BOSTON (CBS) — The regular season is over, and Patriots can finally move on to the postseason.
That will include some rest and relaxation, getting their bodies as healthy as they can ahead of the divisional round in two weeks.
“I’m going to relax and sit in a hot tub and get myself ready to roll,” linebacker Rob Ninkovich said following Sunday’s loss to the Bills.
But while they rest up, the Patriots will be taking a long look at themselves over the next week as well.
New England finished up the 2014 regular season with the top seed in the AFC and a 12-4 record following their Week 17 loss to Buffalo. Many of their starters didn’t play, or played just a portion of the game, so one would think there isn’t a whole lot to take away from Sunday’s game.
Not so, say the Patriots.
“We’ll have a bad taste in our mouth until we get a chance to play again,” said offensive lineman Ryan Wendell. “I’m sure there were some plays that were good plays, but I think we will have to learn from the plays that weren’t.”
“Right now it’s, ‘We lost the game,’ but we’ll break down the film and see the things we need to work on, the things we can do better and then focus on it from there,” said safety Devin McCourty. “It changes now. It’s all about winning the rest of our season. We definitely need to take what we need to take from this film and then focus on what lies ahead.”
Before looking ahead, or before they can say “we’re on to (insert playoff opponent here),” the Patriots will use their bye week for some self evaluation. They may have one of the best records in the league, but the team knows they are far from perfect and there is plenty of room for improvement.
While the New England defense held their opponent without a second half touchdown for the sixth straight game on Sunday, the offense once again struggled to find their rhythm. Tom Brady was without Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but still wanted to gain some momentum with his offense heading into the bye week. That did not happen on Sunday, but Brady remains confident, hoping that a good week of work will have the unit ready for their postseason foe.
“We’re confident. We have a lot of confidence as an offense,” said Brady, who finished the regular season with 33 touchdowns and nearly 4,100 passing yards. “We’ve been able to score points against a lot of good teams, a lot of good defenses. Nothing that we’ve done this past season is going to help two weeks from now. What’s going to matter is how well we prepare this week and how well we prepare next week and how ready we are to go whenever we play. We’ll have a lot of confidence. I’m not worried about us lacking confidence going out there and executing. We’ve got a lot of good players.”
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Head coach Bill Belichick obviously wants to see his offense start strong, and a full 60-minute effort out of his team the next time they take the field.
“We always want to try to get off to a good start and play from ahead. That’s the goal every week. Sometimes it works out that way, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a 60-minute game. You have to be able to play for four quarters, no matter what happens early in the game, good or bad, but you always want it to be good,” said Belichick. “We’ve had times when it has been. We’ve had times when it hasn’t gone quite the way we wanted it to. [We] always have to be play 60 minutes. We’ll just keep trying to find a way to get off to a good start and finish strong.”
Whatever it is the coaches bring to the table during the upcoming bye week, the Patriots are more than willing to put in the work. They know that, chances are, the adjustments and corrections they make this week could be the difference as they look to win three more very important games this season.
“We understand that if we want to have a chance to win going forward, we need to fix all the things that coaches come in here with for this week coming forward,” said McCourty. “Because whatever they bring to us and say, ‘This is what we need to work on,’ it’s probably going to be the difference between winning and losing going forward in the playoffs.”
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