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New England Patriots strategy

New England Patriots strategy

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The New England Patriots
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National...

employ a variety of strategies
American football strategy
American football strategy concerns the deployment of offensive, defensive, and special teams players in American football.-Offensive strategy:The goal of offensive strategy is to score points...

 during play. Since the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick
William Stephen "Bill" Belichick is an American football head coach for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. After spending his first 15 seasons in the league as an assistant coach, Belichick got his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in 1991...

 in 2000
2000 New England Patriots season
The 2000 New England Patriots season was the 31st season for the team in the National Football League and 41st season overall. They finished with a 5–11 record and in last place in the division....

, the Patriots have utilized an "Erhardt-Perkins" offense and a "Fairbanks-Bullough" 3-4 defense, referred to commonly as a 2-gap 3-4 defensive system.However, in 2011, the Patriots reverted back to the 4-3 defense
4-3 defense
In American football, a 4–3 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and three linebackers. It is probably the most commonly used defense in modern American football and especially in the National Football League. NFL teams that use the 4–3 defense as of 2011 include the...

.

Erhardt-Perkins offensive system


The Patriots run a modified "Ron Erhardt
Ron Erhardt
Ron Erhardt is a former football coach at both the collegiate and professional levels, and from 1979-1981 served as head coach of the National Football League's New England Patriots.-College assistant and high school head coach:...

 - Ray Perkins" offensive system installed by Charlie Weis
Charlie Weis
Charles Joseph "Charlie" Weis is an American football coach. He currently serves as offensive coordinator for the Florida Gators. For five years, from December 2004 through 2009, he was the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame...

 under Bill Belichick. Both Ron Erhardt and Ray Perkins served as offensive assistant coaches under the defensive minded Chuck Fairbanks
Chuck Fairbanks
Chuck Fairbanks is a former American football coach, a head coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. The offensive and defensive systems he introduced and helped develop have proven influential in the NFL....

 while he was head coach of the Patriots in the 1970s. This system is noted for its multiple formation and personnel grouping variations on a core number of base plays. Under this system, each formation and each play are separately numbered. Additional word descriptions further modify each play (see below for examples).

Running game


The Erhardt - Perkins system has at times had a reputation (whether or not earned) of being a traditional smash mouth offense that maximizes a team's time of possession and does not as frequently call upon its running backs to serve as receivers. Erhardt was famous for his adage, "throw to score, run to win." This may have been especially true during the years Bill Parcells
Bill Parcells
Duane Charles "Bill" Parcells is a former American football head coach, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2006...

 ran this system as the head coach of the New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

. This system is thought to be particularly well suited for teams playing in harsh outdoor weather conditions of the northeast of the United States.

An example of a running play under this system is Zero, Ride Thirty-six. Zero sets the formation. Thirty indicates who will be the ball carrier running with the ball. Six indicates which hole between the offensive linemen the ball carrier will attempt to run through (see Offensive Nomenclature).

Passing game


This offense often uses "the run to set up the pass" via play-action passing
Play action pass
A play-action pass is a type of American football play. The play action, or "PA" for short, appears to be a running play, but is actually a pass play; in this way, it can be considered the opposite of a draw play. Play-action passes are often used against defenses that are presently focused on...

, faking the run in order to throw deep downfield when the defense is least expecting it. Despite its reputation, this system is not always a run first offense. Erhardt commonly ran the system in his later years spread wide open with multiple receivers (earning the moniker "Air Erhardt"), as NFL rules evolved to benefit the passing game. As a result of this influence, the Patriots will frequently run this offense with five potential receivers and an empty backfield should a favorable matchup present itself or as a function of available personnel. With the addition of Randy Moss
Randy Moss
Randy Gene Moss is a former American football wide receiver. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft...

 and Wes Welker
Wes Welker
-San Diego Chargers :Welker, who was not drafted during the 2004 NFL Draft, signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers. Welker made the Chargers out of training camp, but was released after the first game of the season.-2004 season:...

 to the Patriots offense in 2007
2007 New England Patriots season
The 2007 New England Patriots season was the 38th season for the team in the National Football League and 48th season overall. They finished with a perfect 16–0 regular season record but lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII....

, the Patriots placed an emphasis on a wide open passing attack (with record setting results).

