Patriots linebacker Chase Winovich’s latest comments indicate that Bill Belichick’s coaching style might be outdated.
It’s been befuddling watching the New England Patriots underachieve as much as they have this season on both sides of the ball, but the ineffectiveness of the defense — at least in our eyes — clearly takes the cake in terms of most concerning developments.
After all, the group is fresh off making the Joe Flacco-led New York Jets look like world-beaters. Though the cards were stacked against them heading into training camp in the wake of a slew of free agency departures and player opt outs, fans just assumed the mastermind that is head coach Bill Belichick would be able to get the most out of his pieces.
At the very least, they expected him to give his most proficient playmakers as much playing time as possible. Unfortunately for the Patriots, however, neither has been the case so far, and the most glaring example of this circumstance is outside linebacker Chase Winovich, who saw the field regularly for the first time in over a month vs the Jets.
After the win, the 2019 third-round pick addressed his lack of playing time and his remarks suggest that Belichick’s coaching style might be outdated.
"“It felt great being back out there with the boys,” Winovich told reporters. “It was really hard being away the last couple of games, just watching the team from the sideline, really.”“I can’t really speak much about the game plan, but it was just part of the game plan. I guess you giveth and you taketh. I knew I had to be better on some of my fundamentals, assignments and basic football things. It was a great opportunity for me to go out there and display some of that. I am just happy we got the team win and I could contribute in a positive way.”"
That has to be the only explanation, right? It sounds like Winovich has no idea why he was relegated to the bench for the previous three games after establishing himself as arguably the Patriots’ best player on defense over the first month of the season, and we totally see where he’s coming from.
For context, the Michigan product went from playing 65.7% of the defensive snaps to open the year to logging a 21% snap share from Weeks 6 to 8, which included a career-low five snaps two weeks ago against Buffalo. Keep in mind that he appeared in all 16 games (zero starts) as a rookie last season and played less than 10 snaps on just two occasions.
The Patriots’ coaching staff acknowledged that Winovich’s decreased role came down to a matter of game plan and scheme, as they were matched up against teams who focus on running the football. While we understand that the 25-year-old is more accustomed to playing on passing downs, benching the player who’s caused the most disruption in opposing backfields out of any member of the defense is ludicrous.
We often go to great lengths to defend Belichick from the media, but he deserves criticism for getting too cute with Winovich’s playing time. Nothing he did on or off the field warranted him virtually disappearing from the defensive game plan, and that’s a huge indictment on Belichick’s cutthroat style of coaching.