Perhaps the most shocking example of this de-evolution in NFL strategy is the man who has long represted the ideal of aggressive fourth-down decision making: Bill Belichick. Last year during the regular season, the Patriots didn’t attempt a single run or pass play on fourth-and-2, and they went for it only two times out of eight opportunities in long field-goal range (between the 31- and 37-yard lines). This trend carried over into the playoffs; against Baltimore, the Patriots had fourth-and-2 twice and settled for a punt and a 31-yard field goal. They also punted twice in long field-goal range, although these were “no man’s land” situations, i.e. not just in deep field-goal range but in deep field-goal range on fourth-and-long when none of the options are mathematically any good. As a result, Belichick ranks a shocking 23rd out of 34 head coaches in Aggressiveness Index for 2012. This is a massive change from most of Belichick’s career. Belichick has the fifth-highest career AI of any head coach with at least three full seasons between 1991 and 2012, and he ranked in the top six for AI every year between 2004 and 2010 before falling to 11th in 2011 (although he was sixth in 2011 in the older version of AI). 2012 was only the third season out of 18 when Belichick ranked in the bottom half of the league; the others were 1994 (0.76 AI, 21st) and 2003 (.84 AI, 23rd).
The big thing I’d say we look for, which would try to differentiate the players for us, are players with passion; guys that really love football. As we all know from our jobs, if you love what you’re doing you don’t feel like you’re working. If you don’t like what you’re doing, then every step of the way is just painful torture. We don’t want people who are in football because of the lifestyle it brings or the opportunities [or rewards] from it. We want people who are in our business because they love doing it.
Part of the respect that I have for Bill Belichick is his ability to stay ahead of the curve – or ahead of evolution. He’s setting the pace, not adapting to it. The Patriots were one of, if not THE, first to drop the fullback position, go with primarily two tight ends, use one as an h-back and “Joker” type of player, and now he’s figured out a way to establish a power run game out of three wide receiver sets with Ridley, Bolden, and Vereen. So while the Jets are still trying to figure out how to defend two tight ends at once, Belichick has already moved on to figuring out a way to attack them in a different way.
BB thinking about cutting off his sweatpants now instead of his sleeves? He must be in offseason mode. Not buying the “short legs” excuse, Coach.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick shows off his white socks and upper shins after speaking during a news conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Friday, May 3, 2013. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
The two Rutgers DBs – that was a very good defensive unit that they had last year, over the past few years actually, but especially last year. Of course Logan [Ryan] had a very productive year outside and Duron [Harmon] inside. I know that whole group, but especially those guys, are close. They communicated well, played well. Both were very productive, both defensively and in the kicking game, solid guys. We’ve had a number of our players here comment on their personal characteristics, so I think we’re getting some high quality guys there as well as good football players.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has called the Watertown Police Department, asking for Watertown police hats for his team to wear during the NFL draft this week. Belichick specifically asked for an oversized Watertown police sweatshirt, Deveau said.
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