Patriots coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia held conference calls on Monday morning, and here were some of the things we learned:
1. Film graded on flight home: McDaniels relayed that with a Thursday game ahead against the Jets, the process of reviewing Sunday’s season-opening win over the Bills was accelerated. Coaches started grading the film on the flight home, will go over corrections with players today, and then it’s quickly on to the Jets later today. There is some element of carryover in making the game-planning transition from the Bills to the Jets, because first-year Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine previously coached with the Jets (2009-2012)
2. Ridley and ball security: Asked about where he sees things headed with running back Stevan Ridley, who was benched after his second-quarter fumble, McDaniels said: “I think you try to make decisions based on what you feel like are best for the team at each individual time. Yesterday, we made the choice to go with Shane [Vereen] and LeGarrette [Blount]. Stevan has to do a better job holding on to the football. He knows that. We’ll work hard with him on that and work hard as well to make sure we don’t do that anymore. I think any decision on the future and what’s going to happen next week, or this week, I don’t think those have been made yet.”
3. Vereen and potential consideration for a lead back role: Shane Vereen topped all Patriots running backs in snaps played Sunday with 56, which was in part a result of Ridley’s benching. At 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, Vereen isn’t necessarily built to take a pounding like the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Ridley as he fits more into the category of the lighter “passing back” in the mold of Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk. Still, the Patriots have had games in the past where their “passing back” plays the most snaps (in 2012, Woodhead had 51 against the Ravens and 76 against the 49ers) and Vereen’s diverse skills make him a candidate to do so this year. “It depends on what you’re doing; certainly he can play on all three downs, he showed that in college and we saw some of that yesterday,” Belichick said. “Whether that’s his best role, it could change from game to game, it could change during the course of the season, it could change from season to season based on your roster and the type of plays you’re running offensively.”
4. Third-down efficiency and chunk plays on offense: Asked his thoughts on the passing attack Sunday, McDaniels pointed out success on third down (unit was 11 of 20 overall) and a high total of “chunk plays” – nine that went for 19 yards or more (runs and passes).
5. More roster movement ahead: Belichick hinted that more transactions can be expected this week, including the practice squad. The Patriots have been busy in this area since the Aug. 31 cutdown.
6. Welcome back Leon Washington: Belichick touched on the re-signing of veteran running back Leon Washington on Saturday. “He’s a guy that’s done a lot of things in his career. Of course, in training camp and preseason games [with the Patriots], returning kicks, playing on special teams, ran the ball, played on third down, so he has some versatility and give us some depth in those areas,” Belichick said.