There are still eleven more games left to be played on the New England Patriots’ regular season schedule, but at 2-4 the room for error has been getting significantly smaller over the last few weeks. If they want to position themselves for a potential playoff run, the Patriots need to start winning more consistently sooner rather than later.
The next opportunity to do that presents itself on Sunday, with the New York Jets coming to town. While no pushovers despite their 1-4 record and 25-6 loss to New England earlier this season, the divisional matchup should be a good chance for the team to get back on track and start building some momentum with the calendar soon to flip from October to November.
Unsurprisingly, “urgency” has become the apparent theme of the week at Gillette Stadium. The urgency to finally play better; the urgency to start winning at home after an 0-4 start; the urgency to get into better position in the standings.
“There is an element of urgency that we need to have,” tight end Jonnu Smith told reporters on Thursday. “We’re flipping a new page.”
Just like the rest of the Patriots offense, Smith has had an up-and-down early portion of the season. Being used primarily as a blocker despite being one of the most talented receiving tight ends in the game, he has caught only 16 passes on 23 targets for 124 yards and a touchdown through six games.
The page sure needs to be turned, both for Smith individually and for the entire New England offense collectively. This process is not limited to that side of the ball, however; the defense also needs to get better after giving up 567 total yards and 35 points against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6.
Urgency is therefore a key phrase for the defensive unit as well.
“Every day you have to keep the energy and urgency up, and we better have it on Sunday,” Kyle Van Noy said.
“Play the next game and play Patriot football in the game. We’re so focused on the Jets and so ready to get back on the field — especially in front of our fans that deserve better than what we’ve been doing. The guys are hungry, we’re working hard, we just need to go prove it.”
Playing that Patriot-brand football Van Noy mentioned — he described it as “smart, tough, physical football” — has been a problem for the team this year. The veteran linebacker knows it, and is not afraid to mention it. The same goes for other players on the roster such as wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.
Bourne, who like Van Noy joined the Patriots as a free agent this year (albeit without any previous experience in the system), also spoke about the need to improve and improve quickly this week.
“We’re trying to pick it up, of course. Just figuring out the little things. It’s nothing crazy that we don’t know. It’s just a couple plays, little plays that we need to work on finishing. But definitely a lot of urgency. It’s been urgency, just trying to figure it out as fast as we can,” he said.
“The urgency is key because I don’t want to wait until I’m in Year 3. I’m trying to do it now, so my mindset is really trying to figure out everything that I need to do and hopefully everybody in the building thinks the same way. I definitely think we’re getting there, but it just takes time.”
Unfortunately, time will be running out at one point if the team cannot turn its words into reality soon.