With the second week of regular-season preparation under their belt, the Patriots wrapped things up on Friday, ready to take on the New York Jets as they look to get a win and even their season record.
Ball security was certainly an area of focus this week, with the four fumbles (two lost) playing a central role in the takeaways of things to be improved. The mistakes cost them in the one-point game.
"I think anytime you have a team that we all rely on each other, we're all accountable to each other, we all support each other and we all make mistakes," Belichick said on Friday morning. "We can make a mistake at the beginning of the game, we can make a mistake at the end of the game, and sometimes that gets magnified because of the timing of it. But there are other things that could have happened at different points of the game that would have had just as big or maybe even a bigger effect on the game.
"Nobody is not doing the wrong thing on purpose. Sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes it does. But in the end, you control your preparation, you control your effort, you control your attitude, you control your toughness, those things are all in your control. You do the best that you can with those. Once you let those go, then I think that's really where the problems start because now you're not doing everything you can to give yourself and your team the best chance."
This Sunday the Patriots will meet a new-look Jets team, with head coach Robert Saleh coming over from San Francisco and second-overall pick Zach Wilson leading the charge at quarterback. The Jets are coming off a loss to the Panthers, where Wilson made a late push and showed some of the talents that rocketed him up the draft boards.
Though a new regime and quarterback, it doesn't take much away from an always heated rivalry.
"You're both chasing the same goal of the division championship," said Belichick, "It's a rivalry where you know your opponent well. They know you well, and you have a high level of competition and respect for the opponent, but you also go at a high level of competition because they know you so well. You know them well, and you kind of prod and poke and look for areas to attack and exploit based on, let's say, almost an intimate knowledge of your opponent, and they do the same. It's not that all other games aren't competitive, but I think those divisional games are just a little more competitive because of the familiarity of the teams and the franchises that we have."
Five Points of Emphasis vs. Jets Make the Big Plays (offense edition): The offense was solid in the opener and with a rookie quarterback and a bunch of new pieces, it was solid. But let's face it, 16 points isn't going to win a lot of games and they need to find a way to finish drives with touchdowns. If the offense is able to push the ball down the field a bit better it could ease the red zone worries by producing some explosive scoring plays. Check out this breakdown from The QB School to see a good illustration of some of the plays the offense left on the field against the Dolphins. There's a lot of reasons for optimism and while there will eventually be games with some steps backward, playing an undermanned Jets defense should be reason for another positive step forward. Running the Red Zone: Last week, inside the Miami 26-yard line, Mac Jones completed five-of-nine passes for 40 yards and a touchdown for a 103.9 QB rating, however, the Patriots ran the ball just five times for five yards with a fumble in the same area. Mac should take some passing shots to the end zone in this area but the easier answer is producing better yardage on the ground inside the red zone. The Jets' defense was solid in their red zone performance last week, allowing one touchdown in four trips by the Panthers. Make the Big Plays (defense edition): It looked like things were playing out in a familiar fashion when Jonathan Jones intercepted Tua Tagovailoa last week, setting up the Patriots offense for a potential game-winning drive. Instead, the script was flipped with Damien Harris' fumble. Still, with an opportunity to make another big play to give their offense another chance, the Pats D didn't come through. The veterans on the unit have all made their shares of big plays in big moments but as the 2021 team finds its way, the Pats defense needs to step up. Especially against an explosive downfield thrower who can extend plays with his legs, there will be plays to be made on the ball. Clean Football: A simple but common point of emphasis for the early part of the season, especially coming off a loose ball security performance, is a clean game low in penalties and devoid of giveaways. That will go a long way toward getting the Patriots the victory. As Bill Belichick has pointed out, teams have to first learn how to not lose before they can win. Not beating themselves is the biggest key to this Week 2 matchup. Win: Even at the height of the Patriots' power, games against the Jets in New Jersey always seemed to be closer than expected. It was once again evident last year when Nick Folk's 51-yard game-winning kick as time expired was the difference. No matter how it looks or how many of these points of emphasis the team is able to execute, it's all about breaking into the win column and getting to 1-1. Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots got some good news on Friday for their final practice of the week as Trent Brown (Questionable) returned after missing the first two sessions of the week. Brown left just seven snaps into the Miami game and was missed on the right side of the line, and while it's still tough to know if Brown will be healthy enough to play on Sunday, his presence at practice is a positive.
Kyle Van Noy missed his third-straight practice of the week and was later ruled out along with Quinn Nordin. Expect Nick Folk to be activated and a more extensive role for Josh Uche and Henry Anderson in their absence. Yodny Cajuste, Ronnie Perkins and Jonnu Smith are also Questionable.
New England Patriots Quotes of Note
J.C. Jackson on Jets quarterback Zach Wilson:
"Just being able to read your keys and understand that he is a move-the-pocket quarterback. As a secondary, we've got to do a good job of having good eye control, passing the receivers downfield, just being aware of that. He can throw the ball off the back leg, he can throw the ball on the run, in the pocket... he pretty much does everything."
Lawrence Guy on Christian Barmore's progress:
"He's a good player. He shows his athletic ability, he shows he can make plays.... He's not scared to ask questions, he comes to the meetings, he's asking me about certain techniques and just trying to get to know him. All young players have the same thing, you wanna go ask those questions, 'what do I do to be a better player?'... The best thing about him is he's not afraid to ask the veteran players for help."
Yasir Durant on getting up to speed with the Patriots:
It's been a group effort. Coach [Carmen Bricillo], coach Billy [Yates], I've spent a lot of time in the film room with them. Even the rest of the o-line, Trent, David, Shaq and those guys, I've been able to come to them and ask them questions, some stuff that I might not understand or know and they'll break it down and explain it to me. It's been a group effort, just all around the board trying to get me adjusted and caught up."