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A lot of posters seem to want the Pats to adopt a "ball control" strategy. There are many reasons for this, but maybe the most common argument in favour of a ball control offensive strategy is that it presumably helps the defense. Keeping the defense off the field is seen as a positive for two reasons:
- First, when a defense is weak, you want to limit the time the opposing offense is on the field, therefore limiting their opportunties to score against the weak defense
- Second, the defense gets more rest and should therefore stay fresher and be more effective
The question becomes whether these two reasons--which seem on the surface to make sense--really hold up under more careful analysis.
Protecting the Defense
Let's start with the first: ball control will allow you to keep the opposing offense off the field and this will protect your defense. The first part of this statement is absolutely true--ball control can limit the time the opposing offense is on the field. The more game clock you can eat up on offense, the less game time there will be for the opposing offense to mount its drives. What really happens is that the opposing offense gets fewer drives than they otherwise would. Their drives aren't necessarily shorter, it's just that there isn't as much time left for their drives, so they end up having fewer of them.
One logical trap to avoid is the tendency to forget that in addition to reducing the number of drives for your opponents, a ball control strategy will also reduce the number of drives you have for your own offense. Possessions generally alternate, so both teams generally have the same number of possessions in a game or one team ends up with one extra possession (there are a few things, like muffed punts, muffed kick-offs, and pick-sixes, that can result in a team having two possessions in a row, but these are relatively rare). So if a ball control strategy is successful and therefore reduces the number of drives for the opposing team, it also will reduce by the same amount the number of drives for your own offense. A successful ball control strategy means both teams have fewer possessions and therefore fewer scoring chances.
In deciding whether ball control helps or hurts you, the first thing you need to consider is whether having a low number of drives in a game is beneficial to you.
Generally, a game with fewer possessions (i.e., a ball control game) is good for you if:
- You are dominant defensive team. In this case, you win by shutting your opponents down, and giving them fewer chances to score only helps you shut them down.
- Your opponent has a dominant offense. In this case, you want to avoid a shoot out, so fewer possessions is generally good.
A game with more possessions (i.e., not a ball control game), is generally good for you if:
- You are a dominant offensive team. In this case a shootout is ideal for you.
- Your opponent has a dominant defense. You need as many chances to score as possible.
In other situations, there are pluses and minus to both fewer drives and more drives. Generally, in any situation, if you think your opponents have a higher chance of scoring when their offense is matched against your defense than you have when your offense is matched against their defense, then you want to go for fewer possessions. If you think the opposite holds, then you want to go for more possessions.
In recent years, the Pats have had a dominant offense (at least by regular season stats). They've been weak on defense when measured by yards given up, but closer to average when measured on points given up. Based on this, the Pats should assume that in most games, more possessions helps them. Their offense can score at a higher rate than most other teams's offenses, and their defense, while it gives up a lot of yards, tends to be close to the average in points given up. This argues for trying to increase the number of possessions to maximize the chances of scoring on offense while assuming the defense will probably not be able to shut out the other offense, but will be able to keep them scoring at a slower pace than your own offense will score. Ball control (which reduces the number of possession) is not the ideal strategy for a team that was built like the Pats were over the past few years. Increasing possessions and offensive chances is the goal, and that argues for exactly what Belichick has done: Play hurry up and score as fast as possible.
Resting the Defense
The second argument about why ball control helps the defense is about resting the defense. To evaluate this argument you have to be clear about the distinction between game time and real time. If you have a successful ball control offense, your drives, by definition, should be taking up more game time. But are they also taking up more real time? From a rest perspective, it's real time that counts after all.
To answer this question, you have to look at how teams actually execute "ball control." A lot of people assume ball control means running more. Usually it does, but really what matters are two things:
1. Average play length is short, so you have to run more plays to cover the same amount of yardage
2. The game clock keeps running, which means no incomplete passes and no plays ending out of bounds.
Theoretically, you can do ball control with lots of short complete passes just as well as you can by running the ball. In fact, short passes may be even more effective since a pass play, from snap, through drop back, through completion, through tackle typically takes longer than a running play. If the pass only gets two or three yards, is complete, and ends inbounds, it likely lasts 5 or 6 seconds from snap to tackle rather than 3 or 4 seconds. And the game clock keeps running between plays as long as the pass is complete so there's no difference between a run and a completed pass there.
