The Patriots survived a sloppy 13-10 win over the Jets Thursday night, leaving many to speculate whether this team will be able to compete offensively when it faces higher-regarded teams in upcoming weeks.
Coach Bill Belichick, however, is squarely focused on this Sunday’s matchup in Foxborough against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team he believes is much better than its 0-2 record indicates.
“They’ve been really close the last two weeks and have come up short, but a couple plays that just turn out a little differently, wouldn’t have taken much, we’d be looking at a 2-0 team,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the way that they play. They’re a tough, physical team.
“They have a good mixture of pressure, coverage, movement up front, they’re very fast and athletic, whichever 11 players they have on the field, they play based on your personnel – 4-3, nickel, dime. They’re very fast and explosive, no matter who they have on the field.”
Tampa Bay is coming off tough losses to the Jets and Saints, and Belichick said any suggestion that the team will be desperate for a win doesn’t change the coaching staff’s strategy.
“We would have expected Tampa’s best no matter what happened in the first two games, and that’s what we’ll expect this week,” he said. “From working against them -- we played against them twice in preseason and worked on the field with them -- we have a lot of respect for their players, their coaching staff, their toughness, their effort, their competitiveness."
Belichick said the plan for the week would be slightly different, because of the fact that the Patriots have already had a few days off. But mostly they are approaching Week 3 from a normal perspective.
“Last week was really a week that we weren’t able to practice, it was really more walkthroughs and film and preparation and that kind of thing,” said Belichick. “I think that it kind of as a staff gives us a little bit of extra time to figure out where we are, what things we need to work on, need a little bit more work on, some situations that maybe haven’t come up in the first couple games that we need to refresh and the ones that have, we’ve talked about and hopefully learned from and been able to make progress on those going forward.
“[We] haven’t played here in a couple days and now we’re playing a team with a different style from what we played the first two weeks. We see that pretty much every week, [so we need] to start to get our timing and our execution and our communication and our adjustments and just techniques and all those, just start tuning back up those things so when we hit the field on Wednesday, we’ll be able to get as much out of that really first big day of preparation for Tampa as we can.”
Belichick would not provide any information on injured tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola, saying the team would “take it day-to-day.”
Amendola has torn adductor muscles in his hip and may also require surgery for a sports hernia; he is out of action for the near future. Gronkowski has been rehabbing from his arm and back surgeries in the offseason, with reports suggesting he may be able to play as soon as this Sunday if all goes well.