Time is precious when NFL teams have short turnarounds, so coaches squeeze every last minute into their preparation. For the Patriots, who welcome the Jets to Gillette Stadium Thursday night roughly 100 hours after beating the Bills, it meant watching film on the flight home from Buffalo.
In this case, the cause is aided by the fact that the upcoming opponent is a division rival, a team whose tendencies and personnel are familiar. But that doesn’t mean the short week is an easy one.
“There’s going to have to be some days combined,” coach Bill Belichick said Monday morning on a conference call with the media. “We’ll definitely get into [a typical] Wednesday today and start with our scouting report and turn the page and get into the Jets.
“Tuesday and Wednesday will be some combination of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I guess would be the best way to put it, and Sunday is Thursday. Something like that.”
Postgame review is also condensed, so the Patriots quickly went over the tape from Sunday’s 23-21 win in Buffalo, gave out their grades, and made their corrective points. Now it’s on to the home opener and second straight date with an AFC East opponent.
The Patriots had a similar turnaround last year against the Jets, playing on Thanksgiving night four days after a home game. They beat the Jets that night, 49-19.
“Every game against this team presents different challenges or changes that you may not have prepared for or practiced against, and I would expect the same on Thursday night,” said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “Whether it’s a short week or a long week.”
Steep learning curve
The short week will test the rookies, perhaps none more than Jets quarterback Geno Smith, who passed for 256 yards in New York’s 18-17 home win over Tampa Bay. Smith’s task now is to guide his offense against a defense that has forced at least one turnover in 28 straight games.
“They are an extremely, extremely physical defense up front, and in the back end they are extremely smart,” Smith said Monday, also in a conference call with reporters.
“They know how to read routes. A lot of times they are playing zone and they are passing things off. They are constantly in good position.
“I’ve seen a ton of turnovers. I think that’s going to be a key emphasis for us, just managing those situations, not turning the ball over, and executing when we have the opportunity.”
Changing their ways
Running back Leon Washington, who was with the Patriots for training camp and during the preseason, was re-signed Saturday after being released Sept. 1. Yet he was the seventh and final player ruled inactive for the game.
“He’s got some versatility and gives us depth in those areas that we feel is important,” Belichick said. “That’s why he’s here.”
But for how much longer? Belichick hinted at a roster still in flux.
“You saw that there was a lot of roster movement last week,” he said. “I think that will probably continue to some degree with our team and I’m sure with many other teams in the league over the first couple of weeks of the regular season as things get settled on the practice squad, on just the way your team is made up, and so forth. We’ll just have to see how all that goes.”
Where it hurts
Washington was one of three new players on the injury report, which was issued Monday after a light walkthrough. He was listed with a thigh injury.
Running back Shane Vereen, who had surgery Monday on his wrist, was the only Patriot player to miss the workout.
Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld, who had only one pass thrown his way against the Bills (it resulted in an interception), suffered a hamstring injury and was listed under limited participation, same as Washington.
They joined the seven players on last week’s injury report, all of whom were also limited on Monday: tight end Rob Gronkowski, receivers Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson, running back Brandon Bolden, defensive backs Nate Ebner and Duron Harmon, and offensive lineman Will Svitek.
With Gronkowski and Sudfeld injured, the team’s only healthy tight end right now is Michael Hoomanawanui, who had one reception (for 5 yards) on Sunday and was targeted twice.
Not all bad
Tom Brady had a passer rating of 76.4 (his lowest for a season-opening game since 2006), the offense committed three turnovers, and it took a last-second field goal to win by 2 over a 10-point underdog. Still, McDaniels found plenty of positives.
“I think we did some decent things,” he said. “Certainly had good production on third down [11 for 20], which is always a critical element of the game. We had some chunk plays that we were able to create, I think it was eight or nine plays over 20 yards or over 19 yards, which you always look for opportunities to do that.
“Then, certainly, we missed some opportunities. Very rarely is it going to be perfect. You need to correct the things that we need to correct and try to improve this week.”
The defense forced two turnovers and held dynamic back C.J. Spiller to an average of just 2.5 yards for the 22 times he touched the ball (41 rushing yards on 17 carries, 14 yards on five receptions). Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia sounded pleased.
“When you come into the first game there are a lot of unknowns that you are going to face,” Patricia said. “I just want to give credit to all our players who came out, played hard, and handled the different adjustments that we had to make throughout the game, and really play with a good sense of urgency for 60 minutes. That was pleasing from our standpoint.
“Certainly we have a lot of work to do and a long road ahead of us.”
QB kept contained
Going against a rookie quarterback making his debut, the Patriots failed to register a sack of E.J. Manuel. They were successful, though, in keeping him in the pocket, a stated goal before the game. Manuel rushed just three times for 23 yards . . . Even though the Patriots dressed the maximum 46, only 42 played. The four who did not see the field: quarterback Ryan Mallett, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, and offensive linemen Chris Barker and Josh Kline . . . Linebacker Jerod Mayo led the team in tackles with 15.