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Patriots streamline play calling, speed up offense

Denver Broncos v New England Patriots Getty Images

The Patriots’ fast-paced offense gave the Broncos fits on Sunday. And simplifying the play calling was a big part of it.

New England used one-word play calls for much of the game against Denver, taking what is ordinarily a mouthful that includes the formation, blocking scheme, direction on running plays or routes on passing plays and the snap count, and allowing the coaching staff and quarterback Tom Brady to communicate it all in an instant.

Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe has a thorough look at how the Patriots’ offense ran on Sunday, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick says that his first season working in the NFL, under Baltimore Colts coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975, taught him how streamlined play calling can be advantageous for a fast-paced offense.

“You learn to make words that are easy to say, one syllable and distinct,” Belichick said. “At the Colts, all our strong-side patterns were score, strike, sting, smash. And the weak-side patterns were whirl, whisk, wheel. And it was one word, usually one syllable, told everybody what to do [snaps finger].”

Belichick also said he talked to Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who runs the fastest offense in college football, and Kelly gave him some tips about how to get 11 players all to know their assignments after hearing just one word.

“I was interested to hear how he did it,” Belichick said. “I would say he expanded it to a different level and it was very interesting to understand what he was doing. Certainly I’ve learned a lot from talking to Chip about his experiences with it and how he does it and his procedure and all that.”

Kelly, who turned down the Buccaneers job this year, runs an offense unlike anything currently used in the NFL. But Belichick knows there are concepts in Kelly’s offense that can be applied to the pro game. And the Broncos found out the hard way.

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56 Responses to “Patriots streamline play calling, speed up offense”
  1. piratefreedom says: Oct 9, 2012 11:25 AM

    just a fancy new way to cheat ;)

  2. joetoronto says: Oct 9, 2012 11:28 AM

    I couldn’t believe how fast they were getting to the LOS, it was unreal.

    I wouldn’t doubt the league puts a rule in next year to slow it down, so the defense has a chance to get ready.

    Not saying I think they should, It just wouldn’t surprise me.

  3. bosfaninva says: Oct 9, 2012 11:29 AM

    The sound quality of the broadcast was so good that you could hear Tom Brady calling out individual words. There was a hush over the Gillette Stadium faithful each time he came to the line. “Shhhh, master at work!”

  4. succulentnipples says: Oct 9, 2012 11:35 AM

    Billy is so smart.

  5. patriots123456 says: Oct 9, 2012 11:46 AM

    They scored 35 First downs in the game, a Patriot record.

    Just to show how fast it speeded up the game.

    Because they came out with something first it’s cheating? LOL

    How sad.

  6. rc33 says: Oct 9, 2012 11:50 AM

    Love the “cheater” comment. Yeah, you’re relevant.

    I gotta say though, I’ve never seen an NFL offense run at that the tempo N.E. used in the first half. Denver had no time for substitutions, putting in specialty packages; anything, really. One play the Patriots snapped the ball and Denver had 14 players on the field.

  7. patriottony says: Oct 9, 2012 11:54 AM

    Just vintage “BILL”. Find something that works..and go with it…then they all copy it…

  8. all4patriots says: Oct 9, 2012 11:54 AM

    Guys like Rex Ryan play checkers while Bill Belichick plays chess

  9. andrewproughcfe says: Oct 9, 2012 11:59 AM

    All the hurry-up one-syllable gimmicks in the world won’t help Bill beat a New York team in the playoffs – something the Hoodie has never accomplished.

  10. citizenstrange says: Oct 9, 2012 12:00 PM

    Tomlin prefers the exact opposite as you might have guessed.

  11. all4patriots says: Oct 9, 2012 12:01 PM

    They catch you in a pass D and run over you, line up with no huddle, run over you again and again;

    Then you get a stoppage of play and shore up the run, they pass right through you, again and again.

    The odd thing is, they have such versatility on offense that they change from the power run setup to 5 wides and empty backfield without much change in personnel, if at all.

    At one point Von Miller had to run off to adjust a piece of equipment and the Pats kept attacking so that he literally couldn’t get back on the field.

    This is crazy awesome genius we are seeing.

  12. psr179 says: Oct 9, 2012 12:01 PM

    how do you score a first down?

