BOSTON (CBS) — Football season is upon us, and the Patriots enter the 2017 with some sky high expectations.
The defending champs come in as the favorites to repeat, and during the doldrums of summer sports the last few weeks, chatter of a perfect 19-0 season in New England has dominated the airwaves and headlines.
The quest for another title began Wednesday, as players reported to Gillette Stadium ahead of the start of Training Camp on Thursday. Head coach Bill Belichick even treated us to some grunts and snorts for the first time, ready to kick off his 18th season in New England.
Unsurprisingly, Belichick said he hasn’t heard all the talk centered around an undefeated season. That would require him to look seven months into the future, and while Belichick may be a master planner when it comes to building a team, he isn’t wasting his time thinking about games in December and January just yet.
“Right now we’re just trying to have a good day here today. We’re not really worried about all that is in the future; that will come when it comes,” said Belichick.
“We’re focused on one day at a time, like I said. I guess I missed some of that great reading that you guys have had,” he deadpanned. “Honestly, I don’t really pay any attention to it. Sorry.”
Captains Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater went as far as calling such talk “disrespectful.”
“To say before we even tackle somebody or throw a pass, that we’re going to beat everybody on our schedule, I think that is kind of disrespectful to the work and what everyone is trying to put in to be a team,” said McCourty. “Obviously, every goal from every team is to not lose. You don’t go out there and plan to lose, but I think to not see anything from a team and say they’re going to win every game and disrespect every opponent on the schedule is kind of ludicrous.”
“I think it’s quite foolish to believe and to buy into some of the things that are being said about our football team right now,” said Slater. “We have yet to go out and have a competitive practice in pads in 2017, so I think we need to remember that and understand that it’s hard to have success in this league. There are so many good players, so many good coaches. I honestly think it’s quite disrespectful to say some of the things that have been said about our football team to the other players and coaches in this league.
“I don’t subscribe to the Twitters and the Instagrams and those things,” continued Slater. “I watch a little SportsCenter. I watch a little stuff from time to time. You guys know what’s being said about us. We can’t believe that as a football team.”
While the coach and his players may be in mid-season form at the podium, that will obviously not be the case when they hit the field. But Belichick is confident that they laid some solid groundwork during their offseason programs, and they’ll build off of those in the opening days of camp.
“It’ll be a long haul but I think we’re all excited to get going,” Belichick said. “In the end we all have a job to do and have something we’ll need to accomplish, whether it’s in practice or in a game. Whatever our role happens to be, we have to go out and do it for us to get any better. That’s the only way to improve. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of people telling us how we’re doing. That’s the way it always is.”
Belichick wouldn’t say if all players have reported as of Wednesday morning, only that there would be a roster update later in the day.
The Patriots will hold their first practice of Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Thursday at 9:15 am, with all sessions during camp free and open to fans.