Understanding Why the Patriots are so Damn Good

Written by :
Published on : September 28, 2016

 

 

The New England Patriots are 3-0. That isn’t much of a headline because the Pats always seem to be good. Why is that? Why does one franchise seem immune to all the regular pitfalls that every other teams falls into? Are they lucky? Or magic? Or are they just cheaters? They are 3-0 with out suspended QB Tom Brady and have wins from the backup and third stringer. They have mostly been without super-monster tight end Rob Gronkowski. Did I mention the third string QB, Jacoby Brissett, is a rookie? And his first start ever was against JJ Watt and the Texans? Where they won 27-0?  It’s kind of insane. Let’s look at all the angles and figure out why New England is so damn good. Those winning jerks.

 

The System

They run a tight ship over there in Foxborough. They believe in a team first philosophy. Most squads preach some version of this idea but it is gospel in the Patriots locker room. That means, each player is a cog in a larger machine and no one is more important than the machine. If a cog stops being effective (or gets hurt) then it’s replaced. Do your job and you look like a star. Anyone remember Matt Cassel? The Pats don’t give huge paydays to free agents who threaten to leave. They draft well and find talent wherever they can. Often giving vets new life in a stripped down role where they can shine. Players like Randy Moss, Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount all thrived in Boston because the system only asks them to do what they are great at.

 

 

Competitive Advantage

The Patriots exploit every facet of the game for maximum returns. This hyper-aggressive efficiency has gotten them in hot water more than a few times. Some call this cheating. They broke the rules so yes, it is cheating. Spygate and Deflategate come to mind. Also, we need a new name for scandals, this constant “gate” bullshit is tired. The league issued their punishments and (for the most part) we’ve all moved on. But even in scandal we can see how the team uses each inch and thread available to them. They push right up and sometimes past the edge. This drive is incredible and responsible for their success and their failures.

 

The Coach

Time to stop pussy-footing around and get to the real answer to why the Patriots are so good. It’s coach Bill Belichick. It’s always been Belichick. And the franchise will continue to be successful as long as he is in charge. SBS’ Alex likes to refer to the coach as Emperor Palpatine. Cruel, funny and accurate in terms of his masterful planning prowess but even that is an oversimplification of Belichick’s amazing football mind.

 

Most teams focus on their strength and work to build that identity. This is how they know they can move the ball. New England doesn’t do this. They obliviously have plays and things they like but the basic ideology is different. Bill’s magic is that he molds his team into the exact creature perfect for hunting and killing your team. They change their identity week-to-week. Not only is it difficult to plan for them but they become your worst nightmare. If you can’t stop the run, then they will transform into a power back system and pound the rock. Weak or young cornerbacks? Deep shots all day. Rookie QB? How about a steady diet of all-out blitz? It’s like playing Rock-Paper-Scissors but Belichick knows what you are going to throw and changes his answer to beat you. It’s almost not fair.

 

 

Why doesn’t every team do this? Some try but most aren’t deep enough or well disciplined enough to pull it off. That’s why the Pats have such high standards about who they draft. Bill Belichick is a guaranteed Hall of Famer. Those silly scandals don’t stack up against 190 wins and 4 Super Bowl Championships with the Patriots franchise. He literally changed the game. It’s a trite saying but it legit applies. I take my hat (or hoodie) off to him.

 

The Pats play the Buffalo Bills at home this Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo may be back from injury and will be looking for his third win on the year. Jacoby Brissett hurt his thumb in the last game and may be unavailable. If neither can go then wide receiver Julian Edelman will start under center. Which sounds bonkers but they would probably win. Either way, they get Golden Boy, Tom Brady, back for week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. I kind of feel sorry for the Browns because Tom is going to go ape all over their secondary in his return. Each touchdown will be a fuck you to Commissioner Roger Goodell and I expect it to rain f-bombs that afternoon.

 

A fully healthy and stocked roster means the Patriots should be the favorite in every game for the rest of the season. Don’t be surprised to see them stay nearly undefeated the entire year and probably win the Super Bowl. Again.

 

Gold Standard.

 

 


How John Elway Revamped the Broncos and Built a Champion

Written by :
Published on : February 12, 2016

 

 

 

The two Broncos teams that appeared in Super Bowl 50 and Super Bowl XLVIII may have had many of the same players, but they were very different teams. Two years ago Peyton Manning and the offense had one of the most prolific units in recent memory, and they got demolished in the Super Bowl, by a score of 43-8. The Seahawks team that put such a hurting on them boasted a stifling defense that brought down the hammer on the NFL’s most high-flying offense. It was a battle of number one vs number one, and defense won in a big way.

