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Now we just have to find the guys who best fit.............................................






Erhardt - Perkins offensive system


The Patriots run a modified "Ron Erhardt - Ray Perkins" offensive system[1] installed by Charlie Weis under Bill Belichick. Both Ron Erhardt and Ray Perkins served as offensive assistant coaches under the defensive minded Chuck Fairbanks while he was head coach of the Patriots in the 1970s. This system is noted for its multiple formation and personnel grouping variations on a core number of base plays. Under this system, each formation and each play are separately numbered. Additional word descriptions further modify each play (see below for examples).


[edit] Running game


The Erhardt - Perkins system has at times had a reputation (whether or not earned) of being a traditional smash mouth offense that maximizes a team's time of possession and does not as frequently call upon its running backs to serve as receivers.[2] Erhardt was famous for his adage, "pass to score, run to win".[3] This may have been especially true during the years Bill Parcells ran this system as the head coach of the New York Giants.[4] This system is thought to be particularly well suited for teams playing in harsh outdoor weather conditions of the northeast of the United States.[5]


An example of a running play under this system is Zero, Ride Thirty-six. Zero sets the formation. Thirty indicates who will be the ball carrier running with the ball. Six indicates which hole between the offensive linemen the ball carrier will attempt to run through (see Offensive Nomenclature).


[edit] Passing game


This offense often uses "the run to set up the pass" via play-action passing, faking the run in order to throw deep downfield when the defense is least expecting it. Despite its reputation, this system is not always a run first offense. Erhardt commonly ran the system in his later years spread wide open with multiple receivers (earning the moniker "Air Erhardt"), as NFL rules evolved to benefit the passing game. As a result of this influence, the Patriots will frequently run this offense with five potential receivers and an empty backfield should a favorable matchup present itself or as a function of available personnel. With the addition of Randy Moss and Wes Welker to the Patriots offense, the Patriots have for the time being placed an emphasis on a wide open passing attack (with record setting results).[6]


Charlie Weis states in his autobiography "No Excuses" that the first play that he called in Super Bowl XXXVI was: Zero Flood Slot Hat, Seventy-eight Shout Tosser. Zero is the base formation. Flood Slot Hat further modifies this formation to a set with one back in motion, two tight ends and two wide receivers (which is to say five potential receivers in total). Seventy-eight is the base play number, a three step drop play. Shout tells the three potential receivers on one side of the quarterback what routes they should run, while Tosser tells the other two potential receivers their patterns. During the actual game, Tom Brady threw the ball to Troy Brown for a twenty-one yard gain, seventeen of it after the catch.


[edit] Other teams running similar offensive systems


Bill Parcells ran the Erhardt - Perkins offensive system during his pro coaching years, which is where Charlie Weis originally learned it.[7] Many teams coached by members of the Parcells - Belichick coaching tree currently use this system, such as Notre Dame under Charlie Weis. The Pittsburgh Steelers also continued to run this system during the Bill Cowher years, from when Ron Erhardt was their offensive coordinator.[8] Carolina currently runs this system as well, under Jeff Davidson.[9] Kansas City adopted this system with the 2007 hiring of Chan Gailey as offensive coordinator.[10]


[edit] Comparison to "West Coast" and "Air Coryell" offenses


There are only approximately five or six major offensive systems run in the NFL today.[1]


The nomenclature of the Erhardt - Perkins system is very different from the Bill Walsh west coast offense. Formations under the west coast offense are commonly named after colors (i.e., Green Right).[11] The west coast offense commonly utilizes high percentage, short slanting passes and running backs as receivers. It prefers to have mobile quarterbacks (since its running backs may not be available to block) and large receivers who are able to gain additional yards after the catch.[12]


The nomenclature of the Erhardt - Perkins system is also very different from the Ernie Zampese - Don Coryell "Air Coryell" timed system. Route patterns of the receivers are numbered instead of named in the Air Coryell system (thereby making memorization easier).[13] For example, an Air Coryell play such as 924 F stop swing indicates that the primary wide receiver (X) should run a 9 pattern (a go), the tight end (Y) should run a 2 pattern (a slant), the secondary wide receiver (Z) should run a 4 pattern (a deep in) and the F-back should go out for a swing pass (see Offensive nomenclature). Timing and precision are extremely important under the Air Coryell system, as the routes are intended to run like successive clockwork in order to be successful. The Air Coryell offense was used most successfully during Jimmy Johnson's tenure as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson's offensive coordinator, Norv Turner implemented the system when he became head coach of the San Diego Chargers.


