September 25, 2016

Take A Lap – Coach Bill Belichick

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

We at PD find it difficult to put this devastating 35-34 loss at Indy on Bill Belichick’s sweatshirt-shrouded shoulders. Going for it on fourth down actually made some sense at the time. A part of me liked the idea: get the first down, give yourself a shot at winning the game right then and there.

That said, what the hell was up with that play call?

With Tom Brady out of the shotgun, the Colts went to the line knowing that the Patriots had to pass. No QB sneak or quick-hit handoff to a fullback. No attempt at redemption for running back Laurence Maroney (see below). Nope, the defense knew what Brady had to do, giving them an advantage from the first sign of the formation.

If you’re going to go for it on fourth down, coach, give yourself a chance. Get the defense thinking about all the possibilities, from not snapping the ball to a downfield pass. Lining up in the shotgun only helped the Colts, forcing your O to come up short. For that, Coach Belichick, we ask you to take a lap.

(Sort of) Honorable Mention: Last week in the comments section, I gave Maroney an honorable mention for the PD Game Ball. At the time, I didn’t realize he’d fumble it.

I have wavered back and forth on Maroney more than his dreadlocks. Now I know that – to paraphrase his coach – he is what he is. He’ll have some great games and some bad games; he will show promise and then pull it away.

I liked that he began to lower his shoulders vs. Indy’s defense. I liked that he fought for yardage at the goal line. I would have liked it a hell of a lot better if he’d remembered to BRING THE BALL WITH HIM.

Maroney apologists will point to his yards per carry and his potential for being New England’s best option. Of them I ask: what the hell is their deal? Are they getting paid or something? Can’t they just understand that some fans are disappointed in him and leave it at that?

And I hope they’re not saying, “Well, you can’t blame him for one bad play,” because yes, I can do that. I can do that all day, every day, for a month.

Mr. Maroney, you have the Jets at home next week. Please do better.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Comments

  1. Aaron Bennett says:

    Agreed. I think that the actual 4th down call was the right decision — and the numbers back that up — but the coaching staff let the team down. Not there, but on the previous offensive possession after the manning INT. What happened to the spread-them-out-and-kill them that had been working all game? Why switch to a power set all of a sudden? Then, on the next Colts possession, why switch to a passive, take-all-you-want-over-the-middle zone? Keep attacking.

    But all the idiots who compare this to Grady Little can go eat a sh-t sammich. It’s not a slam-dunk move either way except for conventional-wisdom junkies who want their coach to play not to lose.

    • Chris Warner says:

      Belichick was hailed as a gambling genius going for it on 4th down vs. Atlanta. Not sure what changed in the past few weeks.

  2. You know what, I have to disagree – kind of! Maroney for the goal line fumble (oh, I was the one who lobbied for the honorable mention last week…. :-/)

    A TD means the Colts (in all likelihood) would STILL have needed another TD to win.

    The only other thing I’ll say is that in the last offensive series, there seemed to be no commitment or game plan, not from the players, but the O-Coordinator. The plays called were predictable, safe, boring, and NOT what got the Pats 34 point up to that time. Is coach Belichick making those calls? Is it Bill O’Brien?

    • Chris Warner says:

      Yeah, David, I was wondering the same thing in terms of who actually made those calls. Pretty weak, I thought, especially when first downs became so important.

      As far as Maroney, I’m right there with you. Let’s hope he has an up week vs. the Jets.

  3. All of the “see? see? I AM smarter than BB!” columns over the last 24 hours just make me shake my head for two reasons.
    1. If any of the writers were *honest* – they’d admit that they *knew* as well as we all did, that Manning would take the Colts in one more time in the final 2 minutes. It doesn’t take a genius for that – just someone who’s paid attention over the last few years, and who was watching the traditional Patriots 4th quarter meltdown against the Colts Sunday night.
    So forget the percentages (which favored the decision anyway) – anyone who follows this team, and who was paying attention – knew that if the Pats punted, the probability of the Colts scoring another 7 and winning the game was pretty damn close to 100%. And on the other hand, an Patriots offense that had been clicking all night just needed two yards to seal the win. What other decision could BB make? (Other than, of course, punt it away and watch hopelessly as the defense collapsed just like the Super Bowl in 2007, and the AFC Championship in 2006.)
    2. Think about the coach trailing by one-point after his team scores a TD as time expires. He decides (on the road, as per conventional wisdom) to skip the extra point and go for a winning two-point conversion. Ever notice how he’s hailed for his manhood and his “We’re gonna win it right here” decision?
    Why is that? It’s because he’s rejecting the “sure” tie (where he’d be an underdog in OT on the road) – in favor of the ballsy, manly-man move to go for the win. He’s putting it all out on the line, knowing he’s probably at a disadvantage if play continues.
    OK, now think about what happened Sunday night. Where is the praise for BB’s macho, football, ballsy decision that “We’re gonna win it right here, and not risk the huge change of losing in the next few minutes.” Just as ballsy – just as strong and positive an attitude as you’d want from your coach.
    But the “prevailing wisdom” is “WTF was wrong with him?” Explain that one.
    And explain one last one: a few weeks ago, when BB basically put Atlanta away for good by going for a 4th down deep in Patriots territory, did even one writer ask “WTF was wrong with BB in making that decision?” Sure, they talked about the risk – but they didn’t attack BB for the decision, they accepted it as a great risk/rewared move……just as they wouldn’t have attacked BB on Sunday, if the Pats had gotten the spot.
    Interesting, no?

    • Phil/Fan:

      Well said. I was happy for the go-for-it call, and obviously disappointed with the result. I’m reading lots of negativity today about bad decisions, but the game I was watching had the Colts offense finally on their game in the 4th. Our D had been great, but for whatever reason, be it soft schemes or injuries or exhaustion, they weren’t getting it done at the end. I didn’t want to see Manning have the ball again, even from their own 1.

  4. Blastor138 says:

    If BB was such a genius then why didn’t he let Peyton take the TD on the next play after the turnover? That thought should have crossed his mind. Let the Colts get their 7 then get the ball back with time left on the clock to at least try to get in FG range.

    When BB went for it on 4th down against Atlanta, the entire game wasn’t on the line and they shut them out in the 4th quarter in that game. Completely different set of circumstances.

    • Chris Warner says:

      I like how your scenario plays out, B138, but I’m a bigger fan of goal line stands. Getting the ball to the one-yard line is no guaranteed six, as a certain running back proved Sunday night and the Pats proved at Indy in 2003. Anything can happen, and for that reason I don’t think Belichick allows walk-through TDs.

  5. I suppose it would be too pathetic of me to mention that Faulk in all likelihood did make the first down, and the refs made a bad spot, right?

    • Tony, I think 31 other teams would have gotten on the podium and complained – Was it the line judge that made the spot? Didn’t Faulk have his back to him? Did he really get a great look at whether the ball was juggled or not? Hey, it’s a hometown decision, it happens.

      • Exactly, the Pats never complain about the refs because they’re taught–by their head coach–that it’s something they can’t control. The phantom, terrible (sorry Collinsworth, but it was TERRIBLE) PI call against Darius Butler was another huge play in the final stages of the game about which the Pats could have griped all week long—like the Ravens always do. But they took credit for the loss, like they always do, unlike a certain team which lost an AFC title game a few years ago, blamed the loss on the refs, and then used their GM’s influential position on the NFL Competition Committee to tilt the rules in their favor.

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