Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stepped to the podium for his first 2016 regular season press conference Tuesday morning in the Gillette Stadium media workroom and subsequently touched on a number of topics, led off with his thoughts on preparing for a Cardinals team that was an NFC finalist a year ago.
The New England football boss was then questioned by the media on a number of timely topics surrounding his team as well as the opponent for the Sunday night opener in Arizona.
Here are a few highlights from Belichick's morning presser in Foxborough.
1. "Lot of players that can make plays and they make a lot of them": That was a quote Belichick used to describe some of the impressive talent the Cardinals field on the offensive side of the ball, but listening to him describe the rest of Arizona it could easily apply to the team as a whole. The Cardinals have "as good a skill group" as Belichick's Patriots have seen in a while, led by Carson Palmer and running back David Johnson. Defensively they have a core group of playmakers like Deone Bucannon, Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson – "It's hard to outrun these guys. They track everybody down." -- that turn every snap into takeaway opportunities.
Overall Belichick made it very clear that this opening battle between last January's conference title game runner-ups is a major first hurdle for his football team.
"They had a great year last year, to the NFC Championship Game. Just very consistent in their ability to score points and turn the ball over," Belichick said. "They make a lot of very productive plays in all three phases of the game. They've had great success playing at home in their stadium. It's a big challenge for us down there, opening on the road against this quality a football team and the way they play there. We need to have a really good week and have to go down and play a good football game in all three phases of the game."
2. Gillette Stadium Tom Brady banner not a talking point: Earlier this week in a conference call, Belichick was asked about a banner with Brady's number and image that had been hung on the iconic Gillette Stadium lighthouse. The coach said he hadn't seen it.
In his first big regular season press conference of the year, Belichick was asked yet again about the banner.
"Yeah, we're really focused on Arizona right now," Belichick responded.
Is it for the fans? Have you seen it?
"Again, our focus is on the Cardinals," Belichick reiterated. "That's who we play this week. All the other decorative and marketing things and so forth are not really part of the team's preparation. We're focused on Arizona."
3, Anthem issue has "been addressed" – In the early days of the Colin Kaepernick controversy that has the 49ers quarterback refusing to stand during the pre-game National Anthem in protest of racial oppression in the country, Belichick was asked for his thoughts on the matter.
"We're really focused on what we do and getting ready for the Giants, improving our football team," Belichick said on Aug. 29. "We're not here to talk about political commentary or ideology and all of that."
The coach was asked for his thoughts on the topic yet again on Tuesday, questioned as to whether he would address the topic with his team in regards of his players potentially joining into the controversy and the distraction that might create for a team that avoids such issues when possible seemingly at all costs.
Has Belichick or anyone on the team advised Patriots players how to handle the situation?
"Yeah, that's been addressed," Belichick said. "It was addressed a long time ago."
A long time ago, not since the Kaepernick situation came up?
"That's been addressed," Belichick continued.
No details on how it's been addressed?
"It's already been addressed. I've already talked about it," Belichick said, though it's not exactly clear if he was alluding to conversations with his team or his comments the week prior to the media.