New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick felt like a broken record during his Monday morning video conference.
Speaking one day after the Patriots dropped their season opener to the Miami Dolphins 17-16 at Gillette Stadium, Belichick said multiple times that every New England player needs to improve ahead of this week’s matchup with the New York Jets.
“There’s a lot of things all of us could have done better in the game,” Belichick said. “So I think we all need to improve on the areas we’re responsible for and do a better job next week. … I thought we played hard and gave good effort, but there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement in every area by all of us, so that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
“All of us” includes new tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, who played together for the first time Sunday:
“They’re both good players, but we all need to do a better job. There’s not anybody that falls outside of that category. So that’s what we’ll work on.”
… and rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who delivered an impressive debut performance in a losing effort:
“I don’t want to keep being redundant here, but it’s all really the same.”
The Patriots outgained the Dolphins 393 to 259 and held the ball for more than 36 minutes to Miami’s 23. After one early ball-security gaffe, Jones was excellent, completing 74.4 percent of his passes amid frequent pressure and helping the Patriots convert 11 of their 16 third downs.
But New England scored just one touchdown in four red-zone trips and couldn’t finish any of its three 14-play drives, each of which produced only a field goal. One red-zone visit late in the fourth quarter ended in a Damien Harris fumble, which allowed the Dolphins to regain possession and run out the clock.
“We did some good things in the game,” Belichick said. “We certainly had our opportunities. But we didn’t do enough in any area to have the results that we want, so there’s a lot of room for improvement for all of us — coaches, players. Whatever position you want to name, whatever player you want to name, everybody did enough good things to give us an opportunity and put us in position, and we were competitive and had our chances.
“But in the end, we weren’t able to take advantage of them and capitalize on them, so we all have a lot of work to do in terms of finishing those opportunities and getting the results we want. I don’t know any other way to put it. It’s the same for everybody. There’s no ‘one player cost us the game and some other player won the game for us.’ That’s just not what happened.”
The Patriots also were penalized eight times for 84 yards in the loss, their highest totals since the 2019 season. These included two pre-snap penalties and two after-the-whistle unnecessary roughness calls. The Dolphins were flagged five times for 28 yards.
New England was the NFL’s least-penalized team last season and has ranked seventh or better in that category every year since 2015.
“We’ll continue to address it,” Belichick said. “We haven’t been a highly penalized team. We don’t want that, and hopefully we’ll have fewer of them going forward. Hopefully we can do a better job of coaching it, and the players have to make decisions.
“It’s a fast game; there’s a lot happening there, but hopefully we can certainly eliminate some of the penalties that don’t involve that, use good judgment on our playing style and make good decisions.”