FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots will have four practices at Gillette Stadium before departing Monday for Super Bowl LI, and coach Bill Belichick said most of the team’s game plan will be installed at that point.
“We’ll be certainly more than halfway there, but there will be some things, particularly some situations, that we’ll be covering in Houston,” Belichick said Thursday morning, a few hours before the team’s first practice leading into the Super Bowl.
“How exactly that will break up, we’ll just have to see how it goes. I don’t think we need to go to something until we have what we’re doing right just to be moving [forward]. We’ll see how these days go as to how far we get.”
Unlike a normal week during the regular season, Belichick said the Patriots “won’t get all the way -- we won’t try to do that. But hopefully we’ll have a good chunk of it in and feel confident about what we’re doing, so we can keep that part of it tuned up and go into some new areas down there.”
At this point, Belichick said the Patriots are focusing on learning about their Super Bowl opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. New England hasn't played the Falcons since Sept. 29, 2013, when they were coached by Mike Smith.
Current Falcons coach Dan Quinn, in his second season, employs a different style on offense (under coordinator Kyle Shanahan) and defense (under coordinator Richard Smith).
“It’s a team we’re really not very familiar with, so we have to do a lot of digging to get caught up here,” Belichick said. “Fortunately, we have a little bit of extra time to do that and I think we’ll need it. I know we’ll need it. ... It’s just a solid team that has had a great year and has been on top wire to wire.
“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of things that we need to understand on how to play Atlanta. The things we are going to need to do well in this game are different from any game we’ve played here in a little while. We’ve played opponents that have a little different style of play. These guys have a very good style, it’s been a very successful style, so we have a lot to get ready for. But it’s good to be working this time of year. We’re excited, ready to go.”
As for how he’d describe the Falcons’ style, Belichick said, “They’re very explosive offensively. Every guy that gets the ball can score a touchdown from 80 yards away or more. Defensively, they have very good team speed. ... They’re fast, athletic and very hard to block in space and pass protection.”