Saturday, February 7, 2015

How Bellichick Outsmarted Seattle On That Pick Play


Even now, nearly a week after the most infamous play in Super Bowl history, many are scratching their heads regarding Pete Carroll's decision making in using that pick play to try to get a TD - instead of rushing Marshawn Lynch from the 1/2 yard 'line'. (Yes, that's all it was. One half yard, not 'one yard', not 'two yards').  As we all know, Carroll opted for that play rather than a run and it ended with Malcolm Butler intercepting it for the Patsies. (See image)

Carroll, in an interview with Matt Lauer several days ago, gave a bravura performance in what has to be the most ridiculous rationalization ever for a play - referring to the "process" the team went through in selecting a play.  And oh, by the way, the Pats had their goal line unit in. So what? Here's the deal, even if they had the unit on, the odds of a pass succeeding were slim and none, no matter how well Wilson threw the ball.

Here's why: In the Charlie Rose interview two days ago, with Robert Kraft, it was revealed the Pats knew all about that Seahawks' pick play from the tapes and had been working on it since before they left NE.  Kraft even joked that Brady rubbed it into Butler's face after he missed several chances to disrupt it. Finally, after solid advice from Bellichick - to launch his move before the receiver's turn - Butler nailed it.  He was ready and waiting- like a snake for a mongoose in a field- when Carroll fell into the trap of using it at the end of the Super Bowl.

How did Bellichick know it would be used? While being dunned all week by blowhards on 'Inside the NFL' and the NFL channel for letting time run off the clock (nearly 30 secs) there was actually a method to Bellichick's madness. That is, he opted to not take a time out in order to see Carroll's response. Remember, the Seahawks wanted to score but not leave too much clock time for Brady to get his offense moving.

Yes, Bellichick gambled - since if the pick was a success there'd have been virtually no time left to score. But again, the NE drills to defend the pick had been so successful there were no worries. Butler was zoned in and knew exactly what he had to do.

Bellichick and the Pats knew exactly what was coming when Carroll refused to stop the clock but let it run down to 0:26.  Thus, Bellichick knew with so little time left Carroll and his O-brain trust would not be able to afford losing many seconds if Lynch failed to score. Two failed run efforts might easily have sucked up all 26 seconds and even one failed effort might have knocked off more time than Seattle was willing to risk. Hence, the option to throw the ball on 2nd and goal instead of run - but leaving the run option if the pass failed.

But Carroll outsmarted himself. He planned for the pick play  -but so did NE. At the very least, if he was going to use a pass play he ought to have devised another option - maybe the would-be MVP Chris Mathews jumping for it in the flat - overpowering and out -jumping any NE DBs.

Carroll says he wants to use this failure to move forward, but for most Seattle fans they will never forget the golden chance they had and how Petie boy let it slip away. They also realize they may never get the chance again, given how difficult it is to get to the 'show'. 

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