Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Point

Jimmy McGinty: You know what separates the winners from the losers?
Shane Falco: The score.
Jimmy McGinty: No, getting back on the horse after getting kicked in the teeth.

A lot has been made this year about the motivation behind the Patriots destroying their opponents. The whole Spy-Gate thing in particular. While I think that played a part early in the season, I think the impetus for the way the team played and was coached started long before September, and the events in the Meadowlands.

Bill Belichick, as has been his history, did away with convention, and went for the jugular this season...everyone's jugular. He gave no quarter and exhorted his team to play 60-minutes every game, even late in the fourth quarter with the team up, sometimes by as many seven touchdowns, not because of anything that happened this year.

Rather, this all started with thirty minutes left on the clock in Indianapolis last January. Up 21-6 at half-time, the Patriots laid back a little on the throttle, and the Colts came back to beat the Pats by a final of 38-34, outscoring the Patriots in the second half 32-13.

With key drops by last year's leading receiver, Reche Caldwell, in the second half, Belichick and personnel guru Scott Pioli set about creating an offensive juggernaut by bringing in receivers Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth, and running back Sammy Morris. What they got was a 16-0 club that averaged 36.8 points per game while giving up an average of 17.1.

The party line of the team since Belichick arrived has been that statistics don't matter, only championships. The Hoodie, however, has a history of going against conventional wisdom.

Back in January of 1991 he put together a defensive game plan to combat the Bills that is in the Hall of Fame. The defense was designed to give up yardage, but not points. With only two linemen on the field for almost the entire game, it was a dare and a statement - "if you can beat us with Thurman Thomas, then so be it. But I'm betting you can't."

The potent Buffalo receivers were rerouted time and again into the middle - into the linebackers, who spent the day beating them up. Andre Reed told NFL Films that he had never been hit as hard as he was in that game.

This season Belichick trashed conventional wisdom, and has set out to do what no one has done in the history of the game.

He put together a team with the following firsts -

First team to win 16 games in a season

First team to win 19 regular season games in a row

First quarterback to 50 touchdown passes, and the only quarterback that doesn't play the game in a dome or warm weather to even come close (Manning 49, Marino 48, Marino 44, Warner 41)

First team to have a wide-out catch at least 23 passes in a season

After years of beating teams like the Colts and Rams that tried to spread defenses out, Belichick ran the table doing just that. The question becomes, can they do it through the post-season?

If they do, then it will add to the firsts - Brady would become the first quarterback to lead the NFL in yardage and win a Super Bowl in the same season.

The point Belichick is making? There is no right way to get things done in the NFL other than making sure that the personnel fits the scheme a team is trying to run. If teams take care of that and have good coaching, the rest takes care of itself.

All of this because the team is getting back on the horse after getting kicked in the teeth by a Colt back in January.


soxfaninny said...

Great post.

Kevin Smith said...