FOXBORO — It’s a question that been asked in almost every conceivable way. How will the Patriots adjust without Rob Gronkowski  in the lineup?
“Other people are going to have to contribute,” Bill Belichick  said Tuesday. “We’ll see how it goes. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.
Does it change Belichick’s preparation for the Jets?
“We’re not going to put in a whole new offense in a day and a half,” Belichick added. “[We] may make some adjustments, but we’ve done what we’ve been doing for awhile. We’ve had some success with it so we’ll find a way to continue to do the things that we know how to do. If we have to make some adjustments, we’ll make some. If we can’t, we wouldn’t try to change everything in a couple days anyway.”
There are certainly options for the Patriots and WEEI.com’s Chris Price explored them in depth.
As for the criticism of Belichick for leaving Gronkowski in the game for the final extra point, Rex Ryan called it ridiculous . Belichick said regardless of Ryan’s support, he has a good relationship with his longtime rival.
“I didn’t hear it, so I’m just taking your word for it,” Belichick said when told of the compliment Tuesday. “I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex. Obviously we want to beat each other. We’re in the same division and that’s just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year. Like I said, we had his brother on the staff here for four years. I’ve known his father for 30 years, whatever it is, it’s been a long time. I think that there’s a lot of’¦he’s a son of a coach, he’s a football guy, he’s been around it his whole life; I have too. There are a lot of things we have in common. But this week it’s about two teams trying to compete against each other. That’s all it is.”
Here’s the rest of Belichick’s Q and A with reporters at Gillette on Tuesday:
BB: Quick turnaround. You guys ready for the Jets?
Q: Are you?
BB: Getting there. It’s Friday but it’s Tuesday. We lost three days there somewhere. But yeah, it’s good.
Q: After the Colts game, was the message to the team right away that it was like a Wednesday night, just to prepare them for the physical and mental challenges of a short week?
BB: Right, yeah, it’s about as quick as you can turn it around. That one’s behind us and we’re already right in the middle of the Jets preparations. As we know, there’s a lot to get ready for there. We just have to put all our energy into this one and get ready for a big division game on the road.
Q: Does your familiarity with them from a few weeks ago help in any way?
BB: It helps to some degree; but in a way, you can know too much too. We know a lot about them, a lot more than we could really practice or prepare for in a couple days and vice versa but it is what it is.
Q: Will you have to leave stuff out or will you just try to cram it into a short period of time?
BB: No, we just review the situations and these are the things we’ve seen them do and these are their ‘ whatever it happens to be ‘ their plays, their coverages, their blitzes. We’ll talk about things they like to do situationally: first down, second down, red area, kickoff return, kickoff coverage, those kind of things and just consolidate it and boil it down. If we were going to show 40 plays, maybe we show 10 or 15 in that particular situation this week. We just don’t have time.
Q: Rex Ryan  always puts in something different no matter what the situation is. How difficult is it knowing he’s always going to put a new wrinkle in? How difficult is it to prepare for that on a short week?
BB: It’s really no different than any other week because once you get to the game and you get something that’s a little bit different, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve had three days or two days or four days or two weeks. You’re into the game and you have to adjust to it on the fly. But again, we’re not going to reinvent the game here. They’ll give us a couple looks that are a little different than what they’ve shown. It will be something that we’ve seen before or something that we’ve seen them do somewhere along the line and we’ll make some kind of adjustment to it. I can’t imagine they’ll be able to put in an entire new defense in a day and a half. That’s football; you go through game plan adjustments. We always see something every week, most every week, that we haven’t prepared for or it’s different from what we worked on and we adjust to it. That’s just part of the game.
Q: Can you generally gauge a player through a period of time and say, ‘He’s really starting to get it?’ Are you usually right with that forecast?