 

The Broncos’ executive vice president and general manager seemingly took note of that Seahawks defense because just two years later, they used a nasty, attacking defense to put a hurt on the Carolina Panthers. Super Bowl 50 was once again the battle of a top offense and a top defense and the result was the same. In football, as in life, you must always be adapting in order to survive. In just two years, John Elway transformed the entire identity of his franchise, from head coach down, in order to not only survive but thrive, and win the greatest prize in all of sports. Here’s how it went down….

 

Shoring up the Defense

 Ward and Ware were two monster free agent pick ups.

 

After that crushing Super Bowl XLVIII defeat at the hands of the Seahawks defense, John Elway made it a point to fix the defense the following offseason. He added not one, but three, lynchpin type players to the Broncos defensive unit during free agency, in pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib, and safety TJ Ward. He also added first round cornerback Bradley Roby in the draft that year.

 

With an almost completely overhauled secondary and a potential hall of famer rushing opposing QBs along with a still improving but not-as-yet-godlike Von Miller, the Broncos had almost completely remade that part of their team. John Elway saw what the best teams in the league were doing in order to reach the next level and successfully emulated that. He should be given a ton of credit for the work he did in building that defense, but he wasn’t quite yet done with his overhaul of the team.

 

A New Coaching Regime

 Gary Kubiak did it!

 

Following the Broncos 24-13 divisional round playoff loss to the Colts last year, John Elway and former head coach John Fox decided that it would be best for coach Fox and the Broncos to mutually part ways. Elway was clearly not pleased by another year without advancing past the divisional round (in three of four years in Denver they had lost in that round), and felt that he find someone else to take them over the top. What a ballsy move that was. John Fox had 46-18 record in his four seasons in Denver and had taken them to the playoffs every year, including a Super Bowl appearance! I, for one, thought that the move to fire John Fox was bat shit crazy, but I was wrong.

 

John Elway brought in his old pal from back in the day, Gary Kubiak. This was another move that left me scratching my head. I never really thought of Gary Kubiak as a bad coach, but I certainly didn’t see him as a Super Bowl winning head coach. He had a 61-64 regular season record and 2-2 playoff record in his previous NFL stint with the Texans, and never seemed to me to be someone who was able to get the most out of the talent on his team. I was wrong about that, my bad. With the help of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips they turned this Denver Broncos team into a defensive powerhouse that took the pressure off of the offense and controlled games all season long.

 

A Change in Offensive Philosophy

 By focusing on the run game, the Broncos minimized mistakes and let the defense take control.

 

It became clear in 2014 that the world would never get the Peyton Manning that they knew and loved back. The Peyton we were left with was a shadow of his former self. Years of injuries and normal wear and tear had left his arm strength severely inhibited, and that was not only obvious to opposing defenses but also to the untrained eyes of fans all over the world. In 2015 we watched Peyton Manning fall apart before us. He was still dealing with injuries as always but it was becoming obvious that he couldn’t play through it like a younger version of himself could. It was his worst statistical season since his rookie year and it seemed as though he was still trying to do too much with the limited physical abilities that years in the league had left him with.

 

In the third quarter of the Broncos week 10 loss the Chiefs, Manning was replaced by Brock Osweiler. He didn’t see the field again until he replaced Osweiler in the third quarter of the Broncos week 17 matchup. Peyton came in and led the team to a 27-20 victory against the Chargers, helping secure the top seed in the AFC playoffs. But this was not the same Peyton Manning. He had bought into the system and was no longer trying to do too much. By allowing the run game to become the focal point of the offense, Manning minimized the mistakes that had plagued him earlier in the season. As a result the defense became the standard bearer of the Broncos Super Bowl run and everything came together perfectly.

 

The Von Miller Effect

 The MVP.

 

Every champion needs an x-factor and for the AFC Championship and Super Bowl the Broncos had Von Miller. Through those two games, he destroyed the opposition and was unblockable. Against New England and Carolina he racked up 11 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 pass defenses, an interception and 2 forced fumbles. The fumble he forced against Cam Newton in the Super Bowl was recovered for a touchdown and helped the Broncos grab momentum early on. He was the most versatile player on the field; he rushed the passer, played the run and covered tight ends and receivers in the pass game. There was no other player as deserving of winning the Super Bowl MVP Award and now the Broncos better pay him his due this offseason.

