What We Learned from SB LII
Super Bowl LII was everything we hoped it would be. Well, actually, it was more than most of us hoped it would be because it was actually a GREAT game. Unless you love 6–3 defensive battles, that is. So what did we learn from SB LII?
- Doug Pederson is one hell of a coach, who plays to win…and has GINORMOUS balls! Maybe the fans that watch the Eagles play week in and out already knew that Perderson has balls of steel, but there were many of us that didn’t realize quite how large they are. His play calls were daring, and not just the “Philly Special” call he made at the end of the half on fourth down. Pederson made some ballsy calls on 3rd and short that required running backs to run perfect pass routes and his QB (a back-up, let’s keep in mind) to make perfect throws. Wheel routes on 3rd and 1 are the stuff of Tom Brady, not back-up NFC East QBs that were recently contemplating retirement. Remember that this Philly team, in fact the entire organization, looked like a disaster just a few short years ago. When Pederson was hired, most of us asked “Who?”. Sports Illustrated called it the worst coaching hire of the year. And yet, here we are, dubbing Pederson the next great NFL coach after he completely turned around an organization in dire straits and delivered a Super Bowl win to the desperate Eagles fans.
- Tom Brady is human. Actually, I’m not really sure we learned this. The guy had an incredible game, throwing for over 500 yards and making great play after great play. But I guess he did fumble on that strip sack in the fourth quarter. And he didn’t run down the field and catch his own Hail Mary throw to win the game. So I guess he is human after all…or at least his offensive line is.
- Gronk is 29?!?!?! Okay, we didn’t learn this during the game. We learned it during the post-game interviews when he appeared to be considering retirement and sportscenter anchors mentioned he’s 29. I figured Gronk was about 26, maybe 27 at most. He’s been great for a long time, and has missed something like 32 games in the past 4 or 5 seasons…but I still don’t know if I believe he’s almost 30, and that’s not just because he acts like a 17 year old. So did I when I was 29. I just can’t get over the fact he’s 29 (until I really think about it or wath replays of the way he runs his routes- I get that he’s about 6.10" but the guy really looks like he’s hobbling these days). Something tells me that, while Gronk looks 25 right now at 29, when he’s 40, he’s going to look 65 and walk like he’s 90.
- Nelson Agholor’s girlfriend is a BANGER! I learned this in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, when I saw an article about her appear on my internet browser while I looked up where Agholor went to college. She’s built like a Kardashian (post surgery) and has a great face. Every picture of her with Agholor in it, he looks happy as shit. And he shoudl be. Just look her up, okay? That’s a BAD chick.
- To beat the Pats, you have to play to win. I think maybe Collinsworth said this during the broadcast, or maybe Al Michaels said it, but in either case, it’s spot-on. Many teams, most notably the Falcons, have built a lead against the Pats only to watch it disappear by playing conservative football while watching helplessly as Brady finds his receivers all over the field. As someone who has watched the Pats come from behind on many occasions, I always feel there are one to three plays in a game where you just get that feeling in your stomach that a team playing the Pats just blew it. They call a run up the middle on 3rd and 1 and get stuffed, or they fall into a prevent defense late in the game and Brady completes seven straight 13 yard completions. Or they call a draw play that gets stuffed on 2nd and 11, leaving them in a 3rd and long situation in which they determine a conservative run is the “smart” play. It seems these calls always play into the hands of the Pats…and then they just make the plays they need to in order to snatch victory from the hands of their foes. The Eagles played to win against the Pats, and that is what it seems you have to do to beat them.
- But playing to win doesn’t mean you will beat the Pats! It worked for the Eagles, sure, but playing to win doesn’t mean you’ll beat the Pats. I don’t know if we actually learned that from this Super Bowl, but keep in mind that this game still came down to the final play. When Brady got the ball back with about two minutes to play, far more of us expected him to win the game than for the Eagles to. It just goes to show how good the Pats are and that there isn’t a magic gameplan to beat them. There is a philosophy (play to win), but no gameplan. Except “play perfect”, because you almost have to in order to beat the Pats. Ask the Jags.
- The Pats have completely mind-fucked us ALL. Seriously, we have been trained to expect them to win. That was never more evident than when the game ended. Brady looked to be sacked, and somehow side-stepped a defender to buy himself time. And none of us were surprised. Then he launched a perfect throw to the front of the end zone that bounced off the helmet of an Eagles defender and into the air…and we all expected some Patriot receiver to come up with the ball. When it didn’t happen, none of us believed it. And then I think we all did the same thing- we looked at the clock and expected there to be a second remaining. Only there wasn’t. But yeat we STILL had trouble believing what had happened. And I KNOW I wasn’t the only one because none of the Philly players broke into celebration. They all kind of looked around in disbelief. none of us ac tually believe the game was over. In fact, if I was an Eagles fan, I might still be a bit uneasy.
