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Cataloguing the Laws of Belichick

Discussion in 'Blinded by the Lombardis: Patriots Forum' started by InstaFace, Nov 13, 2017 at 10:35 AM.

  1. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    So, with Belichick tying Tom Landry for third-most wins all time, I'd say that if he's not going to celebrate and talk about himself, someone else ought to be willing to.

    We've been privileged to watch him work, and watch his works, for nearly two decades. What have we learned from the process? If he hung them up tomorrow and someone sat him down to get him to distill his wisdom about running a team, what would the bullet points say?

    We know the sign that hangs from the facility, his distilled message for players...
    [​IMG]

    But what does that translate to in practice? What would be his lessons to another head coach, or to a GM or owner looking to receive his wisdom?

    Some starters:

    - Trade or release players a year early rather than a year late. You'll notice them slipping in practice or workouts long before the league sees that slipping in a game.

    - Be flexible in your game-to-game tactics: create a distinct gameplan for each opponent which makes the most of your advantages against them, in matchups or likelihood of mistakes.

    - Neglect no part of the game. Treat special teams as a coequal part of the game, so that the players understand there is no part of their job they can half-ass. Get in as many practices as possible. Give careful thought even to the end of your roster, as you'll need to rely on them eventually.

    - Don't judge a book by its cover: There are many great NFL players who came from non-name-brand backgrounds. Spend more time than you'd like to to give tryouts to UDFAs, review tape on cast-offs, and dig for buried-treasure talent.

    - More is not necessarily better. Your coaching staff should be people you trust implicitly, even if that's a smaller group than others employ.

    - Acknowledge your mistakes, and correct them. Excessive pride and ego in your decision-making is the undoing of coaches. If that means chucking a gameplan at halftime, or chucking a big signing who isn't performing, be courageous about it.

    - Lead from behind: the game is about the players. Take blame for their failures, and pass credit for their successes off to them. Nobody buys a coach's jersey, and the players notice the gesture.

    What else comes to mind about the principles by which Belichick runs his shop?
     
  2. loshjott

    loshjott Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    #2 loshjott, Nov 13, 2017 at 10:43 AM
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017 at 10:50 AM
  3. Ralphwiggum

    Ralphwiggum Member SoSH Member

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    Something about making decisions that you think are best for the team without regard for how the media or fans might react. This applies to in-game decisions (thinking of the infamous 4th down play in Indy in 2009) and personnel decisions.
     
  4. bankshot1

    bankshot1 Member SoSH Member

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    BB is the Warren Buffett of the NFL in terms of finding value, be it the draft and his willingness to trade down and pick-up an extra pick for doing so, or getting that good year out of the unhappy/washed up vet. He is a true contrarian in finding the over sold asset..
     
  5. DennyDoyle'sBoil

    DennyDoyle'sBoil Found no thrill on Blueberry Hill SoSH Member

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    Trust your judgment. Even for a highly prepared and methodical coach there is still a role to be played by feel. Obviously this only applies for coaches that have been in the game long enough to actually have enough experience on which to base judgment, and who actually have good judgment. There is no such thing as "how it is done." Even if you can't consciously say why you are thinking about a particular situation in a particular way, trust that your brain is telling you something for a reason. Because you went for it on fourth and one from the 35 in the first quarter doesn't mean you have to do it again in the fourth quarter. Just because the clock is ticking down with your opponent on the one yard in a championship game doesn't mean you have to call a time out. You put the players in position and you put them on the field and your job during the game is what it is -- but it's your judgment in the crucial situations that can make the difference in a league with an awful lot of parity.

    The other thing that I really like about Belichick, particularly in the last few years is his sideline demeanor. The only time he seems to ever get upset -- and it's rare -- is if he has something that he has put in the game that he thinks gives an advantage and a ref blows it by a bad call or not understanding. But it's more than just demeanor. His focus is completely situational. "This is the situation, this is what we must do." Bad holding call, ok, let's move to our 1st and 20 plays. Man injured, ok, this is what we need to do. Other team got a crazy lucky play? What can you do? Keep grinding away at it.

    On this second point, it's probably my imagination, but it almost seems like he relishes coaching for the unexpected. All that stuff where he waters down the field, or messes with the ball, or whatever his coaching techniques are to teach his players to have situational awareness and to adapt and push forward, I think is also part of his personal preparation. Would he have preferred to have Brady for the first four games of the year last year? I think probably he would. But I also get the sense -- completely uninformed -- that he probably also doesn't mind the curveballs so much both because they keep him engaged and also because he seems to be able to find an advantage. Fog? No problem. Jacoby with a bad finger and no back up? Ok, let's just buckle down and get to work. Give me 4 days and I'll figure it out.
     
