Why Bill Belichick Is NOT an Idiot

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Welcome to the morning after a tough loss. We have woken up to losses before, but nothing like this in recent memory. We want to drink our disgusting office coffee and wallow in the despair that was the epic battle last night with our team drawing the short straw.

There have been many different thoughts floating around as to why Belichick would go for it on 4th and 2. Ideas such as he is paying off mob dues, if it worked we would be chanting his name from rooftops, or Mangini somehow got ahold of the headset are still swirling in the toilet with my post game despair. There is no denying this morning that the loss last night was the fault of our New England Patriots but they made the right decision.

Belichick has always been known as the guy willing to risk it all and it finally came back to bite him… hard. Going for it on 4th and 2 with just over 2 minutes remaining from your own 29 yard line while up by 6 came across as a gutsy move and it certainly would have fared a little bit better had they succeeded.

These Patriots had an offensive game going that would be boasted in articles and Sportscenter for days and 2 yards was the usual flip to Welker or Faulk but the one place that Belichick either didn’t think of or thought couldn’t possibly become a factor was the timeout situation. Brady had burned two timeouts quickly before this play including one that was called coming off a clock stoppage, a true sign that there was clear confusion in the headset.

These timeouts were their last and coming down to the decision of 4th and 2, Belichick had to have been thinking about it at length. But what were the odds that that timeout would possibly be a factor? We want time to run off the clock, I don’t want to stop it. Little did he know…

But what exactly was the opposing decision that had to be made? Have Hanson come out and punt the ball away with 2 minutes left, giving the Colts (and more notably) Peyton Manning, the ball… in a two-minute drill… for the win… against the Pats?! They had just come off of a 79 yard drive for a TD that only took them 1:49, and earlier in the quarter the Colts had a 79 yard drive for a Garcon TD reception that took only 2:04. Was it worth it to give them the chance to do it 3 times in the quarter?SeytonManning

This is Peyton Manning people. Despite what some of the delusional callers on WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub, he is not really a crappy football player using “smoke and mirrors” to disguise his real inability to play, he is not on a downward spiral, and as much as we would like to believe it, he is not the devil (sorry Fitzy).

This defense was tired and had given up two very quick drives for touchdowns already in the 4th quarter and once again, this is Peyton Manning. If you can keep the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands with under two minutes to go and the lead, that is the ideal situation. Just like the Colts fans stood and hoped just for the chance to put the ball into the hands of their heralded leader, we have our own future-HOF quarterback who, at that time, had the chance with the ball in his hands and that’s a chance I will take.

There are two possible results to any chance taken and unfortunately, this time, the Patriots came out on the wrong end of that spectrum. Bill Belichick made a gutsy decision and a questionable decision but either way, it was the right decision. No matter what defense you parade onto the field in that situation, you have to believe that the more preferable situation is to keep the ball (and game) out of the Colts’ hands, no danger can be done if they can’t get the ball.

A decision was made last night that may be questionable for a long, long time but it was the right decision that just ended with the wrong result.



20 Responses to “Why Bill Belichick Is NOT an Idiot”

  1. chris says:

    GO COLTS!!!!!!!! I hope the Pat’s implode.

  2. Chris Walsh says:

    Patriots make the first down 63% of the time in the Brady era. The first down effectively wins the game. You have an aggressive coach who consistently makes calls to take control of the game, instead of passively hoping things go right.

    The dice didn’t roll right, is all.

    Patriots lost with two turnovers in the redzone. Turn either of those into points, and Indy can’t make the comeback.

  3. Paul says:

    If it is a good decision with 2:08 to go then it should be done the entire game. Do your best to NEVER give Peyton the ball then. Statisitically he is not better on coem from behind drives than he is in the first or 2nd Qtr. Makes to sense…

  4. Craig says:

    Paul, that doesn’t even make sense. You don’t treat the end of the game like any other time in the game. You think Brady should start kneeling on every snap? There’s a big difference between holding a lead and getting that lead.

  5. Mike says:

    It was rough but the way the defense was going in the 2nd half I would do anything i could to not let Peyton get the ball again.

    Save the anger for the playoffs!

  6. Jim Gaudet says:

    It seems that he trusts his offense, but not his defense. Maybe the pats need to step up the D a little. But you are right, this is Peyton Manning. But any other team would have put it on the D and not on the O. At least try that at the 50..

    Let’s here about the Freak though. Damn, he has some great hands!
    .-= Jim Gaudet´s last blog ..Yankees | 2009 World Series Champions =-.

  7. Jeff says:

    I dont care who the opposing QB is….6 points, that late in the game with everything on the line, and that short distance,tired D or not…bury the ball as far away from your goal line and MAKE him pass….who knows, maybe there’ll be an interception….you gotta challenge him to beat you….you can’t gamble away a game you had control of that late into it with a call like that….it wasn’t gutsy – it was giving up on your team and showing how scared you were of your enemy.. it was a badly timed gamble….and casinos everywhere are full of losers…just like the Pats were last night.

  8. Josh G says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one today that feels it wasn’t the wrong decision and wasn’t the only reason we lost.

    Very refreshing to hear it from someone other than myself Craig. We’ll be very comfortable when we use this game to prepare for the AFC Championship at Indy in a few months.
    .-= Josh G´s last blog ..5 Other Reasons The Patriots Lost To The Colts =-.

  9. Josh G says:

    Jeff, the Pats did cover the +2.5 though.

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  11. Dano says:

    I agree with Craig’s; the coffee in the office is pretty gross.

