Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Will Belichik Be Put On Trial With KSM?

I knew there would be a lot of folks angry come Monday morning at the New England Patriots stunning 35-34 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night. In a classic case of what have you done for me lately, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichik has become public enemy number one for having the temerity to go for it on 4th down and 2 just before the two minute warning in the 4th quarter rather than punt the ball. It's as if he had left Pedro Martinez in the game. Jarrett Bell of USA Today calls Belichik's sanity has been called into question. Perhaps he will be put on trial with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But then again, unlike KSM, Belichik hasn't been given the presumption of innocence.

To refresh your memory, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw Kevin Faulk what appeared to be a first down but the officials said otherwise. So the Colts took over deep in Pats territory and with 13 seconds left in the game Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne. If Belichik can be faulted it wasn't by taking a chance on fourth down. The flaw lies in using all the Patriots timeouts. As such he was in not in a position to challenge the ruling on the field.

Who can say that if the Patriots had punted the ball that the Colts wouldn't have got their touchdown anyway? If that had happened I can guarantee that these same sportswriters would have asked why Belichik didn't take a chance on the fourth down. Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN has been a voice of sanity.

The fact that Belichik has guided the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles this decade means nothing. The last Superbowl title came almost five years ago. It might as well have taken place in the paleozoic era. All that matters is Sunday.

How large the loss to Indy will loom will, of course, depend on what the Patriots do the remainder of the season and beyond. Sure the Colts could go undefeated in the regular season but if the Pats were to eliminate them in the AFC Conference Final then all would be forgiven and the "Belichik for Governor" or "Belichik for President" signs would come out of the woodwork. As with politics, a week in football can be a lifetime.

If, on the other hand, the Colts were to eliminate the Pats or if the Pats didn't make the playoffs altogether then there will probably be calls for Belichik's head. One could make the case it might be time for a change. But as we are finding out with Obama change does not come without its risks. To quote a line from the Chicago song Hard Habit to Break, "You don't know what you got until it's gone and I found out a little too late."

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