Patriots: Bill Belichick Deep Thoughts on Situational Football


In case you were out living a life of leisure to finish out the Patriots’ bye week on Monday night, and missed the end of Monday Night Football, the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions managed to stumble on a section of the NFL’s rules that would fit right in as a feature in next month’s Obscure Sports Quarterly.

In the final two minutes, the suddenly mortal looking Calvin Johnson was hit by Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and fumbled the ball, which bounced over to Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright in the end zone. Wright promptly swatted the ball out of the end zone, which is supposed to be a penalty that would have given the Lions first and goal on the half-yard line.

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Instead, nobody called a penalty, and Seattle went on to get their second win of the year.

Other minor problem: not only did K.J. Wright admit that he had no clue that rule about swatting a bouncing ball in the end zone, but the back judge also stated that he didn’t feel Wright hit the ball intentionally.

Never mind that it looks like Wright is playing ping-pong without a paddle. And the cherry on top of this whole gee-whiz sundae is that Seattle coach Pete Carroll admitted to 710 ESPN that he wasn’t aware of the ball-batting rule either.

Relax, we’re getting to the part where this comes back to the Patriots in a second.

Bill Belichick was asked about how he keeps his players well-coached on the NFL’s more obscure rules on Tuesday, and surely they didn’t expect to get this doozy as a response. You might want to make a sandwich before reading it.

From the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin:

"“I think it’s a really good question, but it would entail probably a pretty lengthy answer. There are so many different levels that that question encompasses. Let’s start with rookies coming into the league. The first thing we do is teach them the rules in the National Football League and in particular make them aware of the changes between the college rules and the pro rules, which there are a significant number.” “And we don’t really assume because we have no way of knowing how educated or uneducated they are on the rules, if they even are the same between the two – between college and professional football. So, it starts there. The NFL comes in and they go through all the rule changes with the team and the coaching staff, they meet with the coaching staff in the spring, which is a very informative meeting, and then they meet with the team in training camp and go through the rules changes and it’s usually done during the time when the officials come to work the few days of training camp that they do for each team. So, that’s also good.”“It creates a good dialogue between the officials, the players and the coaches, and gives coaches and players an opportunity to ask questions. Sometimes the dialogue goes back and forth – how’s this being coached, how’s this being officiated and so forth. All of that is done with the intention of trying to get everybody on the same page.”“Each of our position coaches devotes a significant amout of time in the spring and then also in training camp, particularly in individual, one-on-one type drills where a lot of times there are only two or three guys on the screen instead of all 22 so you can really get a good, close-up look at a lot of the rules like that – the holding and illegal contact and offensive pass interference, defensive pass interference – all those kinda things. So that’s covered very much on an individual basis, specifically to that position.”“Obviously, the offensive guard doesn’t have to know everything about pass interference and vice versa, but it’s important for them to know the things in their position and how the game is being officiated. And then those things are also pointed out in various other team or individual settings as they become pertinent over the course of the year, whether it be a particular play or particular opponent or that type of thing.”“And then I talk to the team on a regular basis on situational plays, which involve officiating, timing, utilization of timeouts and so forth and so on, so that’s probably on a regular basis from training camp all the way through the end of the season – call it once a week or something like that – somewhere in that vicinity.”“Sometimes it’s more than that, but always trying to keep our team aware of situations, and a lot of times we change the situation a little bit just to extend the conversation about a play. So this is what happened, but if something else or if they hadn’t had timeouts or if the ball was here, or if the ball was there, just try to understand and comprehend totally what we’re doing from a team standpoint or an individual situation.”“The whole sideline, ball security, whistle, all those kind of ball possession plays, those are very important for everybody to understand and we stress those a lot. Any time the ball is loose, like it was in last night’s game, try to make sure everybody understands what they can do, what they can’t do.”“And of course once you get into the kicking game, you can multiply everything that happens on offense and defense exponentially because you not only have the possession plays, but then you have all the plays that happen when the ball is kicked, and those rules sometimes are, well, they are different than plays of possession like a runner or a receiver or a returner who’s carrying the ball.”“There is the whole handling of the ball and the kick and it did cross the line of scrimmage and so forth and so on. It’s a lot for the officials to understand, it’s a lot for the coaches to understand, and it’s a lot for the players to understand. But in the end we try to look at the rule book as a useful tool, something that can benefit us if we know what we have to work with, how to make the best of a situation based on the way the rules are written and try to maximize our opportunities there.”“But that being said, there is still a lot happening in a short amount of time. It’s challenging for all of us – players, coaches, and officials. I don’t know if that really answers your question. We could probably talk about that one for weeks.”"

Would you expect anything less from the coach that pours water on practice balls, gives his defensive linemen racquetball racquets to prep for JJ Watt, and recently had to rename his boat to “VI Rings” this summer because an undrafted Division-II rookie knew exactly what he had to do on a game-deciding goal-line play that will surely result in neither man ever having to buy their own drinks in New England ever again?

And if you prefer a more concise summary of one in a million situational game preparation, ask Rosevelt Colvin.

Next: Patriots Dominate Latest NFL Power Rankings

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