OK, I am going to ask the question: Has BB lost his fastball?

Mystic Merlin

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It wouldn’t shock me to see them lose one of Tennessee or Miami. They have consistently sucked playing down in Miami. I think 5-12 is also in play as well. Sign me up for a top 10 pick at this point because I would rather have that than go 7-10 or 8-9 and be stuck in mediocrity with a mid first round pick.
This isn’t the NBA, you can find with regularity impact players throughout the first, particularly in the top 15-20.

And if they go 5-12 with disappointing performances/development from key young players they need to progress, as opposed to a scenario where they go 7-10 and get advancement from younger players that is likely the reason they win a few more games, then that’s not worth 5-6 draft slots. This isn’t the Process, here.
 

4 6 3 DP

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Yes, I'm sure Belichick went into drafts thinking how he could show up Kiper and McShay. Is there any evidence to suggest this????
Had he literally taken best player available with his first and second rounders in most of those drafts he'd have gotten better players than a lot of these picks. Why is that hard to acknowledge? We said the same with Sweeney in the Bruins forum. Whether it's Bill getting cute or whatever his reason, the consensus has been better than him with early rounders for the most part. This year Jones and Barmore were kinda right there with consensus. Kraft commented there was a change in the process. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't taking Ras-I Dowling and Tavon Wilson and JoeJuan Williams and Duke Dawson and getting nothing with second rounders. Everyone misses, Bill misses an awful lot, even if those picks aren't top 10. I don't think this is really arguable, the question is more can past history predict future performance.
 

BigJimEd

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Had he literally taken best player available with his first and second rounders in most of those drafts he'd have gotten better players than a lot of these picks. Why is that hard to acknowledge? We said the same with Sweeney in the Bruins forum. Whether it's Bill getting cute or whatever his reason, the consensus has been better than him with early rounders for the most part. This year Jones and Barmore were kinda right there with consensus. Kraft commented there was a change in the process. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't taking Ras-I Dowling and Tavon Wilson and JoeJuan Williams and Duke Dawson and getting nothing with second rounders. Everyone misses, Bill misses an awful lot, even if those picks aren't top 10. I don't think this is really arguable, the question is more can past history predict future performance.
Yes, everyone misses. That's the point. One can criticize him all they want but where is the evidence that Belichick misses because he's trying to prove he's smarter than Mel Kiper??? IMO, that is just a lazy narrative. No team follows the "consensus" not that there really even is one single consensus especially once you get past the first half of the first round.
Belichick's been at it a long time. They've had some runs of good drafts and some bad drafts. I don't see a need to put some silly, unsubstantiated motivation behind any of it.


As far as change in process, as noted earlier, the Patriots had changes in front office personnel this year as well. This year's draft shows potential. Hopefully, they can repeat that.
 

jmanny24

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SJH has brought this up in some form, but is one of the problems that BB the GM looks to bring in Patriot type players (especially on D with plodding LBs and space eating DL that don't consistently push the pocket) that won 10-15 yrs ago, but is no longer how teams win in 2021?
 

Jimbodandy

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I'd like to offer some commentary "from the other side of the story," i.e. I am someone who is in the trajectory of losing his fastball at age 74, which is nearly nine years into my retirement. First, there is nothing intrinsically wrong about losing mental acuity, but there is a responsibility that one must assume, namely to ensure that any damage to others will be minimized, or even fully offset if you can do it. I was fortunate in my career, as I always had surrounded myself with talent different from and greater than my own, so it worked out well that the more I trusted the people around me, the better our whole organization became. In the case at hand of our beloved Head Coach, it is harder to make the case that his Assistants have been better (retired Coach Scar may be the most shining example of a "better" Assistant, but the track record of Belichick's "tree" has not been impressive). It's a great risk to have Steve B. in his post, as the chances of a son correcting his father are less than a non-family member being able to fix an issue.

Second, the hardest moments of the "losing fastball syndrome" occur when you're still sharp enough to know that it's happening, and others haven't yet caught on or are just starting to catch on. In my own case, I have always had cheerful memories of the collie next door when I was 14-16 years old; I never had a pet-anything and this dog was such a mood-lifter. But this past weekend, I agonized for most of the weekend trying to remember the dog's name until "Cindy" finally jumped into my head from out of nowhere last night. I see how important/central it is to Belichick to be able to "go down memory lane" on arcane topics such as the evolution of long-snappers. I suspect that he may be trying to prove to himself that he's still "with it." Also, a tried and true way to throw people off the trail that you're losing your fastball is to be in control of what will be the subject matter of the conversation.

Third, there is a balance between remembering the lessons of history (as "there is nothing new under the sun," so new problems are often old problems wearing new clothing) and not being able "to go with the times." It may very well be true that what was a mistake earlier (going for it on fourth and two, with the pass to Faulk not getting the needing yardage) is today's correct call (the contemporary analytics smile on going for it on short fourth-down yardage, especially when your defense is gassed). Still, it is just too easy to conflate bad decisions with bad outcomes. I'm blessed that in my own life the worst decision (based upon a weighted-criteria approach) which was to get married at age 21 turned out to give me the best outcome 52 years later (being in the same marriage, with two kids and their kids having all turned out to be wonderful and still connected with me). Perhaps professional athletes are different now than when Belichick learned the trade under Parcells, and it would have been better to let up on the "Johnny from Foxboro High" harangue upon Brady after he had won whatever number of Super Bowls.

