FOXBORO -- Tuesdays are generally very important days at Gillette Stadium. That's when the finishing touches are being put on the game plan for the coming weekend so it can later be disseminated to players who then go to work on it throughout the remainder of the week.
This Tuesday, two Tuesdays before the Super Bowl, is a little different. The Patriots have plenty of time to game plan so there's not the time crunch of a normal week.
But because the Patriots aren't all that familiar with the Eagles, they're getting down to business anyway.
"Every year is not the same but in this particular case, today is very much of a major working day, and I would say kind of a catch-up day for us because we just don't know very much about Philadelphia," Bill Belichick said during a conference call.
"You know, other years when we had played a team more recently like Seattle, who we had played two years before but in a regular season game, but there was some carry over from that or in the [New York] Giant years where we had played those teams in the regular season, there was a little bit less of an acclimation to the opponent this week because we had some background with them. In this case, we really don't know very much about Philadelphia."
The Patriots played the Eagles two seasons ago, but that was a very different team than the one they'll see in Super Bowl LII. Back then, Chip Kelly was Philly's head coach and Pat Shurmur its offensive coordinator. Sam Bradford was the quarterback. Billy Davis ran the defense.
Now? Now it's Doug Pederson's show. Frank Reich is the offensive coordinator. Nick Foles is the quarterback. Jim Schwartz runs the defense.
There's plenty the Patriots will be familiar with. Schwartz worked in Cleveland for Belichick in the mid-90s. LeGarrette Blount is one of Philadelphia's top two backs. Chris Long has helped provide the Eagles with depth on the edge. Kamu Grugier-Hill is one of their top special-teamers. Ronald Darby is a corner the Patriots saw twice last year when he was with the Bills.
But with new schemes and new personnel to learn, Tuesday is being used as a key preparation day as the Patriots try to figure out how to handle their next opponent.
"It's a lot to sort out and then pull together pretty concisely because, again, for all those games that we look at – let's call it 18 games, just to pick a number – I mean that's probably 2,500 plays in all three phases of the game and there's just going to be 160," Belichick said. "So they can't do everything that we've ever seen them do any more than we could run everything that we have experience running . . .
"We have to be prepared for a lot of things but at the same time, we can't be overly distracted by things that either have a low percentage chance of coming up or probably wouldn't be the type of thing they would do against us. We try to eliminate some of those and make sure we work on the things that we feel are most problematic or may be most likely to occur."