Belichick: Bye week isn't an off week

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Belichick: Bye week isn't an off week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots players are in the shop Wednesday and Thursday this week. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday? Off.

Opportunity knocks. Lotsa Madden. Lotsa movies. Lotsa whatever it is affluent 20-something young men do in their spare time. In Brandon Spikes' case, that leaves a wide array of activities.

Asked if his players needed reminding that the bye week wasn't an off-week, Belichick bristled at the very idea of it.

"Nobody ever said it was a week off except for you," Belichick said to . . . me. "Thats the first time Ive heard it. Were here, there are things we can accomplish, things that we can do, things that were doing so thats what were here for."

Even though the players don't have to be at the facility en masse over the weekend, Belichick says they're not off the hook.

"Even those days, there are things that . . . individually that we can work on. Well certainly talk to the players about those, too," Belichick pointed out

Belichick wasn't specific when asked what areas needed tweaking before the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

"Weve identified a lot of things in every area -- offense, defense, special teams, running game, passing game, individuals. There are things for all of us that we can do better," he pointed out. "Whatever level theyre at, were trying to make them better."

If the Texans win the early game on Saturday, they're guaranteed to be traveling to New England the following weekend. In that case, the Patriots will begin prep for Houston immediately. However, if the Bengals upset the Texans, Cincinnati will play Denver and the Pats will face the winner of Sunday's Baltimore-Indianapolis game.

"After the Houston game, well either be full speed ahead on Houston or well put that in the drawer and wait and see what happens in the next game," he explained. "We have to be prepared for all three of them so thats what well do.

One of the main reasons the Patriots have a week off is that they addressed how godawful they were against downfield throws. Personnel changes, maturation, scheme changes, all played a role, said Belichick.

"Id like to think we improved. We certainly worked on it," Belichick explained. "We made a couple changes after the Seattle game (a 24-23 loss in Week 6) . . . Not that we didnt work on it before, but we kept working on it more. I think overall the results were better.

"I think its a combination of a lot of things," Belichick added. "I dont think its any one thing, one player, one call, one thing. Defense is team defense. Part of it is coaching and scheme and putting the players in the best chance they have to be successful. Its pass defense, its pass rush, its run defense to create longer yardage situations, its pressure coverage, its a little bit of everything. I think when you look at all the plays in whatever situation you want to look at it, whether its defending long passes, red area, third down, fringe plays, whatever they happen to be, that youll find that ... its not all one guy or one play or one call or one anything. Its a combination of a lot of things. I would say quite a few of them are better than what they were so thats good."

Another big swing and miss from NYDN's Manish Mehta on the Patriots

Another big swing and miss from NYDN's Manish Mehta on the Patriots

Every few months, our buddy Manish Mehta gets suitably bored or his bosses at the New York Daily News get sufficiently impatient with him and he goes off with some prediction that winds up being the absolute direct opposite of what actually happens.

He would be like the drippy-nosed kid at his own birthday party trying to bust open the piñata for an uncomfortable length of time. Except, eventually, somebody takes pity on that kid. With Manish, nobody ever feels bad and he’s left out there swinging long after the party’s over and everyone’s gone home.

Tom Brady’s suspension has provided multiple opportunities for Manish to walk into screen doors.

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First, after Brady bailed in July on taking his suspension to the SCOTUS, Mehta spun it forward and said the Jets would be looking real good after four games with Jimmy Garoppolo driving the bus.

Brady will be in full-fledged F.U. mode by the time he faces the Jets for the first time in Week 12. But what if the Patriots start off winless or 1-3 with Garoppolo? Will Brady's greatness be enough to overcome such a sluggish start given that his team has the second toughest strength of schedule in the AFC (behind the Jets and just ahead of the Bills and Dolphins)?

"I feel like, in this division, you got to win 10-plus games, maybe 11-plus games," Decker said. "That means you almost have to go perfect the rest of the year (after a 1-3 start). You can be in a situation where you play a hard Sunday game and, all of sudden, you got a (quick turnaround) on a Thursday night. … You can factor those things in and make a case that it's more difficult to go on a run after starting 1-3."

After the Patriots started 2-0 and Garoppolo broke, Mehta waded in again.

Not even the greatest football mind of the generation will be able to wiggle out of this jam.

The Patriots face a new reality now that Jimmy Garoppolo wrecked his shoulder on Sunday: The Evil Empire will be looking up at the Jets in the AFC East standings when Tom Brady returns….

(Jacoby) Brissett has been a NFL player for FIVE MONTHS. He'll have THREE DAYS to prepare for his first start. Belichick is brilliant, but let's be realistic. He's not going to climb this mountain.

Friday, Manish made a Mehta Culpa in the New York Daily News and on CSN's SportsNet Central. His prediction of Brissett going bellyup and the Patriots being behind the Jets by the time Brady made his return was, “one giant swing and a miss,” wrote Mehta.

“I was wrong like pre-Socratic philosophers, who thought the world was flat. I was wrong like the Chicago Daily Tribune headline writer, who prematurely buried Truman in '48. I was wrong like Lex Luthor, who thought he could destroy Superman three or four hundred times.

Mehta got an avalanche of “You’re a ******* moooooorrrrrrooooonnnnn!!!!” tweets Thursday night. This was his blanket attempt to say, “Yes. Yes I am.”

And for a second, you worry. Is Manish done? Has he taken his blindfold off, put down his stick and gone into the house for good? No more wild swings and misses?

And then you realize it is his raison d’etre. He’ll be back. And – like this guy – he’ll be gloriously mistaken.