During his Monday morning conference call, Bill Belichick didn't come right out and report his team's impending trade with the Browns. He did, however, indicate that he was not very happy with the play of his linebackers.
That disappointment may have in some ways foreshadowed the deal that sent Jamie Collins to Cleveland in exchange for a third-round compensatory pick.
Collins played in 47 snaps on Sunday against the Bills, which was somewhat of a head-scratcher given that he typically plays close to 100 percent of New England's defensive snaps when healthy. At times, Collins was subbed out for rookie sixth-rounder Elandon Roberts (28 snaps) against run-heavy packages featured by Rex Ryan's club.
When asked about the play of Patriots linebackers as a group, Belichick was not pleased.
"I think overall, we had our ups and downs," he said. "At times we played well defensively and at other times, not so well. It was good enough to win. It was good at times and then at other times I think we really – I think we’re all disappointed, so we really just need to do a better job. That’s pretty much across the board – the running game, the passing game, everything. I mean there were some things that just, we need to do better."
Collins may have been partly to blame for an early 28-yard run by Bills running back Mike Gillislee, which was highlighted by former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi as a mistake due to some ill-advised freelancing on Collins' part. Collins was also in the middle of things on a pair of Bills scores. He missed a tackle on Gillislee's touchdown run in the second quarter, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran by Collins (though Collins appeared to be held) on a 26-yard touchdown run of his own in the third.
"We ran a blitz and obviously, he split us," Belichick said of Taylor's scamper. "We had a gain inside, we just lost him and he got through a gap there. Just good vision, good awareness by him and we just, we were close, but we just didn’t quite have it and he finished the play in the end zone."