Belichick explains defensive improvement in simple terms

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For much of the 2016 season, the defense seemed to be a major weakness for the Patriots. Over time, however, the defense steadily improved.

On Monday, reporters asked coach Bill Belichick to explain the biggest factor for this development.

“Preparation, practice, execution,” Belichick said. “There’s no magic wand. You’ve just got to go out there and, look, there are five eligible receivers. Usually we get at least four of them out [running pass patterns]. In man-to-man coverage you’ve got to cover them. We’ve got to rush the passer, contain the quarterback, stop the run.

“Zone coverage; it’s a short throw. You’ve got to be on the receivers tight or a good quarterback can get the ball into those windows. Again, good execution of zone coverage, getting to the receivers, filling up those spaces so it’s hard to throw the ball in there. It really just comes down to playing good team defense in both the running game and the passing game and on the goal line, which gets into a whole new set of defensive calls and techniques. We’ve had a couple of big stops down there, too, over the course of the year.”

More specific improvement occurred later in the year, as the stakes of the games increased.

“[A]s the season goes on and you get into games like we’ve had the last few weeks, Miami was a playoff team; that was kind of like a playoff game,” Belichick said. “Baltimore, Denver were those big kind of games at the end of the season. Then the last two we’ve had — I think that’s where teams, players, units, I mean, that’s where those levels really get identified because you’re playing against the very best teams, the very highest level of competition. Some of that really remains to be determined in this year.”

Part of the challenge for the Patriots defense was to adjust to lineup changes, including most notably the in-season trade of linebacker Jamie Collins.

“We made some changes during the year,” Belichick said. “We always make changes. It’s a process you go through. You put players in certain situations and certain groupings together and some work better than others, or maybe you see more potential in a certain player or group of players or combination of players than others, and you decide to move forward more with that or maybe you do it less because you don’t feel as good about it or players develop or improve or whatever it is and it’s just an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

It also doesn’t happen automatically.

“There’s no switch that you can flip,” he said. “It comes through a lot of hard work, a lot of meetings, a lot of communication on how we’re going to do things and then a lot of on-the-field execution at actually doing them at a good competitive level so that we can gain confidence in each other as a unit as to how that’s going to happen in a live game situation. Working hard, continuing to improve and guys taking whatever opportunities they get and either moving forward with it or possibly somebody else getting an opportunity and moving ahead of a player at a point in the season. That’s just a competitive situation. We’re going to play the best players and basically everybody will get a chance to do it somewhere along the line, and the players that play the best will play more and the players that don’t do it as well need to improve and need to change their playing time status or they’ll continue to not get the playing time behind somebody else who is performing better.”

These are simple, obvious concepts, and it’s refreshing to hear one of the most successful coaches in league history underscore the importance of the meat-and-potatoes aspect of playing defense. The specific schemes and the knowledge regarding what an offense may do are critical to the success of a defense, but Belichick has accurately explained some of the key aspects of building the foundation of a great defense.

29 responses to “Belichick explains defensive improvement in simple terms

  1. The more they win the more the trolls are silenced. What is the big conspiracy this year? How did they cheat to win this time? Or have the trolls all climbed back into their little holes, only to peek out in a couple weeks to see if the Falcons can save them?

  2. He also applies this improvement process to the turnover in his own coaching staff every year, as it is routinely raided by other teams for obvious reasons. Belichick training up some 180 IQ super coach and then coldly firing himself for the good of the franchise will be the ultimate Belichick move ever.

  3. This is the most I have ever heard him say in answering a question. I guess if you ask him a good question you get a good answer. Not like that idiot reporter who asked him if Brady would play when he returned after 4 games if the Patriots were 3-1 or 4-0. That answer was classic.

  4. Was Belichick liquored up when he said all this? I’ve not seen a set of quotes this long from him in an entire month!

    Teryl Austin – take a lesson, and maybe the Lions can hold an opposing passer to under 72% completion rate!

    Great win for the Pats v. the ‘arse’ Tomlin and Steelers.

