While Bill Belichick seems like a pretty serious guy, he and the NFL rule book might not have the best relationship. Whether fairly or unfairly, the New England Patriots head coach has developed a reputation as someone who’s willing to push the envelope to win; in situations like Spygate and Deflategate, that can mean bending the league’s rules.
In a recent interview, Rich Eisen asked the Patriots boss what change he would make if he had control over the NFL’s rulebook. Bill Belichick, unsurprisingly, had one specific answer ready to roll.
Even Patriots-haters have to admit that Bill Belichick gets results
Outside of New England, Bill Belichick has a reputation as a grumpy guy who’s willing to do anything necessary to win football games. Even the most hardened Patriots-hater, however, has to admit that the coach gets results.
After getting his start as an “apprentice” in the Baltimore Colts organization, Belichick cut his teeth with the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos. In 1979, he joined the New York Giants; before long, he had worked his way up the ranks to defensive coordinator and, working with Lawrence Taylor, won two Super Bowls.
That success helped Belichick land his first head coaching job, but even he couldn’t find success with the Cleveland Browns. He then spent some time with the Patriots and Jets before returning to Foxborough to take over as New England’s head coach. Since then, the rest is history.
While some fans may take issue with the head coach’s public persona and seeming disregard for anything other than winning football games, it’s impossible to argue with his resume. Between his time in Cleveland and New England, Belichick has piled up 400 regular-season wins; he’s also claimed three AP Coach of the Year crowns and, of course, six Super Bowl rings.
Making one specific change to the NFL rulebook
Whether you think he cares about it or not, Bill Belichick has to know the NFL rulebook inside and out. And, knowing the Patriots head coach, you’d better believe he has some strong opinions about the regulations.
On a recent episode of his eponymous show, Rich Eisen asked Belichick what rule he’d like to change. After making the PR-friendly answer about everyone in the league office doing a good job, the veteran coach highlighted pass interference.
“I think probably the one thing that is worth looking at is just the college pass interference rules,” Belichick explained. “I know why it’s what it is, and I also know why it’s different in college, and you could argue both sides of it. But it’s a big penalty, and sometimes those are just tough calls. So I think that’s worth looking at.”
Beyond pass interference, Belichick also suggested making the NFL and NCAA rulebooks as identical as possible.
“So targeting’s targeting, holding’s holding, interference is interference, and so forth,” he continued. “As much as we could do that, I would be in favor of that just for the overall quality of the game.”
NCAA-style pass interference would give Bill Belichick another loophole to exploit
From a purely logistical perspective, Bill Belichick’s point about consistency does make sense. If you’re a hardcore cynic, however, you could also see NCAA-style pass interference as another rulebook quirk that the Patriots coach could exploit.
While NFL interference places the ball at the spot of the foul, the NCAA penalty awards the offensive team a maximum of 15 yards and a first down. That opens the door to potential exploitation; if a defensive back is going to get burned for a huge play, he can simply interfere with the receiver and give up 15 yards. While free yardage is never ideal, we’re all familiar with the concept of a good foul from other sports.
As of now, though, NFL fans don’t have to worry about that scenario. As for Bill Belichick, he’s shown that he can win games, with or without an assist from the rulebook.