BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots will be throwing a grand party at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night, unveiling their new Super Bowl LI banner before hosting the NFL’s season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
While the fans will certainly get a kick out of the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl banner joining the others, the players won’t be enjoying those festivities. Those who were part of that team have already celebrated the amazing Super Bowl comeback enough, and their focus is on to 2017.
“I don’t even know if we’ll be out there when that thing comes down. That is for the fans. This team has thought about the 2017 season,” Patriots quarterback and Super Bowl LI MVP Tom Brady told reporters on Monday. “That was great, we celebrated and had a good time, but this team has to earn its own. Everything we get we’re going to have to earn. Our goals are ahead of us. Every team starts at the same place.
“This is a challenging season and we’re starting a marathon,” added Brady. “It’s going to take a lot of good football to get to where we need to be.”
Even as he enters his 18th season in the NFL, Brady said that he still expects to feel some butterflies and nerves when he wakes up on Thursday morning.
“Everyone is always amped up for this one. We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Brady said of the opener. “It’s a big game and an important one. We’re playing one of the best teams in the AFC; last year they were the second seed. They try to make this game big with good teams playing, and we know we’re going to have to play a good game in order to win.”
Brady knows that he and the offense will have their work cut out for them against the Chiefs. On Monday, he singled out several of Kansas City’s playmakers on defense, a unit that ranked first in the NFL last season with 33 takeaways.
“Derrick Johnson is one of the best linebackers in the league; he does so many things for that defense. Eric Berry is a big time playmaker and Marcus Peters has more interceptions than anyone since he came into the league. [Justin] Houston, [Dee] Ford, they strip-sack the quarterback. They’re very explosive and really force the ball out of your hands quick because they get a good rush,” said Brady. “The playermakers in the secondary have eyes on the quarterback and are trying to make plays too. When they’re roaming around you can’t just stare them down where you want to throw the ball. It’s always a little cat and mouse with their safeties and the quarterback.”
With newcomers like wide receiver Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwayne Allen and running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead joining Brady’s arsenal (along with the absence of Julian Edelman), Brady said the Patriots’ offense will be a work in progress for much of the early part of the season.
“Offensive football, it’s important that every player is on the same page. You can’t have one part of the chain that isn’t connected,” he said. “Everyone has to be focused on what their responsibility is, so those guys who can present problems with their speed, that’s what they have to do. When they get the ball, they have to play that way. The quick guys, the tall guys, the strong guys, everyone has different skill sets. It’s a matter of how everyone comes together in our style of offense and how we can execute together to get the ball down the field.”
While Brady and company feel like they have a good game plan heading into Thursday night’s opener, there are always adjustments after kickoff — especially in the first game of the season.
“Football is a lot like checkers. They’re going to have things we haven’t been working on and vice versa. It’s constant adjustments throughout the game. You cant prepare for everything; we haven’t seen that much of them on film this year, just a couple of preseason games and most of their guys weren’t in there for very long,” Brady noted. “They have great players at every level of their defense and we’re going to have to play great.”
Tune in to Thursday’s season opener on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Coverage begins at 5:30pm with Patriots Preview with kickoff set for 8:30pm. Tune in to three hours of postgame coverage following the game on 98.5FM, and catch Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38 to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s press conferences live!