The Patriots fell to 0-2 after Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Dolphins for the first time since 2001.
The home defeat — Bill Belichick’s fifth in a row against Tua Tagovailoa — was the result of another close game decided on slim margins.
“Tough game,” Belichick admitted during his Monday morning interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.”
“We had our chances, we just weren’t able to do enough,” he explained.
Mac Jones completed 31 passes for 231 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The Patriots offense, however, struggled to get going early. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Jones and New England found the end zone.
Following another slow start in the Week 1 loss against the Eagles, Belichick touched on what he wants to see in terms of improvement.
“Need to show we can move the ball here. We need to do it for four quarters and not have those inconsistencies,” he said during the interview.
While answering a question about the offensive line’s inability to generate running lanes, Belichick pivoted to a large point of conversation: What he thinks the Patriots’ most pressing issue has been in its opening games.
“Obviously the biggest thing that’s hurt us the last two weeks has been turning the ball over early in the game,” he noted. “We’ve had three turnovers early in the game the last two weeks. That stops you more than anything. Two of those three cases, we were moving the ball. The other was the first play of a drive. But we were moving the ball and then gave it away, so that’s really at the top of the list.”
The Patriots finished the game with two turnovers, one more than the Dolphins (who turned it over via a Tagovailoa interception).
Regarding Christian Gonzalez’s interception — made by leaping over Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill — Belichick praised the rookie cornerback.
“Gonzo learns everyday,” Belichick said of Gonzalez, who New England picked in the first round (17th overall) in the 2023 draft. “Smart kid, really pays attention. Tries to do what you ask him to do.”
“It was really an outstanding interception that he had,” the Patriots’ coach continued. “It was sort of, a little bit similar to the play that came up in Miami last year where Tyreek came up and kind of took the ball away from us. It was a little bit different play, but same idea.
“This is one where Gonzo went up and took the ball away from Hill, so it was a really good play,” Belichick said. “Not only a breakup, but made a good catch and hauled it in. But there were other coverage plays that he had. Obviously he’s gone up against some of the best receivers in the league the last weeks and those experiences will pay off for him down the road.”
On the message he will give the Patriots this week, Belichick reiterated that it will remain the same despite the team’s start.
“Same message every week,” he said. “Go out there and leave it all on the field and then when it’s over, watch the film, correct the mistakes and then get ready for the Jets, have a great week of preparation, and then go down there and be ready to play our best football.”
After being asked about Demario Douglas’s lack of playing time following his fumble in the first half of Sunday’s game, Belichick — reiterating his response in Sunday’s postgame press conference — emphasized the importance of taking care of the football.
“We talk about ball security all the time,” he replied. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t talk about it, and the days on the practice field, we always work on it [and] talk about it as things come up during practice. Both sides of the ball: Taking the ball away and taking care of the ball. Those are constants for everybody.
“We spend a lot of time and effort on it,” Belichick added. “We’ve got to do a better job.”
Asked a follow-up about why Douglas didn’t come back into the game, Belichick (after pointing out that Douglas did return as a punt returner) explained that the team moved on to other players on the depth chart given the importance of not turning the ball over.
“We have other skill players on offense too,” Belichick said. “There’s nothing more important than ball security.”
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