The Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium shortly after 3 a.m. and not long after, the coaching staff began breaking down the game film of the preseason opener. The outcome may not have been to their liking, but there were aspects of the 23-6 defeat that could be taken as positives, according to Bill Belichick.
The main one, of course, was the play of rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who led New England on its only scoring drive of the night and nearly directed a couple of others. It was easily his best performance since becoming a Patriots – noticeably better than he'd been in practice to that point.
"When you look at the overall opportunities that Jimmy's had from the beginning of OTAs through training camp, it's in the high 20s somewhere – the number of practice days. Just because a player makes a mistake, doesn't mean they're always going to be there," New England's head coach told reporters via conference call Friday afternoon.
"You'd like to think that some of them will be corrected, and the next time the situations occur, the reactions are executionally better. I think we see that with pretty much every young player, including him. I think there were some things he did well last night, some other things he learned from."
View photos from the Patriots preseason game against the Washington Redskins on Thursday, August 7, 2014.
Belichick noted that while Garoppolo continued to make a few of the same mistakes in certain situations, he'd also make progress in other correcting mistakes in other areas of his game. That seemed to be Belichick's assessment as well for his team overall last night.
"There were plenty of times when we did things right and had decent results. We just didn't do it often enough. Sometimes we did it on certain portions of the play, but not others, which may or may not have produced a good result. The team competed till the end. We had a 4th-down stop and then scored on the 2-minute drive. We played competitively, just overall didn't play very well."
Garoppolo nearly hooked up with second-year receiver Brian Tyms on a deep ball in the end zone that bounced off both Tyms and the defender covering him. Tyms appeared to come down with the catch before the ball hit the ground, but the play was ruled incomplete (although a pass interference was also assessed against Washington).
Belichick acknowledged that he and his staff considered challenging the play, but that they didn't have enough good replay angles to make a decision in time before the next play.
"I thought that was actually a good situation that came up on our end," he added. New England kept the ball and had four shots at the end zone from the Redskins' 5-yard line. Garoppolo nearly threw a TD on the final play, but it was batted down in the back of the end zone at the last moment.
The team will have Saturday off, but at this point, it's unclear if they'll next get back on the practice field Sunday or Monday. For certain, they'll be there on Tuesday, when they'll welcome the Philadelphia Eagles for joint practices in advance of next Friday's second preseason game.
"Looking forward to this week," said Belichick. "It'll be a big opportunity for our team, for each of us individually to improve on where we were last night and last week with Washington."