Where passing doesn't work as well from a ball control perspective is:
1. The average play length is usually longer, so you don't have to run as many plays to cover the same yardage (this is actually the most important reason why passing isn't as good as running in ball control), and
2. An incomplete pass stops the game clock.
Because of these two factors, passing tends to eat less game clock than running. The plays are longer and therefore there are fewer of them. And the incomplete passes stop the game clock on a few more plays each drive. It's important to note, however, that the game clock stopping actually has no effect on real time. There's still real time passing between plays. It's just that the game clock isn't running while that real time is passing. The defense can still rest during the time between plays, regardless of whether the game clock runs or not, so clock stoppage isn't such a big deal when you're concerned with resting the defense.
What's more significant for the defense is the fact that drives end sooner with more passing, because plays tend to be longer and therefore there are fewer of them. In addition, if you are eating up a lot of game time on your drives and can win the TOP battle because of that, then the other team has less game time to use on their drives and that will reduce the time the defense is actually playing.
For the above reasons, ball control probably does help the defense rest a bit. In reality, though, a game with lots of short passes with a high completion rate, probably helps as much as a run-based game. In fact, looking at the Pats offense the past few years, they have run an extremely large number of scrimmage plays. They do get their plays off quickly, which is the opposite of a time-eating strategy, but they tend to run a lot of short pass plays, which helps create more time-consuming drives with more plays. In the end, their average offensive drive length is just about equal to the league average. They are not a ball control team, but they aren't a shootout team either. One thing that does stand out when you look at average drive length is that the Patriots' opponents' drives tend to be well above the NFL average. This suggests that the Pats' defense can't get off the field. If anything, if the goal is to maximize the number of possessions to give the offense as many chances to score as possible, the offense has to work fast to compensate for a defense that can't get off the field and tends to allow other teams to control the ball.
The way the Pats team was built over the last few years, ball control probably didn't make much sense. Which explains why Bill Belichick pursued a strategy that a lot of fans think was wrong. Going forward things might change. If the defense once again becomes dominant, ball control becomes more attractive. And if the offense declines at the same time, then ball control becomes almost necessary. The best scenario is for the offense to stay good and the defense to get better. This makes ball control possible but not necessary and that means the most flexibility to change strategy based on both opponent and game situation. That is very much what the 2003 and 2004 teams could do. It's not, however, what recent teams could do. The defense whas just too unreliable to allow for much else other than what Bill Belichick did.
You do realize our D benefitted from brady's style and our offense from 2001-2004, right?
32 TDs, 19 INTs
11 TDs, 3 INTs
Explain how the more recent style of shotgun spreads and 40+ passes with leads and no run game established like we used to do (by choice), is better for the TEAM?
It's not like we're trailing in the postseason games with regards to Brady's passing or INT rates.
I can name like 3 games where we were trailing in the postseason and he threw picks which weren't his fault.
2005 divisionals in Denver.
2006 divisionals in SD.
2009 divisionals vs Balt.
That's only 3 games of like how many? 15 or so since the 2005 postseason?
Have you read the Lundblad article I posted or are you afraid to??? lol
Other than those 3 games where he can get a pass, he's sucked vs the non-bad defenses, and it's when we have leads. It's even occurred when our D has created at least 1 turnover or scored (Safety) or set the offense up in great position, too.
Brady has completely HURT our team MORE than he's helped it in the postseason, generally speaking, since 2005 in the pass first offense. He also is on record as preferring that offense and being in the shotgun.
Russ, Tom has absolutely failed on some critical plays during the play-offs especially over the last few losses. That said, I don't believe you can attribute his failure to EXECUTE on specific plays to the style of offense that the PATS employ. Dropped passes that have little to no influence from the D are again failures by the players to execute, not style. I agree that Tom has disappointed and has not met expectations in many recent play-off games, but in the end, you can't say that he has flat out sucked. Credit needs to be given to the opposition's D because, lets face it, they didn't just get there for being lucky. They are damned good, especailly the defenses we have lossed against. To your argument, Tom gets all the glory for success, and fairly should get most of the criticism for the Team's failures. BUT, I maintain that Tom is the right guy, for our team still, and MUST continue to do what he does in consistantly leading this team to victories. Our O-line and receivers have got to get better at execution in blocking assignments against the the better pass rushes, and catching catchable balls in big spots. Tyree and Mannigham's catches are the difference makers for the Giants in our two SB losses. Tom's guys have got to help him out a bit more too. Tom absolutely isn't the greatest athlete on our team and is strictly a pocket/shot gun guy. There's nothing we can do about that and as such need more balance to keep the D honest, but better execution, not sweeping changes to style are needed. I maintain that with a couple of plays being the difference from winning and losing all of these recent play-off games, our defensive improvement this season will already make up the difference even before the improvement in big play execution.
I disagree. I think he looked at GOmer's stats post 2004, has 3 rings and turned to BB and said something along the lines of "I want what he has stats wise and I think we can do that here".
