NFL / jared goff
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Super Bowl LIII Preview: New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams
The New England Patriots will try to add another Vince Lombardi trophy in their already historic frachise as they take on the uprising Los Angeles Rams for the Super Bowl LIII, at the new-look Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday. For the third straight year, New England booked a return trip to the biggest stage of football after defeating AFC's top-seed Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31, in an overtime thriller, while the resurgent Rams clinched their fourth Super Bowl appearance all-time after dismantling the league-best New Orleans Saints in their own controversial overtime match, 26-23. More than the renewed rivalry between the two championship cities, here is everything you need to know before the highly-anticipated match-up between AFC and NFC's second seeds: Phenomenal Patriots' old-school campaign After struggling at the start of the 2018 season, having a losing record at 1-2 in the first three weeks, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick's New England Patriots turned things around starting in Week 4 after acquiring star receiver Josh Gordon from the Cleveland Browns before welcoming back Julian Edelman from a four-game suspension the following week. Gordon and Edelman's addition reeled the Patriots to six straight victories, and eventually helped the five-time Super Bowl winners in finally securing a first round bye in the final week after, ironically, a help from 2017 Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots eliminated a gutsy 12-4 Los Angeles Chargers in the Divisional Round before defeating MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium after an opening touchdown drive in overtime. This year marks the third straight time that the Patriots will go to the Super Bowl since their historic 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. Furthermore, New England also grabbed its 11th all-time appearance in the Super Bowl, with nine of it coming from the Brady-Belichick era since 2001. Vengeful Rams' unfinished business After exactly 17 years since the Los Angeles Rams' trip to the Super Bowl, marked by a loss against the exact same franchise in Patriots, the Sean McVay-mentored squad hopes for a revenge as they try to put an end to the team that halted their possible dynasty-making run from that time. Since coming back to Los Angeles from San Diego in 2016, the Rams had notably made various offseason signings up until last year to complement pieces to their young offensive stars Jared Goff and 2017 MVP runner-up Todd Gurley II, by acquiring Ndamokung Suh, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib. Unlike the Patriots, Los Angeles rolled to a perfect start this season after winning all of its first eight matches before succumbing to their first loss against their eventual NFC Championship Round opponents New Orleans. Rams banked on their balanced passing and running game with Goff, Gurley, and CJ Anderson manning their offense while top defensive player Aaron Donald leading them on the other end all season long. The 13-3 Los Angeles squad needed Gurley and Anderson to come up big time, each going for 100-plus yards, in their Divisional Round match against the Dallas Cowboys to set up a revenge game against the Saints at the Superdome. Trailing 0-13 before the end of the opening frame, the Rams pushed hard to come back in the fourth and tied things up at 23-23, where they escaped a what could have been a pass interference call on cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman's helmet-to-helmet hit against Saints' receiver Tommy Lee-Lewis at third-and-10 with less than three minutes left. Kicker Greg Zuerlein completed their Super Bowl return after sinking in a 57-yard field goal to maximize a Rams' interception against Drew Brees at the opening drive in overtime. Significant stats and storylines Patriots and Rams' running game proves to be equal as New England relies on its rookie running back Sony Michel who has already rushed a total of 242 yards over his first two post-season games and made him the playoffs rushing leader. On the flip side, Gurley and veteran Anderson's increasing usage in snaps every game have both made them a threat at the offensive end of Los Angeles as they are averaging 175 rushing yards per game in the post-season. Defensively, Rams' improved defense had only allowed 49 rushing yards per game in the playoffs, after being ranked by as low as 23rd in the regular season, while the Patriots have to look for a better gameplan by allowing 60 rushing yards per game for just 2.7 yards per carry in last two games. Donald and Suh will lead the Rams' defensive line to put pressure on Brady, who currently holds a 98 percent passer rating and 19 passing touchdowns against only five interceptions in all of his first eight Super Bowl appearance. Donald's league-leading 20.5 sacks this season will be tested against the rejuvenated Patriots offensive line, which had not allowed any sack against Brady this post-season. Prediction: New England defeats Los Angeles with a Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski clutch touchdown pass, 42-35. Follow the writer on Twitter: @KristoffBellen.
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