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Patriots streamline play calling, speed up offense

Denver Broncos v New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 07: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is congratulated by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels following a touchdown in the first half against the Denver Broncos during the game on October 7, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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The Patriots’ fast-paced offense gave the Broncos fits on Sunday. And simplifying the play calling was a big part of it.

New England used one-word play calls for much of the game against Denver, taking what is ordinarily a mouthful that includes the formation, blocking scheme, direction on running plays or routes on passing plays and the snap count, and allowing the coaching staff and quarterback Tom Brady to communicate it all in an instant.

Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe has a thorough look at how the Patriots’ offense ran on Sunday, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick says that his first season working in the NFL, under Baltimore Colts coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975, taught him how streamlined play calling can be advantageous for a fast-paced offense.

“You learn to make words that are easy to say, one syllable and distinct,” Belichick said. “At the Colts, all our strong-side patterns were score, strike, sting, smash. And the weak-side patterns were whirl, whisk, wheel. And it was one word, usually one syllable, told everybody what to do [snaps finger].”

Belichick also said he talked to Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who runs the fastest offense in college football, and Kelly gave him some tips about how to get 11 players all to know their assignments after hearing just one word.

“I was interested to hear how he did it,” Belichick said. “I would say he expanded it to a different level and it was very interesting to understand what he was doing. Certainly I’ve learned a lot from talking to Chip about his experiences with it and how he does it and his procedure and all that.”

Kelly, who turned down the Buccaneers job this year, runs an offense unlike anything currently used in the NFL. But Belichick knows there are concepts in Kelly’s offense that can be applied to the pro game. And the Broncos found out the hard way.