    #5 DennyDoyle'sBoil, Nov 13, 2017 at 12:09 PM
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017 at 12:15 PM
  6. Pandemonium67

    Pandemonium67 Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Don't surround yourself with yes-men. Hire people brave enough to contradict you, and listen to them.
     
  7. tims4wins

    tims4wins PN23's replacement SoSH Member

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    To the trusting your gut point - keeping Brady as the starter of the 5-5 2001 Patriots.

    I also love his sideline demeanor. There are other ways to be successful, but in the long run, his next play focus is outstanding.
     
  8. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    When things go right, deflect all praise to the players; they are the ones who make the plays.
    When things go right, attract all criticism -- "we need to coach better."
     
  9. loshjott

    loshjott Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Back after the first Super Bowl win when Belichick was still being criticized in some quarters for not being a rah rah traditional motivator, Dr. Z wrote something I still remember to the effect of nothing motivates players more than competence in a HC. If the players trust that he knows what he's doing and puts them in the best position to be successful, that's better than all the rah rah stuff. Of course we know that Belichick uses motivation also like with Marcus Pollard's comment about "just hand us the rings."

    Another thing that I'm sure the players love is how he always without fail credits the players after a big win and doesn't single them out publicly after bad losses. After a loss it's always "we need to play better and coach better." Never calls out individual plays and players in public (I'm sure he does in private). And after a big win it's always "all credit goes to the players." If I notice it, I'm sure they do.

    EDIT: dammit, took too long.
     
  10. biff_hardbody

    biff_hardbody lurker

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    When I think of Belicheck I think of his 100% commitment to winning. His entire being, the message he gives the players, his demeanor, the roster and in-game choices he makes, is devoted to winning the game in front of him. Bill doesn't conduct himself to be the most liked coach or the most revered coach. He isn't worried about his owner's favor or saving his job - not that he has to any more. He only wants to win the next game. He is the living embodiment of Vince Lombardi's "winning isn't every thing it's the only thing."

    As DDB notes above he does not seem tired of the challenges which accompany the challenge of winning. He may even gain new satisfaction in finding new ways to win.

    EDIT: A quick google search to note that Red Saunders is attributed with the above Lombardi quote, though Vince said it himself as well.
     
  11. mwonow

    mwonow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Reading the above, and having read pretty well all of BB's press conference transcripts for years, I'd add:
    • It's absolutely true that he deflects credit onto players. However...BB almost never singles out players for praise, and never for criticism. Ask him about the progress a young guy has made or continued excellence from a vet, and he'll morph it into a comment about a wider set of players, position group or the team as a whole. Ask him about an individual or a specific error, and you've cued up the "we all have things to improve on. We all need to coach better, and play better" auto-response.
    • The bottom of the roster is really important, and gets a lot of love and care. As do special teams, which often feature players from the bottom of the roster.
    • Unless he's talking about something that ties into history or (in analyzing opponents) formations and tendencies, BB refuses to engage in any dialogue that diverges from his focus on the next W. Ask about how a team is doing, what he thinks of a player or situation elsewhere in the league, or (hah!) an injury to a Pats player, and the response will sound exactly like the reverberation of the question off a brick wall.
    • I'm sure many coaches say that once you're inside the facility, pedigree doesn't matter, but BB is extreme in putting this into practice. The best players make the team, the best of these play...consistent with the focus on winning noted above.
    • The last two points notwithstanding, BB is committed to healthy roster turnover. In many cases, he will keep a younger guy with more upside over an older guy with more present value, especially if he believes the older guy has plateaued. I think this general belief in maximizing asset value is the reason why he will trade back to pick up draft capital: he doesn't discount future benefit in pursuit of immediate returns, or at least, not to the extent that seems common in the league.
    Great topic!
     
  12. tims4wins

    tims4wins PN23's replacement SoSH Member

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    I think moving on from Bennett to Dwayne Allen was a good example of your last bullet (of course there are countless other examples). Hasn't worked out as planned, but he went with the younger, healthier, cheaper option.
     
