New England Patriots

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo talk on the sidelines in the first quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick often talks about how important it is for teams to be playing their best football heading into the playoffs. That isn’t exactly the case for this current Patriots team, which is 1-3 in its last four including Sunday’s regular season ending 33-24 loss to the Dolphins.

What’s the Patriots’ mindset like after another disappointing game? And how will their recent struggles impact their approach heading into the playoffs? Here’s what Belichick and his players had to say after the game…

  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 09: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks off the field after losing 33-24 to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

    Opening statement:

    “Obviously played poorly, coached poorly, didn’t do anything very well. So just too many – too many mistakes, way too many so – We’ll go look at the film, turn the page here and make some corrections and move on to next week. So that’s really about it.”

    Were they trying to draw the Dolphins offsides on the 4th & 1 when Mac Jones was called for a false start?

    “It was another poorly executed play.”

    Was there any thoughts of going for it there?

    “The whole thing was poorly executed.”

    Is there a common denominator there of some of these slow starts?

    “I don’t know. Not sure.”

    Why wasn’t David Andrews on the field for the fumbled snap?

    “A poorly executed play.”

    Was Miami in trap coverage on Mac Jones’ interception?

    “Cover 2.”

    What would you like to see out of your team this week as you prepare for the playoffs?

    “Well, we’ll go back to work here, like I said, look at the game today and get ready for next week.”

    Is there any positive to take away how the team battled back there in the fourth?

    “It wasn’t good enough today so – leave it at that.”

    How much did the factor that you needed some defensive backs with Kyle Dugger down and Myles and not available contribute to not having Kristian Wilkerson elevated after his performance last week?

    “Didn’t really have anything to do with it.”

    What was the factor that led to him not being elevated after his performance last week?

    “You’re only allowed two standard activations.”

    When Hunter was up here, he said you guys needed to get back to playing clean football. Is there a key to that that you see?

    “Yeah. Playing clean football. Yeah. Doing it. We’re not doing it now.”

    Given they’ve seen the Bills twice, has the staff started scouting the Bengals?

    “It’s what we normally do, Ben. There’s people in the organization that work ahead and there’s other people that work on this game and they move into it. So it’s the same thing.”

    What did the Dolphins’ offense come out with that put stress on you on that first drive?

    “Again, a lot of poor execution, poor execution, poor playing.”

  • QB Mac Jones

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 09: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots drops back to pass over the defense of the Miami Dolphins in the second half of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    What can be learned from this loss?

    “Yeah. I think we just need to execute better. And that starts with me in practice and in the game. You’ve got to go out there and do much better than we did today. And it’s super embarrassing, honestly, just from my point how I played. Wasn’t good enough. And I can be better. And it starts with me. I’m the quarterback. And that’s my job is to make people around me have success. And it starts with me, so we’ll get it fixed. I think, like you said, you know, you’ve got to watch the film and learn from it and realize how embarrassing it is to play that way. But, at the same time, we’ve got a great opportunity next week. And that’s all you can ask for.”

    If he can take solace in the near comeback in the second half:

    “Yeah. I think we lost. And that’s all that matters. And we put the other units in kind of a bad position with the way we played. You can’t blame or point fingers on anybody besides me and the offense. And we know we can play better. And we have great players on our offense. We know that. That wasn’t our best product in terms of execution. I think we definitely fought hard, but we’re coming up short. So if we can combine the execution part and the effort together, I think the result will be a lot better.”

    Is the term ’embarrassing’ collective thing in the last month or just today?

    “I think we can play better, and that’s what it was. I feel like we got to put a better product out there, especially to win big games. And the team we played tonight was the better team. And they executed better than
    we did. There’s nothing we can really do about it now. But I think at the same time, you can’t feel sorry for yourself. You’ve got to move on and learn from your mistakes and take the positives and then look at the negatives too. You can’t just brush the negatives under the rug.”

    On the fumbled snap:

    “I think it was just one of those things, something that happened. And he had to go in there. And our job is to — I mean, I’ve been doing that since Pop Warner, just get the ball from the center. Doesn’t matter who the center is. It wasn’t Ted’s fault. It’s my fault. I’ve got to get the ball and hand it off to the running back. It’s not like it was some giant play that required a bunch of things. So you never want those things to happen. But now we know during pre-practice we can get more work, you know, just get back to the fundamentals of it.

    Did he see Christian Barmore after his injury?

    “Yeah. I did. I saw him — I’m not sure exactly what happened. But I just told him that I love him and I have his back no matter what. He’s a great player, and he’s been a great teammate to me at Alabama and obviously here too. He’s really positive. And I hope he’s okay.”

    On the level of frustration:

    “I think it’s frustrating. But, like I said, we just have to put a better execution out there. That’s the game of football. It’s a little bit of an emotional game, but it comes down to the Xs and Os and the execution. I can execute better. And I know everybody on offense feels that way. I’m sure the defense and special teams can speak for themselves. But we just have to come together as three units and put the better product on the field and not feel the way we felt about when we walked off the field, like that wasn’t how we wanted to play the game. So that’s really the moral of the story.

