Belichick explains Colts’ fake punt fiasco better than Pagano

In trying to explain the poorly-conceived-and-executed-worse fake punt fiasco from Sunday night, Colts coach Chuck Pagano has failed almost as badly as the play did.

On Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick provided a far more cogent explanation of the situation.

“I think the play was a version of the swinging gate play,” Belichick told reporters. “I don’t know exactly how it was supposed to work. That’s something you’d have to ask them about. They brought the gunner in to snap the ball so he would’ve been an eligible receiver, so we had to cover him. I think basically you want to try to, on punt formations . . . it’s just a numbers game. You want to have enough guys to match to the smaller numbers, and as many guys as you can to match to the larger number where they were over-shifted. . . . So it’s just kind of everybody making sure that they take care of their responsibility on the shift and make sure that we can defend the formation and know who is eligible. I think it’s something that every special teams coach goes over.”

Although Pagano has insisted that the plan was to catch the Patriots with 12 men on the field or to call a timeout, Belichick’s assessment meshes with punter Pat McAfee’s explanation that “[i]t’s a play where you try to take advantage of numbers. You try to confuse the defense and hopefully get an edge numbers wise.”

In other words, there was (in theory) a situation in which center/receiver Griff Whalen would have snapped the ball to quarterback/safety Colt Anderson as the other nine Indianapolis players were aligned on the other side of the field. Which leads to this question: What numbers advantage would have resulted in Anderson actually running the play in the hopes it would succeed?

Obviously, two against five wasn’t the plan. Two against four or three likewise wouldn’t have worked. Two against two would have been, essentially, an Oklahoma drill with a second defender.

The other curiosity was the decision to have Anderson under center. It gave him no chance to do anything; even if there was only one defender across from Whalen, the five-eleven, 190-pound wideout would have been in the middle of a three-man scrum, trying to keep the defender from bringing Anderson down. And this assumes that the other 10 Patriots players would have been so intrigued by the presence of nine guys lined up wide to the right to ignore that the other two guys were with the football

If Anderson had been lined up in the shotgun and if a pair of Patriots had pursued him at the snap, Anderson could have hot potato’d the ball to Whalen, who was (as Belichick noted) an eligible receiver. With Anderson under center, however, that never was going to happen.

Although, as Rodney Harrison said during Monday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, the players are responsible for the execution, Pagano is responsible for designing the play and calling it in that situation. Although the Colts had practiced the play successfully in practice, they weren’t ready to use it during a game — and the results showed.

On that point, the fact that the Colts had actually practiced the play means that it was about more than catching the defense with 12 men on the field. They actually had a set of circumstances in which they believed that play would work against, of all teams, the Patriots. The inability of Pagano to provide a explanation that makes objective sense proves that it never should have been drawn up, and it never should have been used.

79 responses to “Belichick explains Colts’ fake punt fiasco better than Pagano

  1. Worst play ever. For something the Colts supposedly had been practicing for a year or so, I still don’t know what the planned outcome was supposed to be. The funniest part was that it wasn’t at least a shotgun snap. The Patriots slammed that poor dude to the ground in a split second.

  2. Are you paying attention, Pagano? You might learn something. JV coach, JV team, JV franchise. And a preschool fan base. Follow your druggie owner into the septic tank. Good times in New England, thanks for the entertainment. I PITY YOU

  3. Pagano’s explanation was not as you represent … he mentioned the 12 men, but that was clearly one example of the sort of confusion they hoped to create, not the sole purpose of the play. It was badly executed and probably a bad idea, but it’s poor journslism on your part to write as you did. There’s no excuse for misrepresenting the people you’re writing about.

  4. I think the colts thought at the very least the pats would have wasted a time out but obviously that didn’t happen. Another possibility was that Pagano wanted a clear reason to be fired for unknown reasons. Nobody will ever know what the colts were trying to do, and I think the colts won’t ever know either.

  5. Do you think Anderson would have had enough time to receive the snap, pivot, and throw to the right? That’s about the only way numbers mattered, in my estimation (outside of 12 men, but then Indy would have needed the right number of players on the line of scrimmage). Also, I thought I knew about football formations, but can an eligible receiver snap the ball? I’ve seen unbalanced lines, but not to the point of making the center eligible. At least not since the M*A*S*H movie…

  6. Ease up on Pagano. For two days, you’ve been acting like he stole your lunch money 40 years ago.

  7. If Anderson had been lined up in the shotgun and if a pair of Patriots had pursued him at the snap, Anderson could have hot potato’d the ball to Whalen, who was (as Belichick noted) an eligible receiver. With Anderson under center, however, that never was going to happen.
    ———
    Right, but thats the only explanation that makes sense for what they were trying to do that Ive heard.

