After an extended break coming off their Thursday night win over the Giants, the Patriots turned their sights to the Jets. New England beat their divisional rivals back in Week 3, 30-14, but both teams have significant differences this time around, especially the Jets.
"We've had certainly plenty of time here to focus on the Jets, and [the] very impressive win that they had last week against Dallas," said Bill Belichick at his Thursday press conference. "Adam's [Gase] one of, as I I've talked about, I think one of the best game planners in the game and does an excellent job of attacking defenses and just making it tough to handle what they do offensively, with their different personnel groups and plays and his play calling."
The key new face in this match up is Sam Darnold. The Jets quarterback returned last weekend against the Cowboys and threw for over 300 yards. Belichick likes what he's seen from the second-year signal caller.
"He's a good quarterback," said Belichick. "We saw him at the end of the year last year. He played in the Buffalo game. But, he can make all the throws. Big, strong kid. He can run. Short, intermediate, deep. He's got good weapons."
"He's the leader of the offense, everything goes through him," said Duron Harmon of Darnold. "He's a young talented quarterback. Quarterback that obviously their franchise believes in, thinks he can win a lot of games. We see it, the intangibles he has, the talent he has, the difference in the offense when he's out there."
The Pats had three days off over Columbus Day weekend, followed by a tune-up walkthrough on Tuesday. In addition to extra prep on the Jets, the short extended break gave the coaches a chance to look at the first third of the season and figure out what can be improved.
"We have enough information, I think, to look at from a self-scout standpoint," said Belichick. "It's a third of the season, but that's something to work with. It's not one or two games, so we can go back and look over some of the things that we've done, where we're at, changes we might make."
What might those changes be? New tight ends Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson could the first most significant parts, to be followed by N'Keal Harry and eventually Isaiah Wynn back off Injured Reserve. That foursome would give the team just right boosts in just the right spots.
Watson said he'll be ready to go on Monday night despite his football hiatus last week.
"One thing about this place is they prepare the players to play," said Watson on Thursday after team meetings. "Anybody who's out there, no matter if you've been here the entire time or if you've been here a week, your job is to perform when called upon so that's what I expect to do."
Despite the Patriots strong start to the season, defensive captain Devin McCourty is anticipating another hard-fought game.
"I don't remember the last time we went there and had an easy game," said McCourty. "They know us well, we know them well, it's just going to be a battle down there. We don't expect anything different on Monday night."
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots were missing receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Matt LaCosse from practice, along with the suspended Michael Bennett. Otherwise, it was full attendance as the team started their on-field preparations to face the Jets on Monday Night.
The full injury report was:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Josh Gordon, Knee/Ankle
TE Matt LaCosse, Knee
RB Rex Burkhead, Foot
S Patrick Chung, Heel/Chest
WR Phillip Dorsett, Hamstring
WR Julian Edelman, Chest
Conference Call Sound Bites
Adam Gase on what makes the Patriots defense so good:
"For me, when I look at these guys right now, it looks like a group that they've played together, they know exactly what they're doing going into the game, they know what they're looking to stop, they know exactly how to play off of each other. I think they have some really good chemistry going on, to where some of that might be those guys playing together for a few years now. When you've got guys that aren't thinking, and they're communicating and they're able to play fast, it makes it really hard on the offensive side."