FOXBORO - There will be greenhouse conditions at Gillette Stadium on Sunday for the team’s first practice since the Saints game Thursday night. It will be a true “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” day and that really doesn’t bother Bill Belichick at all. He wants to see work during nasty conditions.
Thursday night, after the win over the Saints, Belichick said, “We had a good level of heat. There were a good amount of longer drives on both sides. There were times that we were out there for eight, nine, 10 plays defensively and then there were a few times when we were out there for eight, or nine, or 10 plays offensively. Those longer drives are really where players build their conditioning; they build their stamina, so it was good to have a few of those. I think the players themselves could see after three, four, five plays, you know OK, but then at nine, 10, especially when you’re running off the field with substitutions like you have to do against the Saints to matchup against their offense or what we do offensively, using different personnel combinations. You combine that running on and off the field with a longer drive [and] I think that was definitely a good evaluation of our conditioning tonight and I wouldn’t say it was bad, but it certainly can be better. We need to continue to work on that. Tonight was a good night for us to see where we’re at on that front.”
There will be no significant letup this week as the Bears come to town for joint practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-high 80s all week.
The Bills committed 47 penalties in the first four games of 2015 and tied for the most penalties in the league with Tampa Bay (143). They were back at it again Saturday night against with 11 flags in a 19-18 loss to Indy.
Rex Ryan’s opening statement regarding the penalties, though? Stream-of-consciousness, word waterfall.
“Man, there were so many positives in this game. It was exciting for me to see the way our guys competed,” Ryan began. “Obviously we didn’t do our end as a football team. The mistakes that we made, I pointed out to our team, it’s like we have to turn the page on that, that was last year’s team and we can’t have that. We’ve been working extremely hard about some of those penalties we saw. We had four offside penalties and that was upsetting to me. I think we had three on special teams, so that blueprint was what last year’s blueprint was. As a team, there isn’t anybody in there that’s happy with that performance just because of that.”
Flags fly excessively in the preseason anyway. Half the roster is there on temporary employment and the officials call things pretty closely to set the tone and get their own work in. It’s just the tone of Ryan’s remarks that make you chuckle because you know he’s going to be standing there at a Bills podium saying the same thing about being happy with the effort, upset about the penalties and committed to having it not happen again. And then it will happen again.
Ryan also channeled Gisele in praising the work of his quarterbacks: “I loved the way our quarterbacks played. It might not be reflected in the quarterback ratings but I don’t know, we had four or five drops but the quarterbacks can’t throw it and catch it.”
The Bills are already taking on water defensively in terms of personnel. They were already going to be without rookie defensive end Shaq Lawson for the first month of the season after he had post-draft shoulder surgery. Now, they’ve lost rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland to an ACL. Both players were ticketed to be Day 1 starters by GM Doug Whaley
As a chaser, the team lost linebacker IK Enempkali Saturday night to what Ryan described as a “major” knee injury. Veteran DE Manny Lawson hasn’t participated yet in training camp with a pectoral injury. All of that is bad for business. The Patriots face the Bills in Week 4.
Jared Goff experienced shoulder stiffness and Carson Wentz fractured his ribs, so the quarterbacks who went 1 and 2 to the Rams and Eagles are already in different levels of disrepair after their first preseason game. In relation to Goff, that’s just the kind of thing that would make a head coach’s hands sweat, especially after four seasons in charge and 27 wins to show for it. But the head coach for the Rams is Jeff Fisher and he’s the sideline equivalent of a Supreme Court Justice appointment, so he’s going to get a contract extension soon.
Fisher enjoys most-favored nation status with the NFL so Rams owner Stan Kroenke – who has the league to thank for puppeteering the Rams move to LA – knows Fisher is a shrewd guy to keep around even if he’s forever .500.