Remember that AFC divisional playoff game last season between Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots and John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens and the “illegal-type formations” that Belichick reportedly employed to march down the field during a crucial possession in the 3rd quarter?
If not, here’s a look at the Patriots 4 offensive lineman + an ineligible receiver formation that had Harbaugh upset after his Ravens got bounced from the playoffs.
The Patriots started on the -31 before ripping off a handful of plays using the controversial formation for big chunks of yardage to get them inside the Ravens 10 yard line. After further review following the game from Michael Signora (the NFL’s VP of football communications) the formations were deemed well within the rule book.
Either way, John Harbaugh has apparently learned that he doesn’t want his guys to be caught off guard like that again, so the staff has decided to practice a handful of illegal-looking formations during their mini camp.
“We are working on formations – legal formations, illegal formations, unexpected formations. The first time we ran it, you heard (linebacker Terrell) Suggs out there saying, ‘That’s not legal, that’s not legal.’” Harbaugh told USA Today Sports.
“We will not assume that the referees are going to understand or always get it right when a formation goes out on the field, so we’re working on everything.”
Is this a good use of practice time because of their experience from the AFC title game last season? Or could the Ravens (who finished 27th in the NFL in scoring defense last season) benefit more by spending that time on something else?
One resource that NFL teams have with their guys that college and high school coaches do not have the luxury of, is time. So perhaps spending a little bit of time of something that burned them last year, like these “illegal-type formations” isn’t such a bad use of their time because with NFL coordinators getting more and more creative, chances are they’re going to see something unexpected again in 2015.