The New England Patriots are always self-scouting to see how they can get better.
But during the season, you’re getting ready for the next opponent, so there’s not much time to completely dissect those different aspects.
In the bye week, you actually have time to digest those aspects and implement a plan. And in a New England bye week, you get the diagnostics straight from the coaching staff.
It could be something like, "We’ve struggled in the red zone scoring touchdowns, and we’ve thrown the ball 70 percent of the time and ran the ball 30 percent of the time. So, maybe we want to get more reps at red zone runs."
The Patriots are very detail-oriented. Even if you're 8-1 and feeling good, Bill Belichick and his staff will go into such detail to help you understand why you've been successful, what personnel groups you've been most successful in and where there should be more points of emphasis.
It might be as simple as, “These have been our five really good base core runs this season.” And then he could tell you, "We’re going to focus on these runs more going forward." Or: "We’re going to install a few more runs we think will give us a better advantage against the defenses coming up."
During the bye week in particular, Bill hits the film hard.
I remember one bye week film session where he went around the room and called out guys like Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Asante Samuel, asking them about particular plays we thought we could be better at.
That’s the beauty of Bill Belichick: Everybody is held accountable. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or if you’re a 15-year veteran. If there’s something that he thinks needs improvement, he’ll show you video evidence.
It's not like other organizations where the veterans get a little leeway. He is meticulous about the details that highlight where we need to get better, even if that means showing some of your lowlights.
I’ve been subject to it, as well. One year, I was about to start in our fourth preseason game, and he showed me film from two years ago of me getting hit on a corner blitz to remind me not to get hit by the corner blitz again.
Bill doesn’t forget anything. He remembers plays, he remembers personnel: anything our opponents did that could hurt our team down the road.
Obviously he'll review the last game and go through why the Baltimore Ravens beat us. But he’ll also show film and plays from throughout the year. It could be from Week 1 or Week 2. It doesn't matter.
This stretch coming up is going to be a pivotal one for the Patriots. But they'll make the corrections this week and get mentally ready to take on these next four weeks of playoff-caliber teams.
Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and NBCSportsBoston.com.
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