 

 

It only took the Broncos two years to return to the Super Bowl but when they did they were a totally different team. John Elway had a vision for the team he wanted to build and deserves a lot of credit, along with the player and coaches, for executing that vision and creating a champion.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 9

Written by :
Published on : November 11, 2015

 

Week 8 is in the books, a special thanks to all of those who came to see some of the SBS staff at the tailgate at USC on Saturday. Wish I could have been there but hey, someone has to separate the heroes and villains each and every week. After all, when your team loses like my Spartans did on Saturday night, it helps to know there are some weekly champs out there that could use your support. This week, the gridiron monopolizes our Champ and Chump sections, taking home almost all of the hardware. We celebrate a great individual effort, a clutch late game performance and a total team effort for slowing down a speeding train. On the flip side, some zebras got in the way of a great football game (again) and a legendary winner appears to be an absolute loser. Let’s get to the picks.

 

 

Champ: Antonio Brown

Can’t stop him

 

17 catches, 284 yards in a 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders

In a game where the Steelers again saw their quarterback leave the game due to injury, Antonio Brown and backup running back Deangelo Williams took over and put the team on their backs. Just for the hell of it, Brown also carried the ball twice for 22 yards and even made two tackles. With the win, Pittsburgh improved to 5-4 on the year and is in the thick of the wild card race. With Cincinnati off to an 8-0 start, the wild card is likely all the Steelers can hope for but with Antonio Brown playing like this, even the Bengals will be taking note. Big Ben is expected to be sidelined for at least one week and the Steelers have a brutal stretch following their week 11 bye.

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Carolina Panthers- It isn’t always the prettiest, but Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are 8-0 after 3 straight wins vs the Seahawks, Colts and Packers. Not a bad stretch.

 

Reggie Jackson- Jackson scored 26 of his 40 points in the 4th quarter on Sunday night. The Pistons outscored the Trail Blazers 41-11 in the 4th after trailing by as many as 18 earlier in the game. The Pistons went on to win 120-103.

 

Alabama- Held Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette to just 31 yards on 19 carries in a big 30-16 win over LSU on Saturday.

 

 

Chump: Jerry Jones

Looks evil

 

Last week, some very graphic images were released that showed the extent of the assault Greg Hardy put on his girlfriend last year. As we all know by now, Greg Hardy is an absolute garbage human being who is somehow allowed to cash in on the football field when he should be behind bars. What we didn’t know, or maybe what we always thought and now know for sure is that Jerry Jones, Cowboy’s’ owner is also a despicable person who values dollar signs more than actual values that a respectable human would care about. We’ve all since lifted our jaws back up off the floor after seeing the disturbing photos and found ourselves wondering what the Cowboy’s would do with Greg Hardy after these photos were released. Would Dallas bench him, or hide him by not having him available on Sunday, suspend him perhaps, or what many NFL fans hoped, would Dallas be so appalled at the severity of what Hardy did that they would outright release him? The answer, none of the above. Jerry Jones stands by everything he had previously said regarding his “leader” Greg Hardy and continues to support him. I disagree with many who think Jerry Jones is so naïve and is so willing to invite his players into his family that he sometimes defends them to a fault, instead I feel that if Jerry Jones is so blind to think you can sweep all of this under the rug and that the wins and revenue that Greg Hardy can create will somehow repair the bruises and welts he dealt, well then Jerry Jones is almost just as vile as Greg Hardy. And if the Dallas Cowboy fans, and sponsors, have any moral fiber to actually put the well-being of human lives above your glorified football team, then prove it. Make a stand and force the hand of the Dallas Cowboys to do something right.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

 

Michigan State Football- With under 2 minutes left, Michigan State led by 12 points. Undefeated and playing a 3-6 team, the Spartans broke down defensively and blew a huge opportunity, potentially ending their possible playoff run.

 

Referees- Alex wrote a great piece with some ideas on how to solve the issues with referees in football. This past weekend another absolutely inexcusable call may have cost a team a win. Nebraska’s touchdown with 17 seconds left over the Spartans was absolutely illegal with the Wide Receiver taking himself out of bounds only to come back in and catch the football. He was ruled forced out, and after further review it was somehow not overruled. The Spartans blew it by letting Nebraska hang around, but the refs stole their victory.

 

Aqib Talib- In a loss vs the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Aqib Talib received a penalty and ultimately a one game suspension for poking Dwayne Allen in the eye on Indianapolis’ final drive. In a game where the Colts ended up winning by 3 points, Indy was allowed the opportunity to run out the clock because in part of the penalty.

 

 


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