There’s no NFL-driven conspiracy to ensure the New England Patriots — the same team that was railroaded by the league over Deflategate — get all the calls.
It may seem that way from time to time, and it’s not like there aren’t specific plays you can point to and say the Patriots benefited from questionable officiating. That very thing happened multiple times this season alone.
But the real reason Bill Belichick’s team seems to benefit from calls — or more specifically, non-calls — is Belichick and his coaching staff know the league’s rules inside and out.
The Ringer detailed Belichick’s obsession with the rulebook in a really interesting piece Thursday that’s worth the time of any NFL fan.
The story starts by recalling Belichick’s obsessive attention to detail to the NFL’s rule changes in the mid-2000s. The NFL cracked down on illegal contact, in large part because of the Patriots’ defense, and Belichick not only took it in stride, he was ready to evolve.
Said former NFL supervisor of referees Jim Daopoulos to The Ringer: “(Belichick) was asking, ‘Are you going to call illegal contact at 5 yards, 5 and a half yards? Six? Just tell me how you’re going to call it, and that’s how I’ll coach my guys.’ That’s all he wanted.”
Belichick leans on his coaching staff to study how penalties are being called and coach the team based on their findings. Belichick also weighs in with what he hears from the league.
“I’m up in the booth and there are so many times I’m like, ‘Yep, that’s what we just talked about,” Patriots cornerback coach Josh Boyer told The Ringer.
It’s obviously working, too. Only the Carolina Panthers were called for fewer penalties this season, and the Patriots have been outside the top 10 least-penalized teams just once since 2007.
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