Bill Belichick says Patriots aren't where they should be

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has sounded off on his team, and it's not exactly great.

Per Ryan Hannable of

“I think our team made some progress,” Belichick said. “I don’€™t think we’€™re anywhere near where we need to be. In all reality, we probably won’€™t be for a while, but we just need to keep making progress and the faster the better, or the more the better ‘€“ however you want to look at it. We’€™ve got a long way to go but we’€™ve got to keep taking forward, positive steps.”

It's important to keep in mind that Belichick usually says things like that around this time of year due to his demeanor and demands as a coach. The Patriots head into a very important game tomorrow night against the Panthers, which will be the first true measuring stick for his regulars.

The third preseason game is usually the one that sees the starters play longer than a few series'. A fast start for Tom Brady and friends would be a very encouraging sign.

That being said, Brady hasn't had much to work with and the offensive line hasn't done much to help that. Center Brian Stork hasn't played at all, Ryan Wendell just came off the PUP list on Tuesday and Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer played in their first preseason game last Saturday against the Saints.

One would figure with a fully healthy offensive line, which got better as last season progressed, Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo will be upright more often than not. A fully healthy line could see its first action together tomorrow night, something Belichick stressed was important.

“It’€™s definitely helpful,” he said. “I know in talking to those guys, it’€™s a great learning experience for them. It’€™s different than practice. But again, we have to consider the management of our team and we also have to consider the depth of our team and the evaluation of multiple players. It’€™s a balance there of giving the right amount so that we can evaluate the team properly, get some execution and timing and maintain and have our different combinations of depth, which eventually we will probably need somewhere along the line.

“It’€™s all those things, but we try to balance it the best we can. If I knew exactly how things we’€™re going to turn out at the end of the season ‘€“ last half, three quarters of a season ‘€“ then maybe we do it one way now, but there’€™s no way of knowing that, so we have to kind of cover our bases.”

The thing is, Belichick's team's have always shown their true identity in the latter parts of the season, and we know by now that the preseason and even the first few regular season games aren't much to sweat over if the they start off slow. Look no further than last season. After the blow out loss in Kansas City at the end of September, the Patriots rounded into form.

Belichick saying all of this is nothing to be overly concerned about, but again, a fast start would be welcomed more this year than in years past considering Brady's suspension and the fact that the target on the Patriots' backs has never been bigger.

Follow me on Twitter - @JesseGaunce

For more of my articles, click here.