Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lack of Method Actor

People just don't get Bill Belichick and never will. Lucky him.

 Since this lack of comprehension offers the Pats' mastermind a considerable competitive advantage, I'll bet he had less than no trouble coming to terms with it. At the very least, it must be fun to live in a reality where he's constantly surprising folks -- especially since they shouldn't be surprised at all.

The Patriots' 2012 draft is being treated as a big surprise by many people who ought to know better. Belichick traded modestly up from first round choices 27 and 31 to picks 21 and 25 to snag defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. This moderately aggressive maneuver evoked shock within the commentariat. It was, so we are told, a complete reversal of Belichick's draft "philosophy." (I admit prolonged exposure to the Chris Berman-Jon Gruden-Mel Kiper triad makes a strong case for Stoicism).

That is to say, in 2012, Belichick traded up to draft players, while in drafts in 2009, 10 and 11 he'd traded down to get more picks in lower rounds. Obviously, the coach was repudiating a failed strategy that has kept New England's winning percentage at a woefully inadequate .770.

This is nonstuff and nonsense. It is further evidence that the world will never grasp the ultimate truth about Belichick's football "philosophy" -- he ain't got one. Each decision he makes is based on the facts of the individual case before him. If that involves intellectual inconsistency, so what?

One of the most basic truths of the NFL draft gets ignored every spring. The draftees change every year. The pile of talent from which 32 teams select varies wildly in its overall talent level, talent level by position, etc. You can't have a rigid draft "philosophy" or you'll wind up picking square pegs for your round holes every year. Ask the Oakland Raiders.

It's all beyond obvious. In previous New England drafts, Belichick was less enamored of the players rated oh, 15-35 in the total talent pool, so he traded down. In 2012, that pool contained two guys he really liked, so he traded up. Next year he could trade down again, or stand pat. It depends, two words that guide most of human existence but almost never appear in sports commentary.

Come to think of it, Belichick does too have a philosophy. It's called Pragmatism.


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