Self scouting. It’s the football equivalent of “Do these jeans make me look fat?”
Every time a team has a break, it goes through its closet and throws out the things that don’t look right.
How deeply do they dig? Probably varies. For the Patriots, Bill Belichick explains, it’s a next-level exercise.
“All the basic tendencies, you look at weekly,” Belichick explained on a conference call Monday. “I don’t think you wait until after you’ve played nine games to see what your tendencies are on second-and-long, third-and-medium, first-and-10. You try to stay on top of those on a weekly basis.
“I think maybe what you do in the bye week is you might expand on some of those breakdowns a little bit more,” he added. “For example, maybe defensively you look at not just what you’re calling on first-and-10, but how each call has been on first-and-10 -- against the run, against play-action passes, against drop-back passes.
"Same thing offensively: How is your running game in certain situations? Look at it per play. How productive has this play been on first down, how productive has it been on whatever the other situations are that you’re running it on, whether it’s a short yardage type of play or whether it’s a spread long yardage, complementary run to your passing game, whatever it happens to be.”
Belichick said there should be no surprises in terms of what the team is doing. The specific play-by-play returns, though are somewhat revealing.
The idea of tendencies isn’t necessarily a bad thing, said Belichick.
Just because the Patriots have often thrown deep comebacks to Aaron Dobson on first downs, for example, they don’t need to go away from that. Calling a play and establishing a tendency often opens up plays off of that tendency. For instance, a double-move off of the comeback route that can be a shot play down the field.
“I think every good team has tendencies,” Belichick explained. “I don’t think not having tendencies is necessarily a good thing. But at the same time, you don’t want to be too predictable. You want to have things that you go to, but you also want to have complementary plays off it to protect them. That’s kind of a balance that you’re trying to find.”