    What he saw pre-snap on the pick six:

    “I’m not going to get into logistics. I knew what coverage they were playing. I just didn’t see the outside guy. And I threw it too wide, and it was my fault. But it’s just cover 2. There’s nothing to it. It’s simple. And I got to read it out and do a better job getting the ball to the right guy.”

  • RB Brandon Bolden

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 09: Brandon Bolden #25 of the New England Patriots rushes for a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

    Summing up the game:

    “We lost. Simple as that.”

    What contributed to that?

    “We’ll have to go back and look at the film but we just — ultimately, we didn’t score enough points on offense. And we didn’t execute as well as we should have on special teams. I can’t say nothing about defense because that’s — it’s above my pay grade,
    honestly.

    What does the team need to do to avoid slow starts on offense?

    “Get back to fundamentals. Start fast. There’s a lot we could do, but there’s a lot we didn’t do today. So we’ve got to go back, get back in the film room. And we’ve got to, you know, find the answer to all of your questions, honestly.”

    On reacting to the flag thrown on this second touchdown:

    “There’s a lot of penalties being thrown out there today. And to see one on a touchdown — it could have been anybody’s touchdown. I’m like, damn, another one. I’m sorry. I mean, another one.

    Did he feel like he avoided contact with the punter?

    “Most definitely. I did – I went in there and I was – I was trying to get the ball off of him, but I did not touch him at all. So, you know, that’s just how it goes sometimes. Ball don’t bounce your way every time. And, you know, they call what they call.”

    What has led to the issues on special teams?

    “Again, that’s another thing we’re going to have to go back in the film room and try to figure out. I don’t even have an answer for you on that one.”

    What is the team’s frame of mind after the last four games?

    “It’s not over. There’s no reason to lay down and take anything. We’ve got a lot to fight for. And I know, me personally, that’s how I’m approaching it. That’s how I’m going into next week as not finished done playing with the season. Going into next week, take it like it could be the last one, but I’m going to fight like hell to have more.

    Is there anything in common the way the team has prepared for the last four games?

    “I couldn’t tell you team wise. I approach every game the same way.”

    What he saw from Mac Jones:

    “A hell of a football player. He didn’t quit. He stayed in the game the entire time. And coming from – coming from a young quarterback or a rookie quarterback, that’s what you love to see. And it’s easy to get up and play for a guy like that.

    Is there any silver lining in a loss where the team almost comes back?
    “Me personally, no. We still lost at the end of the day.”

  • TE Hunter Henry

    What’s the confidence level of the team going into the playoffs right now?

    “I mean, it will be good. I mean, we’re going to learn from this and — I mean, we didn’t play our best today, you know, offensively. I mean, we just gave them too much. Obviously, gave them a touchdown. Turned the ball over in the red zone. Some crucial mistakes just offensively. But things that we can learn from, I felt like we finished strong too. We’ve just got to play consistently. But, yeah, I don’t think we lost any confidence. We know what we have in there. We’ve just got to play clean football. That’s the biggest thing.”

    Is there any common thread with some of these slow starts?

    “I mean, we’ve had games where we started fast and we’ve had games where we don’t. So kind of goes hand in hand. We’ve got to execute better earlier in the game. They came out ready to play, and we just didn’t. Put yourself in a hole like we did. It’s very tough. And so I mean, we’ve got to learn from it and just keep going. It’s a new season. It really is. So everything is on the line now.”

    Is he watching the late game to see who the Patriots will play?

    “Honestly, I don’t even know. I’m just going to – whoever we line up against and play, I mean, that’s who it is. I mean, it is what it is. We’ve just got to go out and take care of business.

    On Mac Jones

    “I mean, he’s tough. He’s resilient. Obviously, it shows a lot. He obviously didn’t play his best early, had some crucial mistakes. I know he’s going to learn from them and grow. He’s young. But, still, just the resiliency of him. The toughness of him taking some shots today especially. He’s a tough, tough dude. And I’m glad to have him as our quarterback.”

    What is the key to getting back to playing clean football?

    “I think it starts in the week, focusing on it every single day, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Just reminding ourselves in practice. I think that’s the biggest thing is going out there and executing in practice and just being conscious of it. I felt like we protected the ball better as a skill group. We gave them two in the first game fumbles. And then, you know, no fumbles today, you know, the mishandled snap and the pick but, you know, just being conscious, all of us, you know, where defenders are and protecting the ball.”

  • S Devin McCourty

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 09: DeVante Parker #11 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled on a carry by Devin McCourty #32 and J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter of the gam at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    Does he think the team is ready for the playoffs?

    “Don’t have a choice. Start next week.”

    Is it harder to prepare for a team you haven’t seen [Bengals] as opposed to a division opponent you’ve already played twice [Bills]?

