Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports

Sunday 7: Patriots players excited to play at Soldier Field thanks to history lesson from Bill Belichick

Ryan Hannable
October 21, 2018 - 7:52 am

1. Not only does Bill Belichick love to coach the game of football, he also loves the history of the game. This came up this week with the Patriots playing at Soldier Field in Chicago, one of the most iconic stadiums in the league. Multiple players said during the week Belichick gave a history lesson on the venue, including how it hosted an Army-Navy game in 1926. “[The history of the game] is something he is very cognizant of,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “He loves football history, as do I. He makes sure that is not lost on our team, that we have an appreciation for that.” Like Slater, this will be Julian Edelman’s second time playing at Soldier Field. “It’s just pretty cool with the history that stadium has, with the Army-Navy game,” he said. “We had a huge report on it. It’s going to be fun.” Slater also noted how many special players and people have gone through the organization, something Belichick also noted to the team. “It means a lot,” he said. “You think about the history of this league and how this league has grown and where it is now. The Halas family and what they have done to be part of that, and what the Chicago Bears mean when you put it into context of the history of the NFL. It is big, so this will be my second time getting a chance to play there. It is an honor. You think about all the great players and coaches and people who have contributed to this game. I think they have 28 Hall of Famers from the Bears, so really excited about the opportunity.”

2. For Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler, the stadium also has a special meaning personally. “It means a lot,” he said. “I was probably six or seven years old and I used to play running back in Pop Warner. My dad would always tell me I looked like Walter Payton. I was pretty good at running back back then. Just remembering my dad telling me that and being able to play where Walter Payton played is awesome.”

3. Edelman had an interesting line when speaking about the Patriots offense.“I mean, we have a lot of playmakers,” Edelman said Friday. “Probably one of the most equipped that I’ve been around since I’ve been playing.” The Patriots wide receiver has been part of some pretty good offenses, so to hear him say something like that speaks to the potential the offense has. Tom Brady has Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Josh Gordon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Rob Gronkowski and James White all at his disposal in the passing game. The quarterback noted again Friday the offense still isn’t where it needs to be, but continues to make strides in doing so.

4. Checking in on Gronkowski’s incentives: The tight end currently is on pace for 69 catches, 1,080 yards and three touchdowns, which has him just short in two of the three, as he’s way back in terms of touchdowns. He needs 70 catches, 1,085 yards and nine touchdowns to reach his maximum of $3.3 million in incentives. Missing Sunday's game will put him well behind in reaching his marks needed.

5. Last week’s win against the Chiefs was a big one because it kept the Patriots right in the mix for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, as they are now just a game behind the Chiefs, instead of three. But, the game did serve as a reminder that given how powerful the Kansas City offense is, it would be a very tough task for the team to go into Arrowhead Stadium, one of the toughest places to play in the entire league, and win a playoff game. It would be in New England’s best interest to ensure it gets the No. 1 seed if they would like to make a return trip to the Super Bowl.

6. Be sure to check out this great piece from Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald, which explains a new approach taken this summer by Belichick with a way to get the team to learn more about one another. He broke the team and coaches up into different “teams” and they needed to learn about each other’s backgrounds and personal stories. There were even quizzes. Click here to check it out.

7. It will be a slightly different week for Patriots coming up as with the Monday night game they will get an extra day to prepare for the Bills. They will also catch a break in the game as it doesn’t look like rookie Josh Allen will be able to make the start due to an elbow injury. Veteran Derek Anderson will start this week, so it seems likely he will start again next week. This speaks to their lack of faith in Nathan Peterman, who was drafted by the team last season.

Related: Rob Gronkowski reportedly didn't travel with Patriots

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