NFL / bill belichick

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The True Genius of the NFL (Super Bowl LIII brief recap)
About ten days after what many have considered to be the most boring Super Bowl in recent memory, much talk has been made about Brady getting his 6th ring, Gurley being completely obsolete (for reasons unknown) and McVay’s genius being stymied. But true students and fans of the game will know the truest take away from Super Bowl LIII is that the true genius of the NFL resides somewhere inside the hooded sweatshirt of Bill Belichick. Now, he may not have been wearing that trademark, self-cut short-sleeve sweatshirt, but he proved once again that he is one of the best, if not the best, coach of all time. And how has he done that? By doing the thing that every analyst who has ever covered the Patriots says he will: take away his opponent’s best offensive option. I refrained from saying player, because this Super Bowl was strange in the fact that the Rams didn’t use their best offensive player. I’m not going to speculate on any mysterious injuries or whatever might have kept Gurley out (especially because the Rams have been adamant about Gurley being healthy), but the Rams didn’t use their number one option. Plain and simple. Todd Gurley had his second straight All-Pro year, rushing for over 1200 yards, and had 17 touchdowns in 14 games. In order to have any shot in this game, the Rams needed to rely heavily on the run, given that they were the number three rushing offense in the league during the regular season. Now, CJ Anderson is no scrub. Prior to this year where he bounced around between teams, he rushed for over 1000 yards on a bad Denver team. And in the playoffs, he rushed for 167 yards in two games. But they needed Gurley to be that All-Pro. And the glimpses of him on the sideline, watching as his team struggled to gain any momentum on offense, was difficult to watch. For all the brilliance of McVay’s offensive mind, he looked like a middle schooler that wandered into a calculus class. Yet, through all the dilemmas of the Rams offense, it really comes back to Belichick and the Patriots defense. Gurley or not, the emphasis for the Patriots was twofold: stop the run, and pressure Goff. That might sound obvious and creating a game-plan is easy to do from the locker room, but executing that game-plan in the biggest game of the year, maybe even these players’ lives, is a completely different animal. As for the carrying out of the game-plan, the undeniable presence of the Patriots’ defensive line was impressive to watch. Overall, the Patriots held the Rams to 62 yards on 3.4 yards per carry. And even more impressive, when the Rams tried to run to the left, where Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn reside, they only gained 18 yards. Speaking of Clayborn, he was a wrecking ball in the pass game too, with an average separation from the quarterback of 3.62 yards (league average is 4.49 yards). Continuing with the second part of their game-plan, my MVP Donta Hightower made Goff’s life a nightmare, with 2 sacks and an average of 3.93 yards from the quarterback. Goff was obviously confused on most drop-backs by the consistent pressure Belichick was able to get from his defense. There was one singular play which was a living embodiment of how Belichick’s defense completely took control of the game: Duron Harmon on a blitz made a beeline into Goff’s chest, which led to a Stephon Gilmore interception. This game was not pretty for the fans. It wasn’t the flashy performance of gunslinging offense that the NFL has promoted. But it was a perfect example of the Belichick way. He is going to beat you by taking away what you do best and force you to adapt. In McVay’s case, he may be a genius but…well let’s just say he’s no Doug Pederson. If you enjoyed this, have any suggestions or any topics you'd like to hear my thoughts on, reach out to me at mjlandmess@gmail.com
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