Let’s forget deflate gate for just a minute. Let’s ignore the most unnecessary cheating scandal in professional sports, and let’s get back to football. The New England Patriots are the most innovative football I’ve ever seen take the field and, though they’ve been rule breaking recently, their creativity is going to be the reason the NFL does some rule rewriting this off-season. They are the NFL’s 21st century equivalent to Wilt the stilt Chamberlain.
In 1956 Wilt Chamberlain dominated basketball like no one before as a sophomore at Kansas. 52 points and 31 rebounds in his collegiate debut would prompt the NCAA to outlaw the dunk, for just a year, the next season, because Chamberlain did it so dominantly that it seemingly wasn’t fair. Over the course of his career, Chamberlain continued to ‘break basketball’ and force rule changes that shaped the game today. The rules that players can not: goaltend offensively, cross the free throw line during a free throw, not hit the rim on a free throw, and stand in the paint, offensively or defensively, for more than 3 seconds at a time, all came to be known as “The Chamberlain Rules.”
Essentially, what the guy did was he pointed out glaring flaws in the rules of the game with his dominance and cleverness. The New England Patriots, to a similar extent, are doing the same. These Pats, with all their deflated balls, have either changed offensive football or forced football to stop them from doing it. The NFL will adjust the rules accordingly to prevent teams from doing what the Patriots did by lining up with 4 offensive linemen, reporting a running back as ineligible, and snapping the ball before the defense recognizes this. Either that, or John Harbaugh will die trying to get them, too.
However, jokes aside, if the NFL does not change this rule, then we have just witnessed a great change in offensive football as we know it. Think about it, there’s simply nothing the defense can do against a 4 linemen set and a quick slant in the hurry up offense if the defense has no idea who to cover. To design a set such as this, never before seen in the NFL, toyed with at by Nick Saban at the college level (barely), is sheer brilliance. Who would have thought? Tom Brady said after the game “well maybe [the Ravens] oughta check out the rule book.” The NFL will have changed the rule by the time the Ravens even open the book, I predict.
Nate Solder, wide receiver extraordinaire. Who would’ve thought! By sending out 6 offensive linemen, and Gronk, the Patriots were able to line up Solder in his normal tackle spot, they did not have to bump him out to tight end, and stack 3 offensive linemen on the right side with Gronk. Solder reported eligibility to the referees, and again the ball was snapped immediately upon approaching the line. After a fake hand off, there was not a person on the Colts that had any clue that the Pats left tackle was about to slip out for a pass. NFL teams have never used offensive linemen like this before– never have I seen a team line up their tight end at tackle and throw him a slant, nor have I seen a team run a seemingly normal play and have their tackle go out for a pass without being aligned as an H-Back. This is new, and it’s brilliant.
Teams can use a set like this, drawn up brilliantly by Belichick and Co., and it will yield results. If the NFL lets them.
What you should get from this article is this: Bill Belicheat and his staff have searched through these rules to find loopholes and legalities like lawyers and have used their findings to propel them to the Superbowl. I would be tremendously surprised if the competition committee does not change rules on player’s reporting eligibility this offseason. The Pats have made them. Wilt Chamberlain made the NBA do the same thing. They are cheaters, but you can’t deflate their innovation.