It's hard to believe another Patriots game is already upon us, but that's how it goes in the NFL with Thursday Night Football. The good news for the team is that it's not a divisional or even conference opponent. The bigger news is that the Giants will be missing three of their top weapons on offense. So, the end result likely won't be an advertisement for the beautiful and highly competitive game of football, but rather a slogfest that New England systematically wins and then gets a nice long 11 days before their next contest.
That still doesn't make the three-day week any easier. For Tom Brady, his preparation started immediately after knocking off the Redskins.
"I know for me, the game ended; I started thinking about the Giants," said Brady on Tuesday. "You know, just use as much time as you can between now and kickoff to get to know them, especially against a team that we’re probably not that familiar with."
With little time for the bodies to heal, the heavy focus for the three days is on the mental side of preparation. Then, the hope is that the body feels right just as it's time to put the pads back on once again.
"I think there’s always a balance for a player between your mental preparation, your physical preparation, your emotional preparation and how you try to be at the peak for all three of those phases for the particular game that you’re playing," continued Brady. "So, you don’t have the physical time to practice, so mentally, you’ve got to take advantage of that, get your body right, be prepared and then go out and execute at a high level."
James White described a similar kind of mental preparation for him that goes into a Thursday night contest.
"You've just got to study up your studying process," White told reporters on Tuesday. "You've got to do a little bit of everything in one day, try and know your opponent as best as possible, heal your body as best as possible so you can go out there and have a good performance."
As for the rest of the offense, the process of development and finding an identity continues. New players like Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo and Jakob Johnson started to step up in the team's 33-7 win over the Washington Redskins. But without any real practices this week, building off of those performances could be made tougher.
"Practice is very important for me because it gives me confidence in what we’re doing," said Brady. "It helps me anticipate things with the players that I’m playing with. So, even though I maybe have done things, I still recognize that a lot of other players haven’t done those things. So, my connection with them is very important. Even though I’ve been doing it, the two of us need to do it together. You know, football is a very coordinated game. Everybody needs to be thinking the same thing, reacting the same way, anticipating in the same way, in order for it to be successful."
Even without the practice time, more game reps should benefit all the new players, even on a short week's rest. For White, it's all about the routine, regardless of the schedule.
"Just getting a routine and once you get in that routine you kind of master it," said White. "You can throw some new things, some wrinkles every now and then, but that's how you get yourself going once you get in that routine and you're going out there having success."
The full film review was posted on Monday, but with the All-22 game film coming out later on Tuesday it provides another chance to fully get a grasp on what happened on the field last Sunday. With that in mind, here are some quick-hit leftover thoughts on some of the more interesting plays and players.
- The run blocking looked the best it's looked all season long, especially in the second half. It just looked like everyone was finally in sync and not just a chaotic bunch of bodies flying. Everyone bears some responsibility for the early-season run game struggles, but this game was absolutely a positive step forward.
- Ryan Izzo's touchdown catch featured an eight-man blitz by the defense. Credit to the offensive line for getting everyone blocked and to Izzo for knowing which way to take his option route. This wasn't a flawless 60-minute domination on offense but for anyone who feels like the tight ends and o-line have been substandard they should see these glimmers of hope.
- Matt LaCosse had one catch on four targets but he was active as a blocker and finding the holes in coverage. As Brady's game reps increase I'd expect LaCosse to start contributing more and more. He was wide open a couple times but Brady was locked in elsewhere.
- We talked about how good Sony Michel looked catching the ball this summer but he didn't have a catch until Week 5. Now, seeing how cleanly he caught the ball against the Redskins, how he understands finding holes in coverage and how he can make people miss in space, it makes a ton of sense to continue to develop this part of the attack. Especially because teams still mostly view him as a run-only threat. If that changes the Pats will finally have a dual-threat early-down back, which is what you'd expect from a first rounder.
- Josh Gordon just looked more comfortable in this game than he's looked all season to me. The numbers might not jump off the page like we might expect, but it seems like Gordon is finally settling into the offense and understanding his role. As with the tight ends, expect his production to start to jump.