Finally, success can each go a long way towards buying time. The Patriots so far this season remind me of one of my favorite Milton Berle lines ("I have sex almost every day - I almost have sex on Monday, I almost have sex on Tuesday, etc."). Indeed the Patriots have won almost every game so far this season. I suspect that in the next few weeks, perhaps stirred most by the return of Trent Brown if/when it happens, will start to have more "moral loss" (I think the terminology was introduced upthread) moments, and we'll even be tempted to believe that the genius mind has found its way home to our Coach.
Thanks for this.

Sure, Belichick probably isn't innovating as much as he once did. That's definitely part of what people are seeing, and maybe part of that is that he's on the 16th tee box (or so).

It does raise the question of who is doing it better right now. Now, one might say Arians, I suppose. A year ago, one would say Reid perhaps. But nobody doesn't have down years. As a less old, but still old, man, I can look back on my good years, bad years, and clock-punching mediocre years pretty clearly. Bet Bill can too. Someone referenced the drought years between the first three and second three super bowls upthread. Lots of folks thought that Bill (and Brady) was done then too.
 
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Cellar-Door

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SJH has brought this up in some form, but is one of the problems that BB the GM looks to bring in Patriot type players (especially on D with plodding LBs and space eating DL that don't consistently push the pocket) that won 10-15 yrs ago, but is no longer how teams win in 2021?
That's certainly my concern. I know when predicting prospects every year SMU crosses a bunch of guys off the list at LB because Bill won't take anyone that light.
Past examples include Darius Leonard, JOK this year, Patrick Queen
 

j44thor

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I'm not ignoring it, I'm saying you can't treat every snap like your O-line will suck and not read the defense post-snap. Though also... they're not THAT bad, they're league averagish by most measures at pass blocking, while struggling with the blitz, it's a rough year for O-lines in general this year.

Identifying and handling pressure is an important thing for an NFL QB to learn. Mac is a rookie, so he gets some breaks, but at the same time, the assumption that he can't take any criticism for mis-identifying the amount of pressure and wasting snaps is silly. It's something he'll need to improve. I'm pointing it out because it's something he can improve. I would guess when that play comes up in film session this week, after Harry gets ripped a new one, Josh will go over with Mac where he could have taken a beat, settled then made a decision. He got himself moving too fast and didn't process the play.

You can't just write off every negative decision or play as "oh the O-line is bad, so it's not his fault", sometimes it's the line's fault, sometimes he made a poor decision, NFL QB play is all about parsing these things. I think Mac has a lot of potential, I also think it's valuable to identify plays where he makes mistakes, and identify them as areas he can improve.
This seems like a really odd play to take a stand on. Mac might have been able to read the rush and adjust the line if his veteran former 1st rd pick WR had a clue as to where to line up and where to go on the play. Tough to make any line adjustments when you literally have to put the WR in motion, he also can't count on him to run his route so that is one passing option immediately eliminated. I think when they go over this play in film session the critique ends with Harry and they either suggest burning a TO in that situation or congratulate Mac for not taking a delay of game or sack or turning it over. Would TB12 have done anything differently in this situation? Perhaps he would have burnt the final TO of the game then but I think he probably would have taken the incompletion as well, something we saw him do many, many times in his final season.
 

Cellar-Door

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This seems like a really odd play to take a stand on. Mac might have been able to read the rush and adjust the line if his veteran former 1st rd pick WR had a clue as to where to line up and where to go on the play. Tough to make any line adjustments when you literally have to put the WR in motion, he also can't count on him to run his route so that is one passing option immediately eliminated. I think when they go over this play in film session the critique ends with Harry and they either suggest burning a TO in that situation or congratulate Mac for not taking a delay of game or sack or turning it over. Would TB12 have done anything differently in this situation? Perhaps he would have burnt the final TO of the game then but I think he probably would have taken the incompletion as well, something we saw him do many, many times in his final season.
It's a minor thing, I just noticed it since the play was posted.

I think Brady does 1 of 3 things...
1. Takes the TO
2. Takes the snap, looks left, looks right, throws it away.
3. Takes the snap and finds an open man (possibly the RB leaking out since there was nobody for him to block.

I wasn't saying it is some terrible play, just that the way Mac took that play caught my eye as him getting sped up to get the snap off then not slowing himself down. It's not a disaster, but the move to being a top QB is not letting yourself get sped up like that. It was just a note on the process. Pre-play was a mess, and he let that carry over, he also seemed to think there was more pressure than there was. The incompletion wasn't my critique, it was that he never even looked for anything, he immediately threw it out on the snap. I think that was because he was very concerned with not taking a loss. Which is a good 1st step, what I'd like to see from him by end of year is, okay, don't take a loss, but don't get so jumpy about it that you don't give yourself a chance to get the positive play.
 

jmanny24

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That's certainly my concern. I know when predicting prospects every year SMU crosses a bunch of guys off the list at LB because Bill won't take anyone that light.
Past examples include Darius Leonard, JOK this year, Patrick Queen
Agreed I always cringe when I hear "Player X isn't a Team Y type player" to me any player that helps you win games should be your type of player. Trying to fit a round peg into a square hole rarely works. Sometimes you have to reform the hole to get the best out of the peg. See: Seguin, Tyler
 

lexrageorge

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It's a minor thing, I just noticed it since the play was posted.

