New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick probably won’t plop down on the couch with a bag of Doritos to watch Monday Night Football between the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks, but he’ll be watching the game very intently. The Patriots face off against the Seahawks next week so Belichick wants to be prepared- but he’s also watched every Seahawks game this year so he’s waiting for Monday Night like I wait for every episode of Game of Thrones.
“It will definitely be more beneficial to see the coaches’ copy on it, but this is kind of a unique situation,” Belichick said about watching the television tape. “We’re pretty far ahead on Seattle. We’ve had a chance to work on them all week. We’ve done all their games up through the Saints game, so there’s no more to do, and there won’t be any more to do until Monday night.”
When Belichick admits that there’s “no more to do,” that means he’s going to bring the pain against Seattle. While the Seahawks defense is as good as ever- although they’ll be without Seahawks DL Michael Bennett (knee) and possibly SS Kam Chancellor (groin)- QB Russell Wilson is battling every type of injury and the offensive line is worse than the 2015 Patriots’. Belichick has a defined strategy to approach both sides of the ball.
The head coach also has a unique advantage to watching the Seahawks because there’s no coach outside of Buffalo that knows the Bills better than Belichick. He knows Buffalo’s strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball. However the Bills approach the Seahawks on Monday Night will reveal Buffalo’s scouting report on Seattle.
“I think Monday night will be a good opportunity to kind of take a look at the game against Buffalo with a little bit of a blank slate,” Belichick said. “Buffalo is a team that we know well from just having played against them and being a division team, so I think when we see what Seattle is doing, we’ll be able to figure out why they’re doing what they’re doing against Buffalo, what they perceive as an area to attack or what type of game plan to utilize. I think it will be interesting to watch it in reverse – to watch Buffalo, a team that we know well, attack Seattle.
“We’re a different team than Buffalo, but still, there are certain things that carry over so we’ll be able to watch how they attack Seattle and kind of do it on a timely basis as opposed to going back and looking at it after the fact. We’ll sort of watch it unfold and picture plays or situations, plays and calls that we’ve talked about making in certain situations, and then when those situations come up, see how it would hypothetically match up against Seattle, as a I said, on kind of a timely basis, rather than when the game’s over and you already know what happened. This is a little bit of a different chance to do it.”
So, hypothetically, let’s say the Bills really enjoy running power on 3rd and short. The Patriots know this and would counter the play call by playing three defensive tackles and loading the box. Belichick understands why the Bills are calling the play in a certain fashion and he has a page in his playbook designed to stopping it.
But let’s say the Seahawks don’t load the box like the Patriots do. Maybe they single gap instead of double gap. Maybe they add another linebacker. Whatever the adjustment, the Patriots now have it on tape and the coaching staff can try to decipher why the Seahawks called the play that they did and if there are any adjustments the Patriots can make to take advantage.
Now this isn’t as valuable as watching tape of the Patriots against the Seahawks, where Belichick would know exactly what the Patriots were calling at the line, but it’s the next best thing. By knowing the Bills tendencies, Belichick will have more information to break down the game than if the game were between the Seahawks and the Buccaneers.
The Bills and the Seahawks face off tonight at 8:30 PM EST on ESPN.