Sunday 7: How Bill Belichick downplayed NFL getting rid of preseason games

Ryan Hannable
August 02, 2020 - 6:00 am

1. A lot has been made in recent weeks about the NFL preseason going from four games to two and now to no games at all. But speaking via video conference Friday, Bill Belichick seemed to downplay it, pointing to there being no college football preseason games. “I mean, that’s what all college football teams do,” he said. “So, I don’t think it’s anything that’s revolutionary here. This is just we haven’t done it that way in the National Football League for a while, and I certainly haven’t done it that way. I mean, I haven’t coached in college, but as a college player and growing up around college programs, I can remember those periods of time leading up to the start of the season. Teams had their scrimmages or whatever you want to call them and ways to prepare their team and at the same time evaluate the players. It’s a process that certainly goes into the early part of the season. This is just football, that’s all. I don’t really see it any differently.” His line of, “this is just football” is his way of not making any excuses for what is to come the rest of the summer and doing whatever possible to be ready for Sept. 13 against the Dolphins.

2. One takeaway from Belichick’s video conference was he didn’t mention one single player by name, including when answering questions about the players who have opted out, signing Cam Newton and then the QB competition between Newton and Jarrett Stidham. This is just how Belichick operates where not one single player is above the team and especially this time of year everyone is in the same boat in having to earn their spot on the team. 

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3. While there were six Patriots players who opted out last week and then Marqise Lee over the weekend, do not be surprised to potentially see a few more players prior to next week's deadline. This is a similar situation to players just before training camp deciding to retire where a lot of things change at the last minute. Players could simply decide at the deadline it is just not worth it.

4. One of the players on the Patriots roster most impacted by the players who opted out has to be middle linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. Not only is he going to have an expanded role with Dont’a Hightower out of the mix, but he likely will be asked to be more of a leader as well. This may not be too big of an ask considering he was a three-year captain at Purdue.

5. New quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch seems to already have a ton of respect from the rest of the Patriots coaching staff. “He just brings a lot of experience and wisdom to our staff and a number of our other coaches have interacted with Jedd over the years,” Belichick said Friday. “He’s made a good transition; I’m glad we have him. He’s done a good job of acclimating himself, bringing in some good ideas, but going back to what I said initially, learning the fundamentals and foundation that our team and specifically our offense is built on. Before we start adding things to it, we need to understand what we need to do from a fundamental standpoint, and he’s done an excellent job of doing that and merging those two together. Look forward to working with him this year. He’s been here, but none of us have really had a chance to work together very much. Looking forward to that.”

6. While it’s stating the obvious, it’s really a shame to see what has transpired with Antonio Brown. He went from being undoubtedly the best wide receiver in the game just over a year ago, to now being suspended eight games and not many teams even wanting to take a chance on him. Although come the middle of the season, he likely will have some teams willing to take a chance as he certainly has the ability to add a couple wins to a team down the stretch who needs to take the next step.

7. Patriots players who have had three negative COVID tests are now going through physical examinations at the Gillette Stadium facility in preparing for more extensive team workouts beginning this coming week. From a media perspective, team captains Matthew Slater, Devin McCourty, David Andrews and James White will all speak video conference Sunday afternoon.

Related: Wideout Marqise Lee becomes 7th Patriot to opt out