Belichick: History shows no right or wrong way to game plan

894953.jpg

Belichick: History shows no right or wrong way to game plan

FOXBORO -- The Patriots game plan changes each week. They do what they think works best against that particular opponent, rather than continuing to solely stick to their biggest strengths each week, regardless of who they're playing.

As Bill Belichick game plans for the New York Jets, he opened up on Friday, saying, just because that's New England's philosophy, doesn't mean it's the only way to be successful.

The Patriots coach goes back to his high school days, where he won "a ton of games with two different teams under two completely opposite philosophies.

The first year, their offense only ran four plays.

"We ran four plays: 22-Power, 24-Quick Trap, 28-Counter, and Sprint-Right," said Belichick. "That was it. And when we ran it to the other side, we just flipped the formation. O-line flip, and a play went the other way.

"That was the offense. That was the entire offense. And we won a lot of games."

One year later, it was the exact opposite, with the quarterback calling his own plays from a much more extensive playbook.

"That was about as opposite as you could get, from one year, to the next year," said Belichick. "We won just as many games. It was totally different. But both were very successful. So, what's the right way to do it, what's the wrong way to do it? I don't know. Whatever works. Whatever you believe in. But then it all has to line up that way."

Belichick went on to point out that the same type of differences are seen in NFL philosophies. He continued by telling the story of his time with the Denver Broncos early on in his NFL career, where he was an assistant special teams coach and a defensive assistant.

"There were game plans where we had 60 different defensive fronts," said Belichick. "It's hard to imagine 60 different fronts, really, in a 3-4 defense. But that's what it was. Like 60 different alignments."

Then when Belichick began a 12-year stint with the New York Giants, he saw the same type of 3-4 defense. It just wasn't as complicated, but yet, just as successful as his defense in Denver.

"We played one front, with one adjustment," said Belichick. "We reduced the end on the weak side from a 4-technique to a three-technique. And that's it. Then I'd say, 95 percent of the snaps that we played -- from 81-to-90 that weren't Nickel snaps -- over 90 percent of them had to be either base or reduced front. Maybe 95 percent. Might have been higher than that.

"Two good defenses . . . same 3-4, two totally different philosophies."

Through it all, Belichick has learned to take some things with him. He's also told himself that there were things he'd never do. He's a combination of everything he's seen thus far, from high school to the NFL.

And on Sunday against the New York Jets, his philosophy will be to game plan for nobody other than the New York Jets.

That's his philosophy.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

patriots_alan_branch_112716.jpg

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

cp-patriots-saints-gronkowski-091817.jpg

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)