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Shutdown Corner

Jets linebacker complains that Patriots offense is ‘borderline illegal’

MJD
Shutdown Corner

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AP

The New England Patriots are accustomed to accusations of illegal behavior. This one, though, they won't lose any sleep over.

Calvin Pace, linebacker for the rival New York Jets, complained about the tempo at which the Patriots run their offense, calling it "borderline illegal." I believe he meant it as flattery more than an accusation, but you can decide how to interpret it. Here's the quote, via ESPN's Rich Cimini:

"It's borderline illegal because sometimes the guys aren't always set when they snap the ball," Pace said Wednesday. "But it's smart. Why not hurry a team up? I wish we would do it. For a defense, it just puts pressure on you."

The Patriots like to snap the ball as quickly as they can ‒ when the official spots the ball and the next play can begin. The idea is that the defense has less time to get substitutions on the field and get themselves into the alignment they want. It's nothing new or revolutionary ‒ it's a fairly common practice in college football and is becoming more widely used in the NFL, too.

Pace even said he wishes the Jets would do it, which is a nice thought, but maybe the Jets should first get to a point where they can successfully execute plays at a normal pace. There's no reason to rush all those three-and-outs.

As for the legality of the practice, I guess Pace is technically correct in calling the practice "borderline illegal." Snapping the ball right after it's spotted is legal, but snapping it just before would be illegal. It's borderline illegal in the same way that driving 54 mph in a 55 mph hour zone is borderline illegal. Borderline illegal, but also perfectly legal.

The Jets and Patriots are tied for the lead in the AFC East, both with records of 3-3. They will meet at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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