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The bye is here, now use it

Depending on your perspective, the Patriots have the benefit or the burden of a Week 4 bye, the earliest week off on the NFL calendar. With no game to play, the extra week could be a time for last Sunday's dismal defeat to the Dolphins to percolate a bit longer in the minds of New England players and coaches.

But don't expect that to happen. Not Bill Belichick'steam. Despite the sour taste that remains from this past weekend, the defending AFC champs have treated this week like any other. That means a time to turn the page, put the previous week in the rearview mirror and, most importantly, a time to get better as a team from top to bottom.

"We're talking about San Francisco. We're not talking about last week," Adalius Thomas said Wednesday when asked what was most disappointing about the loss to Miami. "Last week is done. It's over with. Just like you do with a win, you do the same thing with a loss.

"You always work on getting better. You always work on yourself. It just gives you more time. You don't have an opponent to prepare for on Sunday so it just gives you a little bit more time to do some of the things that you want to do and work on."

According to Belichick, that's exactly what the Patriots will do this week. The New England head coach opened his morning press conference saying the team would use the week to balance off some early preparation for an unfamiliar foe like the 49ers, New England's Oct. 5 opponent in San Francisco, while also working on "generically getting ready for the next 13 games in the regular season"

"Anytime you get a chance to step back and reflect on what you're doing, analyze it [and] at the same time combining that with looking forward to what's in the immediate future and what's all the way down the road - it's beneficial," Belichick said. "We'll try to address a lot of different areas and improve as a football team."

Among the areas Belichick listed as needing improvement are running the ball and defending the run, throwing the ball and defending the pass, particularly in zone coverage's, our third down both sides of the ball red area, [and] plus 50 punting.

Is that all?

"There are a lot of things that we can do better and need to work on," Belichick concluded.

And this week they have an extra week to do just that. In a perfect world it might be more ideal to have the bye later in the season, say Week 10 as the team did last year, but in the end the only thing that's important is that the team uses it to get better.

"You try to get healthy and get your feet back under you, but it's the beginning of the season so it's not like it's Week 10 or anything like that," Thomas said. "You get a chance to step back, evaluate yourself and move forward."

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