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The Evolution of the "Belichick Defense"

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  1. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I apologize if this has been posted elsewhere. It's a year old 4 part series on the evolution of the "Belichick Defense" up to April 2011. I did a couple of different searches and couldn't find anything, so I'm posting it for those who are interested:

    The Belichick Defense Pt. 1 | 60 Max Power O - The Strategist's Guide to New England Patriots Football
    The Belichick Defense Pt. 2 | 60 Max Power O - The Strategist's Guide to New England Patriots Football
    The Belichick Defense Pt. 3 | 60 Max Power O - The Strategist's Guide to New England Patriots Football
    The Belichick Defense | 60 Max Power O - The Strategist's Guide to New England Patriots Football

    It's an interesting read. I don't agree with everything, but for me the most interesting part is how it provides a framework for looking at how BB is tinkering with the current defense, and the interdependence between personnel and scheme. BB is very rooted in football history, and there's not a lot under the sun that's totally new. A lot of the things that he appears to be tinkering with now are things that he tinkered with in 2000-2001.

    Again, my apologies if this has already been posted elsewhere.
  2. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Eagerly awaiting part 5...
  3. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    As are we all.
  4. VJCPatriot

    VJCPatriot Rookie

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    Good read! Belichick is loading up on toys on the defensive side, so I have a feeling he has some more innovations in mind. Can't wait to see what schemes and wrinkles BB and Patricia cook up for the Pats defense in 2012!
  5. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I found part 2 of the series particularly interesting, detailing how BB evolved the defense when he took over the team in 2000:

    Hmm, let's see ...

    - A hybrid defense that mixes 3-4 2-gapping with 4-3 spacing. Check.
    - A versatile LB corps that can move around, combined with a lot of stunts and blitzes, making it hard for opposing teams to know where the pressure was coming form. Check. Adding Dont'a Hightower to the mix with Mayo, Spikes and Ninkovich, combined with DEs who can stand up, gives the Pats tremendous fexibility.
    - A cornerstone elephant player who could stand up or play on the line, on either side. Check.
    - A physical defensive line that could "run through" opposing linemen rather than around then. Check. Chandler Jones, Jake Bequette and Jonathan Fanene are all power players.
    - A versatile secondary that combined a lot of zone coverages offset by press man coverage. Check.
    - A bright young defensive mind who was made "de facto DC" but not given the title for a while. Check. Hopefully Mike Patricia will be less abrasive and a better communicator than Eric Mangini.
    - A more experienced defensive mind who worked with the defense to simplify the concepts and communicate the essence of a very complex defense. Check. Presumably that's a lot of what BB has been doing working with the defense since Dean Pees left.

    It certainly seems like BB has been down this road before. Not surprising, as this isn't exactly his first rodeo.
  6. Uncle Rico

    Uncle Rico Rookie

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    #70 Jersey

    Thanks for the links; as a fan who's less savvy on the technical aspects of football I'm sure it will be educational, even if I don't grasp it all.

    As a Pats fan, period, I just hope the next step in the Evolution of the Bill Belichick Defense is to stop giving up the heart-breaking drive at the end of Super Bowls and Championship Games. I mean, as a longtime fan I know what a blessing it is that this is even an issue, but it's been quite a trend since the AFCCG in Indy. Even Joe Freakin' Flacco almost pulled it off.
  7. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    With all of the discussion of sub vs. base defense and of an evolving hybrid that can "morph" flexibly without changing personnel, there is some stuff in part 3 which quite nicely describes how the 2003-2004 defense was able to achieve much of a similar effect:

    Again, something to think about in terms of recent personnel moves in FA and the draft, and where the 2012 defense might be heading. The Pats now have the strongest group of LBs that they have had since 2003-2004, and some big, strong DEs who are fluid enough to stand up and occasionally drop into coverage. Sounds very similar.
  8. Rusty Coupe

    Rusty Coupe Rookie

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    It will be interesting to see what defense the Patriots play against Manning in his new offense. The Steelers drawing Denver in week 1, with no film, didn't get lucky.
  9. PlainOldEd

    PlainOldEd Rookie

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    or did they? A years worth of rust is tough to shake.......
  10. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    Unless I overlooked his name, I'm surprised that Mike Vrabel wasn't mentioned, esp. in parts 2 & 3.

