Archive for January, 2012

A Case of Coaching Scared: Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick will go down in history as a great football coach, as he should.  We all have our demons within, however.  They hold us back and keep us from becoming even better.  Belichick’s demon is coaching scared on the defensive side of the ball.

The coach disagrees with my assessment. In this clip from the A Football Life series he states, “one thing I’m not is scared”.  The statement is in reference to Belichick being willing to go for it on fourth down.

His fourth down decision making does not in and by itself determine coaching fortitude, however.  There is more to not coaching scared than one’s approach to fourth downs.  It would be like saying I have a healthy diet because I eat broccoli once a week.

The truth is in the pudding.  The Pats defense is soft and has been for many years.  The statistics reflect poor and passive defensive play.  It is soft because Belichick is scared of the downside of an aggressive defense.

Aggressive defenses give up big plays occasionally.  It is the nature of the beast. A blitz at the wrong time can give up a big pass play.  Man to man defense can given up a big play if a defensive back simply slips.  That’s the risk.

Ah, but when one obsesses on the risks, as Belichick does, the rewards go unfulfilled.  An aggressive defense makes significant plays that can drastically affect a game’s outcome.  There are the obvious benefits, like sacks and turnovers.  But the subtle side of an aggressive defense is more important.  Consistently giving a quarterback a half second less to make a decision and bumping a wide receive at the line leads to incompletions.  An aggressive defense leads to what appears to be an incoherent offense.

Instead, Belichick defenses typically make mediocre quarterbacks look like All-Pros.  Some notable performances against Belichick defenses include such heralded offensive juggernauts such as Seneca Wallace, Chad Henne, Colt McCoy, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rex Grossman, etc.

Belichick’s fear of giving up the big play is his demon within.  It determines every decision he makes – from strategy to execution.  His patented “bend but don’t break defense” is simply a revamped prevent defense.  He often times play this type of defense for entire games!  The results are gobs of yardage given up, a defense that becomes fatigued from being on the field for long drives, and worst of all, it keeps the ball out of the hands of his best player, Tom Brady.

In short, Belichick’s defensive style becomes one where he plays not to lose.  A soft and passive defense is the product of his obsession with giving up the big play.  It is his demon within.

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January 3, 2012 at 3:46 am Leave a comment


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