By: Ian Logue
One week of camp is gone, and now the Patriots will start working toward actually preparing to face their first opponent, with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints coming to Foxboro next week for joint practices.
As New England got back to work this morning, head coach Bill Belichick told the media during his press conference that the goal for the day was to work on more situational football, including different field position situations – one of which included executing inside the redzone. All things that you more or less need to be able to do well in a game, which working against the Sanits will finally give them an opportunity to simulate.
Head coach Bill Belichick has his first opportunity to start preparing his team to face their first opponent next week. (PHOTO: Icon/SMI)
“[We’re] moving forward to more situational football, we’re starting to get into more down-and-distance and field position, new field position situations and we’ll continue to build on that today,” said Belichick Friday morning. “It’s all starting to sort of come together a little bit. Different down-and-distance situations, field position situations, backed up, moving into the red area, goal line, two-minute, and so forth. As we come to the end of the week here [we’re] trying to get most of our installation in and then we can go out there and execute it against the Saints next week and just see how it looks against another obviously very good football team in a competitive environment.”
Vince Wilfork also spoke to the media this morning, and one of the things he mentioned is the fact that during some of the two-minute drills Belichick has been simulating penalties and things that would drastically change the field position to give the defenses the chance to begin reacting to those situations. It’s all part of the process, and the coach is known for throwing in little wrinkles here and there to keep the players on their toes.
“[Belichick’s] always throwing us a curve ball in the two-minute [drill], but you know what? At the end of the day, it will get us better,” said Wilfork. “There’s going to be times where, in a two-minute drive, we’re going to have to win the ball game, on offense or defense. It may come down to a two-minute drive, and you want to make sure that you’re in good shape and you know what you’re doing. Being able to think when you’re tired, being able to focus when you’re tired, that’s big in a situation like that.”
Normally prior to any game, whether it’s a preseason game or a regular season game, there’s a process involved when it comes to installing the game plan and the types of schemes that they’ll be utilizing against a particular opponent. Belichick said this morning that some of those things will be different because they’re practicing against them beginning on Tuesday – so there’s not the normal full week to put in like there normally would be.
“We sometimes try to put things in the last two or three days before that preseason game,” explained Belichick. “This year, we didn’t want to be doing that because we’re going to be practicing against the Saints. We wanted to have in whatever it is we’re going to have in, and then go out there and run it because we don’t really have time to install it.”
“We’re practicing against them, [so] we don’t have our periods to put everything in. So we want to move that up so that it’s in and we can just go out there and be able to call it against them and run it.”
Matching up against the Saints should be a nice change for the players, with Wilfork mentioning that he was looking forward to having the chance to go up against someone other than his own teammates. He talked about the fact that playing the Saints should give them a good idea of where they are so far through camp, which was a sentiment echoed yesterday by Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio.
“The biggest difference is you’re just working against different personnel and different players, which will probably be a little bit refreshing for our players,” Caserio said yesterday. “Just to kind of be able to hit somebody else and just to be able to work against the calibur of a team like the Saints, I think will be good for us so we’ll kind of get a barometer of where we are both individually and then collectively as a club when the Saints come in to town.”
Needless to say if you have the chance to head down to Gillette on Tuesday you’ll have the first opportunity to get a look at the Patriots in simulated game situations. According to the team’s official site the first session will run from 9:45am – 11:15am, and the second from 3:45pm – 5:30pm.