We told you so, Belichick!

Something that fans and media alike have been clamoring for over the past few years - and maybe especially this year - is for Belichick to blitz more.

Since 2009, the Patriots have had problems with both their pass rush and their secondary. This has often led to many big plays down the field. The solution in eyes of many? Bring more pressure!

Belichick's strategy on defense has always been a sort of "play the percentages" kind of defense. In other words, bend don't break.

His philosophy is to not give up big plays and make the opposing offense have to drive down the field to score their points. When they get scoring opportunities it will have to be in the red zone. The longer the opposing offense has to drive, the more opportunities the defense has to capitalize on mistakes.

While we've seen the benefits of that at times, as the Patriots have led the league in turnovers since 2009, we've also seen the downside of it. That conservative approach is all well and good in theory, but when you're giving up big plays anyway, it doesn't make sense.

That's why people have called for the blitz. The downside to blitzing of course being that you have one less person in coverage. When the team can't cover even when it's fully staffed some say then what's the disadvantage to blitzing?

The team's game against the Rams, where they held them to only 7 points, featured, guess what? More blitzes!

Greg Bedard, Boston.com
Against the pass, the Patriots sent additional rushers (more than the normal four) on just eight of the Rams’ 40 dropbacks. The 20 percent blitz rate is right on the Patriots’ average of 21 percent since the 2010 season.

But it’s a lot for the 2012 season. The Patriots blitzed an average of 11 percent of the time in the first seven games. Only the Seahawks game, when the Patriots sent an extra rusher on 27.3 percent of the dropbacks, exceeded the blitzes against the Rams.

Bedard goes on to point out that Belichick employed an old trademark of his defense - and something that we hadn't seen much of this year. That is zone exchanges.

But the number of true blitzes paints only part of the picture of the Patriots pressure packages against the Rams. The Patriots also used five zone exchanges and three run blitzes. They hadn’t come close to those numbers all season.

A zone exchange is when one player who usually rushes — usually a defensive lineman — drops into coverage and is replaced in the rush by a player who normally does not rush. The goal is to create the illusion of pressure without actually sacrificing a coverage player by sending him to blitz.

When Rams quarterback Sam Bradford dropped back to pass on fourth and 6 with 14:56 left in the fourth quarter, linebacker Jerod Mayo rushed Bradford while tackle Jermaine Cunningham faked a rush and dropped back into coverage. End Rob Ninkovich ended up with a sack on the play.

The zone exchange and the fire zone blitz — same concept as the exchange but with an actual extra rusher coming on a blitz — have long been staples of Belichick’s defenses but have seldom been seen the past few years. That’s likely because of the youth on the defense.

This is something the Patriots are going to have to do more of as the season goes along because they don’t get enough pressure with just four rushers, outside of end Chandler Jones.

I'm sure the results speak for themselves.