  13. Toe Nash

    Toe Nash Member SoSH Member

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    Not quite covered:
    Never forego an opportunity to get better. A good example is the KC game in 2014 -- a lot of coaches would have put in their backups and told everyone to not get hurt after it was 41-7. He did put in Garoppolo, but he kept everyone playing hard and he said later he took a lot of pride in how hard the team played at that point and found things they could build on going forward.
     
  14. SoxJox

    SoxJox Member SoSH Member

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    From the man himself, but more generally on leadership vs. coaching per se.

    Leadership means...

    Looking at his numbers at NE, finishing 1st in the AFC East 14 of 17 years. Just...wow.

    And, as a bonus, 4 career lessons he wants millenials to know (including his own kids)

     
  15. TFP

    TFP Dope Dope

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    Technically they’ve finished 1st or tied for 1st every year since 2001. The only year a team has had a better record in the AFC East was 2000.
     
  16. SoxJox

    SoxJox Member SoSH Member

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    True. In 2002 and 2008 they tied, but lost tiebreakers.
     
  17. cgrove13

    cgrove13 lurker

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    Not really based on anything he's said, but something I always enjoy imagining him say: Winning championships is the only goal, and winning in the NFL is too uncertain. So NEVER go for it now. You can't pick your year, so you have to aim for excellence every year and be ready when your opportunity comes.
     
  18. RGREELEY33

    RGREELEY33 Potty Mouth Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Competition. The man loves competition. And, everything is a competition. And the best man will win that competition, regardless of stature, and will get to Do His Job.

    I think that drives a lot of his decision-making -- it isn't trying to time when guys are about to decline or whatever, he just lets the competition play out, and when someone is better at doing something than someone else on the team, then that person wins and the other goes.
     
  19. bakahump

    bakahump Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Focus on what the players CAN do. Not what they CANT. (Or Put your players in a position to succeed).

    Cant think of any recent examples (though they are probably everywhere) but Chung is one thats been around awhile. Kinda a shitty cover Safety in Philly. Came back here and put in much better positions to succeed. Edit: Dwayne Allen is another. "Ok guy cant catch, lets put him positions where he doesnt have to catch but can block his ass off".

    I think too often Coaches (and fans) think "Patrick is good at doing X. Maybe he can do Y as well." only to fail miserably. However the following week the powers that be think "Well if he can just do Y this week, we should be good."
     
  20. Bowhemian

    Bowhemian Member SoSH Member

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    I think you can add McCourty to that list. He was drafted as a corner, played a couple years at it and was then moved to safety.
     
  21. 75cent bleacher seat

    75cent bleacher seat Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Perhaps our President one day....
     
  22. 4 6 3 DP

    4 6 3 DP Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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  23. speedracer

    speedracer Member SoSH Member

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    For me, Belichick's most astounding trait is his ability not to take anything personally. Of course he has to make difficult game/roster decisions, mete out discipline and such, but it's always in the interest of improving the team. Never to nurse a grudge, retaliate against someone who showed him up, or anything like that.

    Randy Moss speaks of Belichick with great admiration and reverence even after throwing a tantrum and getting shipped out of town. On his way out, Brandon Spikes accused Belichick of treating him like a slave, and Belichick put that aside and (briefly) brought him back. I'm sure there are many more stories like this that haven't seen the light of day.
     
  24. mwonow

    mwonow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I don't generally quote my own posts, but I had to laugh when I saw this in BB's post game transcript:

    On whether he's still surprised by the way QB Tom Brady plays at his age

    "I think our entire team played well tonight and that makes it good for everybody else to play well. Tom [Brady] played well, receivers played well, backs played well, line played well, defense played well and special teams played well. That makes everybody's job a little bit easier. That's good complementary football. Tom did a good job, but I mean everybody played well. That's really the way we like to play, get those contributions from all three units every week."
     
  25. McBride11

    McBride11 Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    The follow along to this. We know Brady is chip on his shoulder incredibly motivated and dedicated person. Does BB sort of minimizing his achievements further drive Brady? "I'm gonna show him!"
    Probably an over simplification but it is amazing what some of these pros use as motivation
     
  26. johnmd20

    johnmd20 voice of soccer Lifetime Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Decent speculation but I'm not sure this is the case. Brady doesn't need accolades and he's got enough experience with Belichick to know he wants to motivate the entire team, not just the QB. By complimenting Brady universally, and leaving the team out of it, it wouldn't help the team.

