The New England Patriots kick off the 2017 season tonight against the Kansas City Chiefs and it’s unanimous around the league that the Patriots are the team to beat. Some are even comparing the 2017 squad to the 2007 team, and others are projecting the Patriots to go undefeated.
That’s hogwash, according to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, and anyone thinking otherwise needs to get their head back in the game.
“The gist was, cut that out of your head, we have to start over again,” cornerback Eric Rowe said about Belichick’s offseason message. “So ever since then, I haven’t thought about the Super Bowl. I’ve basically forgotten that we won the Super Bowl last year. We’re starting over. We haven’t watched the Super Bowl tape, none of the highlights. That’s over.”
It’s hard to believe that the Patriots just went and turned the page on one of the greatest moments in NFL history, and the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever, but that’s the company line and everyone is sticking to it.
“You guys don’t get to go to meetings,” Patriots FS Devin McCourty told Sports Illustrated. “You’d find out fast, it’s hard to get a big head around here. I mean, from the spring, Bill’s been on us, you’d think we’re one of the worst teams in the league. And it wasn’t unusual. Since I’ve been here, that’s how he coaches.
“I think you’ve heard a lot of guys who were here before say it, you won’t get many pats on the back. He says, ‘There’s no reward in doing your job.’ That’s expected. From Day 1, he’s been on us about being perfect.”
And even talking “about being perfect” falls short of comparisons to the not-perfect 2007 Patriots. Even Belichick knows how special that 2007 team was and how difficult it would be to replicate their success.
“He quickly let us know how good that ’07 team was,” McCourty added. “It was basically, Don’t think you’re touching that. He told us, ‘They broke a ton of NFL records, not just Patriot records.’ That was one moment. … It was a meeting, he threw it out there, he let us know, that wasn’t the case here.”
So the Patriots have moved on from 2016 and Super Bowl LI and have switched focus to the Kansas City Chiefs and week 1 of the 2017 regular season. There’s no talk about going undefeated. No discussion about winning the Super Bowl or setting records.
Just a singular goal of being perfect for this week, before moving on to next week.