I think Brady does 1 of 3 things...
1. Takes the TO
2. Takes the snap, looks left, looks right, throws it away.
3. Takes the snap and finds an open man (possibly the RB leaking out since there was nobody for him to block.

I wasn't saying it is some terrible play, just that the way Mac took that play caught my eye as him getting sped up to get the snap off then not slowing himself down. It's not a disaster, but the move to being a top QB is not letting yourself get sped up like that. It was just a note on the process. Pre-play was a mess, and he let that carry over, he also seemed to think there was more pressure than there was. The incompletion wasn't my critique, it was that he never even looked for anything, he immediately threw it out on the snap. I think that was because he was very concerned with not taking a loss. Which is a good 1st step, what I'd like to see from him by end of year is, okay, don't take a loss, but don't get so jumpy about it that you don't give yourself a chance to get the positive play.
I doubt Brady burns the team's final timeout.

So, yes, Brady, Gronk, White, and Edelman were familiar enough with the system that they could improvise a play. Mac and his corps aren't there yet. Harry was so far out of position that the degree of difficulty in salvaging a play was quite high. Throwing it away in that situation really made the most sense.
 
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Eddie Jurak

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I'm not ignoring it, I'm saying you can't treat every snap like your O-line will suck and not read the defense post-snap. Though also... they're not THAT bad, they're league averagish by most measures at pass blocking, while struggling with the blitz, it's a rough year for O-lines in general this year.

Identifying and handling pressure is an important thing for an NFL QB to learn. Mac is a rookie, so he gets some breaks, but at the same time, the assumption that he can't take any criticism for mis-identifying the amount of pressure and wasting snaps is silly. It's something he'll need to improve. I'm pointing it out because it's something he can improve. I would guess when that play comes up in film session this week, after Harry gets ripped a new one, Josh will go over with Mac where he could have taken a beat, settled then made a decision. He got himself moving too fast and didn't process the play.

You can't just write off every negative decision or play as "oh the O-line is bad, so it's not his fault", sometimes it's the line's fault, sometimes he made a poor decision, NFL QB play is all about parsing these things. I think Mac has a lot of potential, I also think it's valuable to identify plays where he makes mistakes, and identify them as areas he can improve.
You are criticizing a rookie QB because he came to the line, realized one of his receivers was out to lunch, got the play off and threw the ball away when his first read wasn't open.
It's a minor thing, I just noticed it since the play was posted.

I think Brady does 1 of 3 things...
1. Takes the TO
2. Takes the snap, looks left, looks right, throws it away.
3. Takes the snap and finds an open man (possibly the RB leaking out since there was nobody for him to block.

I wasn't saying it is some terrible play, just that the way Mac took that play caught my eye as him getting sped up to get the snap off then not slowing himself down. It's not a disaster, but the move to being a top QB is not letting yourself get sped up like that. It was just a note on the process. Pre-play was a mess, and he let that carry over, he also seemed to think there was more pressure than there was. The incompletion wasn't my critique, it was that he never even looked for anything, he immediately threw it out on the snap. I think that was because he was very concerned with not taking a loss. Which is a good 1st step, what I'd like to see from him by end of year is, okay, don't take a loss, but don't get so jumpy about it that you don't give yourself a chance to get the positive play.
And here you acknowledge that veteran Tom Brady might have thrown the ball away, before pivoting back to criticizing Jones for doing what you admit Brady might have done.

Maybe reconsider whether you are really being objective here?
 

Cellar-Door

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You are criticizing a rookie QB because he came to the line, realized one of his receivers was out to lunch, got the play off and threw the ball away when his first read wasn't open.
And here you acknowledge that veteran Tom Brady might have thrown the ball away, before pivoting back to criticizing Jones for doing what you admit Brady might have done.

Maybe reconsider whether you are really being objective here?
I mean I explained in the post you quoted the difference. I don't think I am the one not being objective here. There is a difference between taking the snap seeing what is happening and choosing to throw it away and taking the snap and immediately throwing it out. Man it is getting crazy in this forum with regards to any indication that you think Mac might have things to improve, or may have made a less than ideal play.

Edit- process matters, I don't care if Mac throws incompletions, or chooses to throw it away, that can be the right play. I care about how he gets there. In this case he got thrown off by the formation mistake and got rushed mentally and physically, his footwork was bad, he seemed to think he had no time to drop back and assess the play. It's a minor criticism of his play. That people reacted the way they did is far more telling of "objectivity" than my noting a play that could have been processed better.
 
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Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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SJH has brought this up in some form, but is one of the problems that BB the GM looks to bring in Patriot type players (especially on D with plodding LBs and space eating DL that don't consistently push the pocket) that won 10-15 yrs ago, but is no longer how teams win in 2021?
I think this is a bit exaggerated. Most teams want a mix of interior DL types to play situationally, including space eaters, and I don’t think the Pats are really an exception. Most of the interior DL the team has drafted high, including Barmore last spring, are more athletic guys with some perceived pass rush upside. We’ve just whiffed the pick on guys like brown and Easley. BB clearly has a preference for bigger LBs who will hold up against the run and wondering about that is fair game. But that also needs to be contextualized in that (like other teams) the team’s “base defense” at this point is really the nickel in which a safety is playing as the weak side LB so we’re really talking about two true LBs on the field and most teams will have at least one of them be a bigger guy. We also just drafted a 6’0 235 pound off ball linebacker (albeit in the fifth round) so that is one sign of being willing to consider a different physical profile.
 
