FOXBOROUGH — One day after Brandon LaFell declared that the only plays shown to him on film about Sunday’s opponent were good plays by the Philadelphia Eagles defense — and not the 10 touchdown passes they’ve allowed the past two games — Patriots coach Bill Belichick appeared to dispute or correct that account.
“You should ask Brandon LaFell if I’ve ever shown any of our opponents missing a tackle. Just ask him that,” Belichick said Friday morning.
Belichick went on to describe what he’s trying to show his team through an opponent’s game film.
“We show plays that are relevant, whatever they are,” he said. “There’s good plays, there’s things we think we can take advantage of. Whoever we play, each team has strengths and weaknesses, each player has strengths and weaknesses. We try to identify those, and give examples of how they could come up in the game, or will come up in the game.”
The Eagles (4-7) have lost three straight games, and have particularly struggled the past two weeks, giving up 45 points each to the Buccaneers and Lions, getting outscored by a combined 90-31. Speaking on Thursday, LaFell said you’d never know it, based on the film the Patriots offense has been shown.
“Every time we watch film against a team, I feel like they’re undefeated,” said LaFell, “because we never see none of their bad plays, we only see the positive things they do.”
Belichick said the purpose of studying tape is twofold.
“You’ve got to stop the other team’s strengths,” he said. “I don’t think you want to let another team that does something well to just do that. You take that strength away and see if they can do something else.
“You understand what their strengths are and how to defend them, and you understand what you think their weaknesses are — or their weaknesses as you match up against that team; it might not be a weakness against somebody else — and how you’re going to attack that. It’s both.”
After practice Friday, LaFell was asked, as Belichick suggested, whether the coach includes game footage of opposing defenses missing tackles.
“Yeah, he does do that,” LaFell said.
Safety is the subject
The NFL and the players union conducted a conference call Friday that was scheduled to include every player from every team. The topic was player safety and health, and Matthew Slater, the Patriots union representative, said the opportunity to be heard is important.
As expected, Gronkowski (knee) was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game, as was wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot). Defensive tackle Dominique Easley (ankle) and cornerback Justin Coleman (hand) returned to practice, and were two of the seven players designated as questionable, along with wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee), safety Patrick Chung (foot), linebackers Jamie Collins (illness) and Dont’a Hightower (knee), and tight end Michael Williams (knee). Tight end Scott Chandler was a full participant in Friday’s practice, but was added to the report with a knee injury and listed as probable. For the Eagles, running back Ryan Mathews (concussion/groin) was ruled out, while quarterback Sam Bradford (shoulder) was listed as probable . . . Broncos edge rusher Von Miller told the Denver Post he’ll appeal the $8,681 fine he was assessed by the league for a hit on Tom Brady during last Sunday’s game.