Back in 2004, well before Eric Mangini blew the whistle on the whole Patriots Spygate operation, Herm Edwards then the Jets coach, knew that the Patriots and Bill Belichick taped defensive signals. Just like in baseball when guys try to pick up signs there will be a few different coaches relaying signs, the ’04 Jets compensated by having two coaches give signals, one as the hot signals, the other as the dummy. I’m pretty sure that this is a standard defense mechanism in the NFL, whether or not it’s against the Patriots. The NY Daily News which relays the story, even adds this comment made by Roger Goodell:
“One of the coaches was actually waving at the camera, so it’s clear that teams, to me, recognize that taking signals from another team is something that they do, so they have very complex systems to make sure that they don’t allow their plays to be intercepted.”
And pretty much anyone who’s watched an NFL game recently can tell you that almost all coaches hold their play charts up in front of their mouths when they talk into the headset to prevent lip reading. I’m not out here to defend the Pats and Belichick — I’ve been skeptical of the advantage they’ve received — but I think an important factor in this whole Spygate equation is that opponents were well-aware of the Pats’ tendencies. This signifies to me that the Patriots won games because they were better than their opponents rather than because they cheated, which at least provides me some peace of mind.