Yep. I do. I really do.
If it's true Brady read BB the riot act with the quality of WRs post 2006 seasons (which I can't say I blame him because Branch was big with what the offense needed to be if Caldwell was meant to be a # 2, Brown a #3 and Gaffney what should have been a #4), and BB responded with Moss and Welker......then you have to conceded this is what Brady wanted and what BB went along with to make his QB happy.
I would have done the same thing. Seriously. What coach or GM doesn't want to have a happy QB?
Since then, Brady has looked like Gomer Manning of 2000-2006 where Gomer would lead the stats run for QBs, line up 3 times in the shotgun from the 3 yard line, break Marino's records, and then blame everyone from the kicker to his O Line come January.
Gomer Manning thought he was ABOVE his team. If he had not had handed off to Addai/Rhodes in SB 41, he doesn't own a SB ring. He would have thrown probably 1 or 2 INTs, and the Bears would have run on that feeble run D.
But, they played ball control and kept the worst run D of all time to win a SB off the field.
No turovers, manage the game by doing the small things right when the play breaks down, run the clock and try to maximize drives with a TD, or even a FG in between.
It's painful to admit, but we handed over the 2006 AFC title game because we didn't turn to Dillon or Maroney and say "we're running it with you 15 times in the second half in more traditional sets, be prepared"....
Instead, we kept passing. One drive lasted literally 30 seconds! We had numerous 3 and outs and our offense only generated enough movement for two FGs. Wuld have been fine if the other drives were sustained more 30 seconds or 1 minute!
Same thing in SB 42 or 46. There are all the same variation of the problem. It's a game management problem. Who is our QB? Who wanted this?
If you want to blame BB, too, go right ahead. But, the guy who wanted this was Brady. And, if they were sitting across the table from me right now I would say this to their face and present this case just like I am presenting now and have presented for 3 years here.
There is nothing fans can do about it. It's time to move forward. The Bradyites need to admit they have been wrong this whole time and get over themselves, too.
I feel by BB dealing Moss thatw as his way of seeing it and realizing it would fester. Same deal with Welker wanting a ring and probably inevitably wanting himself to atone for SB 42 and SB 46, which in turn might have Brady appeasing and forcing balls to Welker just like he did to Moss in 2009 or early 2010.
It's not a coincidence Brady won the MVP in 2010. He played MUCH better like the old Tom from Week 5-Week 17. But, if BB had not dealt Moss (and reacquired Branch), he wouldn't have won the MVP that year.
Branch, by simply running more routes, new routes no one had seen him run here and Brady getting under Center more, us running more with a true lead back (not a scatback), Brady was back to old Brady.
DO you realize we "established" our run in the 2006 AFC title game out of shotgun mostly on draws? The reason why we blew the lead and our D was gassed in that dome is because we didn't just hammer the rock with a lead.
3 runs in a row with MAroney or Dillon would have been 2:56 of clock including a punt. That's a lot better than 30 seconds on 3 passes and a punt from our 20!
OK. Based on what you say about the realtionship between TB and BB, it is very understandable and you well support why you feel the way you do. There's just a fundamental problem in the way you perceive their relationshop, man. The reality is TOM BRADY has NEVER read BB the riot act. BB is not that guy. Tom Brady is Tom Brady because he has been able to maintain a semblance of reality despite his stardom. Yeah, he's gotten his nose up a bit, but under the circumstances, he's still a humble dude. I dare say that BB STILL can make Tom Brady back down on every single football strategy debate, just as he can ANYONE ELSE on the TEAM and STAFF. Tom is a great executer, not an offensive genious. He does what he is told very well. If not, he would have never made it beyond being a UM back up. Tom Brady respects BB more than you obviously understand. Tom would have been slapped back to oblivion if he ever stood up to BILL and didn't back down when told to do so by him. See, that is THE PATRIOTS WAY, "I'm Bill EFEN-BELICHICK, and you will do what I say or you will be GONE!" Russ, there is no other way BB and TB could co-exist. THAT is how it goes for the truly GREAT Organizations. Pouting and pounding fists and throwing temper tantrums???? NO DAMNED WAY DUDE. TB12 would be drubbed out by BB. PERIOD. Don't froget, BB grew up in the Naval Academy and football team. Men showed ONLY respect for authority to thsoe who cammanded it. He learned under ideal circumstances from his dad. It is instilled in him. He is the boss and you are the worker, no matter what the TV tells you. If they don't like it, BYE!!! That is the reality of the situation. Sorry, man, but you need to entertain a different perspective on the power that BB commands with EVERY PLAYER and COACH.
Figure of speech. You are taking "read him the rioct act" too literally.
