The New England Patriots entered their Week 10 bye with some momentum after winning back-to-back games and eventually moving into the final wild card playoff spot. Heading into the second half of the season, it is all about building on that recent success.
How can the Patriots achieve that? According to veteran special teamer Matthew Slater, it is all about bringing the right amount of urgency to preparing for what lies ahead.
“We need to have a great sense of urgency. We can’t take anything for granted, and we just have to stay in the moment,” Slater said.
Slater and the Patriots are well aware of what happened last year, and that a repeat would have disastrous consequences for the team’s outlook.
New England entered its bye on a seven-game winning streak that saw the team rise through the ranks and into the top seed in the AFC. The Week 14 bye was followed by a marked drop-off, however: the Patriots lost three of their last four games to finish the season 10-7 and as a wild card team.
For Slater that experience does not have an impact on this year’s club, though.
“What happened last year is obviously not going to have any bearing on this team and what happens this year — lot of new players, new coaches. Last year, it was what it was,” he said.
“If anything, the guys that are here need to realize the urgency with which we need to approach each day and understand that things are very fluid in the National Football League. Things can be going well now and they can turn on you quickly, or thing can be going poorly and you can turn it around quickly. So, we just need to take things one day at a time.”
Slater claimed that having a one-day-at-a-time mentality will be crucial for the Patriots heading into a three-game stretch within 12 days. The first of those games will take place on Sunday against the visiting New York Jets, who are currently still ahead in the standings despite losing 22-17 against New England in Week 8.
“It’s easy to kind of look big-picture a little too much and you can become a little sidetracked of what you have going on,” Slater said. “So, we need to just focus on the day, put our energy and our effort into the Jets and trying to play a good game on Sunday.
“And then, physically, it’s not a mystery. We have to be intentional about the way we recover, the way we prepare ourselves physically. It’s that time of the year anyways — back half of the season — where everybody’s feeling it. So, we’ll do a good job there, as best as we can, and just take it one day at a time.”