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Eddie Jurak

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I mean I explained in the post you quoted the difference. I don't think I am the one not being objective here. There is a difference between taking the snap seeing what is happening and choosing to throw it away and taking the snap and immediately throwing it out. Man it is getting crazy in this forum with regards to any indication that you think Mac might have things to improve, or may have made a less than ideal play.

Edit- process matters, I don't care if Mac throws incompletions, or chooses to throw it away, that can be the right play. I care about how he gets there. In this case he got thrown off by the formation mistake and got rushed mentally and physically, his footwork was bad, he seemed to think he had no time to drop back and assess the play. It's a minor criticism of his play. That people reacted the way they did is far more telling of "objectivity" than my noting a play that could have been processed better.
Hey, I listed Mac as one of my 3 goats for yesterday (specifically for missing high on a couple of open slants, both of which should have been completed and one of which turned into a pick 6) so I think I am capable of criticizing him when it is due.

You are criticizing him for playing it safe on a busted play.
 

Tony C

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I'd like to offer some commentary "from the other side of the story," i.e. I am someone who is in the trajectory of losing his fastball at age 74, which is nearly nine years into my retirement. First, there is nothing intrinsically wrong about losing mental acuity, but there is a responsibility that one must assume, namely to ensure that any damage to others will be minimized, or even fully offset if you can do it. I was fortunate in my career, as I always had surrounded myself with talent different from and greater than my own, so it worked out well that the more I trusted the people around me, the better our whole organization became. In the case at hand of our beloved Head Coach, it is harder to make the case that his Assistants have been better (retired Coach Scar may be the most shining example of a "better" Assistant, but the track record of Belichick's "tree" has not been impressive). It's a great risk to have Steve B. in his post, as the chances of a son correcting his father are less than a non-family member being able to fix an issue.

Second, the hardest moments of the "losing fastball syndrome" occur when you're still sharp enough to know that it's happening, and others haven't yet caught on or are just starting to catch on. In my own case, I have always had cheerful memories of the collie next door when I was 14-16 years old; I never had a pet-anything and this dog was such a mood-lifter. But this past weekend, I agonized for most of the weekend trying to remember the dog's name until "Cindy" finally jumped into my head from out of nowhere last night. I see how important/central it is to Belichick to be able to "go down memory lane" on arcane topics such as the evolution of long-snappers. I suspect that he may be trying to prove to himself that he's still "with it." Also, a tried and true way to throw people off the trail that you're losing your fastball is to be in control of what will be the subject matter of the conversation.

Third, there is a balance between remembering the lessons of history (as "there is nothing new under the sun," so new problems are often old problems wearing new clothing) and not being able "to go with the times." It may very well be true that what was a mistake earlier (going for it on fourth and two, with the pass to Faulk not getting the needing yardage) is today's correct call (the contemporary analytics smile on going for it on short fourth-down yardage, especially when your defense is gassed). Still, it is just too easy to conflate bad decisions with bad outcomes. I'm blessed that in my own life the worst decision (based upon a weighted-criteria approach) which was to get married at age 21 turned out to give me the best outcome 52 years later (being in the same marriage, with two kids and their kids having all turned out to be wonderful and still connected with me). Perhaps professional athletes are different now than when Belichick learned the trade under Parcells, and it would have been better to let up on the "Johnny from Foxboro High" harangue upon Brady after he had won whatever number of Super Bowls.

Finally, success can each go a long way towards buying time. The Patriots so far this season remind me of one of my favorite Milton Berle lines ("I have sex almost every day - I almost have sex on Monday, I almost have sex on Tuesday, etc."). Indeed the Patriots have won almost every game so far this season. I suspect that in the next few weeks, perhaps stirred most by the return of Trent Brown if/when it happens, will start to have more "moral loss" (I think the terminology was introduced upthread) moments, and we'll even be tempted to believe that the genius mind has found its way home to our Coach.
What a wide post. Thank you.
 

JokersWildJIMED

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Lazar posted this in his latest column....



The Pats’ head coach has slowly become more conservative over the years, while the rest of the NFL zigs, Belichick, is zagging, going in the other direction by becoming the least aggressive fourth-down decision-maker in the entire league in 2021.

Image


According to win probability models constructed by RBSDM.com, the Patriots are dead-last in how often they are going for it on fourth down when they should. New England has been in 41 fourth downs this season and has gone for it just three times, with 23 punts and 15 field goal attempts. On those 41 fourth downs, there were eight instances where going for it would’ve increased their win probability by at least one percentile, and they’ve punted all eight times.

In their most recent loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Patriots punted the ball on three instances where their win probability would’ve increased if they had gone for it: fourth-and-one from the NE 35 (+3.4 go for it), fourth-and-two from the 50 (+2.0 go for it), and fourth-and-four from the NE 46 (+2.2 go for it).
 

Captaincoop

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If you have a computer model for win probability, and the decision to go for it comes out +2 or +3%...that's totally meaningless in making the decision whether to go for it or not, IMO. There is no model so accurate and so comprehensive that it can slice those decisions that thin. At a 2-3% differential, specific circumstances not accounted for in the computer analysis (e.g. weather, individual personnel strengths of the defense, injuries, etc.) could easily swing it hard either way in any given case.
 

