FOXBORO — As Michael Corleone once told his beleaguered pair of caporegimes regarding the future of the family business: “There are things being negotiated now that are going to solve all your problems and answer all your questions. That's all I can tell you now.”
While the premise may be a bit melodramatic, the aforementioned quote does provide an adequate backdrop for coach Bill Belichick’s message regarding the struggling offense of his New England Patriots.
In short, the ‘HC of the NEP’ is aware of the troubles with which his offensive unit is currently coping. However, he is not ready to hit the panic button, just yet.
In fact, he is emphasizing process over results.
“There’s good things and bad things on every play,” Belichick told reporters prior to the start of Tuesday’s practice. “I get that you [fans and media, alike] are more ‘results-oriented, but there are many ways to evaluate the success of a play … I’m not going to get into a play-by-play evaluation. That’s not really what camp is for.”
Despite the recent lack of aesthetically-pleasing moments for quarterback Mac Jones and his offensive arsenal, Belichick repeatedly stressed the fact that progress takes on many forms during the training camp period. Would-be sacks, throwaways or perceived discomfort of the quarterback may be more successful than initially meets the eye; particularly if the overall execution was made as assigned.
Conversely, crowd-pleasing plays may not always signify their installation into the offense; thanks largely in part to defensive mistakes or lucky breaks which may or may not be found in a game setting. This point is especially relevant when describing how the Pats are measuring the success of their new, zone-run offense. The system, which relies on horizontal movement, utilizes zone schemes and bootleg play-action. To be effective, the offensive linemen must move horizontally, in the same direction, in hopes of reaching the edge of the opposing defensive lineman and linebackers.
Thus far, the Pats offensive line has struggled to implement the switch. Often, the blocking woes along the line have led to miscommunicated routes and Jones’ holding on to the ball for longer than expected.
Still, Belichick advised that issues of this type are fixable by focusing on fundamentals and paying close attention to detail. Such improvements will help Jones’ comfort level within the offense.
“We all have things we can improve,” Belichick said when asked of his thoughts on Jones’ performance to date. “But it’s important to remember that on a given play, it’s dependent on playing your part. The quarterback may be right, but the line breaks down … or the route breaks. Fixing that one element can turn a bad play into a good one.”
As the Patriots prepare to host the New York Giants on Thursday evening in their first preseason game of 2022, the team will look to tighten its execution, in hopes of achieving the desired results.
Until then, it is best not to ask Belichick about his business.