  8. Sure, this play stunk, but I still think the Jim Zorn coached Redskins’ fake kick was more pathetic because it also included a jump ball pass by a guy who had apparently never thrown a football before.

    Hopefully Pagano will add that exciting element to this play next time they use it.

  9. I really don’t think any of it matters in that the play was inherently flawed – I mean, as soon as you snap the ball, the O is nailed with an illegal formation penalty. Just dumb all around on the Colts part.

  10. .
    Pagano and Grigson had visions of ESPN interviews where they could have told Belichick to, ” read the rulebook “.
    .

  11. “The other curiosity was the decision to have Anderson under center. It gave him no chance to do anything…”

    ^^^
    This right here. Watching that piece of inspired idiocy Pats fans were all thinking don’t fall for it, it’s a trick to draw an offside there’s no way in that alignment they are ever going to snap it with him under center…and then they did. Just an epic fail on so many levels.

    Just like with the time ticking off the clock in the SB. BB didn’t bat an eye or call a timeout and neither did his team, that’s why he is Chessmaster Hoodie and Carroll, Pagano and the rest are still just playing checkers

  12. We get it Mike. Bad decision to call it, poor execution and probably poorly designed. Trying to figure out why you’re so pissed off at Pagano–what did he do to you?

  13. It looked dumb but it could have easily worked if it had been in shotgun. If the simulated QB is the fastest guy it could have gone a long way as both defenders by the ball were over center. There was nobody to the right of the field on defense. The QB would have to sprint left and outrun the guys closest to the ball for the 3 yards. Conceptually, that play was fine except for being under center (and the LOS infraction). It just looked horrible the way they executed it.

  14. “Belichick explains Colts’ fake punt fiasco better than Pagano”

    And that surprises you why exactly ?

    “Although the Colts had practiced the play successfully in practice”

    Maybe that’s what they said but obviously that was not the case. If they had practiced it “successfully” they would have know the guys on the right had to be on the LOS, which clearly they didn’t.

    It was an amateur hour high school play that was so poorly coached and executed a pop warner team could have stopped it.

  15. “The Colts were trying to cheat. That is why the official threw the flag on this play, for cheating.”

    No, the flag was thrown for an illegal formation.

    Are we really now going to start calling every penalty “cheating” and just become legions of fans whining that during every single game the other team “cheated” because they got some flags ?

    Please just stop.

  16. This calls for another rules change. Every time Belichick outcoaches the opposition, or if the Pats outexecute their opponent, they must be fined and lose picks. Must be a cheating thing.

  17. As a Pats fan I can honestly say I enjoyed seeing the implosion of the Colts…. But then again I must say I’m use to it… Lol!!
    Karma!!!!

  18. Does it really surprises anybody that BB knew better than Pagano the proper way to execute this play?

    He knows the rule book better than the refs so it’s no surprise that he would understand a gimmick play better than the team trying to execute it.

  19. I think BB’s explanation is the only logical one…the part that really baffles me is that the Dolts admit that this play has been in their playbook and has been “practiced” by them for “more than a year” … That being the case, why didn’t the other 9 players line up properly (to avoid the illegal formation penalty) but even more baffling is why didn’t any of the other Dolt coaches or assistants realize that their own practice formation was being incorrectly executed in a real game against a real opponent, and then call their own timeout, in an effort to avoid this overwhelming national embarrassment???

  20. As much as I hate to say it, cmon pats fans we can’t be this happy and satisified about beating these chumps. The seasons a loooooong grind. So I guess I will be the first to say it…..We’re on to the New York Jets!!!!

  21. I said it when the 11 of 12 lie was revealed – and again when it was learned that the “best recollection” of the official was that no deflation occurred – but Goodell just assumed the opposite and everyone went along with it

    Brady will have his job longer than Pagano or Grigson as karma for their attempt to slander and frame him

    Looks like Pagano will be the first to fall – can the guy that hired him be far behind?

