Patriots learn from Sunday's reality check


Patriots learn from Sunday's reality check

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Before leaving Monday's film session, Patriots players came to a group understanding.

Their execution has to be better than it was in Sunday's 34-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"Everybody looked at each other in that room, before we walked out," said Deion Branch after Monday's meetings at Gillette Stadium. "You could see it in the guys' eyes. Nobody said anything. Everybody was real ticked off at their play. The coaches were very critical. And they should be."

But Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England's coaching staff, didn't come in and jump down the players' throats. They showed the film. And that's really all that had to be done, to make a statement.

Because the bottom line is, Sunday was a reality check for the now 6-2 Patriots.

Their 20-point loss to the Browns was as bad a game as you'll see from this team. The reason for that? Poor execution.

And the reason for that? An even worse week of practice, heading into the game.

"We just got to come out and prepare a whole lot better than what we did last week," said Branch on Monday, while pointing out that it wasn't the coaching staff's fault.

"We killed ourselves," added Branch. "There wasn't anything, going into the game, that we didn't know about. We just weren't executing.

"It takes all 11 guys to do one job. If we run the ball to the right, everybody's got to set up and do everything right. We have to block right, if we're trying to throw the ball. If we're passing, the receiver's got to be at the right depth, when Tom's ready to throw the ball. Tom has to make the throws, we have to make the catches."

The lack of execution of specific plays was an overriding theme in the Pats' locker room on Monday. So how do you make that better? Put more emphasis on the team's base offense.

And that starts at the beginning of the week.

"Whatever you do in practice is going to show up in the game," said Branch.

"The biggest thing is just staying focused, and going out and doing what the coaches ask us to do, instead of just doing what we want to do, and just running around, making up plays, making up routes," he added.

"You would think something like this right here, we would have got this out of the way in the preseason. I think the stuff that we put on the field Sunday was bad. I mean, that was just bad football. Especially around here. You don't expect that type of play to be around here. I think you want to try and get that mess out of the way in the preseason."

Instead, the Patriots got it out of the way at the midway point of the regular season. And they left Monday's film session knowing exactly what they did wrong, and are confident that they know how to fix it.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard