Aggressive decisions on fourth down are in vogue around the league right now, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t make on in overtime against the Cowboys last Sunday.
The Patriots had a fourth-and-three from their own 46-yard-line on the first possession of overtime and they opted to punt the ball away rather than try for the first down. The Cowboys drove for a touchdown, but would have only needed to get a field goal in order to secure the win. New England also went conservative with 90 seconds to play in the first half when they chose to take a knee rather than try for points that would have loomed large come the fourth quarter.
They were getting the ball to start the second half and that’s been a situation when Belichick has been aggressive in the past, but offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on Tuesday that he is never “going to argue with the decisions that are made in those situations” because he’s not as tuned into the entire picture as the head coach. If the call is to get aggressive, though, McDaniels said he believes in the unit’s ability to get the job done.
“I believe in our entire group. Like I said, if they tell us to go for it then I have faith and confidence in our preparation and what we do each week to prepare and get ready to go,” McDaniels said, via WEEI.com. “When those opportunities present themselves, like I said, it’s our responsibility to be ready and also execute properly when they come up so we can convert and make those decisions the right decisions for the team. I have great confidence in all our guys.”
A different approach may not have led to a different result for the Patriots in Week Six and we’ll have to wait to find out if they play things differently when a similar situation presents itself at some other point this season.