    I'm not surprised, however, to read that the fat little rat ManJudas nearly sank the ship before it had
    a chance to leave the harbor. Thank you, Romeo, for rescuing it from that back-stabbing bastard.
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
  11. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Good point. Part 2 talks about adding LBs like Roman Phifer and Bryan Cox, but never mentions Vrabel, who along with McGinest was the most important OLB in the evolution of the SB defenses.

    Mangini is clearly a very smart defensive mind who has poor people and communication skills, besides being a "fat little rat ManJudas". Those same problems bit him in the *ss in New York and Cleveland.

    Mike Patricia seems to have Mangini's defensive smarts but much better personal and communication skills, and is much more loyal. But I think that it would have been asking a lot to have a new guy simplify and communicate a whole new defensive approach, which is why BB spent so much time with the defense the past 2 years.
  12. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think they actually did. Remember Brady against the Bills in week 1 of the 2009 season?
  13. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact Rookie

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    not necessarily true

    what familiar targets does manning have? that offense will need time
  14. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The suggestion that Mangini was de facto DC in 2000 is ridiculous.
  15. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    And in addition to his superior people skills, Matt Patricia's beard is awesome.
  16. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    That's what the author seems to be suggesting.
  17. cmasspatsfan

    cmasspatsfan Rookie

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    Explains Big Vinces importance and also debunks another Felger myth, he says they dont name a DC because they dont want to pay them because they are cheap when in fact its done for other reasons that we here knew all along.
  18. Schmo

    Schmo Rookie

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    ... why Vince has been jumping out to DE the last couple years. Almost seems a waste of athleticism as he doesn't have the height/arm length to become as good of a 5-tech as Sey or Warren.

    Still, pretty impressive that the premier run-stuffing NT in the NFL has the ability to line up outside.
  19. Gumby

    Gumby Rookie

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    I always attributed it as much (IMO 45%) to protect the guy from poaching (who is going to hire a guy as HC who isnt even officially titled coordinator) as the (45%) protect him from the media etc (author's theory).

    Yeah, Felger and his twisting the truth to make accusations is legendary. I give his theory 0%. Although it may be a bonus to the organization to spend less $; Kraft has never been shy about investing money where he isn't constrained by long-term cap implications.

    My missing 10% is don't give him the title cause he needs some motivation and you don't want to fire the guy if he doesn't completely work out and you want to hire someone else over the top of him later. Challenging him to earn the title is a good strategy too.
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
  20. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re-read my post.
  21. PatsSox363804

    PatsSox363804 Rookie

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    Yeah I tend to agree although the Broncos will once again have the advantage of Clark not being in there. I'm expecting to see the PI flags fly if Manning is down late in that game.
  22. Reckedtrek

    Reckedtrek Rookie

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    That's like "expecting" the sun to set and for it to get dark out tonight.

    It's Peyton Manning in Lucas films "Return of the Head-i"
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
  23. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Time for a bump of this thread. Mo has started a nice thread on the evolution of the aerial offense, and how defenses need to adjust:

    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england...league-explaining-nfls-aerial-evolution.html

    This thread begs the question of how to evolve a modern defense to combat the multi-weapon aerial offense of the NFL, including the spread offense, RBs and TEs who can be used in the passing game, and rules which favor offensive production. Greg Cossell has discussed the "chess match" between offense and defense in some detail:

    Cosell Talks: The Evolving Chess Match : NFL Films Blog

    Cosell notes:

    BB is the ultimate adapter, and though he's Old School he clearly has recognized - and, from an offensive perspective, led the way - on how the NFL is evolving. He's been tinkering with the defense on both scheme and personnel for the past 2 years, evolving it to deal with the kind of problems Cosell describes.

    For another interesting and provocative perspective on building a defense (the "Bartlett Defense", as the author calls it) from scratch to address today's aerial offenses, the following series of articles is worth reading in their entirety:

    The Bartlett Defense: Part 1 - Personnel and alignment - It's All Over, Fat Man!
    The Bartlett Defense: Part 2 - Principles for 100% soundness - It's All Over, Fat Man!
    The Bartlett Defense: Part 2.5 - Responding to an excellent comment - It's All Over, Fat Man!

