Bill Belichick's traditional day-after-game conference calls with the local media generally offer up one of two overriding themes.
After a loss, such as the opening night upset pulled off by the Chiefs in Foxborough, Belichick sums up each response with something to the effect of – in the end, nothing was really good enough.
Following a victory, such as Sunday's bounce-back win over the Saints in New Orleans, most responses revolve around the fact that New England did some good things but there are certainly other things that could have been better.
So it was Monday morning that Belichick unleashed a solid dose of the latter while discussing the 36-20 Week 2 victory over the Saints with reporters.
Whether it was in response to questions about specific young players contributing the way that Jonathan Jones or Deatrich Wise Jr. did, or in regards to certain areas of the game such as third-down offense, Belichick made it clear that there remains plenty of work left to do for both he and his now 1-1 troops.
One thing that Belichick didn't spend much time talking about was the health of tight end Rob Gronkowski. The veteran had an impressive performance in New Orleans to the tune of six catches for 116 yards, including a 53-yard catch-and-run score. But, Gronkowski left the game for good in the third quarter after being hit by two Saints defenders on his final catch of the day with what was reported as a groin injury. He did remain in the bench area and spent some time riding the stationary bike.
"No, I don't have any updates," Belichick responded when asked about Gronkowski. "We'll put the injury report out on Wednesday like we always do and follow the procedures that are outlined by the league."
Beyond the non-update, here are a few of the other highlights from Belichick's day-after-game conference call.
1. Wise showing "some positive things":Two weeks into his NFL career, the fourth-round rookie defensive end Wise has a pair of sacks. Sunday in New Orleans against the Saints line decimated by injury, Wise recorded a sack, two tackles for a loss and five QB hits.
Given the lack of depth and proven options other than Trey Flowers at the defensive end spot, Wise has seemingly done a nice job taking advantage of his early opportunities. Belichick sounds relatively pleased, but as he's wont to do emphasized the need for the youngster to continue to improve and evolve.
"Deatrich's worked hard on the techniques that Coach [Brendan] Daly's been working with him on, both in the running game and the passing game. There were certainly some positive things that showed up yesterday and even last week," Belichick said. "I still think there's a long way to go, a lot of things that he can improve on. But, if he continues to work hard at it like he has been, then hopefully each week we'll be able to see some improvement and better techniques and better fundamentals in all of the different areas of the game – not just pass rush, but the running game and playing combination blocks and all the different sorts of things that come into really the heart of the issue, which is playing with good pad level, pad level leverage and technique."
2. Cornerback ins and outs:Belichick was asked a couple questions regarding his cornerbacks on the conference call. The first was in regards to veteran Eric Rowe earning the start in New Orleans opposite Stephon Gilmore, with Malcolm Butler, who's started all 16 games in each of the last two regular seasons in New England, reduced to a reserve role.
"There are a lot of things that go into it, but that's what we decided to do," Belichick said of his Pro Bowler, who took a restricted free agent visit to the Saints this offseason, opening the game on the sideline.
Later in the game, when Rowe left with a groin injury, second-year corner Jonathan Jones filled the void as the third option behind Gilmore and Butler. The youngster, who battled for the No. 3 corner job all summer, was notable with a couple nice passes defensed against Drew Brees and Co., including one that saved a touchdown.
"He had some good plays, had two good pass breakups where he did a real nice job of playing the ball," Belichick assessed. "There are some other things that could have been better, but I thought he competed well and played hard on defense."
3. Here's the rub…: New England's secondary has struggled in allowing too many big plays to Alex Smith and Brees over the first two weeks of the season. Some of those failures in the back end have come with the defensive backs failing to properly defend some two-receiver stacked or bunch formations as well as issues defending the so-called rub route or pick plays. Both New England and New Orleans utilized the rub technique the passing game on Sunday, as such Belichick was asked about defending it, especially near the goal line. His answer made it clear he's not happy with the way his group has tried to get the job done the first two weeks of 2017.
"There are certain fundamental things that you have to do. You have to do them collectively as a team. You have to work together because there's more than one person involved on running those plays and defending those plays," Belichick explained. "And, if you don't execute them well, if you don't play the technique properly, then you get beat, and we've got to do a better job of coaching it and we have to play it better. It shouldn't be nearly as much of a problem as it was. But, we obviously aren't coaching it or playing it very well."