After a long weekend, Patriots coaches are back at Gillette Stadium to begin preparations for next Monday night's showdown with the Jets; Tom Brady said this morning that the players had to "check in" with Belichick today, though that may be for treatment and weight lifting and the like.
Belichick began his conference call, which Nick Caserio and Matt Patricia also participated in, by lauding the Jets.
"The Jets are a really impressive team to watch; it's easy to see why they have the best record in the league," he said. "They give you a lot to get ready for, of course defensively they’re a good coverage team; Rex [Ryan] has done a good job of putting that team together, they're solid in every phase of the game. They're doing a good job in clutch situations (and) playing good situational football … they're a solid football team and big challenge for us Monday night."
With all of the bluster already coming from north New Jersey, with Ryan starting things up minutes after his team's win over the Bengals on Thanksgiving night and running back LaDainian Tomlinson discussing his dislike for the Pats and their fans after he was heckled as he sat on the bench as a then-Charger during the 2007 postseason, the Patriots predictably will be deferential to their rivals this week.
It started with Belichick and Nick Caserio, who both mentioned the Jets having the best record in the NFL -- or the same record New England has.
Here are some other highlights from the call:
Belichick on the Jets' come-from-behind wins
"The common thread is that [Mark] Sanchez has made plays, he’s hit different receivers, and those guys have come through for him too. Defensively, when they get the ball back they’re going to be more aggressive, and they've done a good job. They’re a solid team and they’ve made those plays at all point in games but the ones that really stand out are the ones they’ve made at end of games."
Belichick's mantra that the season starts after Thanksgiving
"I think it’s just obvious: there’s fewer games, a lot of teams are packed closely together (in the standings), there are not very many games left, and each game becomes more critical has more influence in the final standings. I think that’s obvious and we go into it with that kind of emphasis. We can easily look back to any season and see teams that got off to good start or got off to a not-so-good start and didn't finish strong or finished strong as the case may be…that’s usually the way their season gets defined. It's not so much what team plays good in September as what teams are playing good in December and January."
Caserio on the magnitude of Monday night's game
"Later in the year those games take on maybe a little more significance. We play a lot of big games throughout the year; every week is a big game. (But) the importance of a division game, those are the teams you see twice during the course of the season. It’s division game, they’ve established themseleves as one of best teams in the league, they have best record in the league…hopefully our players will be ready to perform on Monday night."
Patricia on linebacker Jerod Mayo's production this season
"I think Jerod’s production is a result of him working really hard at doing what he’s supposed to do for us. None of us look at individual stats, I don’t think he cares who has what tackles. I think all he wants to do is go out and win and he’ll do everything he can to help that. Obviously I’d like him to keep doing what he’s doing out there."