Julian Edelman may spend Sunday afternoon nibbling appetizers and watching NFL games. Chris Jones plans to see some college football on Saturday.
After a busy 12 days in which they won three games, the New England Patriots deserve a break. So let them chow down while watching other players knock each other around.
“Obviously, you’re going to feel a little tired,” Jones said Friday, “but we have a break now to get our bodies back. We need that.”
The defensive tackle made sure the Patriots (5-2) went into their free weekend on a roll when he blocked Nick Folk’s 58-yard field goal attempt on the last play of their 27-25 win over the New York Jets on Thursday night.
That was just the latest accomplishment in an impressive turnaround after a 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The AFC East leaders followed that by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 43-17 and Buffalo Bills 37-22 before Thursday’s squeaker. Those four games were played in a span of only 18 days, including three of at night and two on the road.
That, Edelman said, “was a tough stretch.” So he plans to keep his weekend simple.
“Just stick around and chill,” the Patriots leading receiver said, “keep it low, really rest and have some time to just kind of let your body heal. See what happens, maybe be a regular person and eat some wings and watch some football.”
Players won’t entirely neglect their jobs. Some plan to watch film of the Chicago Bears, the Patriots’ next opponent on Oct. 26.
And that’s fine with coach Bill Belichick, although he sees the value in getting away from the everyday mental and physical grind.
“There’s something to be said for a cleansing of the mind,” he said. “We’ve been at it here pretty hard since the end of July. It’s been virtually every day. So, that’s all of August, all of September and we’re halfway through October.
“I’d say there probably wasn’t much more than any 24-hour period there where there hasn’t been, I’d say, quite a bit of substantial, hopefully anyway, substantial thought, preparation, treatment, whatever you want to call it, different aspects of preparation, physical conditioning, mental film study and preparation that hasn’t gone into each and every guy over that period of time,” he said. “I think there’s definitely something to be said for taking a couple days and trying to let the system decompress.”
The break between games will give coaches extra time to figure out why the defense allowed the Jets to rush for 218 yards and why the offense gained just 63 on the ground and held the ball for half as long as the Jets.
“We were fortunate to get the win, but there’s a lot of things we’ve got to work on,” Jones said. “You can’t feel too good, especially when you play like that. So we can’t let our confidence get too high.”
The Patriots played without linebacker and leading tackler Jerod Mayo, who suffered a season-ending right knee injury last Sunday. But Jones said the problems with the run defense go beyond his absence.
“It’s never just one thing. It’s never just one guy,” Jones said. “It’s a team effort as far as the defense. We need to work on it and we’re going to get it fixed.”
The running game missed Stevan Ridley, whose season also ended when he hurt his right knee against the Bills. Without him, Shane Vereen led the Patriots with 43 yards rushing but also caught two of Tom Brady’s three touchdown passes.
Now the Patriots must prepare for an unfamiliar opponent. They last played the Bears in 2010 and won 36-7 in Chicago.
“We don’t really know them that well,” Edelman said. “It’s not like we’re watching them. You’re so focused on what your schedule is and what you’re doing that week that you don’t really know these guys.”
Some players plan to watch the Bears play the Miami Dolphins this weekend. But full preparation can wait a few days.
“Somewhere along the line I think we need to back off and try to find some space to get it out of our system for a couple days,” Belichick said, “and then come back and hit it hard again.”