    I have to imagine Brady knows what he's got in Bill and Bill knows what he's got with Brady. Brady has a chip on his shoulder, but it's not there because of Belichick.
     
  27. slamminsammya

    slamminsammya Member SoSH Member

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    I think this is something that has already been covered, but I wanted to phrase it how I see it. Many coaches have "systems" or rules they follow. Belichick is one of the only coaches out there who's system is one level of abstraction removed from the usual, and thus it appears often there is no system. The rule is to always adapt and always be flexible.

    Some coaches play a 4-3 over, some play 3-4, some have a no huddle system, or prefer tall quarterbacks, or whatever. Belichick doesn't have a system in this sense. Do you have the players for a 3-4? Play a 3-4. Think you can make it on 4th down at your own 30? Go for it. Team has 3 good cornerbacks? Spend the whole game throwing to your tight ends. Etc. etc. etc.

    People often say something like "BB doesn't tend to do X" followed by him doing X. The point is, he follows almost no rules at that low level of abstraction. Winning and gaining advantages towards that end are the only rules, and everything else is dictated by the situation.
     
  28. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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  29. speedracer

    speedracer Member SoSH Member

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    Video is a highlight of Jacoby Brissett running an option play against Houston, one of a handful of plays Belichick put in and made the team practice (in 4 days!) so that Brissett and the team could succeed.
     
  30. snowmanny

    snowmanny Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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  31. Toe Nash

    Toe Nash Member SoSH Member

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    Good examples that come to mind:
    Rob Ninkovich - Not very big, didn't play at a big school, didn't really fit at one position, cut by two teams, not an exceptional athlete. Doesn't do anything extremely well but is a smart tough player and does a lot of things decently. Finds a key role with NE.

    Wes Welker - Tiny guy who's not going to beat physical bigger corners as a standard outside WR. Not exceptional straight-line speed but extremely quick and agile. Used by Miami as a return guy and 3rd wideout and has success but not a lot of exposure. BB literally remakes his whole offense to revolve around Moss going deep and Welker running underneath and make a role for what Welker does well. So instead of getting 60 catches he gets 100+.
     
  32. tims4wins

    tims4wins PN23's replacement SoSH Member

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    This is gold

    edit: tried to quote snowmanny
     
  33. chief1

    chief1 lurker

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    I love his leadership, team building, and systematic approach on everything. A few examples:
    • Giving all his coaches the book "Its your ship" take ownership of it. (great read by the way). Then gives the coaches the freedom to do their job and trust them on it.
    • Road trips such as the one they are on now where he takes the opportunity to team build, while at the same time letting the players know he cares about the grind of cross country late night travel.
    • He most always plans those trips to be at a place with history and has a story behind it so that he can use it as both a teaching moment and a motivational or inspirational lift.
    There are so many others. We are blessed to have had him as the HC of the NEP.
     
  34. Reardons Beard

    Reardons Beard Member SoSH Member

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    Don't do what everyone else is doing. Finding a competitive advantage exists on the edge of what is coventional and mainstream.
     
  35. mwonow

    mwonow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Like joint practices in preseason...
     
  36. Dick Drago

    Dick Drago Member SoSH Member

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    I think the excellent way he interacts and relates to players is often unheralded, because he comes across as crusty and acerbic to the media.

    Bennett told the anecdote about signing, flying out to Denver, getting two hours sleep and telling BB he just wanted to go to sleep.....only to be convinced to go out and "take a few snaps." Bennett's quote was that BB "knows how to talk to him," which I found interesting. He didn't bark at him or beg, simply reasoned with him. MB definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer, and I'm sure wouldn't respond well to a coach getting in his face. Blount raved about the level of communication in New England, and how he never had to wonder where he stood.
     
  37. Joe Sixpack

    Joe Sixpack Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    That reminds me of the story of how he got Tony Gonzalez to block on special teams in the Pro Bowl:

    http://sportsworld.nbcsports.com/everyones-got-a-bill-belichick-story/
     
  38. DourDoerr

    DourDoerr Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The true value of work. Everything BB does - bringing in players for evaluation IN CASE he may need them, practicing a specific play (the Butler interception), designing different game plans that may deviate wildly one week to the next, signing a younger player to take the place of a still productive vet, etc. - guarantees himself more work. And he pays that price. In fact, he works to make his work more efficient so he can essentially work more. It's human to want to make things easier for oneself. I think BB realizes that fighting that instinct is an advantage worth mining. Yeah, he's very smart - but there are a lot of smart people. He also just really works and I think it filters down throughout the whole organization and the players. A great lesson.
     