- Nobody will ever again be happy with the officiating. Chris Collinsworth is getting raked over the coals for some pretty fair comments about some of the calls in the game. Steelers fans and players are complaining, comparing Ertz’s catch to the non-catch of Jesse James in Week 15. I’m sure Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson rolled their eyes as well. And I have seen article after article about some of the calls that didn’t go the Pats’ way. This of course just two weeks after everyone complained tha the Pats get more calls than Michael Jordan in his hey-day. But take a step back for a second and be honest with yourself: weren’t you happy to watch a game that was not constantly being interrupted wiht replays? Weren’t you happy that there weren’t several holding calls given that we know holding could be called on almost every play? Don’t we all think that, regardless of what the standard has become, Zach Ertz caught that ball and it should not have been ruled incomplete? The refs were great. They didn’t blow any big calls, and the one call you could complain about, the Ertz catch, went the way we all hope to see it go. Fuck all the talk about “well, by definition it wasn’t a catch” or “the refs didn’t call that consistently wiht how they have all season”- they made the call we all hope they will in the future. Let’s be happy about that.
- People always overreact…especially when it comes to the Pats. How many times have people said “something isn’t right in New England” now? Malcolm Butler didn’t play so the Patriot dynasty must be over. Shut up already. This is what the Patriots do. I’m not a Pats fan or a Tom Brady or Bill Belichick fanboy. I respect the PAts though and am sick of everyone overreacting every time they make a change or lose a game. When they traded for Brandin Cooks earlier this year, everyone said Belichick was departing from his core. It worked out great- Cooks was arguably the best deep threat in the league. It says something about the Pats that every time they lose, we think there are cracks in the foundation. There aren’t.
- And when it comes to Tom Brady. Fucking Max Kellerman. I don’t EVER watch those trash-ass shows like First Take or whatever version of it FOX Sports has. They are a travesty and an embarrassment to sports journalism…and journalism…and sports…and television…and intelligence. But the other day I was feeding my baby a bottle and didn’t have a hand free to grab the remote (which was across the room). I hate Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith, but I hate when my son throws a tantrum even more, so I sat there as Max Kellerman talked about how Brady has hit a cliff and is done. This, after Brady threw for 500+ yards, completed almost 60% of his passes, and threw three TDs and no INTs. That is an INCREDIBLE game, especially when you consider it was done in a Super Bowl…and that Brady managed it with one of his top receivers sidelined. This, the day after he was named the MVP of the NFL season. And Kellerman said dumb shit like “Well, his receivers were open by ten, even fifteen yeards.” Apparently Kellerman spent too much time analyzing boxing or he would know that QBs have to look their QBs open. That is part of what makes average QBs good and good QBs great. Brady looked his receivers open and threw them open in SB LII, just as he has for the past decade or so. He moved through his progressions quickly and found guys that were open that were not his first option. He was only sacked one damn time. And then, when Kellerman couldn’t defend hiis statement any further he said something to the effect of “Well, the cliff is something you don’t see coming, so it could be now or later, but I’ll be right”. No shit dickhead. I can play that game too. You’re going to be off the air. So will Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. And we will all be gratfeul. And you’ll also die. I will be right about that too I bet.
- Sports continue to be great and give us a reason to watch. We all figured the Pats would win, just as we all figured Golden State would win a couple years ago. Neither did. On any given night, most teams are capable of beating most other teams in professional sports. The NFL playoffs are great because of that. Same with March madness or the college football playoffs. The MLB, NHL, and NBA playoffs are different, opting to reaward the superior teams rather than the teams that are superior on a given night. I can live with both approaches. I had little interest in the NFL regular season this year (mostly because my Bengals just get worse and worse). There were too many injured stars and mediocre QBs. But the play-offs were incredible. Even though I assume the Warriors will win the NBA Championship this year, I find myself watching regular season games because of the great players and storylines. I want to see if OKC can pull it together or what Giannis will do an a given night. I want to watch Lebron grow frustrated as the Cavs fall apart and watch Lonzo Ball, particularly because I want him to fail (sorry- it’s his dad’s fault). I don’t love college basketball the way I used to, as the one-and-done phenomenon has ruined much of the sport for me, but I will certainly watch EVERY DAMN game of the NCAA Tournament. Sports always seem to come through. They give me a reason to watch damn near every night (much to the chagrin of my wife- JK). Except baseball. Baseball sucks. And I didn’t need Super Bowl LII to remind me of that.