  13. stangz11 says: Oct 9, 2012 12:06 PM

    piratefreedom says:
    Oct 9, 2012 11:25 AM
    just a fancy new way to cheat

    —————–

    You gotta be kidding man…

    Anyways, it was definitely interesting to watch. Never before have I seen such a pace set by an offense. Just picture it when Hernandez gets back

  14. newmarketmaulers says: Oct 9, 2012 12:13 PM

    Constantly changing, evolving…. How many teams feature two TE’s now? Chip Kelly wont just get a Tampa Bay offer next time.

  15. gojags says: Oct 9, 2012 12:23 PM

    Belichick the father of innovation in NFL. what a coach he is? You can give him my team players with talent level anywhere between zero and zero he will make them produce a lot more.

  16. markbul says: Oct 9, 2012 12:27 PM

    People in the media keep calling Belichick arrogant. Yet he goes to college coaches to learn how to coach. He listens to guys who have far less success than him. Chip Kelly was in grade school when Belichick took his first NFL job. Explain that. I’d say he’s a humble guy.

  17. cooklynn17 says: Oct 9, 2012 12:29 PM

    Just keep throwing it to Gronk, my fantasy tight end.

  18. amlowlife says: Oct 9, 2012 12:29 PM

    Two games have stuck out this season for their originality in execution.
    1. N.E.’s offense against the Broncos. I have never seen anything that fast before in the Pros. It was no-huddle but it was hyper-no-huddle. It was awe-inspiring.

    2. Atlanta’s defense against the Broncos. It was an “amoeba” defense where the defenders were moving all over the place right up until the ball was snapped. Manning was confused–which is saying something–for at least the first half. Good stuff.

    I think we will see more of both of these styles.

    And “cheating”? Pure silliness. Unless, of course, you define cheating the way the single-wingers did when they came up against a team that was adept at that new-fangled thing called a passing game…

  19. cooklynn17 says: Oct 9, 2012 12:32 PM

    succulentnipples says: Oct 9, 2012 11:35 AM

    Billy is so smart.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Cover Nicks and Cruz, make them go to Pascoe and Manningham. This is still a Nicks and Cruz game.

    Oops…………he’s not that smart.

  20. matiberio says: Oct 9, 2012 12:36 PM

    y’all need to relax. the comment about a new way to cheat was a joke (see the winking emoticon).

    like most innovation in warfare, this will only be killer useful for a while, then it will simply become another tool in the box…

  21. ravenator says: Oct 9, 2012 12:49 PM

    What the media fails to recognize or even discuss is that the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the entire NFL.

  22. thetroofishere says: Oct 9, 2012 12:58 PM

    Two Plays He Left Out

    Wes = 5 Yard Out

    Welker = 5 Yard In

    Repeat As Necessary

  23. raqaiw says: Oct 9, 2012 1:01 PM

    markbul says: Oct 9, 2012 12:27 PM

    People in the media keep calling Belichick arrogant. Yet he goes to college coaches to learn how to coach. He listens to guys who have far less success than him. Chip Kelly was in grade school when Belichick took his first NFL job. Explain that. I’d say he’s a humble guy.

    Bill isn’t humble, he’s very arrogant and you can see that in his approach to how he deals with the media,players,other coaches,refs,etc. That said, he’s a great coach. He’s like Cao Cao of Chinese history; he doesn’t care who you are or who you’re aligned with, if you can help him achieve his goals he’ll work with you until you no longer fit the plan or have outlived your usefulness and then you’re gone.

  24. dylanssongwriter says: Oct 9, 2012 1:10 PM

    what’s the big deal about this “fast” offense? they beat the hell out of denver’s defense last year…in fact they were more impressive vs denver last year.

  25. rexranius says: Oct 9, 2012 1:13 PM

    This is the type of article I come here for. Insight without the pot-stirring non-stories (i.e. Welker joke speculation) and google-amplifying keyworded stories of the week/day (i.e. Tebow). Nice credit to sources and no outlandish speculation. Nice one MDS.

  26. houndofthebaskervols says: Oct 9, 2012 1:17 PM

    I cant take any more of this speed up crap, hell I dont even have time to get a beer out of the fridge between plays as it is! Got to find a new team. LOL

  27. knucklebucket says: Oct 9, 2012 1:24 PM

    markbul says:
    Oct 9, 2012 12:27 PM
    People in the media keep calling Belichick arrogant. Yet he goes to college coaches to learn how to coach. He listens to guys who have far less success than him. Chip Kelly was in grade school when Belichick took his first NFL job. Explain that. I’d say he’s a humble guy.