Cellar-Door

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If you have a computer model for win probability, and the decision to go for it comes out +2 or +3%...that's totally meaningless in making the decision whether to go for it or not, IMO. There is no model so accurate and so comprehensive that it can slice those decisions that thin. At a 2-3% differential, specific circumstances not accounted for in the computer analysis (e.g. weather, individual personnel strengths of the defense, injuries, etc.) could easily swing it hard either way in any given case.
Also, as was noted earlier, every probability model is different, and often have significantly different outputs. The OT punt for example, had a big split between the 2 most used public models, one said it added WP to go for it, the swing was more than 10 percentage points I believe, the other didn't, which model you use would have a large effect on this as well.
 

Super Nomario

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If you have a computer model for win probability, and the decision to go for it comes out +2 or +3%...that's totally meaningless in making the decision whether to go for it or not, IMO. There is no model so accurate and so comprehensive that it can slice those decisions that thin. At a 2-3% differential, specific circumstances not accounted for in the computer analysis (e.g. weather, individual personnel strengths of the defense, injuries, etc.) could easily swing it hard either way in any given case.
It should be noted, these aren't +2 / +3% implying a 51/49 or 52/48 decision or whatever. It's saying you're going from, say, a 20% chance to a 22% or 23% chance of winning the game, which is pretty significant.

I agree with your statement in principle, but I don't think it applies here. Belichick does not appear to be using circumstances to inform his decisions - he is erring on the side of being overly conservative every single time. We have not seen him be sometimes conservative and sometimes aggressive based on opponent, score, weather, matchup, performance of the offense, etc. - we are just seeing constant timidity. And that even goes for decisions that don't show up here, such as kneeling out the first half with more than a minute left.
 

lexrageorge

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It should be noted, these aren't +2 / +3% implying a 51/49 or 52/48 decision or whatever. It's saying you're going from, say, a 20% chance to a 22% or 23% chance of winning the game, which is pretty significant.
The difference of 2 or 3% is probably well within the error bounds of the models being used.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It should be noted, these aren't +2 / +3% implying a 51/49 or 52/48 decision or whatever. It's saying you're going from, say, a 20% chance to a 22% or 23% chance of winning the game, which is pretty significant.

I agree with your statement in principle, but I don't think it applies here. Belichick does not appear to be using circumstances to inform his decisions - he is erring on the side of being overly conservative every single time. We have not seen him be sometimes conservative and sometimes aggressive based on opponent, score, weather, matchup, performance of the offense, etc. - we are just seeing constant timidity. And that even goes for decisions that don't show up here, such as kneeling out the first half with more than a minute left.
Another interpretation is that the input variables that aren't captured in the models and which he is leaning heavily on are essentially constants for this season. He simply doesn't trust his offense with its rookie QB, patchwork OL, and newcomer WR/TE group to execute in high-leverage "gotta have it" situations when the defense is going to bring its most exotic pressures or otherwise reach deepest into its bag of tricks. And overall he thinks he has a better defense than offense.

I'm not necessarily arguing that he is right to be so consistently conservative. But you can certainly construct an argument that there are constant factors applying to the team this year that consistently weigh in favor of going for it less often than the models would otherwise suggest.
 

Eck'sSneakyCheese

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Win probability aside, there's no question that the play-calling has been more conservative than other teams. I think the question is, is it a new occurrence. I remember seeing something up-thread about how Bill has been more conservative for years now starting about 2012-2013. Maybe it's the lack of execution that's making it more noticeable? We've spent the better part of 2 decades being used to the Pats just getting it done, not making mistakes, and making the plays. Maybe this is just par for the course but because the vanilla plays aren't as effective it seems like a drastic change?
 

Harry Hooper

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Even when Brady was still here, it seemed like BB was kneeling and heading off the field for halftime way more than in previous seasons.
 

tims4wins

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Even when Brady was still here, it seemed like BB was kneeling and heading off the field for halftime way more than in previous seasons.
There were multiple examples of the Pats screwing up the end of the first half going back to 2014. I think that had a lasting impression in BB.
 

Captaincoop

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It should be noted, these aren't +2 / +3% implying a 51/49 or 52/48 decision or whatever. It's saying you're going from, say, a 20% chance to a 22% or 23% chance of winning the game, which is pretty significant.
I get it, and I'm still saying that isn't nearly significant enough to be meaningful in making those decisions. You can feel that Belichick is systematically being too conservative, and you may be right. But these computer models don't prove that, or even close.
 

ShaneTrot

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I love analytics but you need to have context. I think BB is going with I have a rookie QB, my offensive line blows, and I don't have a receiver like Edelman or White who I have faith to get instant separation.
 

Big McCorkle

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You also have to have context in that he was constantly punting against one of the best offenses in football when his defense couldn't stop a nosebleed and he kicked a field goal so that Brady could get the ball back with a minute left and, what, two timeouts? Just think about it. Do you really think the chance of the offense gaining three yards on one play is less than the chance that the Dallas offense isn't going to be able to go forty yards in one possession when they've punted once all day, literally did exactly that on their last possession to send the game to overtime, and are going up against a defense that is gassed and exhausted on account of having been on the field for ninety or so plays? Is the chance of the offense gaining three yards really less than the combined chance of Nick Folk making a 56 yard field goal in the rain and Tom Brady not being able to get his kicker in range with a minute to play and two timeouts? How bad do you think this offense is? Hint: it's not actually that bad. It averages 5.3 yards per play. It converts third downs at a 42% rate, 12th in the NFL.The knee-jerk reversion to "you have to consider the context," tends to be really fucking stupid, especially when such arguments are always ignoring the heaping quantities of "context" that would categorically favor the "aggressive" decision.

