FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots bye week is coming at a great time. Even if that means the players have to stew in the team's first loss of 2019.
As players headed home from Gillette Stadium after practice Wednesday afternoon, they did so with a positive attitude and with a good idea of what needs to improve come Week 11.
If anything, the team's four-day weekend will help players recuperate and return fresh for the second half of the season.
As they say in Foxborough, "November is when the real football begins."
"I mean we're 8-1. I mean, of course we want to be 9-0 so it's always tough but facts are facts were 8-1, so that deserves a smile, right?" linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. "I mean feel like it's much-needed and you know guys will be able to get healthy and I will get to look at their film and focus on the (Philadelphia) Eagles."
Despite their 37-20 loss in Baltimore on Sunday night, the Patriots will likely return to Foxborough next week still with the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL. Currently, the defensive unit is allowing an average of 10.9 points per game, which is the league's best mark.
Baltimore exposed some weak links in that game -- namely 210 total rushing yards allowed -- so the Patriots will need to focus on being better against the run.
Offensively, the Patriots have averaged 30 points per game in 2019. That's currently the second-best mark in the NFL. Of course, the offense has had some help from special teams and defense in the touchdown department. In terms of total offense, the Patriots are ranked 15th.
Things haven't been perfect, but Tom Brady is currently No. 2 in the NFL in passing yards (2,536) and No. 1 in pass completions (230). Julian Edelman is third in the NFL in receptions (63), and Sony Michel is tied for fifth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns (6).
The hope now is that the return of left tackle Isaiah Wynn -- potentially in Week 12 against Dallas -- will help both the pass protection and run game.
In the end, the Patriots will take a break this weekend and return next week in hopes of correcting some mistakes. Of course, when you're 8-1, it's hard to get too down.
"(We're in) a good mood," veteran Matthew Slater said. "We've got a lot to be thankful for. We've been pretty decent -- above average, I think -- over the course of the season thus far, so there's no reason for anyone in here to be in the tank. Let's just take advantage of the opportunity we have to improve this week, try to get healthy, and then hopefully come back against Philly and play a little bit better than we did on Sunday night."
Watson, Chung miss practice
Wednesday's practice was the lone one of the Patriots' bye week, and the team was without safety Patrick Chung and tight end Ben Watson.
Last week, Chung was limited in practice with a heel/chest injury. Watson hasn't been on the injury report since returning to the Patriots.
Since the team doesn't have a game this weekend, the Patriots won't release an injury report so we won't find out why either Chung or Watson were absent.
Watson played 100% of the Patriots' offensive snaps last weekend in Baltimore. He caught four passes for 28 yards. Those four receptions are a game-high for Patriots tight ends this season.
Watson was the only tight end to appear in the Patriots loss as Matt LaCosse was inactive and Ryan Izzo didn't play an offensive snap.
Chung looked limited last weekend due to his injuries. He played just 39% of the Patriots defensive snaps. He was used less than Devin McCourty (99% of the defensive snaps) and Duron Harmon (54%). It also looked like Chung was splitting time with Terrence Brooks (31%).
The Patriots return here Monday.