It’s one thing to be fast in figuring out an offensive play call as a defender, but it’s something else entirely to be so fast that the defender reacts before the play ever even gets a chance to develop.
Such was seemingly the case for Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaq Leonard against the New England Patriots offense on Sunday.
Leonard appeared like he had the answers before some plays had an opportunity to develop. According to the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan, Patriots players believe Leonard was calling out offensive plays, especially when it came to “screens” and “zone runs.”
Belichick seemed to agree with that belief. He also claimed to have seen something similar from New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley.
A few #Patriots offensive players discussed this in the locker room post-game. I heard them mention screens and zone runs.
Belichick said obviously the Pats want to prevent this and must have complementary plays ready, but credited Leonard and Mosley as great defensive players. https://t.co/YJrHJGE9zt
— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) November 8, 2022
Belichick complimented both Leonard and Mosley on being great defensive players that probably benefitted from a lot of film studying.
But as he acknowledges, the Patriots are going to have to be a bit more unpredictable in their offensive play-calling to keep opponents from catching on to tendencies.
“That’s what good defensive players do,” Belichick said, per Callahan. “They anticipate things, and they’re able to sometimes get a read on what they think is going to happen. They’re not always right, but sometimes they are, and they can certainly make you look bad offensively. But as an offense, you always want to be balanced and try not to give things away to the point where you don’t have something complementary that goes with them. So that’s kind of the game within the game there.”
The fact that both the Jets and Colts were able to figure it out, particularly with the Patriots rematching the Jets in Week 11, means they need to work fast at finding a solution to what has quickly become a major offensive problem.
This is just one of many examples where the team is going to have to rally around struggling offensive play-caller Matt Patricia to right the ship.