Andrew Whitworth, Bill Belichick, Brian Flores, Cincinnati Bengals, CJ Anderson, Jared Goff, Josh McDaniels, Julian Edelman, Kansas City Chiefs, LA Rams, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, NFL, Patrick Mahomes, Rob Gronkowski, Sean McVay, Stephon Gilmore, Super Bowl, Todd Gurley, Tom Brady, Wade Philips, Zac Taylor
This is not quite the final post of the 2018 season for me as I have at least one coaching tape post that I am going to write on the Super Bowl, and frankly I’m tempted to do both sides of the ball for both teams but I’ll get to that in a bit.
So what can I tell you about the Super Bowl that you don’t already know or saw for yourself? I was intrigued by the game and I really am looking forward to digging into the coaching tape, but no one can claim it was a spectacle. For a season so dominated by high powered offences, the Super Bowl was a demonstration that not only can defences still compete, but they can still win championships.
I joked on Sunday that my dream of a game without touchdowns decided by a safety was still in play after the first quarter, but whilst we got a field goal in the second quarter, we didn’t see a touchdown until the fourth quarter and the game finished 13-3 to the Patriots.
Whilst all the headlines have understandably gone to Belichick and Brady as they won a sixth Super Bowl, it is worth pointing out that Brady had his own problems thanks to the Rams’ defensive coordinator Wade Philips and it was only due to an unpractised switch by Josh McDaniels in the fourth quarter that the Patriots scored any touchdowns. This is the first match-up I am going to look at in the coaching tape so I can see what was happening but Tom Brady started the with an interception on his first pass and the Patriots struggled to move the ball effectively all game. The obvious stand out offensive player of the game was Julian Edelman, which explains why he was declared MVP but as important as his contribution was to the Patriots win, in a game that was so dominated by two sets of defences, perhaps a defensive player should have won that award. After all, Stephon Gilmore finished the game with five tackles, forced a fumble and picked off Jared Goff, which led to the Patriots effectively sealing the game with a second field goal.
To just put this into context, Bill Belichick and new Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores managed to limit the second best offence in the league by DVOA to a field goal. The surprising thing about this was given the innovation that Sean McVay and the Rams have shown all season, they didn’t find an offensive adjustment or try anything on special teams. I felt sure going into this game that McVay would have something up his sleeve, and I need to watch on tape to be sure of what happened but it didn’t feel like the Rams moved away from 11 personnel and that was something I had seen them do in the playoffs. I don’t know if we’ll ever know precisely what was going on with Todd Gurley, but with ten carries and a couple of pass targets he was not a big part of the game. In fact the Rams only gave CJ Anderson seven carries and for a team that builds its offence off running the ball and play-action, they were too often in a third and long situation. The Patriots managed to do what I thought they might, make Jared Goff drop back and beat them with his arm and he was not up to the task. Goff has already spoken up and shouldered the blame, whilst Sean McVay admitted he had been out-coached and veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth reminded us we are going to die so whilst this loss is going to hurt for a while, I suspect that the Rams will learn and be competitive next season. There are a lot of free agents on their roster so we’ll have to see how they chose to go about assembling a new roster the off-season, but McVay will need to develop an adjustment to what happened in the Super Bowl as defensive coordinators around the league will be studying the coaching tape of it in the off-season.
As for the Patriots, would anyone be surprised if Bill Belichick was already working on next season. I think it is likely that we’ll see Rob Gronkowski retire given the toll his career has taken on his body and apparently he has been dealing with a bulging disk in his back this season, but Tom Brady is still planning to carry on. As I keep saying, I will believe the Patriots are done when they finally stop winning. They are the masters of doing just enough through the season and peaking for the playoffs so let’s see how they shape up, but given the premium they place on depth of roster I would expect their off-season to be quiet and who can argue with their success. How resilient do you have to be as a franchise to go to so many Super Bowls in a period where the league is designed for parity? As much as you may be fed up of watching them win, we are living through history and we should not take such excellence for granted. That said, a playoff tested Patrick Mahomes won’t be spotting the Patriots a fourteen-point lead at halftime next season so things could well be very different next times the Chiefs play the Patriots.
As I mentioned briefly, Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores has been formally announced as their new head coach. The Bengals have also announced that Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor will be their tenth head coach. We won’t know how either of their tenures will go for a couple of seasons, but we are already into the season of hope as many teams announced via twitter pretty much the moment the Super Bowl was done.
I am going to take a look at the coaching tape of the Super Bowl, focusing on the Patriots offence versus the Rams’ defence this week for a post I hope to get up on Sunday, and I may well look at the job the Patriots defence did on the Rams the week after, but then I will focus on other things for a little while. I’ll write some posts round the major off-season events as well as occasional football posts but I won’t be posting more than once or twice a month until preseason starts.
In the meantime, thank you for reading all season and good luck with the long off-season, but between free-agency and the draft, there’s plenty of news to follow and soon it will be time for training camps.
There’s just one final thing I have to share today, but I’ll let Dan’s Dad, winner of this season’s pick competition and trivia master extraordinaire have the final say on the 2018 season
‘Well, there we go. Another season closes with a record breaking Superbowl in the bag but as we prepare for the quieter months to come we have to put a lid on the 2018 Trivia competition.
You will remember that this final game became a simple shoot out as Dan and Gee were on exactly the same scores so, literally, all to play for.
Question 1 wanted the player making the longest kick off return and it was Dan who took the early lead correctly identifying Jakeem Grant’s 102 yard return ending in a fine TD.
Question 2 asked the same for the longest pass of the year. Well, like the English cricketers the scorers were not troubled here. Patrick Mahomes was a logical choice but Big Ben Rothlisburger who threw a 97 yarder run in for another TD.
Third was a simple NFC/AFC question on which had won the most Superbowls. Well the score, before today, was 27 – 25 in favour of the NFC so Gee draws level.
Well done both on stotting that with 2 points at stake it was likely that there would be 2 QB’s who played in and won 4 Superbowls with no defeats. Well, I’ve dropped a few names into the mix recently so Gee’s choice of Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana against Dan’s Elway/Montana combo sees Gee gaining 2 to Dan’s 1.
Finally I asked about how many franchises have won a Superbowl. The answer is 20 so again, no points I’m afraid.
Therefore by just 1 point, for the record 22 to 21, this year’s champion in Gee. Congratulations to both for some interesting and impressive answers. I have the benefit of Google but this pair have only gone to it after they have made their responses so Kudos there!
In closing I had set a tie breaker in case it was needed and, would you believe it, they both went for the same answer so it wouldn’t have got a result after all. I asked about the total Passing yardage for all 32 teams last season. 128,000 wasn’t a bad try but if you are interested it was 121737 – and for the geeks rushing delivered 58643 so now I see why a QB with a good arm is so valuable.
I hope you have enjoyed the quiz – its been an interesting thing to compile but I’ve been pleased by the responses. Enjoy the Off-season.’