It's funny that the "consideration of context" process, when disregarding the suggestive models or more generally excusing cowardly decision making, doesn't seem to ever arrive at a conclusion different from "punt." This belief that punting is the default decision and that going for it is some sort of risky deviation from the default needs to die. The whole thing about going for it on fourth down constituting "gambling" is so logically incoherent that it's gambling. Every coaching decision in game is "gambling," by those standards. Punting the ball is gambling that the field position is actually more valuable than your chance of converting on fourth down, or gambling that the opposing offense won't make up the difference. Calling a run play up the middle is gambling that it'll produce a better outcome, either holistically or in that specific circumstance, than doing literally anything else. Calling a blitz or dropping eight into coverage; both are gambling.

I'm really going to need to see stronger arguments, or even just actual arguments and not "well, maybe the models are wrong or maybe Belichick has good reason to be conservative, who can say?", to think that the pro-conservatism side has any legs to stand on whatsoever. More generally, on one side, you have large quantities of statistical evidence and basic applications of risk-reward analysis and strategic thinking that produces "both go for it" and "punt" suggestions based off of more or less rational models of the various factors at play, and on the other side you have wishy-washy equivocation that invariably produces the same result regardless of the circumstances.

I get it, and I'm still saying that isn't nearly significant enough to be meaningful in making those decisions. You can feel that Belichick is systematically being too conservative, and you may be right. But these computer models don't prove that, or even close.
I'm very curious, what's your standard for significance here? What is it based off of?
 

SMU_Sox

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The models wildly vary on what approach is right. At best they are a guide. If all of them say to do one thing then it’s probably the right decision but if they don’t you have to go by context. In this case with 4th and 3 in OT the models are so all over the place that IDGAF what the models said to do (and some had the 4th and 3 punt as a coin flip in OT) because the models are just a vacuum in a context neutral situation and can’t agree anyway. I think punting was absolutely the wrong call and I find, once again, that statistics are muddying up the picture and not helping. Those models aren’t adjusted for rosters or what has been happening in the game. A punt would be the right play if both defenses were dominating the game and the offenses sucked regardless of what the model said to do. All of them are just context neutral guides. I agree with you Big Mac on BB being conservative but I wouldn’t get there the same way.

Kicking the FG was the wrong call too I think.
 

Eddie Jurak

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If you have a computer model for win probability, and the decision to go for it comes out +2 or +3%...that's totally meaningless in making the decision whether to go for it or not, IMO. There is no model so accurate and so comprehensive that it can slice those decisions that thin. At a 2-3% differential, specific circumstances not accounted for in the computer analysis (e.g. weather, individual personnel strengths of the defense, injuries, etc.) could easily swing it hard either way in any given case.
I don't think the win probability models can say anything about any single decision to go for it or not. The coach may (and almost certainly does) have information that the But I do think they are informative when it comes to the trends. Belichick has become ultra conservative, very likely to the detriment of his team, is a fair conculsion to draw from the model. Belichick was wrong to (for example) kick the field goal against Tampa Bay is not fair.
 

RedOctober3829

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In the game on Sunday, throw models and statistics out the window. You have to look at your offense and trust that they can pick up 3 yards versus giving the ball back to a team who you could not stop from getting into FG range all day long. The right course of action was to go for it on 4th down. It just is.
 

Captaincoop

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I don't think the win probability models can say anything about any single decision to go for it or not. The coach may (and almost certainly does) have information that the But I do think they are informative when it comes to the trends. Belichick has become ultra conservative, very likely to the detriment of his team, is a fair conculsion to draw from the model. Belichick was wrong to (for example) kick the field goal against Tampa Bay is not fair.
Yes, I would agree with that.

I'm not sure why he has gone so hard against being aggressive in general on 4th down, it's a question worth asking. But like you said, I'm not comfortable with "the computer model says we have a 2% better chance of winning if you go for that 4th down, and Belichick kicked a FG, and therefore he screwed up".

The computer model is missing a large amount of relevant information that informs the decision in that particular situation. That's all I'm saying.
 

SMU_Sox

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He was wrong to kick the FG in one model. Others were a coin-flip or suggested it was the right decision. There are like 4-5 models and they all are different, sometimes 30 points different.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Even when Brady was still here, it seemed like BB was kneeling and heading off the field for halftime way more than in previous seasons.
I'm not sure. I think a lot of folks forget that when the Pats got the ball back with under two minutes or so in the first half, a huge percentage of the time, BB/Josh/whoever would call a draw play on first down. If that got stuffed, they'd get conservative. If it popped for a first down to get them some field position, they'd use a timeout, or if they got a first down, they'd go into the no-huddle. But that initial draw (or sometimes screen) play was the key to the entire series. If it didn't work, he didn't risk kicking it back to an opponent with over a minute left and half a field to work with.

It just so happened that with guys like Kevin Faulk, and Shane Vereen and James White, the draw play worked, a lot. Until teams finally figured it out about a decade and a half into the run.
 

cshea

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I always thought they ran the draw/screen to get the clock running and then see how the opponent responded (take timeouts? content?). I don't think it was really go time until the opponent was out of timeouts and/or they were in a position where there was no chance the opposition would get the ball back with time to do anything (barring a turnover).
 
