If you had any doubt that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was the Yoda of the NFL these opening weeks of training camp have provided some classic examples of Bill Belichick playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers.
The past couple training camps the New England Patriots have made it a habit to host joint practices with other NFL teams. Typically it will be with a team whose head coach is a friend of Pats coach Bill Belichick. This preseason we have seen the Patriots practice with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who also practiced with the Pats last year.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly is from New England and is believed to have had some influence on the Patriots super up-tempo offense we witnessed last year. So what does the gregarious and welcoming Bill Belichick do?
He gets the first year NFL head coach to practice against the Patriots. Who better to watch implement a fast tempo offense into a NFL scheme than the man who perfected it in college? Now I know some of you may be saying that these practices are "vanilla" and the teams don't show much of their good stuff but the Eagles don't have that luxury. Installing a new offense forces the Eagles to show Bill more than they want to and those mental notes are tucked safely away under his hoodie.
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano developed a relationship with Bill while coaching another Belichick at Rutgers. That friendship has led to bringing in the likes of Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and a slew approaching double digits of other former Scarlet Knights.
It has even facilitated two trades between the franchises.
Mid last season the Patriots acquired Aqib Talib and a 7th round draft pick from the Bucs for a 4th rounder. Talib solidified the Pats secondary and re-signed in the off season. The second trade was the Patriots sending track start Jeff Demps and that 7th rd pick back to Tampa for LeGarrette Blount. In case NFL algebra isn't your forte, that's: Jeff Demps+4th rd Pick = Aqib Talib+LeGarrette Blount. While Blount has yet to make the team, his big play ability should keep him around after the final cut.
If Blount makes the team that will be two potential impact players if not stars that the Pats stole from the Bucs. That possibility surely has Greg Schiano frustrated two years into his NFL career and that frustration began to show when the coach was asked about Jeff Demps on Tuesday.
Supposedly he’s coming. I don’t know. We’ll see,” Schiano said Tuesday. “I don’t worry about guys that are not here, you know? So he’s not helping us get better right now. He’s out there running track somewhere. So, if he’s going to do that — if he gets here and helps us win he will be part of it. If he gets here and can’t help us win, he can go back and run track. We are here to win games.Schiano even sounds like Belichick when he says he can only worry about the guys that are out there.
Except the Bucs coach seems to express some resentment towards the end of his quote that Bill rarely displays.
By hosting these joint practices the Patriots benefit in numerous ways on the football field. They probably get almost as much out of it off the field as well. Over two seasons Bill has deployed some psychological warfare on Schiano which allowed the Patriots to make out like bandits in those two trades. Now Bill has taken another young coach under his wing in Chip Kelly who is already showing signs of Belichick's Jedi mind tricks. The Eagles signed Pat Chung.