The Patriots are on their bye this week, after a convincing 45-7 win over the Rams in London, England last Sunday. They'll use the time off to retool ahead of the second-half push in preparation for a playoff run. It's old hat for this group but one that quarterback Tom Brady admits doesn't get any easier from one year to the next.
And while there were questions about the offense earlier this season, any real concerns facing this club over the long haul are with the secondary. Like a year ago, injuries and inexperience have wreaked havoc with the group. But Thursday, cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer spoke with the media about what the secondary has to do to over the final two months to improve on a decidedly up and down performance.
"The thing we talk about is to stay the course," he said according to ESPNBoston.com. "Try to improve. I know it sounds redundant, but that's how we approach it," Boyer said. "That's how I approach it. We need to get better. Things that we've done well, let's keep doing well, and just stay the course. Try to get better today. In the end, all that really matters is that we're improving each week, and we're playing our best ball down the stretch, and that's the direction that we're looking to go."
If it sounds like it's right out of the coaching cliche book it's because it probably is. Specifically, the Pats' have struggled against the pass. It's nothing new -- it's what ailed this team a year ago -- but it's why they came up one game short against the Giants. Despite last week's blowout victory, winning and losing are often decided by one or two plays. Make a couple more than your opponent and, usually, you win. So how does Boyer coach his players to make those plays?
"Our focus from the defensive perspective, no matter what the offense does, is: 'Are we in the best position? Did we play it correctly?' I think that's where it starts," he said. "I think there's some plays out there where the quarterback makes a good throw, and the receiver makes a good catch, and stuff like that. But even then, there's always a way to finish the play. That's what we're always talking to our guys with. We have to finish the play. For us, I think it all starts with us, and defensively how we approach it. I don't think we ever say 'Well OK, it's OK to give up this pass, or it's OK to give up this pass.' Whether it's a good play, bad play, or if the receiver makes a good play, it's all indifferent to us."