Those models aren’t adjusted for rosters or what has been happening in the game. A punt would be the right play if both defenses were dominating the game and the offenses sucked regardless of what the model said to do. All of them are just context neutral guides.
FWIW, I don't believe this is accurate in at least one of the cases (EdjSports? Sorry, can't remember). The model is more sophisticated than simply taking context-independent averages.

Also, while there is disagreement between models on the numbers, ESPN looks like the outlier to me. Consistently that's the only one that says punting is the right call when the others suggest teams should go for it. So arguing that there is disagreement is slightly misleading, the models overall clearly lean in one direction, and typically they're not *that* far apart (other than ESPN)

Seems to me we should be able to agree on the following
1) Analytics models have long argued that teams are too conservative
2) Teams are less conservative now than they have been in the past
3) Analytics models still think teams are too conservative despite this trend
4) BB has been among the most conservative coaches over the last couple of years
(+ 5) The Pats don't have the margin of error these days that they used to

This seems like a problem to me. If you think you're more likely to give up points attempting to score from 1st and 10 on your own 25 with 90s left and a timeout or two than score yourself then either you're wrong or you've brought a really bad team to the field IMO. Occasionally, sure, maybe you have a injury or you realise you left the stove on in the changing room or something, but if this is happening consistently it's a really negative sign.

I think @Big McCorkle nailed it in #277
 

SMU_Sox

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I think we actually agree more than disagree. My main point is that individual decisions have a lot of noise in them but overall going for it on fourth down when it is fourth and short from mid-field or around it is usually the right decision. For the 4th and 3 vs the Bucs is that decision model going to take account that Jon Jones is playing hobbled? Or that Tom Brady ran a two minute drill before the half and kicked a FG? Some might get at that others would not. I think you need to look at it as a big picture. There are yards and points left on the table by being too conservative and therefore you need to go for more fourth downs especially when the game context dictates to do it. Analytics can show you an area of opportunity. So you should know ok when my team gets close to mid-field and it’s fourth and 4 or less I should be going for it more often. I would have gone for it vs the Bucs and vs the Cowboys in OT. I wouldn’t need to look at a decision model for that because of the game situation and because I already know what those decision models are telling me: that coaches are consistently being too conservative on those downs and distances.
Does that make sense? Basically the more granular you get with models and stats in football the more skeptical I am of them and their accuracy but I also think you can get a lot from studying hundreds and thousands of decisions and understanding key takeaways from them.
 

mauf

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In the Pats’ remaining 10 games, they are likely to be 6+ point favorites in 2 (NYJ, JAX) and 6+ point underdogs in 2 (@LAC, @BUF). Let’s assume they go 2-2 in those 4 games.

In the other 7 games, they are likely to be a significant underdog against the Bills; the other 6 should all be within 3 points. Let’s assume 3-4 in those games.

That racks up to 7-10. Which is pretty good for a team with a rookie QB and problems on the O-Line that doesn’t have a great defense. If BB delivers that result, I won’t fault him or his staff for not getting the most of the talent on hand.

Obviously, BB owns the personnel side too. I’m of the opinion that it’s hard to establish, let alone sustain, any kind of meaningful competitive advantage in the draft. So I think BB is getting too much credit here for the draft successes in the early years of the dynasty and too much blame for the misses in recent years. He has more control over the outcome when it comes to free-agent signings, however, and I don’t see how you can call this year’s crop anything but a miss. I think some people are overreacting to that miss, but if anyone needed evidence that BB is fallible, there it is.

Edit: Info on future lines is from this site.

https://www.survivorgrid.com/
 

RIrooter09

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If we truly finish 7-10 we should be drafting around 12 or 13th in each round. Nailing these picks will be crucial.
 

rodderick

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In the Pats’ remaining 10 games, they are likely to be 6+ point favorites in 2 (NYJ, JAX) and 6+ point underdogs in 2 (@LAC, @BUF). Let’s assume they go 2-2 in those 4 games.

In the other 7 games, they are likely to be a significant underdog against the Bills; the other 6 should all be within 3 points. Let’s assume 3-4 in those games.

That racks up to 7-10. Which is pretty good for a team with a rookie QB and problems on the O-Line that doesn’t have a great defense. If BB delivers that result, I won’t fault him or his staff for not getting the most of the talent on hand.

Obviously, BB owns the personnel side too. I’m of the opinion that it’s hard to establish, let alone sustain, any kind of meaningful competitive advantage in the draft. So I think BB is getting too much credit here for the draft successes in the early years of the dynasty and too much blame for the misses in recent years. He has more control over the outcome when it comes to free-agent signings, however, and I don’t see how you can call this year’s crop anything but a miss. I think some people are overreacting to that miss, but if anyone needed evidence that BB is fallible, there it is.

Edit: Info on future lines is from this site.

https://www.survivorgrid.com/
They have the 10th oldest roster in football and just spent the most guaranteed money ever in a single offseason. If they go 7-10 with a rookie QB that's performing as well as you could reasonably expect in the "not costing you games" front, that's not good by any definition.
 

Captaincoop

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In the Pats’ remaining 10 games, they are likely to be 6+ point favorites in 2 (NYJ, JAX) and 6+ point underdogs in 2 (@LAC, @BUF). Let’s assume they go 2-2 in those 4 games.

