When it comes to devising a defensive game plan, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a simple approach: Take away what the opposing offense does best. So what will he try to take away from the Steelers on Sunday?
Putting the clamps on running back Le’Veon Bell could open up a passing game that features quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown. Taking away the passing game means Bell could run wild.
One of Belichick’s best game plans came when he served as the defensive coordinator of the Giants in Super Bowl XXV. He persuaded the New York defense to buy in to an approach that invited Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas to run the ball, allowing Thomas to have a big day on the ground but slowing down the quick-strike K-Gun offense. Fifteen years ago, when facing the Greatest Show on Turf in Super Bowl XXXVI, Belichick focused on taking away the passing game, dropping extra players into coverage and daring coach Mike Martz to run the ball. Martz, too stubborn to deviate from what we wanted to do, refused to adjust.
So what will Belichick do against the Steelers and Bell? Sunday night’s 170-yard output from Bell resulted in zero touchdowns for the team, so maybe Belichick should be willing to let Bell get his yards with a bend-don’t-break effort to avoid big plays and easy scores in the passing game.