BOSTON (CBS) — From a spectator standpoint, the NFL product has been suffering a bit for some time now. Nobody’s quite been able to put their finger on the exact reason why, though poor offensive line play has been fingered by many as a key culprit.
On Wednesday, Patriots head coach and future Hall of Famer Bill Belichick was asked for his opinion on why offensive line play in general is suffering across the board in the NFL. Like many, Belichick attributed the limited number of padded practices as being a major influence.
“Well, I just think in general, fundamentally it’s difficult to play on the offensive and defensive line. You’re playing a contact position with pads, and you’re practicing it without pads the majority of the time. That usually develops a lot of bad habits, and a lot of the techniques that a player would have the chance to work on and improve with pads, that opportunity just isn’t there without pads,” Belichick said on a conference call with Houston reporters. “So, it’s hard to improve at those positions when, a lot of times, you’re practicing techniques that are really not the ideal technique or, in some cases, incorrect, and it just develops bad habits, especially on the offensive line.
Belichick then further clarified his belief by comparing the situation to something most people can relate to: an incomplete golf game.
“It’s like, you go out to the driving range and hit drives and hit balls, but you can’t go on the putting green. And then, to think that your putting is going to be at the same level as your driving when you can’t really practice it, it’s not really realistic,” Belichick said. “It’s hard at [offensive line]. It’s hard to tell a guy, ‘This is what you should do,’ but he really can’t go out and practice it.”
Belichick made it clear multiple times that all coaches are facing the same predicament, which might help explain the league-wide struggles.
“I think that the way, without being able to practice, favors the defensive players a little more, whereas the offensive unit has to work together and be able to block things at more of a game tempo with pads and penetration and combination blocks and things like that,” he said. “It’s just hard to simulate those and hard to get the timing of those when you’re just standing up watching each other without pads on a lot.”