Saturday, August 25, 2007

X + O = Hit Somebody in the Mouth

One aspect of Bill Belichick's coaching ability which does not receive enough credit is his willingness to act on the truth that while football has a great many moving parts, at bottom it's a simple game. Consider, if you will, last night's game plan against the Carolina Panthers.

Here were the facts as Belichick knew them going into the extreme practice of the third exhbition game.

1. It's preseason, so although the starters will play the first half, there's no profit in dragging in too many bells and whistles, concept-wise.

2. In the last preseason game, poor pass protection nearly got irreplacable Tom Brady dismembered. Brady's had kind of a distracting week since. What if he forgets to duck?

3. Carolina has Julius Peppers, a superior pass rusher.

4. The game will be played on a balmy, i.e., intolerable, August evening in Charlotte.

Belichick's solution was as close a shave as Occam's Razor ever gave. Run the damn ball up the Panthers asses the first 10 or 11 plays of the game. Let your blockers feel like aggressors. After a dozen or so violent collisions and not nearly enough oxygen, we'll see if Peppers and Co. feel like chasing Brady around all night.

They didn't. Tom could've held the baby back in the pocket on most attempts and his son wouldn't have awakened. The first string offense controlled the Panthers more or less at will.

Score one for simplicity. Score one for football's first principle. When in doubt, whack a guy in the other uniform.


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