The bye week is over, the Patriots are back at practice and there's a game on the horizon. More importantly, there's a Jets game on the horizon, and that makes everything a little more interesting in Foxborough.
Bill Belichick kicked off his Tuesday press conference at Gillette Stadium but discussing one of his former teams, and in case anyone was wondering where the coach's focus lies, he eliminated any doubts when he was asked a question about the historic Monday night game between the Rams and Chiefs.
Did you get a chance to watch last night's game?
"I saw a little bit of it, yeah," Belichick answered.
"Yeah, the Jets. That's my takeaway, getting ready for the Jets."
Even an unprecedented 54-51 shootout wasn't enough to take Belichick's mind off the hated Jets.
"It's always tough down there with the Jets, and I'm sure it will be again this time," he said. "The last five times we've gone down there, they'll all been hard-fought games, close games. The Jets do a good job – really good in all three phases of the game. It's a team that's really, I'd say, improved in all areas.
"Certainly in the kicking game – the return game with [Andre] Roberts and they have [Jason] Myers. He's had a really good year for them. Offensively, this is an explosive group – a lot of big plays in the running game, big plays with receivers, guys that are really good with the ball in their hands, hard to tackle. And, defensively, they're always tough. Once again, [they] lead the league in third down, third-and-short, top of the league in red area, three-and-out drives – a lot of stats that they are hard to move the ball against. Hopefully we can have a good week and be ready to do that."
Belichick went on to discuss several aspects of the Jets during his lengthy press conference, and several of those nuggets highlighted Tuesday's briefing.
Safety dance – New York has a pair of talented young safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, and while both have performed well at times in their short careers, Belichick explained that their skill sets are quite different.
He described Adams as a "real aggressive safety" who blitzes a lot and is active in the running game. Maye is more of a traditional safety who Belichick said is "about as different" as you can get from Adams.
"Adams is like a linebacker," he said. "He's around the line of scrimmage a lot. He blitzes, he runs through, he's aggressive, he's got tackles for losses, sacks, pressures. So he's down there around the line a lot, or sometimes he's kind of roaming free in the middle, but he's a contact player. He's aggressive."
Matchup nightmare – The Jets passing game hasn't consistently produced this season, largely due to the presence of rookie first-round pick Sam Darnold. While showcasing considerable talent at times, Darnold has suffered through the predictable highs and lows that come with all young quarterbacks.
When New York's passing offense is clicking, there's usually one receiver doing most of the damage. Quincy Enunwa leads the team with 29 receptions for 345 yards and a touchdown, and Belichick talked about how his size (6-2, 225) can make him difficult to match up with.
"Yeah, he sure is, and he's really tough with the ball in his hands," Belichick explained. "He's a strong runner. He runs through a lot of tackles, good balance, a hard guy to bring down. He's a hard guy to match up on. It's hard to find guys that are 225 pounds that are as fast and strong as he is. So, yeah, he's tough, a good blocker, physical player.
"He can run with it. He's strong, he's fast, he's tough, he's got good balance. So, I mean, he's a good runner. Call him whatever you want. He's hard to tackle."
Pressure package – On defense, the Jets like to bring pressure, which Belichick explained is consistent to coach Todd Bowles' philosophy throughout his career. Belichick was asked about the Jets propensity to blitz while also being cognizant of the fact that many teams don't apply as much pressure when facing the Patriots as they normally do.
"We'll prepare for them. We've played these guys several times with this coaching staff and many of these players," Belichick said. "So, we'll prepare for what we think they're going to do. If they do something different, we'll have to adjust to it. If we do something different, they'll have to adjust to it. We know them pretty well and they know us well, so it could be a game where there is something new in there, or it could be not so much of that kind of game. I don't know.
"Sometimes they bring them, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they disguise it, sometimes they don't. They do a good mix – man, zone, five-man pressure, a little bit of six-man pressure, some blitz-zones, some blitz-man – but that's what they've done."