Most teams generally hate the early-season bye week, but this one couldn't have come at a better time for the New England Patriots.
Fresh off a humiliating loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots could use the week off to self-evaluate in hopes of fixing what went wrong last weekend in time for their Oct. 5 trip to San Francisco. Plus, they haven't played the 49ers since 2005, so a few extra days to prepare for an unknown opponent couldn't hurt either.
"Anytime you get a chance to step back and reflect on what you're doing, analyze it (and) at the same time combining that with looking forward to what's in the immediate future and what's all the way down the road, it's beneficial," head coach Bill Belichick said. "We'll try to address a lot of different areas and improve as a football team."
Belichick has a long list starting with the defense, which allowed 461 total yards and got beat for four touchdowns on trick plays in which running back Ronnie Brown lined up at quarterback. The running game minus Laurence Maroney needs to be better too, considering the Patriots rushed for a mere 79 yards and quarterback Matt Cassel showed his first signs of ineffectiveness Sunday in just his second NFL start.
"There were plenty of things we didn't do well against Miami. There are corrections from the Kansas City and Jets game too," Belichick said, "so when we look back on a three-week view, which is what this is, we identify priorities and prioritize what we want to do."
While the team could use the break now, Belichick admitted the evaluation process is different because the Patriots have played only three games and therefore have a smaller body of work at their disposal.
"When you have it at the end of the season, you have a lot more data and a lot more things to work with from 10 games versus three," Belichick said. "Sometimes the emphasis points are a little different.
"For example, last year going into November and December, anticipating the weather and the conditions different than some of the games we had early in September and October and in the dome, there were things like that, that were different. Fundamentally it's the same. It's just a different placement."
With only three games to work with, Belichick may place more of an emphasis on putting the past behind him and focusing on the 49ers, who are 2-1 with quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan flourishing in Mike Martz's system.
"It's really been impressive watching them on film," Belichick said. "They're fast on defense. They have an experienced secondary. They can move the ball. They can score points. They have had two big wins and played competitively against Arizona in the opener."