Weis states in his autobiography "No Excuses" that the first play that he called in Super Bowl XXXVI
Super Bowl XXXVI
Super Bowl XXXVI was an American football game played on February 3, 2002 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana to decide the National Football League champion following the 2001 regular season. The American Football Conference champion New England Patriots won their first Super...

 was: Zero Flood Slot Hat, Seventy-eight Shout Tosser. Zero is the base formation. Flood Slot Hat further modifies this formation to a set with one back in motion, two tight ends and two wide receivers (which is to say five potential receivers in total). Seventy-eight is the base play number, a three step drop play. Shout tells the three potential receivers on one side of the quarterback what routes they should run, while Tosser tells the other two potential receivers their patterns. During the actual game, Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Thomas Edward Patrick "Tom" Brady, Jr. is an American football quarterback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League . After playing college football at Michigan, Brady was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.He has played in four Super Bowls,...

 threw the ball to Troy Brown
Troy Brown
Troy Fitzgerald Brown is a former NFL wide receiver, cornerback and punt returner in the National Football League. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft. He played college football at Marshall...

 for a twenty-one yard gain, seventeen of it after the catch.

Other teams running similar offensive systems


Parcells ran the Erhardt-Perkins offensive system during his pro coaching years, which is where Weis originally learned it. Many teams coached by members of the Parcells-Belichick coaching tree currently use this system, such as Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly.Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an...

 during Weis' tenure. The Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 also continued to run this system during the Bill Cowher
Bill Cowher
William Laird "Bill" Cowher is a former American football coach and player. Cowher resigned after 15 seasons as the Steelers' coach on January 5, 2007, 11 months to the day after winning 2005–06's Super Bowl XL...

 years, from when Ron Erhardt was their offensive coordinator
Offensive coordinator
An offensive coordinator is a member of the coaching staff of a gridiron football team who is in charge of the offense. Generally, along with his defensive counterpart, he represents the second level of command structure after the head coach...

. The Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are a professional American football team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are currently members of the South Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Panthers, along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, joined the NFL as expansion...

 run this system as well, under Jeff Davidson
Jeff Davidson
Jeff Davidson is the current offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League.-High school:...

, a former Belichick assistant. The Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. They are a member of the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Originally named the Dallas Texans, the club was founded by Lamar Hunt in 1960 as a...

 adopted this system with the 2007 hiring of Chan Gailey
Chan Gailey
Thomas Chandler "Chan" Gailey, Jr. is an American professional and college football coach. Gailey is the current head coach of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League ; he was formerly the head coach of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets college football...

 as offensive coordinator. The Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are a professional American football team based in Denver, Colorado. They are currently members of the West Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 adopted this system with the 2009 hiring of Josh McDaniels
Josh McDaniels
Josh McDaniels is the former head coach of the Denver Broncos and currently the offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. He previously served as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots...

, who served as offensive coordinator
Offensive coordinator
An offensive coordinator is a member of the coaching staff of a gridiron football team who is in charge of the offense. Generally, along with his defensive counterpart, he represents the second level of command structure after the head coach...

 under Belichick from 2006 through 2008. The New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 with Coughlin and Gilbride from 2004-present but they also employ a run 'n" shoot or streak and read principle offense. The Run 'n' Shoot is really a sight adjustment offense, receivers and the quarterback move to the line of scrimmage with many different routes that each receiver can run based on defensive coverage.

Comparison to "West Coast" and "Air Coryell" offenses


In the view of some experts, there are only approximately five or six major offensive systems run in the NFL today.

The nomenclature of the Erhardt-Perkins system is very different from the Bill Walsh
Bill Walsh (football coach)
William Ernest "Bill" Walsh was a head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinal football team, during which time he popularized the West Coast offense....

 west coast offense
West Coast offense
In American football, "West Coast Offense" refers to two similar but distinct offensive-strategic-systems of play: the "Air Coryell" system; or more commonly the pass play system popularized by Bill Walsh...

. Formations under the West Coast Offense are commonly named after colors (i.e., Green Right). The west coast offense commonly utilizes high percentage, short slanting passes and running backs as receivers. It prefers to have mobile quarterbacks (since its running backs may not be available to block) and large receivers who are able to gain additional yards after the catch.

The nomenclature of the Erhardt-Perkins system is also very different from the Ernie Zampese
Ernie Zampese
Ernie Zampese is a former American football player and coach. Playing for Santa Barbara High School, he was selected as the CIS Player of the Year in 1953 and went on to play at the halfback position for the USC Trojans in 1955 and 1956...

-Don Coryell
Don Coryell
Donald David Coryell was an American football coach, who coached in the NFL first with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973–1977 and then the San Diego Chargers from 1978-1986. He was well known for his innovations to football's passing offense. Coryell's offense was commonly known as "Air Coryell"...

