Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked flat-out this morning if he has a philosophy on resting guys with playoff positioning secure.
“Yeah, absolutely,” a jovial Belichick said to a stunned press corps. “I do what’s best for our football team. That’s definitely my philosophy.”
Sorry if I caused any excitement with the headline … Belichick did say that he hasn’t made decisions as to how the Patriots will approach Sunday’s game in Houston, having just finished up grading the Jacksonville tape. But the truth is, it’s just part of a pretty complicated few days ahead for the Patriots.
Most teams use their two quality-control assistants — one on offense, the other on defense — to break down film on the opponent a week ahead, so the rest of the team can hit the ground running when the time to prepare for that foe arrives. And they also send advance scouts to games to live scout those teams.
So making decisions on who’s doing what this week won’t easy. While some teams (Jets, Ravens, Broncos) are more likely to be there in the first round than others (Dolphins, Jags), there are seven potential wild-card opponents ahead for the Patriots.
“I’d say right now, that’s something we probably need to sort out a little bit with the guys on our staff that do a lot of that advance preparation work in our pro scouting department,” Belichick said. “Our assistant coaches, there’s one of them on each side of the ball that’s assigned to that. Normally, you know who the opponent’s gonna be, but in this case we really don’t. We’ll have to figure out how we want to do that.
“Some of the teams that are possibilities for the playoffs we’re pretty
familiar with. Others, we’re not as familiar with, or some are more
recent (opponents) than others. We’ll figure all that out here in the
next couple of days. But right now, our thing is come in, watch the
Jacksonville game, make corrections on that, talk about the things we
need to do and then get ready for Houston.”
But, of course, the most visible storyline this week will be the players — and who dresses, who travels, who plays, etc.
Good mood as he might’ve been in, Belichick wasn’t chirping on that.
“I haven’t really given it any thought at all,” he said. “My thoughts are on
Jacksonville, and we knew that was a game we needed to win, we put a
lot into that game, and I’m glad the results came out the way they did.
As I said last week, we’ll deal with next week, next week. We’ll deal
with this week this week.”