FOXBOROUGH—It’s a benefit to the Patriots that their bye week occurs smack dab in the middle of the NFL season.
With eight games in the can, eight games in front, and a couple of days to spare, the 5-3 Patriots have a great opportunity to evaluate themselves both individually and as a whole, quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday.
“It’s nice when it kinda comes midway through the year so you really have a nice sample size to see what you’re doing well, what you’re not doing well,” Brady said. “And I know the coaches have been hard at work here the past few days trying to identify some of those things and you know that’s a lot of what we’ll go over today while in practice. You just don’t have a lot of time during the regular season, because you’re trying to prepare for your opponent. And with no opponent, you try to focus on what we need to do better and there’s certainly a lot of things we can do better.”
The Patriots were 5-3 at through Week 9 last season, before finishing the regular season with eight straight wins and 10 overall en route to the Super Bowl. The team’s ability to improve over the second half of a season is one attribute that Brady points toward proudly. But it comes with the caveat of focusing on the actual improvement, and not on individual games.
“I think it’s important, as I’ve said, to not really ride the roller coaster of the season,” Brady said. “The highs of the winning and the lows of the losing. When you have a bad game, it can’t lead to another bad game, which leads to a bad month and then you have to be nearly perfect the rest of the way. So when you lose a game, you have to put it behind you, you gotta move forward. And if you lose again, you gotta do the same thing. I think that’s, to try to get to the things that we’ve been good at, the things we’re consistently doing better than other things, that what’s most important, and that’s what leads to better execution over the course of a season.”
At the midway mark, the Patriots sport the NFL’s leading offense (440.8 yards per game), including both the fifth-ranked passing and running offenses. For Brady, who has tallied 2,408 yards and 16 touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 100.6, an eye on self improvement is just as critical now as it’s always been. Whether that comes from evaluation from the coaches or not, is another matter.
“There’s a lot that they see that from a coaches’ perspective, that you need to do better, the improvements you make,” Brady said. “You have individual meetings with your coaches and talk about those things. And then there’s certain things that I know I definitely need to do a better job of that they may not be aware of, that I, being self critical, determine those things. You try to go back to things that work and the things that you know, and the things that you trust and you’re confident in yourself, and you try to go out be a better teammate and a better leader.”
Brady said he didn’t know what he was going to do during the bye week and whether or not he was going to leave New England.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “It’s not up to me anymore.”