 "Air Coryell" timed system. Route patterns of the receivers are numbered instead of named in the Air Coryell system (thereby making memorization easier). For example, an Air Coryell play such as "924 F stop swing" indicates that the primary wide receiver (X) should run a 9 pattern (a go), the tight end (Y) should run a 2 pattern (a slant), the secondary wide receiver (Z) should run a 4 pattern (a deep in) and the F-back should go out for a swing pass (see Offensive nomenclature). Timing and precision are extremely important under the Air Coryell system, as the routes are intended to run like successive clockwork in order to be successful. The Air Coryell offense was used successfully by several coaches. Its history includes Jimmy Johnson
Jimmy Johnson (American football coach)
James William "Jimmy" Johnson is an American former NCAA and National Football League head coach. As of 2010, he is currently an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday, the Fox network's NFL pregame show. He was the first football coach whose teams won both an NCAA Division 1A National Championship and a...

's tenure as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

. Johnson's offensive coordinator, Norv Turner
Norv Turner
Norval Eugene Turner is the head coach for the National Football League's San Diego Chargers. He also has served as head coach of the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders, and as offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and San Francisco 49ers...

 implemented the system when he became head coach of the San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team based in San Diego, California. they were members of the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 2007. The St. Louis Rams ran the Coryell system successfully under coordinator and then head coach Mike Martz; earlier still, Joe Gibbs won several superbowls running his version of the Coryell offense. At present (2010), Cam Cameron, the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, runs the Coryell system.

Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 defensive system


The New England Patriots run a modified base 3-4 Chuck Fairbanks
Chuck Fairbanks
Chuck Fairbanks is a former American football coach, a head coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. The offensive and defensive systems he introduced and helped develop have proven influential in the NFL....

-Hank Bullough
Hank Bullough
Henry Charles "Hank" Bullough is a former American Football player and coach. He played college football at Michigan State and graduated in 1954. Bullough was a starting guard for the Spartans team that won the 1952 Rose Bowl...

 system installed by Bill Belichick. The term 3-4 means that their base formation consists of 3 defensive linemen (defensive end, nose tackle, and defensive end), 4 linebackers (outside "Will" weak side linebacker, middle "Jack" weak side linebacker, middle "Mike" strong side linebacker, and outside "Sam" strong side linebacker), and 4 defensive backs (cornerback, free safety, strong safety, and cornerback). It is believed that this 3-4 structure gives the defense the greatest amount of flexibility because the linebackers are among the most versatile players on the defense, capable of rushing the quarterback, tackling runners or dropping into coverage. By mixing the roles of their linebackers from play to play, the Patriots defense seeks to cause confusion on the part of opposing offenses. At times the Patriots will also shade their defensive linemen different ways, creating "over" or "under" defenses. "Over" and "under" defenses simply refer to the shift of the defensive linemen to the strong or weak side of the offense, respectively, and the rotation of the linebackers in the opposite direction.

The "Fairbanks-Bullough" 3-4 system is known as a two gap system, because each of the defensive linemen are required to cover the gaps to both sides of the offensive lineman that try to block them. Defensive linemen in this system tend to be stouter, as they need to be able to hold their place without being overwhelmed in order to allow the linebackers behind them to make plays. This is the reason that defensive linemen such as Richard Seymour
Richard Seymour
Richard Vershaun Seymour is an American football defensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League. He was drafted by the New England Patriots sixth overall in the 2001 NFL Draft...

 and Vince Wilfork
Vince Wilfork
-2004–06 seasons:The Patriots drafted Wilfork with the 21st overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. In his rookie 2004 season with the Patriots, he compiled two sacks, 42 tackles, and three deflected passes...

 do not always rack up sack and tackle statistics despite their critical importance to the team.

The system is at times more conservative than certain other defenses currently in vogue in the league, despite the constant threat of its potent linebacker blitz. The Patriots defensive system generally places an emphasis on physicality and discipline over mobility and risk taking and is sometimes characterized as a "bend but do not break defense".

History


The 3-4 defense was originally devised by Bud Wilkinson
Bud Wilkinson
Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson was an American football player, coach, broadcaster, and politician. He served as the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1947 to 1963, compiling a record of 145–29–4. His Oklahoma Sooners won three national championships and 14...

 at the University of Oklahoma
Oklahoma Sooners football
The Oklahoma Sooners football program is a college football team that represents the University of Oklahoma . The team is currently a member of the Big 12 Conference, which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association...

 in the late 1940s. Former Patriots and Oklahoma coach Chuck Fairbanks is credited with being a major figure in first bringing the 3-4 defense to the NFL in 1974. It is unclear if the Patriots under Fairbanks or the Houston Oilers under Bum Phillips
Bum Phillips
Oail Andrew "Bum" Phillips is a retired American football coach and the father of Wade Phillips, the Defensive Coordinator for the Houston Texans...

 were the first team to bring the 3-4 defense to the NFL.

