for the Week 7 game but is not sure how much playing time he will be able to handle because of the injury.
Fantasy Spin: Parker has been limited to only two games because of injuries and has posted only 40 yards in those games. Owners probably should avoid him even if he is active for the game.
Oakland Raiders RB Jalen Richard is expected to see a bump in workload with RB Marshawn Lynch (groin) sidelined. Richard has just three touches when the team is leading, and 39 touches when tied or trailing, but that is expected to change with just RB Doug Martin standing in the way.
Fantasy Spin: Richard will likely see plenty of targets out of the backfield, as he has shown good hands in the past. Doug Martin is currently projected to be the lead back heading out of the bye in Week 8, but many expect Richard to be the biggest winner in terms of fantasy value in the Oakland backfield.