Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Today is the day of the Super Bowl, so I'm here to give a quick preview of what I think will be the most important things to watch in this game, and of course, to give my pick. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
When you look back at the Patriots last two Super Bowls, the game was not won or lost on the field. I'd argue that both of those games were decided by those on the sidelines--the coaches. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all time, and I can't remember once in my life where he has made a mistake. Belichick thrives on opposing coaches making mistakes, and then finding ways to capitalize on that. In Super Bowl XLIX, Pete Carroll made the infamous mistake of calling to pass the football on second and goal from the one yard line, despite having the best power back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch, on his team. In last years Super Bowl (LI), the Falcons came out in the second half playing aggressive, which is a great coaching decision, but when the game could have been sealed with a dagger field goal, on third down inside of field goal range Kyle Shanahan called a pass play. It resulted in a sack, and a punt on fourth down. Running the football would have taken at least forty seconds of the clock, and basically put the game out of reach for the New England Patriots. Instead, a coaching error lost Atlanta the game.
The most recent example of this is the AFC Championship game, when Jacksonville completely abandoned their short passes, screen plays, and outside runs. Those style of plays are what got the Jags their lead, but then in the second half they turned conservative, running the football almost every first and second down, becoming predictable. Being too conservative and running too much then cost Jacksonville the game.
I know that this seems like it has no correlation to today's Super Bowl, but I think it does. Over the years only one coach has been prepared enough to not make vital mistakes against Bill Belichick, and that's Tom Coughlin. The Eagles head coach, Doug Pederson, reminds me of Coughlin. He's aggressive enough to not fall into the trap of being predictable, and he's smart enough to know when to run the football (last game despite having a lead against the Vikings, Pederson and the Eagles started aggressive in the second half until running the ball when inside of field goal range helped run out the clock). If he can come into this game mentally prepared to not make the same mistakes as the previous coaches have, the Eagles have a real shot to win this game.
I think that the biggest part of Pederson being prepared is that it takes away a large chunk of the "fluke factor." The Patriots have a tendency to get lucky breaks, and usually that comes back to bad coaching. The calls that play right into the Patriots hands and undisciplined playing that leads to bad penalties can be directly correlated to coaching, and those two things are usually what give the Patriots a break. Pete Carroll's call to pass gave the Pats a break; Kyle Shanahan's call to pass gave the Pats a break; the history of bad pass interference penalties (Jalen Ramsey's from the AFC Championship game is a good example) give the Pats a break. Pederson is a good coach though, and I think he's disciplined enough to not make those same mistakes.
Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way I can talk about the actual players. For New England, this game is going to be won at the line of scrimmage. That can be said of basically every game, but it is especially important today. Tom Brady completely falls apart when a team consistently gets pressure on him, especially when defenses use the NASCAR package or when they overload the center (I'll talk about this in a moment). If Brady can't make good decisions, which is by the way what makes him such a great quarterback, then the Patriots offense will be in serious trouble. With the defensive line, they need to get pressure on Nick Foles. He's a backup for a reason, and on a big stage like this he could fall apart if he gets hit a lot. Also, the Eagles are going to want to rely on the run game, and the defensive line needs to be able to slow that down if New England is going to win.
This brings me to my last section about New England, which is what Belichick is known best for. When he game plans, he takes away what he sees as the other teams best player and makes you beat them "left handed" per say. For Philly, that means Belichick is either going to stack the box to take away the run game, or he's going to stop Zach Ertz. Ertz was one of the best tight ends in football this year, and he's been a security blanket for Wentz and Foles. In the red zone Ertz is a threat, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pats try and make him ineffective. If Belichick decides to take away the run game though, the game would be on Nick Foles shoulders, and as I said earlier, he's a backup for a reason.
For the Eagles, I think that this game is in the hands of their defensive line, and their three running backs. The defensive line will be working mostly to push the pocket straight up the middle near the center, since pressure up the middle bothers Brady due to his immobility. That style of pressure works well, and since Philly ins't overloaded with speed rushers, we won't see much of the NASCAR package (four defensive ends all lined up to get pressure purely with speed). In the run game, the Eagles need to have a lot of success. New England was 20th in rushing yards allowed per game this year, and the Eagles need to exploit that to keep the pressure off of Nick Foles. Ajayi is a good lead back, Blount should see a lot of work in the red zone, and Clement is a great receiving threat out of the backfield. I'd actually like to see Clement a lot today, because he can be a threat to pick up yards out of the backfield by catching the ball in the flats (basically what New England does all of the time). If these three backs can carry the offense, Foles won't have too much to worry about.
After everything that I've just said, I now need to get something off of my chest. I said before the NFC Championship game that the Eagles would win because Case Keenum had been playing really well lately, and he was bound to finally have a bad game on a big stage. He's been a backup for a reason. Nick Foles just played one of the best games of his career two weeks ago, and has been lights out these Playoffs. I've said it multiple times already in this article--He's a backup for a reason. With that said, I'm taking:
New England Patriots: 24
Philadelphia Eagles: 27
Just so you know, I'm currently laughing since you probably though I said all of that to lead up to me picking the Patriots. I'm taking the Eagles because the Patriots defense, although it definitely isn't a joke and they've been good since about Week 6, isn't an elite group. The Eagles defense, Vikings defense, and Jaguars defense were all elite and that's why they made it to the Championship round. The Pats are going to have some issues against the Eagles offensively, and if Doug Pederson doesn't make the mistakes of his predecessors, this defense can keep New England under 25. That opens things up for a solid Eagles offense against a solid defense, where the match up could go either way. Anyways, I think that some people are forgetting how hard it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions, although if anyone is going to do that again it would be the greatest coach of all time and his beloved quarterback.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.