New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick says some of the team's depth issues were caused by their salary cap problems as that has led to some younger players being thrust into the action. The Patriots, who have won six Super Bowls since Belichick became the head coach in 2000, are on their first three-game losing streak since 2002.
"We're playing more young players than we've played in the past [for a] combination of reasons. We were pretty heavily invested in our team in the past few years. From a salary-cap standpoint, we didn't have much flexibility at all.
I think that was obvious on the Cam Newton contract [one year, $1.05 million base salary]," Belichick told Sirius XM NFL Radio, per ESPN. "Then we had some opt-outs, so we lost some players there that would normally have been giving us significant amount of playing time.
And then like every year, a couple guys are banged up and we've missed some guys here and there in certain games. I think when you combine it all together, there is opportunity there; some of that opportunity has gone to younger players.
"This is kind of the year that we've taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we've had in accumulation of prior years. We just haven't been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we've had in some other years.
That's provided more opportunity for younger players. So it's a combination of all the reasons."
Belichick hopes the Patriots bounce back against the Buffalo Bills
The Patriots, who signed 2015 NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton this offseason, started the season 2-1 but have since lost three games in a row.
Patriots' poor form escalated last week, when they were thrashed by the San Francisco 49ers 33-6 on their home field. This Sunday, the Patriots meet their division rivals Bills in an away game and Belichick hopes they will be able to perform much better this week.
"We had a good training camp. We played pretty well the first three weeks of the season. And then I'd say we regressed over the next two and a half weeks for a combination of reasons. We're trying to make that ground back up and more.
We need to keep going forward. So that's what we're doing," he told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "We're in that kind of space -- we're getting better, but we need to get better faster and, like I said, make up for some lost ground where we didn't practice and had multiple players playing different spots on the offensive line.
Things like that, where even the experience we got -- it was beneficial, but it wasn't as beneficial as it could have been."