When the Patriots struggle like they did in Sunday night’s 26-10 loss in Detroit, Bill Belichick often deflects questions about specific areas of his team by answering in more wide-ranging generalities.
That was the case during the New England head coach’s conference call Tuesday morning when a question about team’s struggling rushing attack – 32 of its mere 89 yards in Detroit came on James White runs with the game well in hand with less than two minutes to play – led to a more general answer about the offense and really squad as whole.
“We’ve had our moments where it’s been good, other moments where it hasn’t been good. So it’s been inconsistent,” Belichick began. “We need more consistency in every area of our game. The answer is the same for all of it. Running game. Passing game. We haven’t been consistent enough.”
A follow-up query wondered if the ground game inadequacies started up front with the line or were more all-around in nature.
“We could talk about all of it. The line, the tight ends, the fullback, the receivers, the running back reading the blocks and coaching too. You can throw it all in there,” Belichick said. “All of it. All of it we’re working on and we all need to do a better job, we need to improve it all the way across the board.”
Beyond Belichick’s search for consistency with his running game, his offense and really his entire team, here are a few other key takeaways from the morning conference call.
When the going gets tough…: The Patriots have lost two games in a row. They were handed their hats on Sunday Night Football. At 1-2, they are looking up in the AFC East at a 3-0 Dolphins squad that happens to be headed to Gillette Stadium this Sunday afternoon. There is no question New England is facing some early-season challenges.
Belichick was asked about his perception of the current team’s toughness and what the signs of a tough team are.
“We’ll see it over the rest of the remaining of the season. Every week is tough in this league,” Belichick said. “So we’ll see how we handle it. Yeah. Each individual and each team has to prove it every year and every week. Regardless of what any of us have or haven’t done in the past, or whatever, we’ll see what happens this year. And so will everybody else. We’ll all know the answer to that question as we go through, we march through the season.”
And is the current adversity a time for a team to prove its mettle?
“Look, that’s the National Football League. It’s a 16-game season. Every team faces adversity over the course of 16 games,” Belichick said. “Every team will have an opportunity to deal with it and it will happen more than once to everybody. When those opportunities come up we’ll see how individually each of us and collectively as a team how we fare.”
Amendola slots right into Miami passing attack: While the Patriots are working out the kinks in the passing game early in the season, former New England playmaker Danny Amendola has settled in nicely with the Dolphins. Amendola leads Miami with 11 receptions through three games for exactly 100 yards. He’s been a relatively consistent target while others around him have put up the big plays.
“I’d say that Danny’s role is very similar to what it’s been or what it was here in terms of the position that he plays,” Belichick explained. “He primarily plays in the slot although Adam [Gase] does move guys around some from time to time. They’re primarily a three-receiver offense. So he’s on the field for pretty good chunk of plays because that’s their primary formation.”
Let’s be Frank: Former 49ers and Colts star Frank Gore is in his first season in Miami. The nine-time 1,000-yard rusher is part of two-headed attack in which he shares the load with Kenyan Drake. Through three games Gore has 24 rushes for 98 yards for a solid 4.1-yard average. And even though he only has one catch for 19 yards, Belichick is well aware of Gore’s ability to produce however the ball ends up in his hands.
“He’s a great football player. No question about that,” Belichick said of Gore, the five-time Pro Bowler in his 14th NFL season. “He hasn’t had a lot of production in the passing game this year but he certainly has in the past. And we have a lot respect for his ability to catch the ball. Then run with it after he catches it. He’s a tough football player that is hard to bring down, has good vision, excellent playing strength and balance. He’s a good football player.”