The question jumps into your brain, “What was he thinking?” It’s what I’m thinking when Bill Belichick’s Patriots fail to get the needed yardage on fourth down.
Why is he always going for it on fourth down?
That is an easy question with a huge response that you would never get Bill to fully verbalize. And why should he?
Bill has his allegiances squarely laid out, and the media is not on his favored list. He answers to his franchise and the owner, Robert Kraft. He answers to the team and his coaching staff. He would probably answer to his family if they dared ask the same questions we do.
Robert Kraft trusts his head coach enough to have penned a contract that keeps him through at least 2013. If Bill says to Robert, “I’d go for it again on fourth in that situation,” the odds would be even money that Mr. Kraft would reply, “You go, Bill!”
We’re talking about a coach who brought to New England six AFC East titles and three Super Bowl wins. A coach who has garnered two AP NFL Coach of the Year nods since he’s been with the Patriots.
From the owner's box, the view for Robert Kraft shows him that the seats are full week in and week out. The New England faithful show up even in the foulest of weather and in the middle of winter.
Sure, it would be nice to win every game, but a full stadium is a win for the owner. As long as the fans show up, there will be an unshakable faith in his head coach.
The coaching staff and the players know that as much as Bill can show them their mistakes through film review, they also know that Bill will man up on his own coaching miscues. Being a student of the game himself, he is also a consummate teacher.
Then the question is, are they astute enough to learn the lesson Bill has to offer?
One only has to look at the number of former assistant coaches that have moved on from under Belichick’s wing to see that what he has to teach is valued by other organizations.
It’s not surprising that in most cases, many of those that were hired away by other teams only represent a shadow of the man himself.
If you’ve watched him answer questions from sports reporters in the after game press conferences, you know he’s not giving them anything. Or is he?
At this point in his coaching career, Bill refuses to give the media any sound bites that can be misconstrued or misquoted. He learned his lesson while he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
If you give the media too much of yourself, they will only use it against you. It’s only by NFL league commitment that he does these press conferences at all.
If you watched, you probably heard the question asked, “If you had to do it over, would you have gone for it on fourth down?” Bill Belichick’s answer is, of course, “I’d go for it again on fourth in that situation.”
It’s the situation that dictates that he takes the chance.
Belichick has a history of going for it on fourth more than any other active NFL head coach. He also owns the highest success percentage for fourth down attempts.
Truth be told, I've caught myself urging him on from my living room during a game. I've pumped my fist and roared approval when they have made it.
Just because it doesn’t work out for him a couple of times it doesn’t mean that he is going to change his spots. Just because I question it or because someone on television voices his thoughts on the decision doesn’t mean Belichick is going to listen or even care.
Bill Belichick answers only to those that he has to. And seriously, most of us aren’t on the list.
Glenn Card is a contributor blogger for Boston Sports Then and Now