After their 22-17 win over the Tennessee Titans, the New England Patriots need to make a quick turnaround ahead of their third preseason game: on Thursday, just three days from now, the reigning world champions will host the Carolina Panthers in what is effectively the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the regular season: the team will prepare like it usually does any given week between September and, ideally, February in terms of scheduling and game-planning.
That being said, a Saturday-Thursday week is of course still different from the usual in-season rhythm. Nevertheless, New England head coach Bill Belichick is embracing the challenge of having to work on a short week — especially considering that his club will face one in mid-October: after their Sunday game in Washington in week five, the Patriots will host the New York Giants on Thursday night only four days later.
“That Monday to Thursday window is the same one that we’ll have later in the regular season,” said Belichick about his team’s schedule leading into the game against the Panthers. “So, that will give us a good opportunity as players, coaches and just everybody, to work in a short week schedule and try to prioritize and get things done that we need to do — similar to what we’ll have to do a couple months from now.”
“It’s kind of a similar situation to that from a preparation standpoint. We have to prepare for the game, we just have to do it in a different amount of time, and that’s the exact amount of time that we’ll have to work with this week. So, we’ll try to take advantage of that,” Belichick pointed out during a conference call on Sunday when speaking about his team’s mindset heading into the third week of the preseason.
A quick turnaround like this does not just challenge a team in terms of its preparation schedule, though, but also puts pressure on it from a physical perspective. Therefore, Belichick decided to give his players the day after the Tennessee game off before they will return to work on Monday: “The first thing is to give the players an opportunity to rest and recover from the hard and good week that we had in Tennessee,” he said.
“We played a lot of football down there on Wednesday and Thursday’s practice and then [Saturday] night in the game, kind of in spurts,” he added. “Offensively, we ran a lot of plays in the second half, and defensively, we were on the field for a lot of plays in the first half. So, I think that those more intensive stretches challenged us in some physical ways, and mentally too, in terms of communication and fundamental execution when we’re a little fatigued.”
“So, a big part of it is to rest and recover from that,” Belichick continued, “to get ready to go on a short week against Carolina. We’ll go through the Tennessee film and make some corrections and adjustments and try to clean up some things that happened last night, and then move on on the preparation on a short week that we have for Carolina.”