  22. For all of those who predicted the Patriots would humiliate the Colts with a blowout score, you were wrong

    The Colts took control and humiliated themselves

    The team suits their owner

  23. Wait, what? Did I miss something? I didn’t see mention that it was an illegal formation? How can you actually hope to catch the defense off guard if it is a blatant illegal formation? Even if the patriots sent out 12 men, their would still a penalty on the offense? They actually practiced that?

  24. Just to be clear, Belichick understood the play better than the guy trying to run it against him. If you had 3 hours to spare, Belichick could probably quote you the top 10 times it was deployed in the last 80 years, when it worked and when it didn’t, and how teams defended it in different ways. This is what he does. This is all he does. He is better than you.

  25. You know, it seems to me that if Colts players wanted Pagano fired, making an embarrassing screw up like this is a pretty sure fire way to get a new, more competent coach

  26. That was such an epic fail of execution by the players though, one can’t help but wonder if it were intentional

    If a team meeting revealed that the majority of Colts players no longer had confidence in their coach, I can’t think of a more sure fire way of getting him fired than to execute that play, that badly

    Conspiracy theory? Maybe. But we all know it wouldn’t be the first time the Colts purposefully threw games to achieve a longer term goal *cough*Suck for Luck* cough*

    Ahhhh – the integrity of the game

  27. How embarrassing. The Colts will go down in history for this one, Like that Cowboys player years ago who thought he was home free to the end zone only to fumble inside the 5.

  28. One bad call does not a firing make.

    IN my 46+ years of watching the NFL (in the 70’s and 80’s mostly the NFC Central and NFC East) I have only seen 2 play or plays in which I thought it should have gotten the coach fired.

    1 Packers : I think they were playing the Rams could be wrong but the Rams were driving for a go ahead score and they did score as time ran out and won. Brett Farve had been yelling at the coach to use their time outs so they would have time on the other side if they scored. He was not fired immediately but he only coached Green Bay for one year.

    2. Lions : Back in the time of
    sudden-death-overtime-first-score-wins the Lions were at home and they had the coin toss for overtime. The visiting team lost and the Lions got to pick what they wanted to do and they chose to kick-off. ????? Which they did and the other team drove down and kicked the winning field goal. Coach should of been canned right after the game.

    This does not rank any where near those.
    Writers yelling that he should be fired for this are just trying to make noise and get hits.

  29. Also, I thought I knew about football formations, but can an eligible receiver snap the ball?
    ===
    Any player on the line of scrimmage can snap the ball. You just don’t usually see an end snap it, but it’s perfectly legal for him to do so.

  30. It was the worst play I’ve ever seen in the NFL. I’m surprised no one’s been fired because of it. The sad thing is that the Colts were only down 6 points with the whole 4th quarter to go. I don’t think they would’ve won the game either way but that play just sucked the life out of the team. It was an absolutely brutal play call.

  31. They say this play worked in practice. So the only team in the world that can’t stop this ludicrous play is coached by the same coaches who designed it. In a way, that makes perfect sense.

  32. The person taking the snap should have been in the shotgun. At least then if they were fast they might have had a chance of beating the defenders to the sideline opposite all the other players to make the first down.

  33. They only thing worse would have been going for it on 4th and 2 on your own 28 while leading by 6 late in the game and throwing a 1 yard out to the flat.

  34. Well, at least Petey Carroll is ‘off the hook’ now for calling “The Worst Play Ever” {although Carroll’s call ultimately lost the SUPER BOWL last season for Seattle . . . }, as it took a GREAT play by NE’s Malcolm Butler to make Carroll’s play call look horrible; this Pagano “Fake Punt” fiasco needed no great play (by the defense) to FAIL completely.

    Interesting though, that the Patriots were involved in BOTH of these Games (on the WINNING side too), huh ?

    It MUST have been some form of “Mind Control” cheating, wouldn’t all of you Haters agree ?

  35. Felt like I was watching Rick Moranis coach before he got things figured out. Should have subbed in The Icebox though..

  36. It takes BB the Wizard to explain what the keystone colts couldn’t even run themselves.
    What is the NFL coming to?
    How did Pagano even get this job? I see why Payton ran when he had the chance.

