Monday, February 04, 2019

Superbowl Observations

It was an excellent game if you like defense, which I do. The Rams defense was better than the Patriots defense, notwithstanding the outcome, and it was the Rams coaching that was the eventual determinant. The officiating had a couple of glitches, but for the most part the officials tried to stay out of the game.

There was one call for "hit on a defenseless player" after the catch of a pass that was bogus. It was not helmet-to-helmet, the tackler wrapped his arms around the receiver's shoulders, and the announcing "rules specialist" said it was because the hit was too quick - the receiver had not had time to "establish himself as a runner" before the tackle was made. That was utter nonsense by everyone involved in the call, making it and justifying it, but it had no effect whatever on the game.

The Rams defense did what a defense needs to do to stop the Patriots. They applied consistent pass rush pressure up the middle and made Tom Brady throw the ball when he didn’t really want to throw it. (CBS did a very poor job of showing that, although they did mention it.) That gave up a couple of halfway decent runs, and it didn’t stop all of the pass completions, but it did stop the Patriots from making long drives and scoring.

Point one of the Rams coaching failure was that near the end of the game with the score tied they decided to reduce the "attack defense" and focus more on secondary coverage - a "light" version of the infamous "prevent defense." The Patriots, of course, drove the length of the field for the game's first touchdown.

The Patriots defense also was excellent, but benefited from the larger coaching error by the Rams - not playing their own game on offense. The Rams' normal game is to use misdirection running with trap blocking and, when that causes the secondary to inch closer, they throw the ball over the top of the linebackers. They did not even attempt any of that last night. They started passing right out of the gate, and when they did run the ball they ran straight ahead in a power game. That is not their game and it failed miserably.

They did run Tod Gurley twice on misdirection, where he cut back just before the line of scrimmage. It gained 14 yards one time and 11 yards the other, and they had some success passing afterward, but they went right back to straight ahead power running in the next possession and were three and out.

Tony Romo kept commenting that the Patriot defenders were going straight ahead, "not going side to side like most teams do against the Rams." That observation was not as brilliant as he thinks it was. (Very little that Tony Romo says is as brilliant as he thinks it is.) Most teams go sideways against the Rams because, against most teams, the Rams run sideways and then frequently cut back. That is their game. They were not doing it in the Superbowl. They were running straight ahead, and the proper counter to that is for a defense to attack straight ahead.

In summary, the Patriots played their game and won doing it. The Rams got “clever,” did not play their game, and lost. Good game, though.

I won’t even talk about the halftime show. Yeccch. The commercials were unadulterated, endless virtue signalling. I don’t drink beer any more, but if I did I would not choose a brand because no dinosaurs died in producing the electric power that was used to brew it.

1 comment:

  1. bruce8:52 AM

    Halftime show = meh. Commercials = didn't even register. First time for that. I thought the Patriots played defense better than the Rams, ie. they got to Goff and rushers more than vice versa. Very low scoring game, and a little underwhelming. I wonder if a Saints - Patriots game would have been better?