Bill Belichick has been involved with football for decades, so when he says he hasn’t done something since college, you can bet it’s a pretty rare occurrence.
That’s exactly what happened on Monday night when the COVID-19-altered Monday night matchup between Belichick’s New England Patriots, and the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs was packed with oddities.
COVID-19 Wrecked the Patriots’ Normal Preparation
It began early as the Patriots were forced to undergo a steady battery of tests after Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. No other Patriots player or staff member tested positive before the game (though all-pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore would the following day), but all of the screening forced New England to ride a plane and bus the same day they played the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
When Patriots All-Access’ Scott Zolak asked Belichick about this inconvenient way to get ready for a game, the future Hall-of-Famer didn’t make any excuses, but he did say, “I don’t think we’ve traveled on the day of the game since I was in college.”
Take a look at the segment in the video below. You can hear Belichick’s comments at the 17:30 mark:
Since Gilmore’s positive test, every member of the Patriots’ roster and staff has tested negative for COVID-19. Because of that, the team is scheduled to face the Denver Broncos on Monday night at 5 pm ET. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, but due to the health concerns, the contest was pushed back a day.
Now, for the second consecutive week, the Patriots will play the first half of a Monday night doubleheader. Last week, the start of the Patriots-Chiefs game preceded the Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons.
In Week 5, the Patriots-Broncos will kickoff prior to the Los Angeles Chargers vs. the New Orleans Saints.
Getting Back to Work
The Patriots are expected to practice for the first time since Gilmore’s positive test sent the team to quarantine. This lone practice session before Monday’s game will take place on Saturday, barring any more positive tests to further complicate the situation.
Gilmore is definitely out, so the Patriots will have to make do without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
While there is no replacing Gilmore, the Patriots’ deepest area is in the secondary. Also, against an inexperienced offense like the Broncos. New England should have enough on defense to subdue Denver’s attack.
What’s going to happen at QB? That’s another story.
Who’s Starting at QB?
After Brian Hoyer played horribly on Monday night against the Chiefs, you’ll find a legion of Patriots fans who never want to see him on the field in a New England uniform again. Jarrett Stidham did some good things, but most would agree, a healthy Newton would be the best scenario.
There is no word on whether Newton will be cleared to return, so perhaps an update will come on Saturday.
Until then, all eyes will focus on Hoyer and Stidham.