FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick explored the downside and the upside of playing on Thursday night.
The Patriots made a quick and successful turnaround from their lopsided win in Washington on Oct. 6 with a 35-14 pasting of the New York Giants on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are off to the fourth 6-0 start in team history with their 16th straight home win.
“Thursday night games are tough, quick turnaround and preparation is tough,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick during a Friday morning conference call. “The physical rebound off a Sunday game is tough and we traveled from Washington and they traveled here for the game. When you add that all up and it’s a challenge but there is the other end of it.”
The other end of it has it rewards in terms of rest, recovery and preparation. The Patriots will enjoy a mini-bye week before they resume divisional play on Monday, Oct. 21, at the New York Jets.
“Now, we are glad we have a few extra days here to kind of rest, recover and evaluate where we are at here and be ready to move forward for the Jets which comes on a long week,” said Belichick. “So, when you add them all together, other than a bye it’s about as much time as you are going to get in an NFL season. We will try and take advantage of that and utilize whatever time we have and, like we always do, utilize it efficiently.
“These guys have been playing a lot of football, it’s been nonstop in 12 weeks going back to the start of training camp in July. You grind through camp, grind through six regular-season games and it’s tough. But now we have a little window and we will try and take advantage of that as we get ready for the Jets.”
The short week had offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels cobbling together personnel groupings to deal with injuries and limited recovery time from the Redskins game.
That was especially true of quarterback Tom Brady’s receiver group as the game went on. Split end Phillip Dorsett did not dress because of a hamstring issue. Dorsett is a Brady favorite with 15 catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots’ backfield was missing Rex Burkhead, a reliable receiver with 14 catches for 117 yards.
In the first half, tight end Matt LaCosse, who has been dealing with ankle problems, left the field with a knee injury in the first quarter. Wide receiver Josh Gordon followed with a knee injury in the second quarter.
Fullback Jakob Johnson exited the game with a shoulder injury and has been placed on injured reserve, according to media reports. Johnson was brought in to replace James Develin, leaving the Patriots without a lead blocker.
Rookies Jakobi Meyers and punt return specialist Gunner Olszewski took on greater workloads as did Ryan Izzo, a second-year tight end. Izzo (80), Meyers (57) and Olszewski (50) registered career highs for snaps in a game. Olszewski had 14 combined snaps in the previous five games.
“I think the players deserve all of the credit there,” said McDaniels. “You go into a game with an idea of what you want to do with the personnel that’s available to you and that usually encompasses multiple personnel groupings.
“As you saw in the beginning of the game, we used all that were available to us early. What we ended up with Matt and Jakob and Josh all going out right in a row it took us out of a good chunk of what we had worked on.”