Randy Moss vs. Brad Childress vs. Bill Belichick
There is something about Bill Belichick that makes people love him, respect him and hate him – some even at the same time (kind of like the relationship between Packers fans and Brett Favre). Belichick is a polarizing personality. He has been accused if cheating. He is acknowledged as an adept schemer who devises game plans that confound and confuse opponents. What is a focus of emphasis one week, is completely absent the next week.
As a result, opposing coaches burn the late-night electricity in their offices trying to counter what they anticipate Belichick is going to attempt. One of the acknowledged assets of the Patriots is that he gets the most out of every player on the roster – many of whom are intelligent overachievers. Wes Welker was pedestrian in Miami. He is a superstar in New England. He became a star by having a game plan designed to exploit an opponent's weaknesses and take away their biggest star.
The Belichick Effect may be at its peak Sunday when Brad Childress and Randy Moss come to town, making this a three-way matchup to watch.
Childress has tried to show his bravado in recent years and, at times, comes off as if he's a little bit smarter than those who analyze and critique what he does. To that extent, nobody has a bigger coaching ego than Belichick. He has traded away superstar talent, benched others and flat-out released still more. It's a "my way or the highway" approach to the game and it has worked for him. Part of his success is that he has been able to consistently design schemes to frustrate another team's star player. Reggie Wayne routinely gets mugged and Peyton Manning faces blitzes more than half of the plays run. LaDainian Tomlinson found eight or nine in the box at all times. Given his close personal history with Randy Moss, Belichick is likely to design a defensive scheme specifically to eliminate or neutralize Moss.
That's where Childress comes in. Prior to this season, his team records had improved each of the first four years. That streak has already been stopped, but he knows the ego and reputation Belichick has. Any coach that could notch a win over Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Bill Parcells or Bill Walsh relished in the moment. They took as much pride as their players beating those legends, but the fact the scheme the coach devised made it happen is as big in the coaching fraternity as a last-second touchdown is to the players. Beating the Big Dog has its perks and Belichick is the Big Dog.
Just as one can expect Belichick to tease Brett Favre or Tarvaris Jackson with formations that will make it look like Moss is single-covered – only to change the call at the snap and take Moss away, Childress is going to devise ways to get Moss in space, since everyone knows that Randy can get in a funk if he isn't part of the game plan immediately. Will Childress let Belichick dictate how much exposure Moss will get and simply go to other players? Or will he try to disguise plays of his own – like a flea flicker, running back pass or reverse to give Moss the opportunity to make a big play that could potentially win the game?
The answer to those questions will unfold during the game. If Childress tries to "out-Belichick" Belichick, he is likely barking up the wrong tree. But if he does, he will put a notch in his coaching holster that can't be taken away. Given the vital role Moss will have against a young Patriots secondary, he will be stuck in the middle of the coaching battle. He's itching to make the Patriots pay, Childress wants to see it happen and Belichick desperately wants to shut him down and will have schemes dialed up to eliminate him from plays. It's rare when coaches get involved in such critical issues in games, but with Moss in the middle of it, the three-way dance between Belichick, Chilly and Moss is this week's complicated matchup to watch.
Key matchup: The coaches and Moss
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