We’ve heard over and over again this week that by going for it on fourth down instead of punting late in his team’s eventual loss to the Colts, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was showing a lack of confidence in his defense’s ability to stop Peyton Manning from marching down the field for a 70-yard touchdown drive.
But what if Belichick was showing exactly the opposite? Maybe Belichick was so confident in his defense that he didn’t even think the Colts would be able to go 30 yards against them, let alone 70.
That’s how one player on the Patriots’ defense, linebacker Jerod Mayo, views Belichick’s decision.
“We looked at it as a challenge,” Mayo tells our friend Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com. “People say that it was a lack of confidence in us, but we looked at it as a challenge and we looked at it as coach having enough confidence in us to give us a short field. Unfortunately we were unable to step up to the challenge and get the job done.”
There’s no question that Belichick has confidence in Mayo. When asked earlier this year about his philosophy on trading players, Belichick used Mayo — not Tom Brady — as an example of a player he wouldn’t trade. And Mayo is surely right not to view Belichick’s decision as a lack of confidence in the defense. Right or wrong, Belichick’s decision to go for it on fourth down was about doing what he thought would give his team the best chance of winning, not about showing confidence or showing a lack of confidence.
Mayo also offered a diplomatic rebuttal to his former teammate, Tedy Bruschi, who is now an ESPN analyst and who questioned the effect that Belichick’s decision would have on the Patriots’ locker room.
“I have the ultimate respect for Tedy and everything he’s done for this organization, but he’s not in this locker room at this point in time so he doesn’t know the feeling that this defense or this team has,” Mayo told Curran. “We still have our confidence, we still have our swagger and we’re gonna go out Sunday and show . . . the media, I guess.”