February 8, 2019


NFL lessons to learn from Patriots' title run; a new hiring trend? (Bucky Brooks, 2/08/19, NFL.com)

3) Place greater value on intelligence than athleticism.

During my scouting days, the Patriots were one of the franchises that placed significant emphasis on acquiring college graduates and former team captains on draft day. The thought behind the strategy was to add as many smart, tough-minded players to the roster as possible, because it enabled the coaches to put more on their plate when it came to learning schemes and responsibilities.

Now, there isn't a documented correlation between book smarts and football intelligence, but it is sensible to believe great students in the classroom will be able to take information dispensed by coaches and routinely apply it to the field. That's why I wasn't surprised to read in Peter King's postgame column that the Patriots were able to execute plays on the game-winning drive that weren't included in the Super Bowl LIII game plan or practiced in the weeks leading up to the game. It takes a group of high-IQ players to process and flawlessly execute an in-game adjustment without having practice reps to commit it to memory. The Patriots' collective intelligence gave McDaniels enough confidence to make a radical change on the fly and it ultimately helped the team win another title.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots' individual and collective intelligence show up in their ability to execute complex schemes that change weekly. New England is one of the few teams that morphs its defensive fronts each week between a variety of 3-4 and 4-3 alignments which complicate things for the offense. In addition, the Patriots will combine their multi-faceted fronts with exotic pre-snap disguises and post-snap movements that require players to fully comprehend the coverage concepts. Not to mention, they have to understand the defensive coordinator's motives for using those tactics in games.

Against the Rams, the Patriots threw out a variety of pre-snap disguises and exotic looks to confuse Jared Goff and Sean McVay. The "AFC" (automatic front and coverage) calls and post-snap movement disrupted the flow of the Rams' offense and kept them guessing throughout the game. In addition, the Pats' utilization of more zone coverage -- as opposed to their traditional man-to-man tactics -- threw a wrench into L.A.'s plans. None of those tactics could be executed without a group of high IQ defenders with the capacity to process a vast amount of information without it affecting their individual and collective execution of their assignments.

Posted by at February 8, 2019 6:03 PM