    ___________________________________

    Couldn’t agree more. The root of it comes from the fact that things done on the college level end up in the NFL when successful. The fact that Belichick is a well established coach gives him the freedom to implement a system such as this. I agree that he is humble and is willing to talk football with any coach to get a better idea to gain a competitive advantage.

  28. hawkfan50 says: Oct 9, 2012 1:42 PM

    Here’s some one syllable words the Patriots can use after they play the Seahawks this Sunday ; sack , pick , loud , loss ..

  29. tigerlilac says: Oct 9, 2012 1:59 PM

    Great post.

    Great responses.

    Belichick deserves all of the praise he is getting but it helps to have guys like Brady and Welker on third down executing to perfection.

  30. educatedopinion2073 says: Oct 9, 2012 2:29 PM

    matiberio says:
    Oct 9, 2012 12:36 PM
    y’all need to relax. the comment about a new way to cheat was a joke (see the winking emoticon).

    like most innovation in warfare, this will only be killer useful for a while, then it will simply become another tool in the box…

    —————————————————-

    I can not agree more, not cheating but since your comment was the first one I laughed. And you nailed it about innovation, does anybody remember that formation now know as the Wildcat, and how the Miami blasted those same Patriots with it a few years back and now people have learned how to defend it.

    As far as the the comment about the NFL slowing it down I kinda agree and disagree at the same time I do not want to see the officials dictate the pace of play, but I also want to see the QB get smashed without little yellow hankies flying all over. So put the big boy pants on the QB’s or slow down the pace of play, because as it is now Defenses are getting abused.

  31. wikidpissah says: Oct 9, 2012 2:33 PM

    BB doesn’t need to be humble to know that he can always learn ways to improve his team, just smart and open minded.

    It’s not arrogance that causes BB to be so close mouthed with the media, once again it’s being smart. As much as it annoys the media, and many fans outside of NE, it helps the Patriots avoid the controversies that cause problems in many other organizations. Who would you rather have coaching your team, the boring BB or the always entertaining Rex Ryan?

  32. educatedopinion2073 says: Oct 9, 2012 2:36 PM

    knucklebucket says:
    Oct 9, 2012 1:24 PM
    markbul says:
    Oct 9, 2012 12:27 PM
    People in the media keep calling Belichick arrogant. Yet he goes to college coaches to learn how to coach. He listens to guys who have far less success than him. Chip Kelly was in grade school when Belichick took his first NFL job. Explain that. I’d say he’s a humble guy.

    ___________________________________

    Couldn’t agree more. The root of it comes from the fact that things done on the college level end up in the NFL when successful. The fact that Belichick is a well established coach gives him the freedom to implement a system such as this. I agree that he is humble and is willing to talk football with any coach to get a better idea to gain a competitive advantage.

    ————————————————–
    I too agree look at my other post, I can almost guarantee that some coach out there is working the “Pistol” into some of their playbooks right now. it may show up in the playoffs, of next year at the latest. The innovation at the college levels are great, now it does not mean it will always work at the Pro level but it does add wrinkles. Everyone was sat last year that the option would not work in the NFL, yet with the addition of Cam Newton and RGIII. We are seeing it more and more. Used appropriately everything works, in the pros you have to be able to move between things fluidly.

  33. Nofoolnodrool says: Oct 9, 2012 2:42 PM

    Why would someone bring up the scheduling issue in relation to this story? Sounds like a cry baby to me. The Pats are always looking for an edge which is smart football and not whining about their schedule which is not. The source of the comment needs to grow up maybe?

  34. weepingjebus says: Oct 9, 2012 2:47 PM

    Belichick is at an age and position in life where he could start to calcify and breeze along giving 80% and still win a lot of games and keep a lot of respect. Instead, he’s out there talking to college coaches and digging up ideas from plays in the 1950s. Love him or hate him, you have to be impressed by that and by how he turns it into more wins.

  35. thingamajig says: Oct 9, 2012 2:57 PM

    Next year 3/4 of the NFL will be using it.