Patriots defensive coordinator
Defensive coordinator
A defensive coordinator typically refers to a coach on a gridiron football team who is in charge of the defense. Generally, along with his offensive counterpart, he represents the second level of command structure after the head coach...

 Hank Bullough
Hank Bullough
Henry Charles "Hank" Bullough is a former American Football player and coach. He played college football at Michigan State and graduated in 1954. Bullough was a starting guard for the Spartans team that won the 1952 Rose Bowl...

 made significant further innovations to the system. Parcells was linebackers coach under Ron Erhardt as head coach of the Patriots in 1980
1980 New England Patriots season
The New England Patriots finished the National Football League's 1980 season with a record of ten wins and six losses, and finished second in the AFC East division....

 (after Fairbanks left for Colorado in 1978
1978 New England Patriots season
The New England Patriots finished the National Football League's 1978 season with a record of eleven wins and five losses, and finished tied for first in the AFC East division.-Staff:-Regular season:...

 and Bullough lost out on the head coaching position). When Parcells returned to the Giants as defensive coordinator under Ray Perkins in 1981, he brought the 3-4 defense with him.

Bill Belichick was initially exposed to the 3-4 defense while working as an assistant under Red Miller
Red Miller
Robert "Red" Miller is a former professional football coach with the Denver Broncos.- Early life and career :Miller was born and raised in Macomb, Illinois and attended Macomb Public Schools and Western Illinois University, where he was later a star player and coach for the Leathernecks football...

, head coach of the Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are a professional American football team based in Denver, Colorado. They are currently members of the West Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 and a former Patriots offensive coordinator under Fairbanks. Joe Collier
Joe Collier
Joel D. Collier is a former American football coach. He was head coach of the American Football League's Buffalo Bills from 1966 through part of 1968, compiiling a 13–16–1 record....

 was the defensive coordinator under Red Miller at the time, and his orange crush defense
Orange Crush Defense
Orange Crush Defense was the 3-4 defense of the Denver Broncos during the 1970s.It was one of the top defenses of its time with linebackers Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson, with Gradishar as a potential Hall of Famer...

 was very successful at stifling opposing offenses. The Broncos had decided to adopt the 3-4 in 1977. Bill Belichick subsequently refined his understanding of the 3-4 as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator under Parcells with the Giants. Belichick returned the 3-4 defense back to New England when he become coach of the team in 2000. Romeo Crennel
Romeo Crennel
Romeo Crennel is the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns and current defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. Before becoming the head coach of the Browns, Crennel won three Super Bowls in four seasons as the defensive coordinator of the New England...

 subsequently became defensive coordinator for the team.

In a 2007 press conference Belichick said the following of Fairbanks: "I think Chuck has had a tremendous influence on the league as well as this organization in terms of nomenclature and terminology and those kinds of things. I'm sure Chuck could walk in and look at our playbook and probably 80 percent of the plays are the same terminology that he used - whether it be formations or coverages or pass protections. We were sitting there talking yesterday and he was saying, 'How much 60 protection are you guys using? How much 80 are you using?' All of the stuff that was really the fundamentals of his system are still in place here even, again, to the way we call formations and plays and coverages and some of our individual calls within a call, a certain adjustment or things that Red (Miller) and Hank (Bullough) and Ron (Erhardt) and those guys used when they were here".

Other teams running similar defensive systems


Bill Parcells ran the Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 defensive system during his coaching years. Many teams coached by members of the Parcells-Belichick coaching tree currently run similar defensive systems, such as the University of Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

 under Nick Saban
Nick Saban
Nicholas Lou "Nick" Saban is the head coach of the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide football team. Saban has previously served as head coach of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins and three other NCAA universities: LSU, Michigan State and Toledo...

 and the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 under Eric Mangini
Eric Mangini
Eric Mangini is the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets of the National Football League and current NFL analyst for ESPN.-College:...

.

Comparison to other 3-4 systems


The "Phillips 3-4", a one-gap version of the 3-4, was also brought into the league by Bum Phillips
Bum Phillips
Oail Andrew "Bum" Phillips is a retired American football coach and the father of Wade Phillips, the Defensive Coordinator for the Houston Texans...

, head coach of the Houston Oilers in the 1970s. The Phillips 3-4 defense is currently run by the San Diego Chargers as well as the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

 formerly coached by Wade Phillips
Wade Phillips
Wade Allen Phillips is the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans and former head coach for the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, and Buffalo Bills. He was also an interim head coach for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons...

