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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NFL: Is Tom Bradys' Boot Bill Belichicks' Brilliance?

In a league where coaches work 18h days, it's no surprise that gameplanning and probability are so vital in the NFL. It is equally intuitive that Coaches will go to extreme lengths to gain an edge. By displaying their star player with a potential flaw, the NE Patriots have indeed set up their opponents for an unforgettable thrashing at the hands of the most potent offense in NFL history. This is how the best coach in football turns his oppositions' greatest strength into its mortal flaw.

By now most NFL fans have seen this photograph of Tom Brady wearing a protective boot on his right foot one day after defeating the San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship game. Most casual observers might take this at face value, but in our world where we know less about the internal workings of the New England Patriots than the CIA, I am not one such casual observer.

If you thought it was uncharacteristic of a Superbowl quarterback showing up on the streets of NYC with a walking cast 13 days before the Championship game, you are not alone. Is this anomaly not more intriguing given that we're dealing with the best coach-QB tandem since Bill Walsh and Joe Montana? Indeed it is worthwhile to consider the possibility that Coach Belichick and Tom Brady colluded with one another to ultimately influence the outcome of the Superbowl. It's not outside of Belichick to do whatever it takes to win, but this? Really?

Yes. If Brady were legitimately injured to a point where it may jeopardize his performance in the Superbowl, in no uncertain terms would he be advertising it on a day trip Giselle Bunchens' house – a trip routinely featuring Brady and an army of celebrity press looking to gleam a prized photograph for the hot sheets and celeb rags. Both Brady and Belichick knew of the injury following the game Sunday, regardless of the extent of said injury, and both knew that any public appearance would be photographed and documented. Never one to dismiss an opportunity to exploit his opponents, perhaps Belichick proposed a visible walking cast, in favor of a slightly less significant limp or hobble about, knowing full well the potential impact of the whole affair on the Giants' preparation. Skeptical? Read on...

Consider the possibility of this unorthodox gamesmanship in concert with the defensive game plan to beat New England: rush Brady with everything you've got, take Randy Moss out of the game, and hope the secondary can hold tight coverage on the remainder of the Patriots receivers. These highly predictable strategic initiatives are imperative for the success of Tom Coughlin and the Giants, since allowing a breakdown in any one of these three vital areas will undoubtedly result in to defeat.

With a perceived decrease in Bradys' already limited mobility, one must deem it reasonable for Coach Coughlin to maneuver towards capitalizing on this considerable vulnerability. By designing more blitz packages and increasing the pressure on Brady by the Giants front seven, Coughlin is unknowingly playing right into the hands of New England. With more men devoted to the pass rush and consequently fewer men dropping back in coverage, it will create a predictable scheme for the Patriots to counter and exploit – something they have assuredly started planning for. As Coughlin plays catch-up on a moped, Belichick can grab a snack while the attendant fills up the Carrera GT.

However ludicrous and speculative you mind find this discourse on a seemingly minor detail, remind yourself what Bill Belichick will do to give his team an edge. (The answer is anything and everything). Lest we forget the scathing criticism of the Patriots manipulating their weekly injury reports, which throughout Belichicks' tenure has listed Tom Brady as “probable” with a right shoulder injury. But I guess he's just a slow healer?

It should be an easier pill to swallow when you also take into consideration what is at stake: an immortal 4th ring for Brady and Belichick.

Look forward to much more to discussion on the Superbowl in coming days, stay tuned and enjoy the newest podcast in a few days time! Cheers, and thanks for reading; Derek.

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