Bill Belichick and two of his assistant coaches held day-after-game conference calls with the local media Tuesday afternoon.
While Monday night’s 25-6 win over the Bills in Buffalo was obviously a topic of discussion with Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and safeties coach Steve Belichick, who was making his first appearance on the conference call schedule this season, there were also questions regarding the Tuesday afternoon NFL trade deadline.
At conference call time, no moves had been made by New England and the elder Belichick deferred much of the work in that area to Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and his department. Belichick was asked specifically around 2:30 in the afternoon if the trade circumstances change as the 4 p.m. deadline approaches.
“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” Belichick said. “Most of those situations all are different. Usually Nick’s involved and handles a lot more of those than I do. I’m in meetings with players and staff and trying to get ready for the game. So, really we have other people on our staff that handle the majority of those calls and that discussion.”
Belichick also downplayed the impact of playing on Monday night might have on the ability to make deadline deals.
“I think if you have a later game like we had this week then you use a little bit of the extra time last week to maybe check on a couple things or teams that want to communicate with us can and did do that knowing that we had a game on Monday night,” Belichick said. “They might have initiated conversation on Friday night or Saturday of last week. Sometimes these conversations go back several weeks. So you just never know how it’s gonna…each situation is different. I don’t think it’s any set formula. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Everybody is pretty accessible by phone. So we can get ahold of whoever we need to get ahold of and anybody that needs to get ahold of us, they can do that too.”
Beyond his general thoughts leading up to the trade deadline, here are a few other takeaways from the day-after-game conference calls.
Offense didn’t play “as well as we would have liked”: Heading into Buffalo, New England had topped 38 points in four straight games, all wins. Though special teams chipped in with a couple touchdowns in Chicago a week earlier, the offense seemed to be hitting its stride. But with running back Sony Michel sidelined to a knee injury and Rob Gronkowski working his way back from a back injury, the Patriots weren’t nearly as potent against a game Bills defense. That led to a tight battle of field goals into the fourth quarter before the visitors finally found the end zone and pulled away.
Though Tom Brady led his team on drives early on things stumbled a bit in Bills territory, leaving McDaniels and his crew with work to do moving forward.
“We didn’t play as cleanly or as well as we would have liked, especially once we got into the fringe or the red area last night,” McDaniels acknowledged. “But I think the guys stayed with it and continued to try to execute against a good team. Tom made good decisions all night and took care of the ball. And we come home with a division road win.”
Readying for Rodgers: Sunday night the Patriots will host versatile future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Though the Green Bay passer has dealt with a knee injury this season and his offense hasn’t been as productive as in the past, it will still be a challenge for the Patriots defense. Rodgers can specifically put pressure on the safety position, given his ability to make things happen on the ground and through the air at any time.
“Just getting started on those guys this morning. He poses a big threat,” Steve Belichick said. “Obviously as an elite passer but also as a runner and extending plays and can throw the ball all over the field very accurately. He poses a great challenge. We’re looking forward to it.
And even with the knee issue this fall, the younger Belichick made it clear that he and his veteran safeties will be preparing for Rodgers’ best.
“I think he looks just fine. I think he’ll be ready to go Sunday night. I’m definitely not underestimating him or his abilities. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go. He’s proven that over a long, long period of time.”
Team run defense gets job done: One of the more impressive aspects of the Patriots win in Buffalo was the run defense. The front allowed LeSean McCoy to hit for a 12-yard gain out of the Wildcat on the first snap before tightening up to hold the Bills to a total of 46 yards on the ground for the entire game. McCoy was held in check to the tune of 13 yards on his dozen attempts for a mere 1.1-yard average. Trey Flowers certainly keyed the front with a couple tackles for a loss, but Bill Belichick made it clear it was a far from a one-man effort, especially with Dont’a Hightower sidelined to a knee injury.
“That’s all about team defense. Everybody taking care of their responsibility,” Belichick said. “I think the defensive staff did a real good job this week of fundamentally working on some things that we feel like we need to do better and I think some of those things showed up in the game. But really it’s being able to play good across the board. [Chris] Ivory and McCoy are both excellent runners, can beat you in a lot of different ways. So if anybody is not where they are supposed to be those guys can find them and make you pay in a hurry.”