Bill Belichick Not Expecting Any Surprises From Rams Defense In Super Bowl LIII


Jan 24, 2019

FOXBORO, Mass. — With two weeks to prepare for Super Bowl LIII, Wade Phillips could draw up all sorts of defensive wrinkles aimed at neutralizing Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and the rest of the New England Patriots’ offense.

Bill Belichick doesn’t see him going down that route, though.

As Belichick explained Thursday, Phillips, the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator and an NFL coaching fixture since the mid-1970s, rarely deviates from the scheme he first established decades ago.

The Patriots head coach doesn’t expect that to change on Super Bowl Sunday.

“The scheme’s the same,” Belichick said. “I mean, I don’t think he’s changed his scheme. Wade does a great job of utilizing his personnel and putting his players in position to be productive and make plays. So when he had Von Miller (in Denver), he didn’t change what he did, just the volume and the percentages shifted to accentuate a player like that or Aaron Donald or whoever it happens to be.

“Certainly, there’s an element of game planning, and how he plays one team or another team varies, but it’s within the system that he has. I don’t think he’s out there drawing up a lot of new defenses. I think he has a menu, and he selects the ones that fit best against his opponent and the situations as the situations come up in that game.”

Belichick has seen some minor tweaks to Phillips’ defense over the course of the season, noting the Rams have played more zone coverage over the last eight or 10 weeks after being a man-heavy team early on.

LA ranked near the middle of the pack in most defensive metrics during the regular season despite boasting stars like Donald and Ndamukong Suh up front and Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters in the secondary. But it’s impressed in the postseason, holding the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints to 22 and 23 points, respectively.

“I’m not saying they do the same thing all the time,” Belichick said. “I would just say that Wade’s system is his system, and then within that system, there’s plenty of variety. So they can get to what they need to get to. Again, I don’t think we’re going to see three new fronts and three new coverages in this game that he hasn’t run in the last 30 years. I mean, I just don’t think that’s going to happen. If it does, we’ll adjust to it. But they do what they do in their system, they do it well, they have a lot of confidence in it, which they should.”

The 71-year-old Phillips has served as head coach for three different teams (Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys, plus a few interim stints) and defensive coordinator for eight (New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, two stints with Denver, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans and Rams) since getting his start as a Houston Oilers assistant in 1976.

Belichick, who landed his first NFL gig one year earlier, said he has “a ton of respect” for Phillips, whose Broncos defense smothered a shorthanded Patriots offense in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.

“He’s been successful everywhere he’s been,” Belichick said. “He’s been doing it for 30 years in multiple organizations with multiple groups of players against every kind of offense he could see. I remember dealing with him when I was in Cleveland. And to his credit, there’s not many of us that have a system that can last that long. I’ve certainly changed a lot in the last 30 years schematically. Wade really hasn’t. He really hasn’t. You’ve got to give him credit for that.

“But the system has lasted. I mean, really, this is part of his dad’s system that he’s developed and adapted and developed there. I mean, I have a ton of respect for what he’s done and how he’s done it over every different kind of offense you can see — multiple tight ends, run and shoot, 10 personnel, 11 personnel, 12 personnel, 21, 22. He’s been able to do the same thing — not the same thing, but his system has been able to handle all that, and I think that’s a real credit to what he put together 30 years ago.”

Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images
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