Out Foxed!

The expectations and the outcomes of Super Bowl LV (55) were at opposite ends of the totem pole for most fans…and probably teams. It seemed to me like Tampa Bay outfoxed the KC Chiefs.
…all we’ve heard about the heavy pass rush from TB was that KC was missing both starting tackles. True. But…Tampa Bay was relentless rushing the passer in the previous week in the NFC Title game against Green Bay. Aaron Rogers was sacked 5 times and under heavy duress on several other occasions. The pass rush was dominant. KC KNEW their tackles were out and IT was coming! Their coaches needed to shore up the blocking with extra blockers (backs/TE) and/or throw shorter, quicker or “check down” patterns or utilize “rub” patterns vs the tight LB coverage. KC did suffer in its options since their running backs are extremely fast but on the smallish size—tough to block huge DLineman. Thus limiting their use as a blocker. Who got outfoxed?
….. Every NFL team suffers injuries so the Coaches needed to adapt to the injuries to the tackles. Instead, Tampa rushed their front four def lineman hard, played cover 2 deep safeties to guard against the long, deep throws from Mahomes with a tight man-man vs the wideouts to guard against the short KC passes that turned into big gainers throughout the year. Or…used a cover 4 – 4 deep zones & 3 defenders in the short zone. All that works IF you have a strong rush which TB displayed repeatedly.
….KC’s Defensive Coordinator (DC), Steve Sapagnuolo has the reputation of an aggressive, blitzing defensive coach. He frequently blitzes with his LB. TB was ready for it…when Brady saw it, he either changed the play or went to his quickest, shortest, “safety valve” receiver to gain modest yardage. Usually not real big yardage(5-10 yards) but not negative yards either. Who got outfoxed?
…..While KC was struggling to move the ball. For Patrick Mahomes it was a once-life time experience… and one that he’d never wish to have again—it was a nightmare! He was 26 of 49 passing with 270 yards. That sounds good but the average passing yards in a NFL game is 240 yards. Mahomes threw 2 interceptions & 0 TD passes. His 52.3 passer rating was the worst of his career. Mahomes was sacked 3 times, suffered 8 QB hits and was pressured a Super Bowl record 29 times! Often he would be running around…trying to buy time & release the pass…so much so, that according to Next Gen Stats he actually traveled 497 yards before throwing the ball or being sacked!!! Some the passes that he released just a micro-second prior to be driven to the ground were really very ill-advised passes. Miraculously…at least to me… he actually came close to completing them! With normal people…or even normal NFL QB… they usually end up being intercepted. For Mahomes, the Super Bowl was his 1st double-digit loss in this NFL career. His 35 game streak of losing by 7 or less points was the 2nd longest streak in the modern era. Only Russell Wilson has more with a streak of 38 games. Mahomes is very early in his career…he’s an exciting player to watch & his Coaches generally devise clever plays using his speed, athleticism & arm strength for him to succeed…but…not on this day.
….the officials may have outfoxed the coaching staffs! Some fans thought that the Chiefs were called for too many Pass Interference(PI) Penalties. What a change…last Super Bowl, the 49’s expected KC to be called for several PI penalties. Going into the game, the SF staff thought “the Chiefs could be called for defensive holding or PI on almost every play.” But not one was called in 2020 Super Bowl! However, that same KC d-backfield…probably using the same techniques… were whistled for 4 penalties (2-PI & 2 for holding) this year! It was a different officiating crew with different results!
…how could you write about the Super Bowl and not highlight Tom Brady. I must admit…I still “smart” from the cheating…if not real, at least its perceived by me in that way… by NE against our Rammies…. in the Super Bowl. In fact Head Coach Bill Belichick has been accused repeatedly of cheating in the playoffs. We all know about the Super Bowl in 2002 when the Rams claimed that they were filmed in their pre-game day “walk through” by the Pats 2) PEDSgate…6 different times, Belicheat’s team has been caught using PED’s to bolster their athletic performance. 3) all the way back to 1986, IR gate—New England used a player listed on the Injured Reserved (IR)List in a game . It cost them a 3rd round pick but didn’t stop them 4) SPYGATE—Sep 2007 during a regular season game against the NY Jets, Patriots filmed from an unapproved sideline to gain info on the Jets 5) 2013-another IRgate…Players indicated that their injury designations weren’t correct.. sometimes they were just in the dog-house with Coach B. 6) Deflategate—where footballs seemed to have been deflated beneath league standards. Cost to Pats–$1m & Brady suspended 4 games. These are just the times that he’s been CAUGHT! One has to wonder if this flirting with honesty so often has really benefitted or hurt Brady. Would he be considered so very, very good if they/he hadn’t won all those Super Bowls? I must admit his game-day calmness, confidence, accuracy, poise and mental acuity make me respect him a great deal. But….Is he/Belicheat/Patriots outfoxing everyone in how to cheat?
…not outfoxing anyone….as expected…. Yadi resigned with the Cards. Apparently, he wanted to “test the salary waters” to make sure that the Cards weren’t lowballing him. Satisfied, he signed a $9m contract which does amount to a 55% pay cut. It still seems generous to me. Fan Graphs (a baseball statistical company) in mid-July of last year had Yadi (Cardinal catching) listed as 20th in the MLB with a WAR at 0.6. WAR is a very theoretical stat to me but 0.0 is the status of a “replacement player playing that position. 20th of 30 teams..ugh! Look for Cards to bring up 20 year old Ivan Herrara in mid-summer so that he can sit @ Yadi’s side to gain knowledge about catching in the MLB.
….not being outfoxed strategically, it was just bad play. #10 ranked Mizzou got blown out 80-59 against Mississippi on Wed night. The Ole’ Miss guards seemed quicker, did a much better job of denying the dribble penetration by having wonderful “helpside” defenders in the gaps. The inside play of Tilmon was disappointing as the was outmuscled, outhustled, outplayed from start to end. Coach Martin threw in the white towel with 11 minutes remaining(25% of the game) as he inserted 3 subs who generally see very little court time to play the rest of the game.
….Thanks for the read! I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts…agree, disagree, some of each….doesn’t matter…post them on my Facebook page, or send to me to be published w/o your name. If you’ve missed blogs from the past, you can find them on bobryansportsblog.com. Btw….the comments of the readers are found on Facebook under my blog! There are always some terrific thoughts—none of THEN are getting outfoxed 😊

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