  36. footballdog says: Oct 9, 2012 3:07 PM

    ravenator says:Oct 9, 2012 12:49 PM

    What the media fails to recognize or even discuss is that the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the entire NFL.
    ———————————————————-

    What you fail to recognize is that, that was prior to the start of the season and based on last years teams.
    The media, as well as anyone with any common sense in regards to football knows this.

  37. sjhesketh says: Oct 9, 2012 3:08 PM

    “Cover Nicks and Cruz, make them go to Pascoe and Manningham. This is still a Nicks and Cruz game.

    Oops…………he’s not that smart.
    *********************************************

    Actually, that strategy made a lot of sense. It’s to the Giants’ credit that they drove down the field with the Pats taking away Nicks and Cruz. It was sound strategy.

    If an opposing coach told his D, “Take away Welker and Gronk” and the Pats scored going to Woodhead and Branch, you don’t LOL at the coach, you say, damn they executed even though we took their best players out of the drive.

  38. piratefreedom says: Oct 9, 2012 3:12 PM

    ;) means I’m kidding , congratulation matiberio I didn’t realize the puzzle you solved was so difficult ;)

    this is me not kidding

    I’m a big Pats fan but I wonder how well the audible system will travel to a loud place like Seattle – Is it still loud like it was before they imploded the old place?

  39. homelanddefense says: Oct 9, 2012 3:24 PM

    ravenator says: Oct 9, 2012 12:49 PM

    What the media fails to recognize or even discuss is that the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the entire NFL.
    ____________________________

    Actually it has been discussed by the media often, even on this site.

    But I will say this. The Patriots are 3-2 against a schedule that has a record of 13-12. The Ravens are 4-1 and have played a schdeule with a record of 10-15. So you dont have much room to talk.

    Not when you are playing teams like Cle and KC.

    Oh yeah the AFC East is 9-11 this year, the AFC North is 9-10.

  40. ravenator says: Oct 9, 2012 3:30 PM

    You failed to recognize the point, that the Pts have barely played any competitive teams. When they do play one, they lose.

  41. ezwriter69 says: Oct 9, 2012 3:34 PM

    “Just vintage “BILL”. Find something that works..and go with it…then they all copy it…”

    Except, uh, he says himself HE copied it from Chip Kelly and the college game… all due credit to BB, but even HE didn’t claim it as his idea.

  42. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 9, 2012 4:11 PM

    Skirting the rules, yet again. Although shrewdly, because technically, what they do is not illegal.

    However, this is why that stupid 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty makes no sense. Give Bill credit for spotting a potential advantage and utilizing it. They were not going to beat the Broncos lining up traditionally all game. They had to shorten the game by dominating the clock, and they weren’t going to do that with their standard dink and dunk. I hate the Patriots, but that was an ALL-WORLD game plan by Bill against a team that likes to sit on offenses with their front seven, in the Broncos.

  43. patriotinvasion says: Oct 9, 2012 4:14 PM

    So the offense is even better than it was pre-spygate but the defense is much worse.

    Pretty much explains why the Patriots won 3 Super Bowls with Tom Brady and a great defense and haven’t sealed the deal with Tom Brady and an average to below average defense.

    In other words, spygate meant nothing and was just an ESPN-hyped story that snowballed amidst the festering Patriots-fatigue that the rest of the country had in 2007 and beyond.

    Keep hatin’ haters. We’ll just keep competing for Super Bowls every single year.

  44. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 9, 2012 4:15 PM

    footballdog says: Oct 9, 2012 3:07 PM

    ravenator says:Oct 9, 2012 12:49 PM

    What the media fails to recognize or even discuss is that the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the entire NFL.
    ———————————————————-

    What you fail to recognize is that, that was prior to the start of the season and based on last years teams.
    The media, as well as anyone with any common sense in regards to football knows this.
    ————

    Super Bowl runners up should not get a schedule (annually, mind you) that the teams making the first 5 picks in the draft get.

    Meanwhile, the Giants, regardless of where they finish the season before, always have the toughest schedule in the league.

    Although, to their credit, they are so resilient and know that they’re in every game, so no opponent overwhelms them.

    Even if the media has already expressed that they have no shot this weekend at Candlestick.

    And that they have had no shot to ever beat the Patriots; even though they currently own New England and would be 4-0 against them aside from blown coverage on Moss by a backup who should have never been on the team to begin with in James Butler.

