No rest for the undefeated
Patriots unlikely to alter game plan by sitting starters
Posted: Sunday December 16, 2007 9:18PM; Updated: Sunday December 16, 2007 10:36PM
FOXBORO, Mass. -- They've been out in front virtually from this season's opening kickoff, but there is one team the Patriots will never get ahead of. That would be themselves.
The AFC's coveted No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs are locked up, courtesy of Sunday's 20-10 win over the visiting Jets. But if you think for a second that 14-0 New England is ready to go into ease-up mode, you haven't been paying attention this season.
"Coach [Bill] Belichick is not letting up,'' said receiver Randy Moss, who though he might be a first-year Patriot, has been around long enough to figure that out. "If you all think there's any chance he is going to let up and give us a break, he's not. Coach Belichick would never let a team like this get ahead of itself.''
I found questions about Belichick resting players almost comical. What team have those media members been watching? Certainly not the go-for-the-throat Patriots. Here's how the exchanges with Belichick went on that topic:
Reporter: With the No. 1 seed wrapped up, does the context of the games change the way you'll utilize your personnel? (In other words, are you resting starters?)
Belichick: "We'll do what we always do.'' (In other words, tell you nothing of our plans, then play everyone almost the whole game.)
Reporter: When you say, 'Do what we always do,' does that mean ...
Belichick: "It means we'll prepare for the game. We'll break down the film, we'll prepare for the game. The players will come in, we'll give them the game plan, we'll get ready to go and we'll go play on Sunday. The same thing we always do.''
Reporter: How about as far as what players ...
Belichick: (Cutting off yet another question.) "That's what we always do. We'll play the same way. We'll do what we always do. That's what we do.''
Reporter (a bit later): With everything now wrapped up, why wouldn't there be an advantage to letting up and maybe resting guys?
Belichick: "I think I already answered that question. Anything else?''
I think that about covers it, don't you? The next instance in which the Patriots even remotely approach kick-back mode will be some time after the evening of Feb. 3. That's that, and it isn't changing, no matter what conventional wisdom says about top-seeded teams resting players for the playoffs.