    “Yeah. You’ve got to definitely do more work. Like I haven’t seen, really. I haven’t seen Cincinnati much at all. So, yeah, as a group, we really got to jump in. But I would say no matter who we play, it’s that time of the year that you want to know as much as possible about your opponent, not take it for granted even though we played Buffalo twice towards the end of the season, you don’t want to take that for granted either. So no matter who we play, we’re fighting. Come to work the next day. You want to put everything into it because if you don’t, that’s it. You know, we have another performance like this, that’s it. So I think as a group – you know, everybody individually, you just want to put your all into it because there’s no tomorrow.”

    The Patriots’ “culture” has traditionally been about finishing strong – how concerning are the last four games?

    “One, I would say culture doesn’t matter. Each team, you are what you are. I say it every year. We always talk about what teams in the past have done. It’s really irrelevant to the current team. You know, those teams in the past had different players. And I think we can’t rely on that and bank on that. We talk about it all the time. Obviously, you want to beplaying your best football. We haven’t. So we’ve got to turn the page and we’ve got to have a good week of practice and rely on that because we don’t have the three, four weeks in a row of good football to rely on. It hasn’t been our best. But I think if we sit there and say we’ve got no shot because it hasn’t been our best, then we might as well not even show up next week. We’ve just got to put our heads down, get to work and go out there and play our best football. We know each Sunday is a different opportunity, kind of any given Sunday. And I think that’s how we’ve got to prepare no matter who we play and go out there and try to get a win.”

    What is it about these Dolphins that have given you trouble over the years?

    “I wouldn’t even say the Dolphins. I mean, what did we lose, 3 out of the last 5? I would say it’s been more us toward the end of the season. We haven’t played well you know, no matter, really, who we’ve played. So it hasn’t just been the Dolphins. Obviously, division opponent and we come down here and the record is what it is. But today we happened to be down in Miami. But the way we played, I don’t think it matters if we would have played the Dolphins down here or played at home against anybody else. It just wasn’t good.”

    Any comment to some of these slow starts?

    “Bad football. I would say it’s always something else. You know, it hasn’t been one thing. It’s been a combination of bad football, a bad play here. And then instead of having one bad play and moving forward, we have to two good plays and another bad play. We let them score on defense, then we throw a pick 6. So it’s just a bad combination of complementary football, bad football on both sides of the ball. And then you look up, and you’re in a hole. And, you know, we fought, you know, these last couple weeks. And I think we know we have heart to come back and fight. We’ve given ourselves a chance to win. But you get in the playoffs, and you get down 17-zip, it’s going to be a long day. Everybody’s a good team. Everybody’s fighting to work the next week. You’re not going to be able to do that. So whatever it is, we’ve got to find a way to, no matter what happens, kind of move on to the next play and try to string good plays together instead of having good, bad, good, good, bad — like we can’t live like that.

  • Matthew Slater

    Oct 31, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater (18) during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Opening statement:

    “So we’ll have to dig deep and make a decision what does this mean to us. And I believe it’s important to us. I believe we care about it. But the talking is not what’s going to get it done. It’s going to be execution and playing well whenever we play next.”

    Is it an issue that guys maybe don’t want it?

    “No. No. I’m not implying anything. I’m just saying.”

    On why the Patriots keep starting slow:

    “I don’t know. I think it’s a number of things. I mean, certainly whether it’s energy, focus, execution, you name it. We’re not doing anything well enough early in the games to give ourselves a chance to get in a rhythm and remain competitive early on. And, obviously, it’s tough playing from behind. And now the next team we play will be the best team we’ve seen all year. So if we do that, if we play like that, it will be really challenging for us.”

    Does he take anything away in the way you sort of rallied to get back in the game?

    “I think it says a lot about our character. We’re not going to quit. You know as well as I do, this time of the year, going out there and competing until the end doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have more points than the other team. So we’ve taken some solace and some competitive efforts early on, but at this time of the year, all you care about is winning.”

    Is playing from behind particularly hard when you’re asking a rookie quarterback to lead you guys?

    “It’s hard for anyone. Certainly, we don’t want to put the offense and Mac in that position. But it doesn’t matter if you got a quarterback that’s been playing 30 years. You could have Dan Marino out there. It’s still going to be tough for you to come back from 17 points on anyone.”

    The illegal formation call on the punt, how disappointing was that?

    “I mean, it’s – you make it so hard on the defense. They get a stop, we’re getting the ball back. We go from that to giving the ball and then them taking more time off the clock and kicking a field goal. And we end up losing by a field goal. So stuff like that just kills you. It’s disappointing, but we’ve got to get it fixed. We can’t have that stuff keep happening.”

    Is this as surprising as it is disappointing to you?

    “I wouldn’t say surprising. It’s National Football League. Any team can beat any team. I always tell my 6-year-old, I say, ‘any team can beat any team, son.’ I’m not surprised. It’s more disappointing that we went out and started the game as poorly as we did and then, you know, just ran out of time at the end.

    Like you said, you’ve got to flush it, right, because as the leader of this football team, you can’t be too far down?

    “It’s over with. We better leave this game here in my Miami, better leave it here. I mean, look, it’s real now. We’ve got to go. So however sorry we feel for ourselves or however down we are about today’s game, we’ve got to leave it here.”