  45. jintzforever says: Oct 9, 2012 4:18 PM

    Ducks are revolutionizing CFB and its about time the NFL tried this. Only Saban thinks its a bad idea…….

  46. cooklynn17 says: Oct 9, 2012 4:20 PM

    sjhesketh says: Oct 9, 2012 3:08 PM

    “Cover Nicks and Cruz, make them go to Pascoe and Manningham. This is still a Nicks and Cruz game.

    Oops…………he’s not that smart. *********************************************

    Actually, that strategy made a lot of sense. It’s to the Giants’ credit that they drove down the field with the Pats taking away Nicks and Cruz. It was sound strategy.

    If an opposing coach told his D, “Take away Welker and Gronk” and the Pats scored going to Woodhead and Branch, you don’t LOL at the coach, you say, damn they executed even though we took their best players out of the drive.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Here’s a novel idea, how about cover everybody with a dime package.

    Just food for thought there coach…

  47. hehateme2 says: Oct 9, 2012 4:23 PM

    I’ve never seen a more defensive group of fans than these modern day paties.

    One utter of cheating or other truths about their hoodie sends them out in numbers to brow beat anyone else. Think skinned and kool-aid drinkers all.

  48. jintzforever says: Oct 9, 2012 4:25 PM

    Ducks are revolutionizing CFB and now influencing the NFL. Way more fun to watch the hyper speed Ducks. Of course, Saban doesn’t like it……..lol.

  49. wikidpissah says: Oct 9, 2012 4:51 PM

    hawkfan50 says: Oct 9, 2012 1:42 PM

    Here’s some one syllable words the Patriots can use after they play the Seahawks this Sunday ; sack , pick , loud , loss ..

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Only if they can figure a way to bring back the replacement officials.

  50. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 9, 2012 4:51 PM

    If you penalize teams for trying to substitute on defense, then why not run a hurry up offense, if your offensive line is conditioned to do so.

  51. eyeland2 says: Oct 9, 2012 4:55 PM

    I’m amazed at how BB is first at something that Oregon already does and that several teams have done–including the Broncos–dating back to at least Ted Marchibroda in 1975.

  52. lusdawg says: Oct 9, 2012 5:00 PM

    Mr. Wright 212 says:
    Oct 9, 2012 4:15 PM
    footballdog says: Oct 9, 2012 3:07 PM

    ravenator says:Oct 9, 2012 12:49 PM

    What the media fails to recognize or even discuss is that the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the entire NFL.
    ———————————————————-

    What you fail to recognize is that, that was prior to the start of the season and based on last years teams.
    The media, as well as anyone with any common sense in regards to football knows this.
    ————

    Super Bowl runners up should not get a schedule (annually, mind you) that the teams making the first 5 picks in the draft get.

    Meanwhile, the Giants, regardless of where they finish the season before, always have the toughest schedule in the league.

    Although, to their credit, they are so resilient and know that they’re in every game, so no opponent overwhelms them.

    Even if the media has already expressed that they have no shot this weekend at Candlestick.

    And that they have had no shot to ever beat the Patriots; even though they currently own New England and would be 4-0 against them aside from blown coverage on Moss by a backup who should have never been on the team to begin with in James Butler.

    ————————————-

    I’m guessing that you don’t know that the schedule for each team is pre-determined infinitely, except for 2 games (this is determined on where each team places within the division).

    You should do some research before you type (and whine) …

  53. zygizag says: Oct 9, 2012 10:34 PM

    How can he be the FIRST when Indy did it with Payton. Jerry Burns came up with the West Coast Offense.

    Credit him for seeing it could make his team better.

    People copy what works but some have the personel and some don’t. Coaches need to build their O and D around their players not what is a trend.

  54. gazzzmann says: Oct 10, 2012 1:44 PM

    giants will be watching Super bowl from home

  55. cranespy says: Oct 10, 2012 7:37 PM

    The man is committed to his team….he will observe, consult and apply knowledge he gains from others. He is rare in his profession….a man who doesn’t think twice to confer with Nick Saban, Chip Kelly or bring back Josh McDaniel! Now…. If he could get that defense moving.

  56. frostymugobeer says: Oct 11, 2012 12:01 PM

    Patriots flat outplayed the Broncos D….
    Manning played very well ,I think by mid-season the Broncos will be a tough team.
    right now, they are just getting it together.

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