New England Patriots

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the game against the Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca on November 19, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

On Friday’s edition of Zolak & Bertrand, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston gave his explanation for the New England Patriots continuing to operate in a weird way early in training camp.

Hardy: I don’t think it was part of the master plan to go two days in pads and then dial everything back and slow it down and kind of go back to walk through his status on the third day of padded practice. Did you get that sense that maybe that was a wrinkle thrown in there based on the way Monday and Tuesday went?

Phil Perry: It surprised me just because it doesn’t feel like the standard operating procedure for the Patriots for that to happen on day three. Now, has Bill Belichick or all these things we’re talking about, no goal line, no tackling to the ground yet, no real tackling drills, as far as I can tell, the hills even have been dialed back a little bit. Was there a conversation had at some point this offseason between Bill Belichick and the sports science department, they’ve got a bunch of guys in the building with sports science degrees and sports science experience, not just the training staff, it’s coaches.

So was there sort of a come to Jesus moment where they say, Hey, Bill, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to do this in the first couple of weeks of training camp. They have plenty of time to get conditioned to hit each other, to kind of build towards that, and so maybe this year we try something a little bit different and we start a little slower. That to me is one explanation. The other explanation is Bill Belichick saying, boy, this looked like garbage the first two days. We need to dial it back a little bit, let everybody get their feet under them, try to try to iron out some of the wrinkles that they saw on days one and two of fully padded practice. And then maybe by the time we get back in pads, things will look a little bit smoother.

When they’re at seven on seven, so it’s pass specific, yeah, it looks fine. Mac Jones looks accurate. It looks like the receivers know what they’re doing. Looks like the routes are being run correctly, really efficient. And when they get into third down stuff, which they did a little bit of yesterday, I would say for the most part that looks okay too. And I wonder if it’s because that sort of stuff is stuff that’s easy to carry over from last year’s offense to this one. When we’ve been talking about the scheme changes and the quote unquote ‘Shanahan’ style offense, or the McVay style offense or whatever you want to call it. The change is really the early down offense because it’s a different kind of running game, so when you’re talking third and long and that doesn’t really apply. And the play action passing game off of that running game is also very different from what we’ve seen the Patriots kind of lean on in the past, but that’s also an early down thing. You don’t see hard play action passes on third and long because the defense isn’t expecting you to run anyway, so the fake doesn’t do much. It’s that stuff that has been the real issue and that’s where they have been messiest. 

If you want to hear more of the conversation, tune into the first hour of Zolak & Bertrand to hear the full discussion. It can be found here:

Zolak & Bertrand Podcast

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