Re: Why does BB forgive Brady's interceptions but bench Ridley for fumbling?
posted at 4/9/2014 7:31 AM EDT
The idea that Belichick and his coaches can't figure out how to manage the offense has always struck me as absurd, particularly given how many points their offenses have scored year after year. But, let's get back to the main point of the thread which is simply why does Belichick treat one type of turnover less seriously than another.
Those of us who have followed Belichick for a while know that he is particularly hard on running backs who fumble. Many have actually criticized him for being too hard. A lot of people felt benching Ridley for the 2011 Super Bowl was a mistake. And many others have pointed out how a lot of other very good runningbacks fumble roughly at the same rate as Ridley. Starting RBs frequently end up with 3 to 5 fumbles a season. Ridley isn't outside that ballpark with 3 fumbles last year on 178 rushing attempts.
We know Belichick doesn't like any turnovers, but his reaction to fumbling in the running game has always been much, much stronger than his reaction to interceptions in the passing game. I don't think that is explained simply by Brady's HOF status. Maybe it's partly explained by differences in the degree of carelessness demonstrated by the QB and the RB. But really, I think the main reason for the difference in treatment is because of what I said earlier:
The primary strategic advantage of the running game is its low-risk nature. Once you fumble, however, you destroy that strategic advantage. Running, with its four-yard average gain and its high percentage of gains below 3 yards is generally a low-reward play. If it is also low-risk, then it has a very useful role. But if it becomes high-risk, it ceases to be useful. So Belichick is adamant about ensuring his RBs are extremely reliable with ball security. It's required for running to be strategically advantageous.
Passing, on the other hand, is a high-reward play. Completions average about 10 yards, and even with incompletions and sacks included, pass plays average over 6 yards. Passing, though, is higher risk because 45% of the plays go for no gain or less (i.e., are incompletions or sacks) and the risk of turnover is higher than in the running game. Still, those turnovers are more tolerable, because the risk is outweighed by the reward. So while Belichick doesn't like turnovers in the passing game any more than turnovers in the running game, he finds them more tolerable. They are just part of the price you have to pay for a higher reward play.
And that's the answer to my question about why Belichick is easier on Brady's interceptions than on Ridley's fumbles . . .