Say the Patriots won Sunday’s game against the Jets on a punt return is like saying that the sinking of some submarines ensured a World War for the good guys (even though the clearance returns are unbelievable and almost never happen again). Sure, there was a defining moment, a crossover of the plane that triggered a technical end to the engagement, but giving credit to that moment without acknowledging the breadth and scope of the battle plan misses a lot.
There are good enough reasons to have slept with Bill Belichick this year. The Patriots are still an intermediate football team. He uses the Springfield Police Department to design and call their offensive plays. He had the opportunity to go to full Zappe mode and he resisted, depriving us of the onomatopoeia of the quarterback we had always dreamed of.
But as we speak, the Patriots have surpassed the Broncos as the best defense in football. Choose from counting advanced stats, which come from even before holding the Jets without a touchdown on Sunday: The Patriots’ opponents are averaging 0.116 points per play below the league average, the lowest mark in the league, by by ben baldwin open source website. Just 39.6% of passing plays against the Patriots result in what we should call a “successful” attempt, via that same place. They are number 1 in the Football Outsiders DVOA rankings. Matthew Judon leads the league in sacks and makes about $15 million less than the highest-paid running back in the NFL.
It is particularly clear in the second half of the games. Over the past month, the Patriots have allowed fewer than 10 points per game after halftime, one of the best marks in the NFL.
Earlier this season, we were able to see this in gush, even if the big picture wasn’t entirely clear. In Week 1, the Dolphins, one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, scored just three second-half points against the Patriots in large part due to a maddening defense of the quarters that Belichick threw onto the field. He played with the Dolphins’ fleet of backfield moves, deployed coverages late, and knocked Tua Tagovailoa out of his rhythm more noticeably than any other defense this year (even though the end result was a 20–7 Miami win). ). In Week 5, the Patriots shutout the Lions, one of the best offenses in the NFL, for all four quarters. On Sunday against the Jets, the Patriots allowed just two yards of total offense in the final 30 minutes. Let’s repeat that, since it probably shouldn’t be buried so deep in a football column: The Patriots defense gave up two yards over the course of an entire half. Six feet of offense in 25 plays.
Belichick isn’t just putting up numbers against some bad offenses. Ask around. If his defensive game plans were essays, half the league would fail a basic plagiarism checker, and those who still haven’t borrowed from his game plans are missing out on a good opportunity to improve their teams.
There’s really no flashy, dynamic way to phrase this (sorry, editors), but Belichick is still here. He is not back because it never left. He’s not on because he doesn’t really calm down, at least in terms of being a defensive planner. He’s just not lifting the Patriots because he needs players to execute (even if some of those players have told me that playing defense with Belichick’s voice plugged into the green dot is akin, apparently, to playing chess with Hans Niemann). and his friends) .
It’s moments like these, the aftermath of a win that lifts the Patriots to 6-4 and temporary possession of a wild-card berth, that you feel a little giddy, a little haughty, hearing the passive-aggressive complaint about Belichick. that you have cut In March, Robert Kraft said he was “bothered” that the Patriots hadn’t won a playoff game in a long time, presumably as many of us are annoyed that we haven’t scored on a Powerball ticket recently. LeSean McCoy said this week that Belichick is pedestrian without Tom Brady.
Belichick is still really, unbelievably, unfathomably good at this. It is possible that he has chosen the wrong lieutenants to try to modernize or optimize his offensive operation. It is possible that he must evolve as a supervisor of an entire club. I understand that a heavy Mac Jones offense, with all the lure of a Honda Accord drag race, is also on his shoulders. I understand that one season we roundly commend A year ago ended in a humiliating defeat.
That being said, when members of the opposing organization they are so frustrated that they’re calling the offensive performance “dog shit” or denying so quickly and vehemently that there’s an offensive problem in order to avoid the tough talk, that’s the ultimate effect for Belichick. That is the core of his being as a coach and it will never go away. It’s Belichick apart from Brady and whatever else he’s done in his previous three decades. And it’s not just the Jets either. He can do this to anyone at any time. Somehow, annually, some of us manage to forget that.
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