Despite falling out of the playoff picture, the Patriots have maintained the same one-game-at-a-time focus, including this week's preparations for the Jets. To some on the outside this might be a meaningless game, but not for the Patriots players.
"We approach it like we do every single game," said captain Lawrence Guy after wrapping up the team's final practice of the season on Friday afternoon. "Go out there and play our best to win the game. We understand it's going to be the last game we have of the season with these players on this team. We're going out there to play for each other and do it how it's supposed to be done. It was a hard long season we understand that, but the best thing we can do is play with our hearts on Sunday, leave it all on the field."
It's been a season unlike any other, from the offseason personnel changes to the effects of the pandemic on the NFL season. The Patriots, like all NFL teams, have navigated a difficult transition to a virtual-dominated season, but Guy felt that in the long run this experience during "the Covid year" would be a benefit.
"Being able to experience this, I can tell the story of it," said Guy. "I feel like the league and the players now understand the hardest of the hard, and we've gotten through it. Being able to get through this year benefits us because we understand the struggles that are going to occur if something like this ever happens again.
"But on top of that, you develop new ways of learning the system for the rookies who are coming in. A new way of coaching the system doing virtual with no OTA's and everything. So I think this builds everybody in this organization a little bit better."
An upcoming free agent, Guy has cemented his place in Patriots history over his four years with the team. Besides winning a Super Bowl and earning a spot on the All-2010s team, Guy was named captain for the first time in 2020 and has been one of the most active members of the team off the field in the surrounding community.
"Four years of being in any place, it's a blessing," said Guy. "The experiences and the roots that I've laid in this organization and then in the community are special to me. So it's like every year, I do the same thing, I reflect on my years and cherish every moment because not a lot of people get to do this profession.
"I'm just truly blessed to be around the teammates that I have and the coaches that I have."
Despite his uncertain offseason status, Guy still remains focused on one thing -- the Jets, a team he expects to present a formidable challenge, coming in on a two-game winning streak.
"This is not a team that's not just gonna lay down on Sunday," said Guy. "They're going to come out and give it their all and we're gonna do the same. And then it's going to come down to who is playing the best football on Sunday who can come out with the win. When you're watching the film you enjoy watching it because you understand what kind of game it's going to be."
Webex Quotes of Note
Bill Belichick on Adrian Phillips, who spoke about his first year with the Patriots on Thursday:
"He's a very smart football player. He works hard, he's got good instincts, he's able to do a lot of different things for us, both defensively and in the kicking game. He's been a very valuable player this year. He's very team-oriented, good communicator, again understands concepts and understands multiple positions and roles within the defense and within the special teams units."
Jonathan Jones on the final practice of the year:
"I think this year definitely was a different perspective, knowing that it's our last day on the practice field, as with other years you're in the playoffs and you don't really know when that last moment's coming. But knowing that today was our last day on the practice field and this group won't be back next year, so you just take that in and understand that it's going to be different next year. But definitely enjoy the blessing of being able to go out there today."
Jakobi Meyers on his development in year two:
"I feel like I learned a lot about myself. I didn't start off playing as much as I wanted to but just staying consistent and practicing hard and working hard every day. I feel like I learned a lot, that I can be resilient and I learned a lot about my game and what I wanna do moving forward. As far as the team goes and stuff, I feel like a lot of us are a bit down about it, we'll use that as momentum moving forward."
James White on 2020:
"Obviously, things didn't go the way we wanted, but a great group of guys in the locker room, a lot of young guys that are going to be good football players. Obviously, we competed no matter what the situation was. Things didn't go our way but we just kept fighting."