    That's as far as the author has gotten so far - more to come shortly, I expect. No, I don't think the series was written by Off the Grid - though it could have been, as it is extremely creative and innovative and uses its own terminology. But the approach is mainly influenced by Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, and it has clear elements of the Belichick Defense as it appears to be evolving. The author notes:

    The author's approach is to build a base defense with 5 DBs: 2 safeties and 3 CBs. It appears closest in form to a 4-2-5 base with positional variability, something that we've discussed many times before, and with the LBs being able to cover and the safeties being able to function as LBs, something else that's been discussed before:

    Again, what's most interesting about this discussion to me is that it borrows heavily from the author's interpretation of the Belichick Defense, including ocncepts from the Grantland article with the fusion of 2-gap and 1-gap elements. It describes a defense in which the personnel and the scheme are versatile and adaptable enough to morph between different formations (semi-amoeboid in nature) and shift assignments based on the offensive personnel, tendencies and formation, with little substitution. Regardless of what you think of the author's proposals, his analysis clearly captures some of the ideas that BB has been tinkering with, and problems that a re-designed Pats' defense (or any other defense) has to address in today's NFL. It's also instructive to compare the recent offseason personnel moves on defense and how key players fit the roles which the author identifies as key for this type of defense.
  24. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    More good stuff from ESPN's Kevin Seifert on how defenses must evolve to combat the modern aerial passing offense:

    Counters to NFL passing games? Elusive - NFC North Blog - ESPN

    BB has passed on LBs with coverage skills such as Sean Lee (2010) and Lavonte David (2012) in favor of bigger, more physical LBs like Brandon Spikes and Dont'a Hightower. I hope that doesn't come back to haunt us.
  25. Dingleberry

    Dingleberry Rookie

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    I really wish Belichik's Defense would hurry the f up and evolve into something good. Ya know, before Brady is 40?
  26. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    To quote Mo, patience, grasshopper. But I personally don't think you'll have long to wait.
  27. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A lot of this stuff is just talk and guesswork. Some of it probably will happen, and some of it probably won't. The best defense in football is generally in Pittsburgh, and that's not one that's making all sorts of change. The Patriots defense will be better when the Patriots defensive personnel is better, regardless of whether they play a 3-4, 4-3, 4-2-5, 9-1-1 or 1-1-9. So here's hoping that Carter can come back from his leg injury, McCourty doesn't suck this year, Glass IR plays a full and solid season, the safeties are better than the average Pop Warner team would field, Spikes and Mayo can stay healthy, and Wilfork gets some help on the line. :eat3:
  28. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I agree with you about 2 things:

    1. We don't know exactly how BB sees the defense evolving, and what his vision is for how to adjust to the current generation of NFL offenses.
    2. Personnel are probably more important than scheme by a considerable amount. The Patriots' defense will certainly be better as the personnel become better.

    But we do know a fair amount about how NFL offenses have evolved and how defenses around the league and the Pats' defense in particular are evolving to contest them. There are stats showing the effect on defenses of the increasing pass-oriented rules and offenses in the NFL. The Pats spent more time in their sub defense over the past several years, have used more nickel and dime and more 3+ CB sets, and have struggled with their 3rd down defense. We know that the secondary struggled with big receivers last year, and that these receivers are becoming more commonplace and that teams around the NFL are trying to emulate the Pats' success with multiple TEs in the passing game. We know that the Pats, like many other teams in the NFL, have used more amorphous formations at times to disguise both their coverages and their pass rushers. BB spoke fairly openly about how some of these things influenced the team's direction in the draft, and other respected NFL personnel have echoed some of those thoughts, as in the Romeo Crennel quotes from the article cited a few posts above. That's not to say that a team couldn't be successful in a traditional 3-4 or 4-3 with superior personnel, but it seems that there's not enough talent to go around at key positions (elite pass rushers, athletic super-giant DTs, big DBs with superior man coverage skills, versatile safeties who can function like CBs and LBs at the same time, LBs who can drop into coverage fluidly and handle RBs, TEs and slot receivers, etc.) so most teams are having to use scheme to compensate for their weaknesses. I think it's reasonable to presume that the defense that is currently evolving in New England is more than just an attempt to re-create the successful defense of the 2003-2004 SB teams, but is something related yet considerably different.
  29. lurker1965

    lurker1965 Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    I know you weren't serious but a nine eleven defense would be an awesome name.
  30. Joker

    Joker PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    well...let's see...overpriced hacks playing like stiffs.... practices followed by hamburger and hot dog orgies....Thursday night meetings at the local ice cream parlor...caffeine crazed big mouthing 24/7...looks like Wrecksie has his own version....the 7/11 defense...NY fans love it...

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
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