Anyone who's watched a football game has been guilty of if at one time or another. A player from the team fails to do something expected and we immediately assume he made a mistake.
That was the case last week when Cyrus Jones hesitated before taking the ball out of the end zone on the opening kickoff, then almost took a knee at the 1 before being tackled at the 9.
Bill Belichick was asked a number of questions about the decisions during his press conference on Friday, and he used it as an opportunity to caution against assigning blame too quickly.
"I'd say my advice to you, and the fans, and everybody else, would be not to be too quick to decide who's right and who's wrong when you don't really know what's going on," Belichick said, with a specific purpose in mind.
Belichick may have been including the likes of Pro Football Focus, which offers grades for individual players despite not knowing the various assignments, and the legions of its followers who treat the results as gospel.
"And that's hard for me, too," he continued. "If I watch something on another play or another team I can see there's a mistake. I'm not necessarily sure who made it. Obviously, something wasn't done properly; that's evident. But what went wrong and why it went wrong, what's the background of how it happened, if you're not really part of the team I mean that's a very hard thing to evaluate.
"I know I respect the experts that are out there, we have a lot of good ones, but I wouldn't – I know it's very hard for me when I see a mistake on film that another team makes to identify exactly what the problem was because it could probably be one of two or three things. Unless you actually know what the call was, what they were taught to do, I don't know if you really know who actually made the mistake."
That was the highlight of an otherwise bland Friday morning at Gillette, but Belichick did take some time to weigh in on some other happenings.
Practice makes perfect – The Patriots donned full pads for their Thursday practice and the coach was asked about it. Belichick said it was in preparation of facing the Browns running game.
"Yeah, well we needed it. Obviously, the Browns are an excellent running team so to be able to get our timing on that, also offensively just to work against an odd spacing team. In their 3-4 they're really kind of more of an under team but it's the same thing; a lot more odd spacing so just to get our timing and our footwork and our execution in the running game and one-on-one pass rush, third-down, that's always good."
Wild thing – Terrelle Pryor has emerged as a versatile weapon in the Browns offense and Belichick explained how his quarterback background makes him a little more challenging to deal with than most Wildcat personnel. Pryor has thrown the ball five times this season and Belichick's team will be prepared for that on Sunday.
"He's done it. Sure, we have to. And you know, like in the Miami game, he did it in critical situations; third-and-goal on the 3, first-and-goal on the 2. It wasn't like it was just some random play that they just tossed him in there for.
"They did it in some critical situations, so yeah, absolutely we have to prepare for him and that package when he's in there. He's a little different than a lot of the Wildcat running backs because of his quarterbacking skills, so it's definitely a problem. And his speed, I mean this guy's fast."
Balancing act – With Tom Brady set to return on Sunday, Belichick was asked about the nature of preparing players who have been out for an extended period of time. Do you try to get them up to speed or do you have be concerned with overload?
"That is the question. How much is too much? How do you get ready for the speed of the game when you haven't been at the speed of the game? And anytime you bring an injured player back, sometimes the injury is part of that whole conversation. How much can he do? So yeah, it's trying to find that sweet spot for getting the player the best preparation you can.
"In all honesty, my experience with all of those players has been as time goes on they play better. Maybe their first game will be the best game, but most likely the third, fourth, fifth, sixth games will probably be better than the first. But again, that's just based on experience. I don't know what will happen with a new player who comes back. We have a couple of them. I have no idea. I think those guys are preparing well, they're competing hard."