How the Patriots are adapting to the Gillette Stadium construction site


The New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium has always been one of the toughest places in the NFL to kick a football. This year, however, is very special: the northern end zone is undergoing a massive reconstruction project, which in turn has an impact on the en -environment of the stadium.

One thing he hasn’t been consistent with, as Patriots special teams coach Cam Achord said on Tuesday. However, he also explained how the team is trying to adapt to the challenge of the ever-changing construction site.

“It’s changing, there’s no doubt about it,” Achord said of the predictability of the winds. “What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to take notes of what the wind is supposed to be. And as you go into it, you just take notes and just try to see if there’s a pattern. For us right now, there really hasn’t been a real role model. It changed every week.

“So you really rely on how you feel on game day, what’s going on and how the ball moves on game day to get an idea of ​​what it’s going to be like on that day.”

Gillette Stadium has been home to the Patriots since it opened in 2002 and has undergone several changes over the years. The latter, however, is the most important to date.

The $225 million renovation project began earlier this year and is expected to be completed before the 2023 season. Once construction is complete, the north end area and entrance plaza will look dramatically different.

Until construction is complete, however, the Patriots will have to find a way to adapt to the conditions. So far this year they have tried to map the wind patterns, but have mostly relied on stadium experience.

“We try to get there as much as we can, especially when we play at home,” Achord said. “The more our specialists can come in there – be it the kickers, the punters, the returners – and actually be in the stadium, and be there, and see what the weather is like during the day, that’s what it’s like. could potentially be 1 hour away.

“So we try to get into it as much as possible, we take notes, but you always come back to game day. How do you feel on game day? And that can be close to something you felt during of the week – “Hey, it’s close to that, maybe that’s what we can do. It’s weekly and game-based, but I’d say it’s changed for us. Every game of this season at home has been different, so we had to adjust every week.

So far this season, the Patriots have done pretty well playing football in their arena. Field goal kicker Nick Folk, who has been one of the league’s most reliable players this season, had 11 field goal attempts at Gillette Stadium as well as eight extra points.

Punter Jake Bailey has also been able to adapt – in a way, at least. The third-year man, after all, has a similar clearance average at home and on the road: his average clearance at Foxborough is rushing 42.1 yards compared to 42.0 when traveling. That consistency in itself may be a positive, but in Bailey’s case, it means his punt was as disappointing at home as it was on the road (his punt average is ranked only 31st in the NFL).

Still, Achord feels good about how the kickers and the rest of the operation have weathered the challenges so far.

“We had really tough conditions playing there, actually a few games,” he said. “It’s something the guys have done a good job of and are continuing to manage.”


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