In the other 7 games, they are likely to be a significant underdog against the Bills; the other 6 should all be within 3 points. Let’s assume 3-4 in those games.

That racks up to 7-10. Which is pretty good for a team with a rookie QB and problems on the O-Line that doesn’t have a great defense. If BB delivers that result, I won’t fault him or his staff for not getting the most of the talent on hand.

Obviously, BB owns the personnel side too. I’m of the opinion that it’s hard to establish, let alone sustain, any kind of meaningful competitive advantage in the draft. So I think BB is getting too much credit here for the draft successes in the early years of the dynasty and too much blame for the misses in recent years. He has more control over the outcome when it comes to free-agent signings, however, and I don’t see how you can call this year’s crop anything but a miss. I think some people are overreacting to that miss, but if anyone needed evidence that BB is fallible, there it is.

Edit: Info on future lines is from this site.

https://www.survivorgrid.com/
I'm not willing to call the FA class a miss yet. Judon is a home run. Agholor has been disappointing but Bourne and Hunter have shown as much as you can reasonably expect given the O Line problems. Jury is out on Smith, given that he's been stuck blocking most of the time (not his strength, but necessary for now). Godchaux was a lesser signing but has been a mixed bag. Feels very much like an incomplete grade overall at this point.
 

johnmd20

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They have the 10th oldest roster in football and just spent the most guaranteed money ever in a single offseason. If they go 7-10 with a rookie QB that's performing as well as you could reasonably expect in the "not costing you games" front, that's not good by any definition.
It really isn't good. 9-8 would be good.

7-10 is a bad season considering what they spent. I will never understand why they gave Agahlor all that money. That was truly a big miss. Especially because it ends up, the Pats don't have that much interest in stretching the field with Mac.

Nelson A is great at one thing, stretching the field. Well, he's great at two things. Stretching the field and underperforming his talent.
 

rodderick

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It really isn't good. 9-8 would be good.

7-10 is a bad season considering what they spent. I will never understand why they gave Agahlor all that money. That was truly a big miss. Especially because it ends up, the Pats don't have that much interest in stretching the field with Mac.

Nelson A is great at one thing, stretching the field. Well, he's great at two things. Stretching the field and underperforming his talent.
Is he? He had one year as that guy and even then his production was inflated by a lot of broken play long balls. I have a lot of doubts over his ability to produce as an outside receiver.
 

johnmd20

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Is he? He had one year as that guy and even then his production was inflated by a lot of broken play long balls. I have a lot of doubts over his ability to produce as an outside receiver.
I did say his other great talent was underperforming.
 

Cellar-Door

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Is he? He had one year as that guy and even then his production was inflated by a lot of broken play long balls. I have a lot of doubts over his ability to produce as an outside receiver.
It was the first year anyone tried it to be fair. And that's how big play WRs are. I mean, Agholor gets better throws on a couple long balls where he was open for a TD this year, maybe hangs onto that slant for 20+ yards, he's probably sitting at 350+ yards an 3 TDs through 6 games. Not amazing, but in the Woods/Claypool level of year this season. He's not a true #1, but he's gonna get open deep 2 or 3 times every couple weeks, with the Raiders they hit most of those, here we've missed them.
 

rodderick

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It was the first year anyone tried it to be fair. And that's how big play WRs are. I mean, Agholor gets better throws on a couple long balls where he was open for a TD this year, maybe hangs onto that slant for 20+ yards, he's probably sitting at 350+ yards an 3 TDs through 6 games. Not amazing, but in the Woods/Claypool level of year this season. He's not a true #1, but he's gonna get open deep 2 or 3 times every couple weeks, with the Raiders they hit most of those, here we've missed them.
He still had only 800 yards and a terrible catching percentage. I don't know, I just never saw what they thought they were getting with Agholor. 2004 David Patten maybe? Still not the guy I'd give that money to.
 

RIrooter09

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He still had only 800 yards and a terrible catching percentage. I don't know, I just never saw what they thought they were getting with Agholor. 2004 David Patten maybe? Still not the guy I'd give that money to.
He seems more Bethel Johnson than Patten.
 

Cellar-Door

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He still had only 800 yards and a terrible catching percentage. I don't know, I just never saw what they thought they were getting with Agholor. 2004 David Patten maybe? Still not the guy I'd give that money to.
Almsot 900 yards. He was 29th in the league in yards and tied for 15th in TDs. Other guys in the general area... Robert Woods, Dionte Johnson, Tee Higgins, CeeDee Lamb, Chase Claypool... he was really good last year. And what they thought they were getting was a legitimate field stretcher, something the Patriots haven't had in quite a while.

As to what they hoped to get for a player comp... best deep ball guy they've had since Brandin Cooks is the answer. Problem is between O-line and QB play we haven't had the ability to make deep plays.
 

SMU_Sox

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All of what you said about Agholor and the current Pats team is true. I’d add to that though that in this offense the X often runs clearing routes and the inside guys are the straw that stirs the drink. Unless you have a truly dominant X who can easily win their 1:1s they are often not the first read or the guy Belichick and Josh want the QB targeting. Not always the case of course. Agholor has not always run the right route or ran his routes well either which adds to the problem. It’s a bad sign when you get benched for N’Keal Harry (just typing his name fills me with rage).