BB: I’d say every case is different. I’m not sure that there’s a set answer on that. As long as you see a player making improvement, then that’s a good sign. If they continue to improve, then they can continue to go to a higher level. Sometimes that levels off after a little bit of improvement; sometimes that levels off after a couple months; sometimes it levels off after a year. Sometimes it never really completely levels off [and] that player is always just marginally getting slightly better at things, little things and so forth. It’s hard to tell where things are going to stop, where that crest is going t hit.
Q: In Jermaine Cunningham ‘s case, can you figure out a reason why he hit a plateau last year? Was some of it related to personnel and depth chart things?
BB: I don’t think that really has a lot to do with…I don’t think any player can look at it that way. Whatever opportunity you have as a person, you have as a person. You can’t worry about what everybody around you is or isn’t doing. You make the best out of your opportunity and you do the best with your opportunity that you have. [If] somebody else is better than you and they’re ahead of you, then OK, they’re ahead of you but that doesn’t keep you from doing what you can do. I think we see that all the time with positions like backup quarterback where they don’t get to play but they keep working, keep improving and they do get a chance to play. It’s like that at other positions too, where there are really no substitutes, like on the offensive line or various positions. I don’t think that’s part of it. I think we’ve talked about some of the circumstances on it in his situation, but whatever they were, they were and whatever they are now, they are and he’s certainly making the most of a lot of opportunities and whatever opportunities he’s had, he’s earned; they haven’t been given to him. He’s earned them through his work ethic, performance and production. The harder you work, the more you produce, the more opportunities you get. That’s pro sports. That’s pro football.
Q: Is what Aqib Talib  did in the first game representative of what you hoped he’d be able to do for the secondary?
BB: I think Aqib did some good things in the game. There are other things that he’ll work on and hopefully he can improve on. I think as our group plays together this week and the next game and so forth, hopefully our overall execution as a unit can improve. Obviously, we haven’t had a chance to do that with him other than a couple days last week so we’ll see how it goes. It’s a team sport and whatever any individual can or can’t do is still impacted to a great degree on the rest of the unit, the secondary, the pass rush, the coverage disguises and checks and so forth and so on. There’s a lot of, hopefully, room for growth there and more consistency and better execution on all levels. When you add a new player in there, hopefully that will get better.
Q: How different is it this week to manage players’ injuries and soreness with only two days to do that?
BB: It’s a little bit different, but it’s not different relative to training camp. Training camp we’re out there pretty much every day. You’re at those practices ‘ there’s contact, it’s competitive, there’s a lot of teamwork, a lot of live work on the goal line, tackling, things like that. It’s not game conditions, but it’s pretty competitive. We come back out and do it the next day. I think players have been in those types of situations. They know how to adjust to it. There may be an individual bump or bruise that they have to [deal] with, but again, that’s not uncommon in training camp when guys are out there practicing at a little less than 100 percent relative to something that they’re getting treatment on. It’s still a quick turnaround, no question about it. It’s a lot of preparation. It’s a lot of mental preparation. It’s a lot of physical preparation. It’s a big division game on the road. Those are all challenges but they’re the same ones the other team has so we’ll see how it all comes out.
Q: What are some things that stand out to you about Antonio Cromartie ?
BB: He kind of has rare height for the corner position. He’s tall, he has real long arms. He’s a hard guy to throw over on the perimeter. He runs fast, he makes up ground. There have been a number of plays where receivers get behind him, but he’s able to run them down, still get his hands on the ball, intercept it or break it up or whatever. He’s a hard guy to throw over for the quarterbacks. A lot of times when they try to throw over him, they overthrow the receiver;trying to get it up over him, they get it over the receiver too. Hard guy to release off the line of scrimmage from. He’s got real good hands and ball skills as we’ve seen on some of his interception returns or when he’s been used as a returner at other points in his career, not only can he intercept it, but he can run it back on you too. Very athletic guy; long, tough guy to throw over. He anticipates well, he’s had a couple big hits recently, seeing the ball and coming in, whacking those receivers when they catch it. He had one last week, I think it was [Danny] Amendola  and had another one against Seattle. It seems like he’s had one every game or two here recently. He’s had some big hits too.