Decisions made will be over players, free agency, training camps. Even what the style of play will be. Teams won’t actually change their style, but they will change the system. That became evident this past week when New England coach Bill Belichick said it might behoove his team to scale back his playbook if the lockout lasts much longer.
This coming from a coach with a future Hall of Fame quarterback that has been with the team and coach for over a decade. If Belichick is thinking this way, what are other coaches thinking that are in their first year or have a new quarterback coming into their system. Teams like Carolina, Denver, Cleveland and even Arizona are in that classification.
If coaches trim their system, it would make execution easier and should raise the quality of play. Some teams have dozens of passing plays and each has variations, including impromptu maneuvers. Other teams have complex defensive schemes built on alternating personnel, blitzes and interchangeable parts.
Much of that is taught in the offseason minicamps, when hitting isn’t allowed. But a majority of the mental work is done long before the pads and helmets go on. This is of benefit to everyone, but mostly the quarterbacks and coaches in new regimes.
“Yeah, something’s going to have to go, I would think,” Belichick told the AP. “The progression’s got to stay the same and you still have to start at one point and build forward on it, but the width of that or the breadth of that amount of installation, I think, could definitely be subject to being trimmed back. Maybe drastically. I don’t know, but it’s possible, sure.”
Belichick has always been known as an innovative thinker. He is only doing what comes naturally here. Trying to give the Patriots the best chance to win is what is in the coach’s mind. He is doing the same thing here. If cutting back the playbook does that, then it’s something Belichick will do.
Ultimately, a former colleague of Belichick’s with the Cleveland Browns, Mike Lombardi, told the NFL Football Post this lockout has moved the league back to the 1980’s. That, in itself, benefits Belichick.
“When I first came into the league in ’84, and Bill was with the Giants in ’85, there wasn’t free agency. There wasn’t OTAs. There was one minicamp. That’s it. So the people who’ve been around that train wreck of a system will have an advantage when they do come back because they’ll know how to put in things in a short period of time”
With that into consideration, Belichick has the advantage over everyone.