An In-Depth Look At Bill Belichick’s Truly Awful Day

By Drew Magary
|  Monday, Jan 17, 2011  |  Updated 11:45 AM EDT
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An In-Depth Look At Bill Belichick’s Truly Awful Day

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Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots

For a guy who many (including myself) consider to be one of the best football strategists in the history of the NFL, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had a shockingly bad day yesterday.

Maybe it was the hood. Maybe he ate one child too many before gametime. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that Belichick spent the better part of yesterday coaching the game as if his first name was Andy and his last name was Reid.

Let’s get into the four things he did yesterday that really killed his heavily favored team.

1. The Welker benching.

So Wes Welker got benched at the beginning of the game for mocking Rex Ryan’s foot fetish in a press conference (and doing it in a rather clever way, I must note). The benching itself wasn’t that big of a deal because Welker was back in the game on the next series, but the amazing thing to me about that benching is what it said to the Jets. It basically told the Jets that their trash talking all week WORKED.

The whole point of talking trash is to throw the other team off, and they were able to get Welker to pipe up, break the precious Patriot façade, and get benched for it. Pretty much validated everything the Jets did all week leading up to the game. It also let Patriots players know that Belichick was humorless and not terribly supportive of them.

2. That ridiculous fake punt.

You only use fake punts and surprise onside kicks when you know you aren’t the better team. Why would you get cute with the ball when you’re 14-2 and the No. 1 seed playing at home?

The whole reason Belichick called that play was because he saw something in the Jets punt coverage that showed a clear weakness, and indeed Pat Chung would have gotten the first down had he been able to handle the snap. But that’s the problem with calling that play. Belichick focused on the design of it, and never considered the human element, namely that a DB taking the snap isn’t always gonna work out.

It was a play Belichick called that he almost certainly knew had no chance of failing. And then it did.

3. The fourth quarter clock-eating drive that ended in zero points.

No one understood what was going on this drive, not even Belichick. You saw him on the sidelines imploring his team to call more passing plays, but by then they had already run seven minutes off the clock and done the Jets a huge favor. It was as if Donovan McNabb were running things.

For two straight weeks now, the Jets have played tight coverage and dared teams to shoot themselves in the foot by running the ball too much, and both the Colts and Pats obliged.

4. Not kicking away with under two minutes left.

This one, to me, was the worst offense of all. Again, Belichick called for the trick play because he thought he knew something the other team didn’t, and it backfired terribly.

Think about that situation. The Pats are down seven. They have two minutes left and two timeouts. If you kick away to the Jets, they likely don’t get a good return because they have their hands team out on the field. All of the pressure goes on them to NOT screw it up. They have to run the ball twice to get New England to use their timeouts, then they have to at least consider passing the ball on 3rd down to ice the game (and the Jets have shown in the past that they don’t mind botching the clock by passing in that kind of situation). Jets punter Steve Weatherford had had a truly awful day up to that point.

If you kick it away there, there’s every chance you can get the ball back near midfield with about 60 seconds left. Not a great scenario, but you have Tom Brady on your side and he has a knack for such things. That was a huge mistake, and the crowning gaffe for a coach who probably spent a lot of time yesterday outthinking himself.

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