  37. Ah, what would we do for laughs without the Colts. First it was Jim Mora’s immortal quote “What’s that? Ah — Playoffs? Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game! Another game.”. Now we have Chuck and his superbly coached Unique Punt……

  38. FinFan68 says:
    Oct 19, 2015 10:24 PM

    It looked dumb but it could have easily worked if it had been in shotgun. If the simulated QB is the fastest guy it could have gone a long way as both defenders by the ball were over center. There was nobody to the right of the field on defense. The QB would have to sprint left and outrun the guys closest to the ball for the 3 yards. Conceptually, that play was fine except for being under center (and the LOS infraction). It just looked horrible the way they executed it.

    ———

    you might want to watch the play again. at the snap of the ball, this is how players were lined up:

    Colts had Whalen at center and Anderson at QB.

    Patriots (from defensive side view) had Bolden to the right of the center and Bostic to the left….both on the LOS and with a clear line to the QB. To the left of Bostic, Ebner also lined up at the LOS. Off the LOS were Ryan to the right and Slater to the left.

    Patriots basically had 5 guys covering 2.

    Now, had Anderson lined up in shotgun position, would the defenders line up the same way? Who knows? But to say “it could have easily worked” is a bit of a stretch.

  39. Like that Cowboys player years ago who thought he was home free to the end zone only to fumble inside the 5.

    —-

    Major difference: the Cowboys won that game 52-17. It was the Super Bowl against the Bills.

  40. joker65 says:
    Oct 20, 2015 9:05 AM

    Like that Cowboys player years ago who thought he was home free to the end zone only to fumble inside the 5.

    —-

    Major difference: the Cowboys won that game 52-17. It was the Super Bowl against the Bills.

    ——————–

    Good god, do I miss Leon Lett. That guy was pure entertainment and a hell of player.

  41. I think the league should review this play. There is no way the Patriots defenders counted to 5 Mississippi before rushing the passer.

  42. “Ease up on Pagano. For two days, you’ve been acting like he stole your lunch money 40 years ago”

    What are you talking about? That would imply that people fear Pagano.

    The only thing anyone hear feels for Pagano is pity, as he was so over matched by Belichick it was pathetic. Once again Pagano was schooled by the master.

  43. Just a few things:

    First, I sincerely doubt that the play was practiced with an illegal formation. On a normal play, you quite frequently see wide receivers signaling to the refs to ensure that they are on the line, because being far from the ball can make it difficult to tell. You’d assume that in this case that the rest of the team would be lining up based upon the positioning of the regular long snapper. If he was two steps backward, because he was trying to hurry out on his shift, then everyone else is two steps backward. That’s an execution error.

    Second, the Patriots practice for unusual. The league even instituted a new rule based on their use of them. Why on earth would you think using an unusual, but not new, formation would fool them?

    Third, someone on the sidelines should have noticed that the team was both not lined up properly, and even if they were, facing insurmountable odds should the ball be snapped. No one was fooled. If you don’t think that you can trust your fourth wide receiver to make a smart decision at center (duh) then you call a time out.

    Fourth, a note for the Colts fans. “Yeah, but you didn’t blow us out like you said,” isn’t a very good come back.

  44. I see a lot of Pats fans taking a victory lap here. But I have a message for the haters.

    Haters, Pats fans will stop making fun of your teams when you stop with the moronic cheater and similar idiotic comments that lack any factual basis whatsoever. Until you clowns stop with the nonsense, the Patriots will continue to embarrass your teams (if your teams don’t first embarrass themselves with self-inflicted screw ups like the Butt Fumble; failed fake punt; failing to hand off to Beast Mode, etc), and Pats fans will continue to embarrass and own you.

    If you want some respect you must first show it to the greatest dynasty in the history of football – the New England Patriots. Give up your obsession over trivial nonsense that is inconsequential to the actual execution of the game of football (a half a psi in a ball).

    If not, we will not only continue to make a mockery of your pathetic whining and crying, we WILL destroy you…this year and for years to come.

  45. Good God – the longer this thread goes the more stupid it gets. Especially from ignorant Pats fans who somehow have injected themselves into the success of the Pats.

    It’s a game morons and you have nothing to do with it.

  46. Maybe it would have worked from shotgun, if the Patriots only had 2 guys there.

    IE, the center(eligible receiver) snaps the ball, sneaks past the two D-line men who are running to the passer…. then the passer passes to that player.

    Unfortunately the center was engaged by one of the Patriots, and there were 2 other guys waiting to cover him.

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