What Bill Belichick said about the Patriots’ fourth down play-calling


Belichick also gave his thoughts on the team’s rally after a slow start, plus Jabrill Peppers’s forced fumble.

Bill Belichick Patriots
Bill Belichick during the Patriots’ loss to the Eagles. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Bill Belichick addressed the Patriots’ season-opening loss to the Eagles with a succinct summary.

“We had our chances today,” he explained in the postgame press conference. “Got off to a slow start, and made it competitive. Just couldn’t make enough plays here, or the ones we needed to make.”

New England fell behind 16-0 to the defending NFC champions by the end of the first quarter, but rallied. The Eagles’ eventual 25-20 win wasn’t decided until the final 30 seconds of the game, when an apparent Kayshon Boutte catch on fourth and 11 was overturned (handing the ball back to Philadelphia).

“Overall we played competitively,” Belichick said. “We had some good plays and then had a couple plays that could’ve been better obviously.

“We had some key penalties, and obviously the turnovers. Just need to do a better job.”

Belichick was also asked about the Patriots’ decision to go for it on fourth and three at the Eagles’ 17-yard line with 9:32 remaining in the game. Trailing 22-14, New England opted to keep the offense on the field instead of kicking a field goal. The ensuing Mac Jones incompletion resulted in a turnover on downs.

“Thought it was the best decision for the team,” Belichick said in response to Boston Globe reporter Ben Volin about why the Patriots went for it.

“If we kicked, I’m sure you’d be asking why we didn’t go for it.”

The Patriots drop to 0-1, but showed some promise on offense. Jones, after a down season in 2022, overcame the early interception (which the Eagles ran back for a score) to throw for 316 yards and a trio of touchdown passes.

Belichick said the team’s slow start – and eventual success moving the football – was less about schematic changes.

“Better execution. Better timing,” he explained.

The weather, which included steady rainfall for parts of the first half, played a minor role in early play-calling.

“We didn’t launch many deep balls, but there weren’t a lot of those anyway,” said Belichick. “But yeah I mean it was a little bit of a factor early in the game.”

One play that stuck out from a positive standpoint for New England was the forced fumble caused by Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The turnover handed the ball back to the Patriots late in the fourth quarter, though Jones and the offense were unable to score.

Still, Belichick was impressed with Peppers.

“Great contact play,” he said. “Pep’s an explosive player. Great hit, ball popped right out. Great tackle.”