  39. mwonow

    mwonow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Great piece, thanks. And it included a nugget I did not know: "Belichick facts: Bill Belichick loves the Grateful Dead and Bon Jovi, will quote “The Art of War,” has read all the Harry Potter books, preferred lacrosse to football as a player and is probably breaking down film right now, no matter when you are reading this."

    Odd pair of musical favorites, that...
     
  40. PaulinMyrBch

    PaulinMyrBch Don't touch his dog food Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The thing that comes to mind is his ability to take advantage of rule changes. Obviously the filming from the sideline thing aside, he’s always taking a change and finding the way to make it a benefit before anyone else. Other teams cry about what they can’t do anymore and he finds a way to find an advantage.

    Most recent example is the new kickoff rule. Most teams boot it out of the end zone, he figures a way to kick it higher, force a return, and cover resulting in shorter fields for the other team.

    When defensive secondary rules changed and DB’s only had 5 yards, he not only changed the style of our defense, but of the offense as well. Taking advantage of things others were late on.

    I’m not sure how you tag what I’ve just described, but he’s always forward thinking on league changes. Finds a way to make change an advantage.
     
  41. Bergs

    Bergs Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I believe the technical term is "Cheatriots"
     
  42. Pandemonium67

    Pandemonium67 Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    From today's ESPN Boston:

    As for why the fullback position is such a big part of the Patriots’ offense when it has been declining across the NFL, Belichick answered in a matter-of-fact tone.

    If you have good, productive players, you try to find a way to use them -- whatever they play,” he said.
     
  43. loshjott

    loshjott Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    CB Troy Brown and FB Mike Vrabel nod their heads in agreement.
     
  44. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    This one in particular cuts the other way, too. They year Develin was hurt, they didn't try to plug in another FB and run the same stuff with a lesser player. They went with no FB and ran a different kind of offense.
     
  45. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I thought of this a lot during the game this week. It's in Denver, the air is thin, the ball travels well, so I'm wondering if both teams will simply boom every kick out of the end zone.
    • Denver kicks off to open the game. Kick goes over everything, just as I expected. Pats' ball on the 25.
    • NE scores and kicks off. Short kick to the 11. Returned to the 21.
    • Denver kicks FG and kicks off. Oh, they are changing their strategy to mirror the Pats and kicking shorter, only 3 yards deep. Lewis returns it 103 yards for a TD.
    • NE scores and kicks off. Short kick to the 1. Returned to the 21.
    • Denver goes back to initial strategy and booms every kick over everything. Pats get ball at 25 every time.
    • Pats continue short kick strategy. Denver average starting field position is somewhere inside the 25 (I can't find the exact info anywhere, but I don't remember ever seeing them start beyond the 25).
     
  46. tims4wins

    tims4wins PN23's replacement SoSH Member

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    They did return one kick to the 31-32, but all of the other returns were inside the 25.

    Edit: let's not forget that he did this in the Super Bowl with some success too. Atlanta's last drive started at their own 11 or so.
     
  47. Hoya81

    Hoya81 Member SoSH Member

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    I’m imagining a reporter asking a HP question as a joke and getting a Bavaroesque response about who his favorite character is.
     
  48. edmunddantes

    edmunddantes Member SoSH Member

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    I swear I saw somewhere 22.5 yard line or something as their average starting position.
     
  49. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    "Yeah, you know, when you're fighting the forces of Voldemort, you have to be strong in all 4 houses, have to use what each of them does well. Courage, wisdom, empathy, even deviousness. I think what you've seen in recent years is, the school classes with more success have been those who've used their junior wizards and witches, who've listened to them and given them meaningful responsibility and seen what they make of it. Neville, right, who saw all of that coming? But sooner or later, you won't have Dumbledore there anymore, and you just hope that the philosophies, the structures you've left behind, can endure and continue to find success."
     
  50. SumnerH

    SumnerH Malt Liquor Picker Dope

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    Also, across much of the field the point expectancy is linear with yardage. But that's not true at the extremes--being pinned inside the 15 has disproportionately lower point expectancy. So even if you risked having them take over plus or minus 15 (on their 10 or their 40), you'd be coming out slightly ahead on expected point value in the long run.

    pointexpectancy.jpg
    http://archive.advancedfootballanalytics.com/2008/08/expected-points.html
     

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