, the son of Bum Phillips. Wade Phillips replaced Joe Collier as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos in 1989. The modern Phillips 3-4 is largely a one gap 3-4 system, meaning that the defensive linemen are often only responsible for one gap between the offensive linemen. The linemen can afford to be more aggressive because they receive more support from the linebackers in performing their roles. This system generally prefers relatively lighter, more agile lineman better able to perform aggressive slants, loops and gap charges in order to directly attempt to sack the quarterback and make tackles.

The 3-4 zone blitz
Zone blitz
The zone blitz is a common method of defensive pressure applied in American football, usually at the collegiate and professional levels. It exists in nearly limitless permutations, all of which share the common theme of confusing the offensive line by dropping pass-rushers into coverage, while at...

 defense was developed by Dick LeBeau
Dick LeBeau
Charles Richard “Dick” LeBeau is a National Football League Hall of Fame defensive back. He is currently the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator and is considered to be one of the greatest defensive coordinators of all time. He spent 14 years in the NFL as a player with the Detroit Lions and...

 as defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional football team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the AFC's North Division in the National Football League . The Bengals began play in 1968 as an expansion team in the American Football League , and joined the NFL in 1970 in the AFL-NFL...

. Prior to becoming defensive coordinator of the Bengals, LeBeau was tutored by Bengals defensive coordinator Hank Bullough
Hank Bullough
Henry Charles "Hank" Bullough is a former American Football player and coach. He played college football at Michigan State and graduated in 1954. Bullough was a starting guard for the Spartans team that won the 1952 Rose Bowl...

. LeBeau's system commonly calls upon linemen to be mobile enough to drop back into zone coverage in place of blitzing linebackers. Elements of the 3-4 zone blitz defense have been incorporated over time into the modern Phillips 3-4.

Philosophy


The New England Patriots are noted for the following characteristics:
  • Their self-critical, perfectionist, and militaristic approach;

  • Their emphasis on team, equality among players and lack of individual ego;

  • Their strong work ethic, intelligence and high level of focus and preparation for each individual game;

  • Their versatile players, able to play multiple positions
    Utility player
    In sport, a utility player is one who can play several positions competently, a sort of jack of all trades. Sports in which the term is often used include association football , baseball, rugby, rugby league, water polo and softball....

    ;

  • Their multiple schemes intended to take advantage of their opponent's weaknesses.


For example, in Super Bowl XXXVI
Super Bowl XXXVI
Super Bowl XXXVI was an American football game played on February 3, 2002 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana to decide the National Football League champion following the 2001 regular season. The American Football Conference champion New England Patriots won their first Super...

, the Patriots defense used an aggressive bump and run
Bump and run coverage
Bump and run coverage is a strategy often used by defensive backs in American Football in which a defensive player lines up directly in front of a wide receiver and tries to impede him with arms, hands, or entire body and disrupt their intended route...

 nickel and dime package instead of their base 3-4 to disrupt the timing of the highly touted Air Coryell system employed by the Rams under Mike Martz
Mike Martz
Michael Martz is a former NFL head coach and currently the offensive coordinator for the National Football League's Chicago Bears....

 (also known as "The Greatest Show on Turf
The Greatest Show on Turf
"The Greatest Show on Turf" was the nickname for the St. Louis Rams' considerably talented and famous record-breaking offense during the 1999, 2000, and 2001 National Football League seasons. The offense was designed by attack oriented offensive coordinator Mike Martz who advocated an unrelenting...

"). This modifiable aspect of the Patriots system is in stark contrast to simpler systems like the Tampa 2
Tampa 2
The Tampa 2 is an American football defensive strategy popularized by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League team in the mid 1990s-early 2000s. The Tampa 2 is typically employed out of a 4-3 defensive alignment, which consists of four linemen, three linebackers, two cornerbacks, and...

 defense, in which the same scheme is often run repeatedly with the emphasis being on execution rather than on flexibility.

In his book "How Football Explains America", Sal Paolantonio
Sal Paolantonio
Sal Paolantonio is a Philadelphia-based bureau reporter for ESPN, primarily reporting on NFL stories concerning the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and New York Jets...

 noted the many parallels between the Patriots philosophy and military training taught at West Point. This is likely the result of Bill Parcells' having coached at Army for four years and Bill Belichick's close ties with the Naval Academy.

See also

  • American football strategy
    American football strategy
    American football strategy concerns the deployment of offensive, defensive, and special teams players in American football.-Offensive strategy:The goal of offensive strategy is to score points...

  • New England Patriots
    New England Patriots
    The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National...