    Should be a fantastic game in two weeks.

  5. Ask him a good football question, and he answers in kind. Ask him a stupid question, you get the death stare, and he shows you for the fool that you are.

    Pats have been without, arguably, one of the NFL’s best players in Gronkowski for most of the season, and I barely if ever hear that mentioned. So I don’t want to hear about any competitor’s injuries for excuses.

    The GOAT and the greatest franchise ever created are going to yet another SB. I can’t speak for my fellow Pat’s fans, but I’m spoiled rotten. The best thing about it, is that I don’t see the GOAT or Belichick going anywhere for years…

  6. Its not just coaching – they accurately ID guys with the ability (Physical but also mental) that can take the coaching an apply it on the field.

    As well as guys with the team first trait – as some guys get put into position that they know will cause them reduced stats and thus money.

  7. What he’s really saying is that every team starts with the same tools, the same understanding, and the same scouting reports on their opponents.

    Not every team does their job.

    What good is signing a great corner if your system doesn’t provide the support he needs to do his job well?

  8. The trolls are still talking about how the Patriots cheated and won SBs by “spying” years before camera placement even was an issue

  9. skawh says:
    Jan 23, 2017 3:39 PM

    1 TERM: We played 1 QB ALL SEASON to get us to the AFC C’ship game!
    ——————–

    And they just got done beating him like a drum.

  10. If you want someone with no prior background to learn about this game, just give them endless belichick lectures on the game. Regardless of your opinion on him, it’s a goldmine.

  11. Here is a list of the QBs faced by Pats this year:
    Palmer
    Tannehill
    Osweiler (twice)
    Tyrod Tayler (twice)
    Charlie Whitehurst
    Dalton
    Landry Jones
    Russ Wilson
    Kap
    Fitzpatrick (twice)
    Goff
    Flacco
    Siemien
    Matt Moore
    Big Ben

    That’s not a murderer’s row of QBs there. A handful of good ones (Ben, Dalton, Wilson) and the rest are pretty bad. Matt Ryan will tear them up

  12. cacheesehead1237 says:
    Jan 23, 2017 6:31 PM
    Here is a list of the QBs faced by Pats this year:
    Palmer
    Tannehill
    Osweiler (twice)
    Tyrod Tayler (twice)
    Charlie Whitehurst
    Dalton
    Landry Jones
    Russ Wilson
    Kap
    Fitzpatrick (twice)
    Goff
    Flacco
    Siemien
    Matt Moore
    Big Ben

    That’s not a murderer’s row of QBs there. A handful of good ones (Ben, Dalton, Wilson) and the rest are pretty bad. Matt Ryan will tear them up

    ————————————–

    You’re forgetting one QB the Pat’s defense gets to see every day. That guys pretty good from what I can tell. Most intelligent people might even say the best to ever do it

  13. Bill and Tom would most likely not be as successful as they have been without one another. Add in their skill sets and it all carries over to the rest of the coaches and players. If you think about it, other than Gronkowski and Moss, Patriots have never had a superstar type player at any position other than QB. Maybe a few on defense, like Harrison or Brusci. They bring in solid football players and the coaches get the most out of the talent they assemble. I have to say too that when teams take the field against New England, and the other teams see that Patriot logo and colors, the Patriots already are ahead by a TD. The excellence and accomplishments are intimidating.

  14. cacheesehead1237 says:
    Jan 23, 2017 6:31 PM
    Here is a list of the QBs faced by Pats this year:
    Palmer
    Tannehill
    Osweiler (twice)
    Tyrod Tayler (twice)
    Charlie Whitehurst
    Dalton
    Landry Jones
    Russ Wilson
    Kap
    Fitzpatrick (twice)
    Goff
    Flacco
    Siemien
    Matt Moore
    Big Ben

    That’s not a murderer’s row of QBs there. A handful of good ones (Ben, Dalton, Wilson) and the rest are pretty bad. Matt Ryan will tear them up

    They can only play the teams that the league says they are going to play.

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