Patriots players had a couple days off over NFL's opening weekend to ponder the disappointing Thursday night loss to the Chiefs.
Bill Belichick, though, probably didn't spend a lot of time pondering. The coach likely stayed quite busy breaking down the film, taking a scientific approach to all that went wrong and the little that went right.
With the Saints, New England's Week 2 opponent, not playing until Monday night, the full, long-week preparations for the trip to New Orleans can't hit full stride until that game's conclusion.
As such, Belichick is left in a state of in-between, between closing the door on the ugly opening night loss and moving on to the next task at hand.
Still, his goal remains quite clear, as he expressed in the middle of an answer on his Monday conference call regarding Chris Hogan's recent action and past experience playing in the slot.
"We all have a lot of work to do after the first game," Belichick said. "So, I don't think any of us are where we want to be or need to be. That includes everybody, so we all have a lot to work on."
As Belichick and his players got back to work Monday, here are some of the key points from the coach's second conference call with the media since the shocking loss to K.C.:
1. Van Noy played every snap:There weren't a ton of high points for the Patriots defense in the opener. The unit gave up more than 500 yards of offense and 42 points to Alex Smith and the Chiefs. There were too many big plays allowed and some curious personnel decisions.
Only four players – Kyle Van Noy, Trey Flowers, Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore – were on the field for all 69 defensive snaps against Kansas City. As the front seven works through some uncertainty both in terms of players and scheme, it's interesting that Van Noy has seemingly solidified his role as an every-down player.
After arriving via trade from Detroit in the middle of last season, Van Noy started two of the seven games he played in New England. But will a full offseason under his belt, Belichick described what makes Van Noy the type of player who can stay on the field almost regardless of what the offense is throwing at New England.
"One thing, Kyle has good skills," Belichick said. "He's athletic, runs well, tackles well, can rush the passer, play in pass coverage, does a good job playing the run. So, he has a good skillset, which is what you need to be out there in different situations."
But Van Noy's success – he tied for second in the Patriots with six tackles in the opener – isn't just about the veteran's physical skills.
"He's a smart guy, understands concepts well, understands the defense, does a good job of it," Belichick said.
2. Harmon, Andrews add "youthful layer of leadership":Last week, just before the opener, the Patriots announced team captains for the 2017 season. The seven-man group included five guys with previous experience in the leadership role: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Dont'a Hightower, Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater. But maybe most notable among the names of New England leaders were center David Andrews and safety Duron Harmon. Andrews is a third-year former undrafted player who represents the line in the group of captains, a role that Nate Solder previously held. Harmon, who's never started more than five games in a season, re-signed as a free agent this offseason and has apparently ascended to a more significant role as well.
Monday, Belichick spoke quite highly of the two young leaders and how they might offer a different perspective to the role and responsibility of being captains.
"Both those guys have done a good job, and it's good to have kind of a youthful layer of leadership in that group," Belichick said. "Some of those players like Tom and Matt, Devin, have been captains for a long time. Rob, High both have a lot of experience. I think David and Duron add a good element to the group and an important one. We've had some young captains on the team in the past, like Devin and Jerod [Mayo], so I think it's good for those guys to be in there in the meetings and in that position with some of our other very, very good and experienced veteran leaders. You know, there's an element of transition and learning from experienced players there that, I think, is beneficial to everybody, not just the young players, but beneficial to the more experienced captains and myself."
3. Almost on to New Orleans:The Saints are a well-established football team under the direction of head coach Sean Payton and future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. At least offensively, they have a successful system in place that the Patriots can prepare for as they wait for New Orleans to play its first game of the 2017 season with Monday night's trip to Minnesota.
Certainly there will be some new things – both personnel and scheme – that come out of the meeting with the Vikings, but Belichick made it clear that his team isn't exactly in a holding pattern in its preparations for Week 2.
"We'll do what we can do. There's a lot of film on New Orleans from preseason, a lot of film on them from last season," Belichick said. "They made some changes, and we'll look at those, but there are a lot of things that they do that they've had a lot of success with. I'm sure they won't change too many of those. I don't know why they would, especially offensively as productively as they've played over the years and again last year. So, we'll have to be ready for the things that they do and then when we get tonight's game, we'll factor that in and see what variations or additions that we want to make or incorporate into the scouting report based on anything we might have seen tonight. So, we'll just do the best we can with that. There's certainly enough to work with. They're a good team. They've got a lot of new players, especially on defense, so we've seen those guys play in the preseason. They've played well, so that gives us plenty to work off of."