In Mike Reiss’ latest blog post, Mike references a Troy Polamalu quote about how to win in the NFL:
“I think it’s unique no question. Especially in today’s game. People don’t think that you can, for the most part, have a really smothering defense. But, with the smothering defense, you can’t have a pass-happy offense. For example, you would think you could take a great defense and mesh them together, but our defense would not work well with a New England Patriots offense or Indianapolis Colts offense. They may put up a lot of points, but it takes a lot more energy to play our defense than a Tampa 2-type defense.”
I have as much respect for Troy Polamalu as I do for nearly any other NFL player not on the Patriots, but I think he’s way off base here. Polamulu is trying to say that a “pass-happy” team can’t also be a “clock-killing” team, two things that I don’t think are mutually exclusive. As Reiss pointed out, the Patriots ranked 2nd in time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 33 minutes per game.
About the “smothering defense” issue… we obviously weren’t there in 2009. While the Patriots definitely don’t employ a Tampa-2 defense like the Colts, we do employ more of a “bend-don’t-break” defense than the hyper-aggressive Steelers. This has more to do with our lack of legitimate pass-rushers than our defense not getting enough rest in between series.
With the embarrassment of riches amassed for Tom Brady to play with in 2010, don’t expect Belichick’s offensive philosophy (just score points) to change anytime soon.