I forget who reported it, it may have been Michael Holley, Curran or Perillo, but someone with inside knowledge said Brady was LIVID during his exit interview with BB after the 2006 season.
BB then went out and TRADED for two veterans with yung and yang skill sets. This information the public was told, and believe me it was public info at the time (probably during 2007 if I remember correctly explaining why BB dealt for two veteran WRs instead of drafting them), is real.
So is BB doing what he did as GM. BB got Brady his toys. Why shouldn't he? The Branch 2006 situation threw a fly in the ointment just like BB unloading Milloy did or when he realize he just had to deal Seymour. All of those things would not have occurred without a cap in place, which is why I will defend BB the GM on here until the cows come home. Branch said he regretted what he did, as will little Welkie.
Welker ain't winning a SB in outdoor conditions in Feb with Gomer. Ain't happening, so he'll regret it. But, make no mistake, BB has exit interviews with every player at the end of the year, likely before he looks at film of each player in games from the season. Welker dropping that down vs Balt, is probably why lowered the price down on Welker even more, realizing in his head, there is no way he can overload salary to the middle of the field. Throw in the thin market for Welker for BB knowing teams wouldn't bid, knowing Brady is what makes Welker go, with teams also believe in that, and he was alredy moving on from Welkie, too, regardless of him knowing Brady restructured and Brady and Welker's friendship.
And, at the time, I don't even blame Brady for feeling the way he did back in 2006. BB had to make the decsion with Branch because Branch was being selfish as Welker just was. Branch may have been the SB MVP that year, but it could have easily gone to Brady, too. Welker wanted 10 million per. He rejected 8 million per. Truth his, he was worth no more than what Amendola is worth here catching passes, but you can bet BB is looking at ways to improve his teams.
His agent used that, Branch bloated his value and held out, so BB did what he had to do. But, he could see why Brady wsas frustarted. Very reasonable for Brady to feel that way. I've said it here many times, if there was no cap, BB and Brady have like 5 or 6 rings by now. Truth.
This is why I think he is the best GM and coach of all time. It ain't close, actually.
Gaffney jumped on board and as you can see we still were a qtr away from another SB appearance. So, that proves not only can Brady adjust to new WRs, the stats he acquired in 2007, really don't matter in the postseason.
I am not even saying the change in Brady has been something that is completely intentional. It's really more so his competitive spirit wanting to show he can do what GOmer does in the regular season, which is pump the stats and dominate. Super. Great. We get it, Tom.
But, what each Gomer and Brady developed into
What's ironic is, Gomer is a BETTER QB now than he was back in 2003 and 2004. He makes lesss mistakes and manages games much better. It's the turth. Brady, meanwhile, has regressed in this area.
This thread has died because I swiftly and effectively challenged Prolate's somewhat deflectionary attempt. There is nothing anyone can say about a QB doing 3 TDS and 7 INTs in his last 3 home AFC Title games.
That has nothing to do with the quality of our D in 2007 or 2011 or 2012. It has to do with how Brady prefers to run our offense, how we can't score for large swaths of the game and how our D is gassed at the end of the game because of it.
If this happened once or twice, I'd call it a concidence. But, since it keeps happening, I call it a pattern.
A pattern that I hope BB and Brady w/McDaniels have seen and will change from here on out. We'll win a SB when Brady channels checks the ego in January and plays how Elway did in 1997 and 1998. That's why Elway improved. They ran it more, he threw less picks, managed better.
If I am BB, I am showing films of that to McDaniels and Brady right now.
Ok, good enough on Tom "reading the riot act" to BB. Likewise, I think you are taking the "Brady was LIVID during his exit interview with BB after the 2006 season" that you recall one of the Boston writers saying back then as too literally. I rememeber that well. It was simple sensataionalism by the media, imagine that, to paint a picture that "All was no well in Nirvana". We were the AMAZING NE PATRIOTS and were perfect! They needed soemthing to shake up some media attention for their readers.......thats all. Tom went to Bill to discuss next year and share his wish list. Bill respectfully listened and obviously entertained, then reacted to his SUGGESTIONS, not demands. They have done AMAZINGLY well, even in light of the failures. I agree 100% with your closing reamarks above. We do need to put more focus on balance and execution in the end to avoid these critical lapses moving forward. I sincerely believe that no other 2-men, QB and head coach combination, rival what we have right now in Tom and Bill. But that is only until the next QB has Bill to push him, teach him, and lead him as his head coach! As if they read our posts, I am confident that we will see correction in the areas that you, I and many others talk about here. As a result, I feel very good about them winning the Superbowl again, THIS SEASON. So, thank God they listen to us!!!!