Our three biggest takeaways from Bill Belichick’s Friday morning conference call with the media:
1. A deep playoff run will impact the following season.
Belichick was very clear in saying that a deep playoff run is what they want every year. He knows no one is shedding any tears for the Patriots. But he did say that when it comes to playing a lot of extra football one year, the impact will occasionally carry over into the following season when it comes to camp and preparing for the new year.
"Our overall schedule and situation is what it is," he said. "There isn’t really much we can do about that, and playing late into the season the year before is definitely what we want to do, so (we're) not complaining about that. But, it does affect the following season, there’s no question about that.
"We have a general plan, but we discuss it each day, sometimes to modify it or occasionally make a change in it. But usually, we try to stick pretty close to what we’ve planned. But, there are times when we can’t quite stay on schedule for one reason or another. Yeah, there’s a lot of factors involved. But the one that you mentioned is definitely one of them that comes into play."
He didn’t come right out and say it, but the fact this team has played so many postseason games over the last seven years — they have been to seven consecutive AFC title contests — has likely played at least a small role in the fact the workload at camp this summer has been smaller than in year’s past. That could explain why things have been relatively laid back this year when compared to other years.
(In a roundabout way, this leads me back to one of the great Belichick quotes of all time, the one he delivered in his press conference the day after Super Bowl LI where he was asked about the offseason. "As great as today is, in all honesty, we're five weeks behind 30 teams in the league in preparing for the 2017 season," Belichick said. It was funny to hear at the time, but that quote — and the environment around the team this summer — is a constant reminder that when you play extra football, you sometimes have to make allowances and work on a schedule that sometimes isn’t ideal.)
Anyway, Belichick was asked if that was one of the reasons why Tom Brady has appeared to have thrown less this year than in year’s past. (Later in the call, he wouldn’t comment on the report of Brady’s sore back.) Belichick went back to more of a broad-brush description of each player at this time of year.
“Each player, and there could be a number of factors involved in the decisions, but we have a number of players that are in various … their workloads are affected by other factors,” he said. “We take that into consideration with every player we put on the field. Some guys need modification for one reason or another. Depending on what we’re working on that particular day could impact that. That’s the way it’s always been. That’s how you have to manage your team, you have to manage your players and you have to manage your positions. You have to find some way to balance that out. That’s all part of training camp. It’s like that for everybody.”
2. He wasn’t pleased with the passing game on Thursday. The running game was a different story, for a couple of reasons.