New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is doing his very best to erase all memories of his team's whitewashing of the Houston Texans less than one month ago. He has stressed how good the Texans are and how aggressive his Patriots need to be.
"You don't win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it. ... You need to attack," Belichick said at his Wednesday news conference.
Yes, that was a pretty sweet quote by Bill Belichick. And it helps to explain the difference between coaches like Belichick and coaches like Jason Garrett, Marvin Lewis, Norv Turner and Lovie Smith. The Patriots were nothing if not aggressive from Week 1 onward. Belichick's system works well in the playoffs because it's a continuation of the regular season.
He's always trying to isolate each game into its own one-game season.
"You do what you need to do to win one game," Belichick said Wednesday. "You don't worry about your system. You don't worry about playing time."
The Patriots know that they lost to the New York Jets in 2010 after stomping Rex Ryan's crew in December. But Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch says that hasn't been brought up once. The Patriots have evolved since then. They are a more complete team than they were even a year ago when they reached the Super Bowl.
We agree. The offense is even more explosive, leading the league in points and yards by a wide margin. The defense remains excellent at taking the ball away, but the defense is much more sound overall. It's a healthier group, especially in the secondary. The two starting rookie first round picks have helped immensely. It's not a great defense, but at least it's average. That's a big step forward from a year ago when the defense was legitimately poor.
This Patriots team is better and they aren't just sitting in a foxhole. The AFC is better too. The Texans are a far more formidable matchup in the Divisional Round than Tim Tebow's gang of Broncos a year ago.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.