HomeSportsWhy Patriots' innovative field goal block will be hard to imitate

Why Patriots’ innovative field goal block will be hard to imitate

The New England Patriots’ innovative field goal block design won’t be easy for rival coaches to imitate this season.

That’s because other teams may find it harder to nail the timing as perfectly as New England did against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night.

New England special teams talent Brenden Schooler dazzled the Dolphins by using a running start to stifle Jason Sanders’ 49-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter. Schooler was lined up well off the formation with his eyes on Miami holder Jake Bailey. Then, without warning, he sprinted in six steps and cut upfield just as the ball was snapped, zooming untouched past a flat-footed rim protector.

The timing of Schooler’s sprint suggests New England knew exactly when Miami long snapper Blake Ferguson would release the ball and designed the field goal block as a sneak attack to take advantage. As former NFL kicker Shayne Graham told Yahoo Sports on Monday, “They obviously saw something on film where they were able to time it perfectly. This is the only way you can put it into practice.”

See also  These stats show how the Red Sox trade deadline strategy failed miserably

ESPN’s Pat McAfee, a former gambler and holder for the Indianapolis Colts, provided further insight during his show on Monday, pointing out that Bailey turns his head to ask Sanders if he’s ready and then takes a deep breath before the ball is beaten. McAfee suggested Bill Belichick could have picked up on that story during Bailey’s four seasons as a punter and holder with the Patriots from 2019-2022.

“Bill Belichick probably saw in the self-reconnaissance, ‘How has no one noticed the fact that this guy is doing this?’” McAfee surmised.

Other coaches can certainly install a field goal block concept that mirrors New England’s, but those copycats will miss the element of surprise. Graham expects special teams coaches in the NFL have already started emphasizing the importance of hard counts, while also going through their game film looking for giveaways that could confuse a defense.

“I guarantee you this came up in every special teams meeting on Monday,” said Graham, who helped coach special teams at Michigan State and Florida after retiring from the NFL in 2017. “They’re telling the long snapper, ‘Hey we gotta do something to change the timing of our snap count.’ Everyone will have to arm themselves against this.”

See also  Rams make meaningless field goal to cover the spread in 30-23 loss to 49ers

Miami coach Mike McDaniel said his staff did just that when Sanders attempted another field goal with six minutes left in the Dolphins’ 24-17 victory. The varied number of snaps allowed Sanders to get the kickoff, but he hooked the ball wide to the left.

“He didn’t impact that play because we made the right adjustments, but that was a great design,” McDaniel said. “They used one of the moves we always use on offense, basically as a field goal block. Hadn’t seen that before. So that was a great job by them.”

This isn’t the first time NFL teams have gotten creative in their attempts to block field goals and extra points. Defenders took a run-up and attempted to jump over the long snapper for years until the NFL banned these block attempts in 2017, citing player safety concerns.

Graham wouldn’t be surprised if Belichick’s clever field goal block design ultimately meets a similar fate.

See also  Stricker wins sixth title of the season and sets a money record for seniors

“They then discovered a loophole and the NFL closed it,” Graham said. “Now they’ve discovered another loophole, and I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before the NFL closes this one too.”

Until then, long snappers and holders need to be careful not to fall over when they go to snap the ball. If they don’t, special teams coaches now have a weapon in their arsenal.

“I’m sure people will try to copy it,” Graham said. “I just don’t know if they’ll have the same success that New England had the first time.”

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments