Bill Belichick went into some detail Monday when asked about Sunday’s red zone execution.
The Patriots went 1 for 4 scoring touchdowns inside the Miami 20. Their first drive when they settled for a field goal after a 15-play sojourn was tantric football. Their third-to-last drive also got squished inside the Miami 5-yard line when an untended blitzer forced Tom Brady to gun quick on third-and-2.
“I thought we had a mixture of plays in the red area. The first drive, we hit the quick out to Julian [Edelman] down there on their sideline and we were second-and-four, which isn’t a bad place to be and ended up not being able to finish it,” he explained. “Then I think on the other series, we ran the ball on second down -- first down threw it (incomplete on crosser to Shane Vereen that was almost picked), second down we ran it (8 hard yards from LeGarrette Blount), got it to third-and-two and they pressured us and we weren’t able to get a good execution on the passing game.”
Given that Brady had to unload before Vereen turned around, I was curious if Vereen was a so-called “hot read” and should have seen or had it communicated to him that he might have to break off his route.
“On that particular play, we were kind of one short on the protection based on the blitz that they ran,” Belichick explained. “The pressure came from the right side there and we weren’t really able to get, obviously, get into the whole pattern. That was the one where [Derrick] Shelby came free. But that’s part of the chess match down there in the red area. When they show pressure, to be able to block it but then they don’t always come so you don’t want to be keeping everybody in and have two of your three guys get doubled out there, so it’s a little bit of a back-and-forth game.
“They put them all up there a lot -- that was basically their game plan in the red area, was to put everybody up pretty close to the line of scrimmage,” Belichick stated. “Sometimes they came, sometimes they didn’t come; sometimes a couple guys came, so they had a couple different combinations there."
Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle had a good game plan, Belichick indicated.
“They were trying to disguise their coverages,” Belichick explained. “They pressured us some down there, they showed some pressure and pulled out of it, which are things they’ve done in the past. It’s kind of what they do, it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before but they did a good job of it. We probably need to collectively, from our plays to our execution, just obviously need to be a little bit sharper down there.”
The Patriots, going against former defensive coordinator Dean Pees this week when they play at Baltimore, can expect to have another mental test.