There’s usually a recurrent theme of Bill Belichick’s discussions with the media following a Patriots loss: everyone – players and coaches included – must do better.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what the head coach professed numerous times throughout his 10-minute exchange Monday with reporters following New England’s 31-20 loss in Jacksonville Sunday evening.
However, of all the things Belichick said during his conference call, this might have been the line that stood out most:
“We’re better than what we showed yesterday, but that’s what it was yesterday,” he declared. “I wouldn’t say we were way off in a lot of areas, but it didn’t have to be. It took just one thing and [the Jaguars] were able to take advantage of that like a good team does.
“So, we have to work harder to improve it. That’s what we’ll do.”
Otherwise, there were two main lines of questioning that prevailed Monday.
The 4th-Quarter punt decision
With just over eight minutes to play in the game and New England down 11 points, it looked as if the Patriots had picked up a crucial first down on a James White catch. However, the Jaguars challenged the spot and it was overturned following the replay review.
The spot was just inches away from the first down, but deep in Patriots territory (the 18-yard line). Today, Belichick elaborated a bit on why he opted to punt instead of gamble on fourth down.
“We got a good punt on that and… there’s time to have the ball for two more possessions, but we should have had better field position… we gave up too much return yardage. That was the play.”
He also discussed in detail how New England nearly picked up the first down via penalty.
A Jaguar player appeared to be jump into the neutral zone just before the punt was snapped, causing a few Patriots to flinch. By rule, that should have been flagged and the Patriots awarded five yards and a first down.
When asked if his players should have reacted more dramatically to cause the officiating crew to throw a flag, Belichick responded rather diplomatically.
“The question is whether he was in the neutral zone or not. If you’re standing on the line, that’s one thing. When you’re the wing on the punt team, that’s another thing to make that determination. He probably was in the neutral zone. I’m not sure. It’s a little hard to tell from the angle of the film I saw.
IT was a close play and it just – I wouldn’t fault anybody on this one. It could’ve worked out differently, but I think everybody’s trying to do the right thing. I wouldn’t second-guess anybody on this one.”
Lack of execution overall
Belichick was asked about specific points of emphasis on both offense and defense, but he answered consistently that the problems were more general than particular.
“A little bit of everything. That’s kind of the way it was the whole day,” he explained. “It wasn’t any one position or one guy… in the end, we just didn’t have enough productive plays in any phase of the game. We need to play better on third down, on both sides of the ball. Yeah, there were times when everything was a problem.”
The head coach lamented that at times, his defense had good pass rush on Jags QB Blake Bortles, but the pass coverage suffered, or vice versa. New England defenders also missed some tackles, he acknowledged.
Offensively, the Patriots faced a talented Jaguar defense that, according to Belichick, “most everyone has trouble with…”
“We had some good things,” he conceded, “and there are some things that we all need to work on. We’re all in the same category… It wasn’t good enough on either side of the ball.”
Belichick and a couple of his high-level assistants are expected to speak with reporters again in conference calls on Tuesday.