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."

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Former Ravens and Jets linebacker - now an "NFL Today" analyst for CBS - Bart Scott usually "can't wait" to make his disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots known. 

He was back at it Tuesday in an interview with CBS Radio's Damon Amendolara, in which he said the Falcons have the better quarterback heading into Super Bowl LI.

“We know they’re the better offense, and right now, you could say they got the better quarterback because they have the MVP of the league,” Scott said. Ryan is the favorite to win the NFL MVP, which will be announced the night before the Super Bowl at the "NFL Honors" show.

“Now that’s a debate, but Matt Ryan has earned the right for his name to be put up there with the upper-echelon quarterbacks," Scott said. "He’s always been elite in the regular season, but now he’s taken this show into the postseason and he’s won the hard battles against the elite quarterbacks and now you have to give him his due.”

More from Scott: “I can’t see the Patriots stopping this offense. So, that means that these receivers are going to have to [keep] pace. It’s all going to come down to what it always comes down to. It’s going to come down to who makes the turnovers, who gets up early and puts the pressure on the other team. Matt Ryan and that offense showed me a lot when they went behind [in the divisional round against the Seahawks]. Seattle came and busted them in the face, and [Atlanta] went right back down and answered immediately.

"The Patriots always find a way, but I think it makes it more close of a game than what people think.”