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Super Defenses Dominate

Mill Woods

Posted on February 4, 2019 00:18

2 users

The Rams' defense played the best game of their season, but the Patriots' defense did even better. More to the point, the Rams' offense simply did not show up. While it was an impressive duel of super defenses, that low-scoring affair was certainly not what NFL fans were hoping for.

Not long ago, analysts were calling McVay and Goff "the Bellichick and Brady of the future". That talk was rudely interrupted Sunday, as the Patriots proved the Ram offense is not ready for prime time.

No one was more surprised than me at such a low-scoring game, but there were two things that surprised me even more:

1. Sean McVay made game plan adjustments at a snail's pace

2. Jared Goff came unglued under the pressure.

The Ram defense kept it close, severely limiting the Patriots' offensive attack. Except for poor coverage against MVP Julian Edelman, the Rams could hardly have played better defense. But holding the perennial champs to just 13 points would prove to be too little, as the Ram offense botched chance after chance to take the lead.

For the most part, the Rams' failure to produce was the fault of the offensive line; they wiffed on blocks over and over. The Patriot D line dominated them, but there was also a total lack of creativity in the play calling. That meant that too often, Goff was a sitting duck in the pocket, when the Rams could have either moved the pocket or Goff, being a young and mobile QB, could have moved out of the pocket a lot more. By the time the Rams started making some of these adjustments, the game was halfway through the fourth quarter.

The Patriot offense was not stellar. However, they clearly won the time of possession, largely by converting short third down passes - most of them to Edelman. And, while the Patriots failed to score several times, at least they did not make many big mistakes.

So, for the Rams, I think it is back to the drawing board. Their strategy of hurrying to the line and then having Goff adjust the play was soundly defeated by Bellichick's instructions to his defense. Their tendency to shun short passes in favor of deep throws was exploited by the Patriots, as they applied relentless pressure, shortening most of the Ram's plays severely. Short passes would have been the best way for the Rams to handle that pressure, but that is not how they have played football for the last two years.

In short, the Patriots' uncanny ability to figure out a team's weaknesses and force them to play away from their strengths has humbled yet another upstart ball club.

It wasn't pretty, and it certainly lacked fireworks, but for the Patriots, it was yet another win.

While it was interesting to watch an old-school defensive showdown - the kind the Super Bowl had not seen in years - I would not want to see more Super Bowls like that one.

I went 6-5 in the postseason picks, as opposed to 9-2 last season. My regular season W-L percentage was 66%, a tad better than last year. I hope my commentary helped you to enjoy the season as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

Mill Woods

Posted on February 4, 2019 00:18

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