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Patriots not satisfied despite potent offense

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Though the Jaguars, Bills and Steelers might argue, the Patriots (3-0) hit the Week 4 bye thinking that there is plenty of room for improvement for an offense that’s scored 119 points in three weeks, capped by Sunday afternoon’s 51-17 blowout of Jacksonville.

After playing their best 60 minutes of football of the young season to dispatch the overmatched Jags, much of the talk in the victorious Gillette Stadium locker room was about the plays that didn’t get made on Sunday.

“This is a pretty good offense. We are pretty good. We have the potential to be a lot better,” running back LaGarrette Blount said after his trio of second half, 1-yard touchdown runs against Jacksonville. “We’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. We haven’t been perfect and we’re not going to be perfect. It’s early in the season so we have a lot of stuff to work on and get better at what we do.”

Most focused to the fact that despite scoring on each of the first nine drives of the day – the only drive New England didn’t score on was a game-ending kneel-down – the 20-3 halftime advantage could have been larger had Tom Brady’s offense not settled for two first-half field goals.

“We want to play better every single week,” Rob Gronkowski said after notching 101 yards on just four catches but also getting flagged for a couple offensive pass interference calls. “You never do everything totally right out there on the field and you always want to learn from your mistakes from the week before. We still have to go out there, keep on doing what we’re doing right, and keep working on what we are doing wrong.”

New England hits the early Week 4 bye with plenty of offensive momentum and yet with a coach like Bill Belichick, it’s clear there will be no resting on any early-season success during the week off.

“It’s nice to be 3-0, but I mean big deal,” Belichick scoffed. “Three wins is not going to get you anything in this league. Probably just get a lot of coaches fired. And then the players will go right behind them. It’s not a big deal. We have a lot of work to do. We have a long way to go. I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job coaching or playing really in any area. We need to execute better. We need to be sharper on a lot of things. I think we’re improving. I think we’re making some progress but we need to move faster and just do everything better. We’ll work hard on that. I’m sure we’ll be saying the same thing in a couple weeks because there is still going to be a lot of football left. We need to keep getting better all the time.

“It’s pretty clear cut. We have 13 regular season games left. Three wins in this league isn’t going to get your anything.”

Brady himself, fresh off his 400th career touchdown pass and with a 119.6 passer rating through three games thanks in large part to nine touchdowns and no interceptions, echoed his coach’s sentiments as he so often does as Belichick’s top general.

“It’s still early. There’s a lot to improve on. We get a little break here, but we come back to work, and see if we can make some improvements and try to get to 4-0,” Brady said.

The Patriots are off to a fast start. The defending champs are among the top couple teams in the NFL to open the year and the top dog in the AFC.

But a lot can change from September through February in the NFL. Just look back a calendar year in New England where Week 4 included a blowout loss in Kansas City that had a .500 Patriots team hearing vocal criticism, including about an aging quarterback.

That team is now well entrenched atop the league led by the ageless QB. At a bye that despite its imperfect early arrival is welcomed as an opportunity by practical-above-all-else Belichick and his players.

“Whenever it’s scheduled, there is nothing really we can do about it,” Belichick responded when asked about the early bye. “So we just try to take advantage of the time we have and use it the best way we can use it. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team when anybody was unhappy to have a bye week, whenever it comes. You take advantage of the chance to rest, get caught up, do some time analyzing what you need to work on and have a good plan to do the things that are going to help your team improve during this time.

“You can’t control any of these situations, so whatever the opportunity is you try to make the most of it, try to take advantage of whatever time or opportunity that’s presented to you and figure out what’s the best thing you can do with it. There is really not a lot of thought about, ‘well if it was some other time it would be this or that.’ It isn’t, so there is no point in wasting time on that. Just take it for what it is and try to make the most out of it.

And any improvements that come up will only add to an already very impressive Patriots team.

Just ask the Steelers, Bills and Jaguars.


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