[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="374211"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Bill Belichick's Monday afternoon conference call reflected the nature of a week in which the undefeated Patriots will return to action swiftly for Thursday Night Football.
The coach's typical day-after-game chat included a handful of queries about key plays, and key players, from the big Sunday afternoon victory over the hated Jets. But it also included an early look at a Miami team that's won two in a row since Dan Campbell took over as head coach, and apparently simplified the team's approach.
Justin Coleman and Danny Amendola drew praise for their end-of-game contributions against New York, while Belichick noted that Miami is now taking quality over quantity in terms of its defensive scheme.
Here's a trio of three top talking points from Belichick's heard-but-not-seen Monday media session:
1. Amendola and Coleman step up late: Danny Amendola often plays in the shadow of more notable offensive stars Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Justin Coleman is an undrafted rookie practice squad call-up whose name is barely known by the most informed of New England fans. But the two players made big plays on consecutive fourth-quarter series to help the Patriots remain undefeated on Sunday and Belichick had plenty of good things to say about the plays.
Amendola's contribution came on an 8-yard, go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter on which he took advantage of limited room to work in the middle front part of the end zone.
"It was tight. It was a tight window," Belichick said of the score. "Danny did a good job of getting in there. Just a split second earlier or a split second later and that probably wouldn't have been a great play. But the timing on it was perfect. Tom got it in there and Danny made a great catch and held onto the ball. It was a really close play. Very well executed by Tom and Danny both."
Coleman, who's shown a feisty style in his limited playing time to open his young career, came up with he's own tight play in coverage of Devin Smith to force a punt on a third down in the fourth quarter.
"One of the biggest plays in the game defensively for us was when we blitzed on third down and Fitzpatrick threw it up to Smith and Coleman made the play there," Belichick raved. "It's a play that, had Justin not played it properly, it could easily have been pass interference. But he turned around and looked for the ball before the ball got there. So that ended up going as an incomplete pass and we were able to get the ball back and had a real good drive and went down there and made it a two-score game.
"That's kind of the way it is in games like that, in this division and games like that in the NFL. In the end it comes down to just a handful of plays or maybe even just one play late in the fourth quarter. And the game can kind of swing on that play. So being able to execute well in those situations and being able to play good situational football, it means a lot."
2.Patriots undermanned on offense: Brady put up another 300-yard game to lead the Patriots to another 30-point output against a tough Jets defense. But he and the rest of the New England offense had to perform with unprecedented low personnel numbers on that side of the ball. The Patriots had just 18 players active and dressed on Sunday, a number that includes backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Slater, the special teams captain who is a wide receiver in roster description only.
"Very rare," Belichick said of the low numbers. "I don't think I've ever gone in with that few players. Really, you count Slater as one of them, but really he's ... you know how many plays he's played on offense in his career here. We were pretty thin all the way across. The guys all stepped up and did a really good job. But we had to have a lot of ironmen out there."
One of the areas that was thin was the offensive line, where the only backup was Ryan Wendell. That lack of depth was tested against a tough Jets front. And the line passed that test.
"Good," Belichick said when asked for his impression of how his line played. "That's a tough group to block. The Jets have a really good line. They have a lot of depth, a lot of talent. That was a big challenge for us. We had our moments. I'm not saying it was perfect by any means. But our offensive line hung in there. They battled those guys all the way. And it was a very good group. It will be another good group this week, too."
3. New-look Dolphins simplifying D: One of the most notable changes since Dan Campbell has taken over the reigns on an interim basis in Miami - beyond the 2-0 record and Oklahoma drills in practice - is the team's apparently simplified approach on defense.
"The number of things they run and the number of calls that they have, it appears to be a lot ... definitely a lot less than what it was before. So they're trying to, I'd say it looks like they are doing fewer things and they're doing them better," Belichick observed. "They're playing faster. They are more aggressive. So it looks like they've cut back the scheme a little bit defensively with higher execution."
One guy who seems to be enjoying the change is defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, Miami prized free agent acquisition. Seemingly unhappy early in the year, Suh notched his first two sacks of the season on Sunday against the Texans as the Dolphins front played a key role in the blowout win.
"He played well. They had a hard time blocking him. They had a hard time blocking a lot of those guys," Belichick noted. "[Cameron] Wake had a big day. Suh had a big day. Reshad Jones had a big day. They are a really talented defense, really good up front. Both ends, both tackles. Linebackers. They are all a problem. Suh, he's near the top of the list, that's for sure."