FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For those who crave a weekly fix of football X’s and O’s, Bill Belichick’s weekly breakdown of key plays from a victory (on Patriots.com) isn’t a bad place to start.
The final play shown by Belichick was Bennett’s 37-yard touchdown catch at 12:28 of the second quarter against the Browns. In detailing the play, Belichick highlights how both Gronkowski and Bennett are two yards behind the defense and “really, you could throw the ball to either one of them for a big gain.”
Quarterback Tom Brady chose Bennett after selling an effective play-action fake.
Said Belichick, “These two players really complement each other well; they both can do a lot of the same things. It’s hard to get one of them. It’s really hard to get both of them.”
A few other plays spotlighted by Belichick:
Spacing by pass-catchers/cleaning of pocket by interior OL: In an example of how good route distribution is critical against zone coverage, and how cleaning the pocket can make life easier on a quarterback, Belichick called up Julian Edelman’s 12-yard catch on third-and-7 (first quarter, 4:41).
Kickoff coverage helps win the field position game: Stephen Gostkowski’s solid kickoff that combined hang time and placement (to the Browns’ 1) helped pin the Browns at their own 12 with 2:06 remaining in the first quarter. Belichick showed how the Patriots breaking the huddle late made it challenging for the Browns to identify and block coverage players, with Matthew Slater, Brandon King, Nate Ebner and Barkevious Mingo especially disruptive. Belichick also noted that if the Patriots get a quick stop in that situation, they’re almost in field-goal range after receiving the punt.
Hightower times up blitz: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s blitz and sack that produced a safety was an example of timing the play perfectly.
Hogan’s over route aided by play-action: Wide receiver Chris Hogan’s 43-yard catch at 14:29 of the second quarter came after a play-action, giving Brady plenty of time to strike. Hogan’s catch was also complimented.