Scientists have studied the tendencies on certain NFL teams to employ particular plays in given situations. No head coach’s gameplan is more feared than that of New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. During the 2007 season, Belichick fielded a historical team that featured future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss setting an NFL record with 23 receiving touchdowns. Moss’ success was based largely on his incredible speed and ability to beat defenses deep; at the time, he was most likely the fastest receiver in the league, if not on the team.
In my secret underground laboratory, a team of highly-coordinated scientists and I have been researching the various methods Belichick employs, given his rosters, coaches, time remaining, down and distance, etc. On certain plays, the head coach brings the fastest player onto the field, designates that player to be the target receiver, and has them run a streak or skinny post, much like Moss did in his prime.
Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the second half of the AFC divisional round playoff game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
My colleagues and I have to the conclusion that Belichick was so enamored with Moss’ presence that he frequently utilizes other receivers in such a method as to replicate the success Moss found during those years he spent with the Patriots. Based on our studies, we have decided to dub this phenomenon the Bill Belichick-Randy Moss-Imitation-Once-A-Game Gimmick Play. This occurrence is so named because it only occurs once per game – if at all – and is a very clear replica of a typical Moss route.
Sadly, it is rare to see this route succeed – there are few receivers like Moss, and fewer who have the same chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady that other receivers have. It took a high powered microscope, but my colleagues and I have found two plays where this particular call has succeeded.
This play, in which Brady passes to Matthew Slater, seems very much like an iteration of the Bill Belichick-Randy Moss-Imitation-Once-A-Game Gimmick Play. Slater almost never comes onto the field except in special teams situations, but has been described by the Patriots beat writers as being the fastest on the team. That is, until Donté Stallworth came along.
Stallworth claims to have once run a 4.3 – good enough for fastest on the team. Stallworth was brought onto the field to cover for an injury to Julian Edelman, and he immediately contributed with this play.
Our findings have led us to the conclusion that, although this play doesn’t always work, teams rarely seem to commit extra defenders to it. If everything works out, Jeff Demps might even find himself a part of the team thanks to this play.
You can follow Christopher Field on Twitter @ChrisDField.