  12. Steve says:

    Ahh Craig, Mr. Boston Sports, any intelligent, thoughtful Boston Sports fan isn’t name calling (maybe privately) BB an “idiot”, they’re just simply saying he made a poor decision. I’m not sure why anyone would or could support that decision of going for it. It appears that you don’t have any empirical data to support going for it. 9.9 out of 10, no matter who the coach, the team, the same situation, you punt the ball!!!! BB just happened to do it that .1% of the time. And it would look just as crazy if they had been successful, but I don’t even like playing the “would’ve could’ve” game, it’s useless, because that’s not reality!! The defense wasn’t tired, quick drives by the Colts equal less field time for the defense, more time on sideline. The defense was fine. The factors involved point directly to BB, call it cockiness or arrogance or he had the best play drawn up, this game was on his shoulders. HE MADE A POOR DECISION and IT COST THEM THE GAME. The Patriots outplayed Indy, better running attack, better stats, their defense played better respective to the Colts defense vs. Pats offense. Whether he admits it or not (which he won’t), BB cost NE the game. Up 13 with 4 and change, YOU HAVE TO WIN THAT GAME!!! It’s still a loss and it only counts for 1 in the loss column, but a painful loss nonetheless.

  13. phatboy says:

    First off, I can’t stand the Patriots, but I never miss a Belichik decision.

    Going for it at the end of the game on your own 30 is totally different from going for it at a different point of the game. Two major reasons that you punt is that earlier in the game the opposition only gets 3 downs to get a first down and punting increases your scoring expectancy by improving your expected field position. Neither one of those things matters at the end of the game. It’s 4 down football and no matter where you get it back the game’s over.

    I always look to Belicichick to be ahead of the curve. He is the only coach in college or pro football, out of approx 150, who consistently makes the correct decisions in stead of hiding behind “convention”.

    I heard a stat saying that the Patriots convert 76 % of 4th and 2 or less. That means you win the game right there 3 out of 4 times and the other 1/4 Peyton still has to go 30 yards. Punting gives Indy the ball, on average, on Indy’s 30 with 2 minutes to play 100 percent of the time.

    Who watching that game thought Peyton, with 4 plays per first down, and a hot offense couldn’t score more than 1 out of 4 times?

    If you crunch the numbers it’s apparent that conventional wisdom is again wrong if you have a great offense vs. a great offense.

    This decision is debatable but almost every single other one of his “unconventional” decisions are slam dunks but other people are in hot tubs while Bill spends his offseason dreaming about football minutiae and it shows.

    It’s funny. The reason Belichick doesn’t want to explain himself to the media is not because he’s embarrassed by his decision it’s because he knows the media and the other coaches in the NFL don’t follow his thought process because they don’t understand the numbers, and he has no interest in helping them do so.

    He understands the numbers.

    He stays awake at night thinking about these scenarios, crunches the numbers and ignores “conventional/conservative” wisdom. It’s funny when you look at Belichick and hear about him he comes off as very conventional and the smartest coach in the League. So why would he be so unconventional?

    Because most football convention was invented in the 60′s and a lot of it’s wrong.

    Do you really want to follow conventional football wisdom that has been drilled into taskmasters over decades or actually look at the data that is all around us telling you how conventional wisdom is flat wrong.

    The Patriots success this decade makes me wish Belichik was being eviscerated today, while coaching my team.

  14. mike says:

    I think Bill wanted to make a statement…The Patriots definitely outplayed the Colts for 58 minutes but sometimes arrogance leads to stupidity. Sometimes when you try to poke someone in the eye…you end up getting a bloody nose. End of discussion, now Manning is in Belichick’s head,and unless there is a complete meltdown by the Colts, the AFC Championship game goes through INDY.

  15. Brian says:

    “I’m not sure why anyone would or could support that decision of going for it.”

    Because statistically it’s justifiable? I think the numbers quoted in the article are overly generous, but even at 50% on 4th down, I think it is the right call, as the Colts’ chance of winning does not go up by 50% with 40 fewer yards to cover in two minutes. There’s a good article on ESPN.com that covers the math, and it estimates that the decision is very close.

    “9.9 out of 10, no matter who the coach, the team, the same situation, you punt the ball!!!! BB just happened to do it that .1% of the time.”

    Hard to take your arguments against math seriously. 9.9/10 is 99%, leaving 1% left over.

    “The defense wasn’t tired, quick drives by the Colts equal less field time for the defense, more time on sideline. The defense was fine.”

    Really? Reworded, this says: “The Pats’ couldn’t stop the Colts even a little on the two previous drives, so they had a great chance to stop them on the final possession.” That’s some logic there.

  16. Sam says:

    ESPN crunched the raw data:

    Winning probability if they punted: 79%
    Winning probability if they went for it on 4th and 2: 80.5%

    So clearly, a VERY CLOSE CALL, but one that was statistically correct. In any case, NOT a terrible call (you can argue the percentages used in the calculation might be off by a number of points, even so the percentages are very very close (within 5% of each other)).

    http://espn.go.com/boston/columns/patriots/blog/_/post/4660828

  17. [...] smart football in order to put his team in the best position to win. Something us Boston fans are arguing about this week. Westbrook’s move was a little less obvious since The Eagles would be up by 11 had he [...]

  18. [...] at an all-time low. Many fans are chalking it up to good calls, bad luck on the plays, including myself at one point. But should we start to consider that maybe 13 games into the season and 30-something years into [...]

  19. [...] at an all-time low. Many fans are chalking it up to good calls, bad luck on the plays, including myself at one point . But should we start to consider that maybe 13 games into the season and 30-something years into [...]

  20. Davey Gross says:

    Just found this….isn’t this call much more defensible now that we saw Sean Payton do the same thing in the Super Bowl, kicking the onside kick to keep the ball away from Manning? It worked and Payton’s a “genius.” If Belichick’s call had worked, people would have praised him as well.

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