[edit] Fairbanks - Bullough 3-4 defensive system


The New England Patriots run a modified base 3-4 Chuck Fairbanks - Hank Bullough system[14] installed by Bill Belichick. The term 3-4 means that their base formation consists of 3 defensive linemen (defensive end, nose tackle, and defensive end), 4 linebackers (outside "Jack" weak side linebacker, middle "Will" weak side linebacker, middle "Mike" strong side linebacker, and outside "Sam" strong side linebacker), and 4 defensive backs (cornerback, free safety, strong safety, and cornerback).[15] In the Patriots system the inside linebackers are the "Will" and "Mike" linebackers.[16] It is believed that this 3-4 structure gives the defense the greatest amount of flexibility because the linebackers are among the most versatile players on the defense, capable of rushing the quarterback, tackling runners or dropping into coverage. By mixing the roles of their linebackers from play to play, the Patriots defense seeks to cause confusion on the part of opposing offenses. At times the Patriots will also shade their defensive linemen different ways, creating "over" or "under" defenses. "Over" and "under" defenses simply refer to the shift of the defensive linemen to the strong or weak side of the offense, respectively, and the rotation of the linebackers in the opposite direction.


The "Fairbanks - Bullough" 3-4 system is known as a two gap system,[17] because each of the defensive linemen are required to cover the gaps to both sides of the offensive lineman that try to block them.[18] Defensive linemen in this system tend to be stouter, as they need to be able to hold their place without being overwhelmed in order to allow the linebackers behind them to make plays.[19] This is the reason that defensive linemen such as Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork do not always rack up gaudy sack and tackle statistics despite their critical importance to the team.[20]


The system is at times more conservative than certain other defenses currently in vogue in the league,[21] despite the constant threat of its potent linebacker blitz. The Patriots defensive system generally places an emphasis on physicality and discipline over mobility and risk taking and is sometimes characterized as a "bend but do not break defense".[22]


[edit] History


The 3-4 defense was originally devised by Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1940s.[23] Former Patriots and Oklahoma coach Chuck Fairbanks is credited with being a major figure in first bringing the 3-4 defense to the NFL in 1974.[24]


Patriots defensive coordinator Hank Bullough made significant further innovations to the system.[25] Parcells was linebackers coach under Ron Erhardt as head coach of the Patriots in 1980 (after Fairbanks left for Colorado in 1978 and Bullough lost out on the head coaching position). When Parcells returned to the Giants as defensive coordinator under Ray Perkins in 1981, he brought the 3-4 defense with him.


Bill Belichick was initially exposed to the 3-4 defense while working as an assistant under Red Miller, head coach of the Denver Broncos and a former Patriots offensive coordinator under Fairbanks. Joe Collier was the defensive coordinator under Red Miller at the time,[26] and his orange crush defense was very successful at stifling opposing offenses. The Broncos had decided to adopt the 3-4 in 1977. Bill Belichick subsequently refined his understanding of the 3-4 as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator under Parcells with the Giants. Belichick returned the 3-4 defense back to New England when he become coach of the team in 2000.[27] Romeo Crennel subsequently became defensive coordinator for the team.


In a 2007 press conference Belichick said the following of Fairbanks: "I think Chuck has had a tremendous influence on the league as well as this organization in terms of nomenclature and terminology and those kinds of things. I'm sure Chuck could walk in and look at our playbook and probably 80 percent of the plays are the same terminology that he used - whether it be formations or coverages or pass protections. We were sitting there talking yesterday and he was saying, 'How much 60 protection are you guys using? How much 80 are you using?' All of the stuff that was really the fundamentals of his system are still in place here even, again, to the way we call formations and plays and coverages and some of our individual calls within a call, a certain adjustment or things that Red (Miller) and Hank (Bullough) and Ron (Erhardt) and those guys used when they were here".[28]


[edit] Other teams running similar defensive systems


Bill Parcells ran the Fairbanks - Bullough 3-4 defensive system during his coaching years.[29] Many teams coached by members of the Parcells - Belichick coaching tree currently run similar defensive systems, such as the University of Alabama under Nick Saban, the New York Jets under Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns under Romeo Crennel.


[edit] Comparison to other 3-4 systems


The "Phillips 3-4", a one-gap version of the 3-4, was also brought into the league by Bum Phillips, head coach of the Houston Oilers in the 1970s. The Phillips 3-4 defense is currently run by the San Diego Chargers as well as the Dallas Cowboys now being coached by Wade Phillips, the son of Bum Phillips. Wade Phillips replaced Joe Collier as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos in 1989. The modern Phillips 3-4 is largely a one gap 3-4 system, meaning that the defensive linemen are often only responsible for one gap between the offensive linemen.[30] The linemen can afford to be more aggressive because they receive more support from the linebackers in performing their roles. This system generally prefers relatively lighter, more agile lineman better able to perform aggressive slants, loops and gap charges in order to directly attempt to sack the quarterback and make tackles.[31]


The 3-4 zone blitz defense was developed by Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. It commonly calls upon linemen to be mobile enough to drop back into zone coverage in place of blitzing linebackers.[32] Elements of the 3-4 zone blitz defense have been incorporated over time into the modern Phillips 3-4.


[edit] Philosophy


The New England Patriots are noted for the following characteristics:


* Their self critical, perfectionist, and militaristic approach;[33]


* Their emphasis on team, equality among players and lack of individual ego;[34]


* Their strong work ethic, intelligence and high level of focus and preparation for each individual game;[35]


* Their versatile players, able to play multiple positions;[36]


* Their multiple schemes intended to take advantage of their opponent's weaknesses.[37]


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