Though Patriots players were enjoying a sixth day of rest and relaxation on their bye week — possibly the longest midseason break Bill Belichick ever has given a team — the coaching staff was back at Gillette Stadium Monday, starting preparations for the next game, against the Panthers.
Belichick likes to spend time during the bye doing some self-scouting, looking at what has and hasn’t been working for his team, and trying to fix what might need fixing.
But during a conference call, he emphasized that it’s not wise to wait until the bye to start evaluating your team.
“I think all the basic tendencies you look at weekly,” he said. “I don’t think you wait until after you’ve played nine games to see what your tendencies are on second and long, third and medium, first and 10. You try to stay on top of those on a weekly basis.”
But the bye does allow time to dig a little deeper.
“For example, maybe defensively you look at not just what you’re calling on first and 10, but how each call has been on first and 10 — against the run, against play-action passes, against drop-back passes,” Belichick said.
“Same thing offensively: How is your running game in certain situations, look at it per play. How productive has this play been on first down, how productive has it been on whatever the other situations are that you’re running it on, whether it’s a short-yardage type of play or whether it’s a spread long yardage, complementary run to your passing game, whatever it happens to be.
“I think you just look at it in a little bit more detail.”
Not all tendencies are bad. Belichick went on to say that every good team has tendencies, but the counter to that is avoiding predictability.
Patriots players will be back in the facility Tuesday for meetings and practice.
Armstead not close
Belichick was asked about defensive lineman Armond Armstead, who is on the reserve/non-football illness list.
Under NFL rules, teams have until the end of Week 11 (this is Week 11) to start practicing players on the NFI and physically unable to perform lists.
Armstead’s clock hasn’t been started yet, “so that’s why he hasn’t been out there,” Belichick said, adding that it looks “less likely with each day that goes by” that the former Southern Cal player, who the team said underwent a procedure to treat an infection during training camp, will begin practicing.
New England also has rookie wide receiver Mark Harrison on reserve/NFI because of a foot injury suffered in the spring.
With so many backup quarterbacks forced onto the field in recent weeks because of injury — the Bears’ Jay Cutler, the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, and the Bills’ EJ Manuel are among the starters who have missed time — New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked to evaluate Tom Brady’s backup, Ryan Mallett, who has yet to take a snap this season.
“Ryan comes to work every week with a great attitude and a great approach,” McDaniels said. “He prepares as if he’s playing. I think he’s continued to work at what it means to be a quarterback in this league.
“He’s really done a nice job of trying to give the defense a good look each week, which I think is an underrated part of a quarterback’s preparation. But it is important nonetheless because it is an opportunity to go back there and make reads, throw the ball accurately and work on fundamentals, get better and lead that [scout] team, even though it might not be with the first-team offense all the time. He’s taken a lot of leadership and responsibility there.
“Ryan’s done good job of pushing himself to get better and improve and we have a lot of confidence in him.”
A third-round pick in 2011, Mallett was the subject of trade rumors in the offseason, but has stayed put and is the only quarterback on the roster other than Brady.
Come back, Shane
Running back Shane Vereen, who broke his wrist in the season opener against the Bills and was placed on injured reserve/designated to return, is eligible to be activated to the 53-man roster this week.
McDaniels will be happy to have him back.
“As soon as he’s ready and able to help us and we are able to play him, certainly he will have a role in the game,” McDaniels said. “He definitely did make a big impact in Game 1.
“I don’t know if we can expect him to do that right off the bat in his first game back, whenever that is, [but] we’ll look forward to having him back.”