BOSTON (CBS) – When the New England Patriots began training camp and head coach Bill Belichick began stockpiling defensive lineman like a squirrel stockpiling acorns for a long, cold winter, much of the chatter out of Foxboro from those who follow the team on a daily basis was whether the football mastermind was planning on implementing a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense for 2011.
Questions to Belichick during his daily news conferences seemed to get bogged down on that topic. It was almost as if those doing the questioning couldn’t come to grips with the vagaries of what the hooded genius was looking to establish.
Most failed to see the answer was right there, in the very room they sat while pondering the answer to this great mystery in life. A great many did not experience that light bulb moment.
They were confused. And therein lies the answer to what Bill Belichick hopes to do defensively to the opposition in 2011.
Confuse the enemy. Force them to plan for a 3-4 AND a 4-3 and anything or everything in between.
Belichick is not the only great mind in the NFL. Say what you will about Rex Ryan, but for all the bombastic folly that comes out of his mouth, the man can coach and game plan. No one knows that better than Belichick and the Patriots and their fans. If you give Ryan game film (or video) of an opponent that plays a ‘basic’ 3-4 or 4-3, he’ll find and exploit weaknesses.
But, if a quarterback brings his offense to the line of scrimmage and he can’t recognize what the opposing defense is playing, it results in confusion. The usual checks at the line are difficult to make or make accurately.
That Bill Belichick wishes to confuse the opponent is nothing new. His weekly injury reports often times makes it seem as if half the team is in the hospital getting IV drips and couldn’t possibly play on Sunday. Then game day rolls around and those very players are making life miserable for their foes. How many times has the Patriots head coach said himself, “We plan as if everybody on their team is playing?” Pretty much every week.
So when the Patriots defense takes the field Monday night against the Dolphins and you are watching the game on TV and asking, “What the hell are they playing?” you can be sure that is exactly what Bill Belichick hopes the Miami coaches are asking each other on their headsets.
Tune in to the Patriots season opener at 7pm Monday night on 98.5 The Sports Hub with pregame coverage beginning at 4pm. After the game, tune in to the Postgame show on 98.5, and to Patriots Fifth Quarter on TV38.