The recent resurgence of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs comes from a combination of several factors, but the proper functioning of these teams originates from qualities that are not necessarily visible: planning, patience and identity.
These are aspects that are born months before the start of the regular season and that reflect the personality of the coaches who lead the Patriots and Chiefs, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid, respectively.
If Belichick and Reid have shown something throughout their careers, it is the constant criticism of their decisions, for various reasons, and the current campaign has not been different after difficult starts to the season, however, beyond responding to the indications, they both stuck to their planning or playing styles.
Planning and patience, the virtues of Belichick
In Belichick’s case, many downplayed his work as a Patriots coach after failing to make the playoffs in the first year of the post-Tom Brady era and despite the setbacks New England faced in an atypical season due to the COVID pandemic. -19, which included not having eight players, most of them relevant, who decided not to take risks for personal reasons to play.
In an unfair trial and perhaps several years ahead, the verdict of many was that without Brady, with whom he won six Super Bowl rings in 20 seasons, Belichick was an ordinary coach. Given that idea, there were not a few who affirmed that the Postseason was a remote option for New England in its outlook for the 2021 season.
What these shortsighted critics probably didn’t take into account, aside from the setbacks of 2020, is that Belichick already had the plan to get back to relevance in mind. The choice of Mac Jones in the first round of the draft as his new franchise quarterback seems to have been thought out and planned down to the smallest detail.
Since the beginning of the season and despite his youth, Jones has shown personality and in the five-game winning streak that the Patriots enjoy, it has been remarkable how the passer acts with more and more confidence in each play and in each game and to help him. In his adaptation and development process, Belichick has managed to give him the best support that any quarterback can have: a good defense.
With the Patriots’ disappearance in 2020 from the contender pool, it was claimed that the changing of the guard had taken place in the AFC East with a Buffalo Bills reaching the conference final and were seen as sure candidates to win their sector of new account.
Today, the Bills are looking for answers for what has suddenly become an anemic offense and has thrown the team off balance, and the Patriots, with the first results of their coach’s plan, are lone leaders of their division.
Several will say that the Patriots have taken advantage of the circumstances, the irregularity that prevails in the AFC and perhaps they are right, but any team in any sport benefits from what happens around them, not without first fulfilling their obligation: to beat the rival in front of him.
Otherwise, the criticism would be reversed: New England is not able to take advantage of the misstep of other contenders.
Perhaps the 2021 season is not the one of consolidation in the new stage of the Patriots, but the good moment they are going through makes it clear that Belichick drew up a plan that, according to his style, is well drawn and takes into account the more minute details.
If one of these first results is fighting for the leadership of his division when few anticipated it, the medium and short-term outlook looks favorable for the Patriots.
Reid, true to his offensive philosophy
The Chiefs are what they are: a team with a fine offense that capitalizes on the speed of its receivers with Patrick Mahomes’ ability to throw in and out of the bag of protection.
That is the identity that Reid has given this team and that he has worked with as head coach since he assumed that position for the first time in his career in 1999 and after 23 years, he is not going to change his philosophy for a bad start of season.
Since the final weeks of the 2020 regular season, opposing defenses have found a way to counter the offensive might of Mahomes and company with the use of two safeties located 15 to 20 yards from the line of scrimmage to avoid the big plays of the players. Chiefs.
Despite lacking the slots they regularly found in the past three seasons, Reid and Mahomes stayed true to the style that led the Chiefs to three straight conference finals, two in a row Super Bowl appearances and winning one of them.
Maybe the only thing Reid could be blamed for is being stubborn.
When it became clear that the Chiefs would hit a wall, Reid had to modify, but without changing the essence of his attack and decided to instruct Mahomes to take what rival defenses give him and make the most of it with Tyreek Hill’s speed from the backfield. , in screen passes or crossed routes with Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson that open spaces to find Travis Kelce in short areas, all with the idea that the spaces in the deep open again.
Thus, Reid managed to minimize the errors of Mahomes, who has suffered only two interceptions in the Chiefs’ four-game winning streak after adding nine in the first seven games of the season, in addition to two turnovers in that period, but most importantly , restored the confidence to the passer.
Explosive plays may be less frequent for Mahomes and company, but Reid’s confidence in them and his offensive philosophy have brought joy back to the Chiefs’ attack and that’s not good news for the rest of the NFL.