New England Patriots: Have other coaches finally caught up to Belichick?

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots aren’t doing nearly as well as expecting. This hasn’t been taken lightly, nor should it be.

A few questions begin to arise when talking about the New England Patriots. Have they lost a step? Have the other NFL teams finally caught up? Is Belichick’s scheme not going to work anymore?

As a Patriots fan, you hope the answer to all of these questions are no. The good news is that the answers are indeed no. The bad news is that they are not far away from being yes. For almost two decades, Bill Belichick has dominated the NFL with his philosophies and insane preparation. It hasn’t seemed to matter who is executing it to this point, everyone has experienced some form of success when operating under it.

Now, the other coaches are finally catching on. Bill Belichick is seen widely as a conservative coach. When you take a closer look at his tendencies during certain scenarios, you begin to find that he is deceptively aggressive.

The ways of the great

Risk it for the biscuit

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

He is not like either Harbaugh in that regard. He doesn’t go for a trick play every quarter. The 7-time Super Bowl winner doesn’t go for it on 4th and 10 either. However, when the opposition is least expecting it, he will make a crazy call. He will send a corner in on a backside blitz in the second half when he is down by 10. Belichick will also go for it on 4th and 2. This has failed in the past. His intentions are always right, no matter how much he might be risking for another set of downs.

Everyone remembers the 4th and 2 against the Colts in 2006, when the Patriots elected to go for it rather than kick the field goal. Bill Belichick had the right intention. His goal that drive was to prolong the possession so that the ball would stay away from Peyton Manning and his dazzling receiving corps. The sheriff was on fire that game, and Bill knew that letting him have the ball with a solid amount of time on the clock was a horrible idea. So, with the game seemingly on the line, the Pats went for it on 4th and 2 in field goal range.

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Of course, as many of you should remember it, they failed to convert on 4th down. Peyton Manning got the ball in decent field position and scored that drive to ice the game, giving the Colts a big win over a powerful Patriots team.

The pull guard

Yes, the pull guard. This is not a concept Coach Belichick invented, but it is a concept that he has perfected. Once the play starts, he will send his guard to help fill either the A gap opposite of the side he started on. This allows for either a run up a better blocked hole, a counter run, or a bootleg. it is very effective, but it doesn’t need to be ran all of the time. The Patriots great seems to have a sixth sense. That sense is determining when it is right to pull a guard.

In that case, he has a 7th and 8th sense too.

Disguising coverages

The New England Patriots like to line up like they are going to run a certain coverage, but once the ball is snapped, all of the players seem to shift. You could see five people on the line. Once that ball is in play, there are three rushers and eight players in coverage.

New England Patriots
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

You could also see a look where there are four people on the ball. Again, the ball is snapped, but this time one of the edge rushers fall into coverage and a corner is going after the signal caller.

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That sort of elusiveness is what gives coaches that have been in Belichick’s system (especially Bill O’Brien) an edge. They have learned how to coach that. Now, Houston is a team that can consistently pull that off, almost as well as the man himself. When you can fake a deep zone and turn it into a blitz, you have an immediate advantage over the opposition mentally.

In conclusion

While some coaches have picked up on a fraction of Belichick’s tactics, the league still has a long way to go before they catch up to the Patriots and their future Hall of Fame coach. He has too many strategies, and the league has only so many coaches that haven’t come out of Belichick University.

Next: New England Patriots: 5 players who need to step up vs. Tampa Bay

Even though they haven’t met expectations, the Pats are still head and shoulders above the rest.