With the late return from Sunday night’s loss in Detroit, Bill Belichick switched up his team’s schedule a bit.
That meant the players had the day off on Monday, while Belichick added to the traditional day-after-game conference call schedule with the media also getting the chance to talk to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and, for the first time this year given New England’s lack of a defensive coordinator in a titular sense, defensive line coach Brendan Daly. The assistant coaches generally hold their conference calls on Tuesdays.
Coming off the 26-10 loss to the Lions and in the midst of a rare September losing streak, Belichick didn’t pull any punches in regards to New England needing to fix a lot of issues in all three phases of the game.
“I feel pretty sure that everybody that participated in the game, player or coach, feels like they could have done a better job,” Belichick said. “I certainly feel that way. I know every member of the coaching staff feels that way. I talked to quite a few of the players after the game, they all feel that way too. We just have to go back to work and find a way to all do a better job than that.”
Though there has been a lot of talk regarding the energy and urgency that the Patriots have been playing with early in the season, Belichick downplayed that as an area of concern when asked specifically about his defense.
“No, I think the effort and the energy are good,” Belichick said. “We’re just not having a lot of success in any area and I think as soon as we start having some you’ll see a difference. But it’s hard to have it when you are not making enough plays, just aren’t making enough plays in any phase of the game. So we just have to perform better. I think the energy and effort and all that is…we’re trying. Everybody is trying hard. We’re just not getting it done. Which is all that matters.”
Asked about balancing out the early struggles with a reality that should have key players like Julian Edelman, Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung returning to the lineup in the coming weeks, Belichick simplified the process the Patriots are in this week.
“I don’t know what overreacting or underreacting is. I’m not sure what that means,” Belichick said. “We’re trying to get ready to beat Miami, that’s what we’re doing this week. Last week we tried to get ready to beat Detroit. Obviously it didn’t work out very well but that game’s over with. Other than learning from it, there is nothing we can do about it. We have to get ready for Miami. That’s what we’re going to do. I don’t think that’s overreacting. I don’t think it’s underreacting. I think it’s getting ready for the next game, like all the other 31 teams in the league have to do.”
Beyond Belichick’s general thoughts on the state of his team, here are some of the other takeaways from Monday afternoon’s conference calls with the New England coaches.
Gordon taking it “day by day,” role TBD: Josh Gordon was inactive for Sunday night’s loss in Detroit. Less than a week after arriving via trade from the Browns, and in the midst of being limited in practice with a hamstring injury, the former All-Pro receiver was on the New England sideline at Ford Field after going through a pregame workout. While Belichick wouldn’t reveal how close Gordon was to playing, he set the expectations for the newcomer moving forward.
“We’ll just take it day by day and see how it goes,” Belichick explained. “There are a number of factors involved here. When he feels like he’s ready and we feel like he’s ready and there’s sufficient opportunity to back that up then we’ll see about making him active. We just didn’t feel like we were at that point last night.”
For his part, McDaniels said that Gordon has already shown an ability to pick up the New England offense and expressed what he believes the receiver brings to the unit.
“In terms of what he brings and his role and all that, I think that’s still to be determined here as we get closer and closer to him actually being able to be active,” McDaniels said. “I think he’s learning. It’s not easy to come in in the middle of the week and try to pick everything up immediately. He’s doing a really good job of working hard at that and trying to get himself caught up so that he knows what do to when he’s out there and can do it at a dependable level. I think he’s really doing a good job of that.
“I not worried at all about Josh’s ability to pick up our system. He’s already demonstrated an ability to do that. I think he’ll be fine.”
It “was a struggle” for DL to get off Lions blocks: The Patriots run defense was pretty porous against the Lions, allowing Detroit to churn out 159 yards on 33 rushes for a 4.8-yard average. Rookie Kerryon Johnson was the first Lions 100-yard rusher since Thanksgiving Day 2013. The production came thanks to a variety of breakdowns on the New England defensive front, but certainly Daly’s defensive linemen had a hard time getting off the blocks of the home team’s offensive line.
“I think that was struggle,” Daly admitted. “I think there were a number of things that were a struggle last night. I don’t think any of us from a coaches’ or players’ standpoint are happy with our performance. I think we all have a great sense of urgency to improve, getting off blocks is one of them but there is a long list there.”
“One of the things (would be) creating separation and extension and using our hands a little bit better would go a long way for us right now,” Daly said of a way his troops could specifically improve in the area of getting off blocks.
Patriots passing offense too complex?: The Patriots passing offense has gained a reputation for being one of the most complex in the NFL. There is a long list of receivers, including proven veterans, who struggled mightily to learn the scheme and get on the same page with Tom Brady.
So the question was raised to McDaniels, given the lack of options at receiver and overall struggles to move the ball and score points, whether there was a consideration that the scheme might be too difficult or could need simplifying.
“Well I think we’re always trying to figure out what the right things are to do with the team we have each season,” McDaniels explained, defending New England’s longstanding and successful approach. “We’re not averse to trying new things. We certainly have done that in the past and continue to do that. We’ve also played pretty good offense here and we have a way of doing things. We don’t always start the season exactly where we want to be. We want to try to improve and make progress each week.”