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Patriots insist they can do better

They’re focused on what needs fixing

Tom Brady had about 517 reasons to smile after a big game Monday night. Tom Brady had about 517 reasons to smile after a big game Monday night. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / September 14, 2011

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Six hundred and twenty-two yards of total offense. Franchise-record (and “Monday Night Football’’-record) 517 passing yards from Tom Brady. Execution at such a high pace that there were times the ball was snapped before the Dolphins’ defensive players were set.

It looked good, and the numbers were impressive, but after the Patriots’ 38-24 win over Miami, Brady, Bill Belichick, and most members of the offensive unit weren’t expressing awe at their performance.

To the contrary, they said it was a good night’s work but there were still lots of fixes to be made. That is probably not what opposing defenses want to hear - that the Patriots believe they can be even better offensively.

Or, as offensive lineman Brian Waters said, “There are still things we can get better at, and that’s crazy.’’

The Patriots didn’t get back home from Florida until about 5 a.m. yesterday, and players were not required to report to the stadium for film review; Belichick said the coaching staff began work on the game plan for Sunday’s home opener against the Chargers, and he would watch the Miami game either late last night or early today.

When asked what specifically New England wanted to improve, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien cited the six penalties the Patriots were flagged for on offense and red zone improvement.

Belichick expounded on what O’Brien said, noting that there were some things New England basically got away with against the Dolphins.

“We had the ball on the 1-yard line ready to score a touchdown and we end up getting knocked out of field goal range and couldn’t get a field goal before the half,’’ Belichick said, referring to an 18-yard gain on a pass from Brady to Wes Welker that would have given the Patriots first and goal from the 1 but was negated by a holding call on rookie Nate Solder.

“We really weren’t able to close out the game at the end with a couple of first downs that we could have made.

“The good thing was, offensively, whenever Miami scored or started to change the momentum of the game a little bit, our offense was able to come back and drive the ball and score points and change that momentum around, so that was great.

“But we still had things that we need to do better. There were some things that we got away with. With some substitutions, at times I don’t think Miami was where they wanted to be or there was something on their side of the ball that wasn’t quite right. And it’s great that we could take advantage of it, but those opportunities won’t always be there.

“I’m sure as teams get more experienced with their communication and get further into the season, you’ll see less and less of that.

“We’re just trying to keep ironing out all the little details, and that’s really across the board - it’s offense, defense, special teams. There are always things on every play, even good plays, that a lot of times aren’t done quite properly, and had the defense or the offense been in different play or done things a little bit differently, then we would have had a problem.

“You keep correcting those and try to get as many things right as possible.’’

And, as he frequently does, Belichick included the coaching staff among the things that need to be improved.

“The coaching staff, all of us - we all did plenty of things in that game that we need to better,’’ he said. “It was our first regular-season game, and like I said, it was nice to come out of it with a win, but we know every week it’s going to get tougher, especially with the Chargers this week. They’re a real good football team.’’

Belichick, O’Brien, and director of player personnel Nick Caserio were all on message yesterday, saying the Chargers have a disciplined defense with talented players at every position.

What worked against the Dolphins may not work against the Chargers.

“Whatever happened last night, I’m telling you, it really doesn’t matter as it relates to San Diego,’’ O’Brien said. “Every week in this league is a different week.

“What we’re focused on now is San Diego and what we have to do to beat those guys.’’

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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