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How the Patriots Win & the Falcons Collapse Reminds of the Redskins

February 6, 2017
Super Bowl LI is now in the books and it was one for the ages. It took years off of my life and that was just the fourth quarter and overtime.

The New England Patriots are Super Bowl Champions, once again, and all I can hear in my mind is  Queen’s “We Are The Champions” playing endlessly in my head.

In no way, shape or form was the game in Houston on Sunday night the best Super Bowl of all time but it was the greatest comeback of all-time and of course, the first Super Bowl out of 51 games that was decided in overtime.

The comeback by Tom Brady and the Patriots started my brain thinking about a few things when it comes to the Redskins.

I know that not everything revolves around the Redskins, but that’s who I cover and what most, if not all of you, care about the most.

1 – Down 28 – 3 at the 8:31 mark of the third quarter and technically until the 2:06 mark of the same period, the Patriots made the comeback to win it 34-28 in overtime.

The Falcons never scored a single point after that 8:31 mark of the third and probably shouldn’t have even scored that touchdown. The Patriots committed a tight defensive pass interference on a third-down incomplete the play before Tevin Coleman’s easy 6-yard touchdown catch.

They scored 21 of their 28 points on offense with a pick-six coming from Robert Alford to help make it 21-0.

In the first half, the Falcons scored 21 points while running only 19 offensive plays. The Patriots had run 42 plays and controlled the football for 19:35 of the first 30 minutes.

That was the only “win” of the first half for New England.

In the end, the Falcons did not score a single point for final 23:31 of regulation and of course the 3:58 of overtime. Zero points in the final 27:29 of Super Bowl LI.

That’s the number one scoring offense against the number one scoring defense.

**There’s a couple of things that I took away from this: To shut out a team over the final 27:29 is incredible, when they have as many weapons as they do.

The Redskins defense pitched seven second-half of game touchdown-less performances on the 2016 season. You know the awful Redskins defense? They held teams (on defense) without a touchdown for a mark of 152:53 from early in the Baltimore win until the Detroit loss.

However, points were scored in terms of field goals, special teams kick returns and offensive turnovers turned directly into points. The Patriots pitched a complete bagel for those final 27 + minutes on the biggest stage when they needed it most. Incredible.

That’s not bend-but-don’t-break. That’s perfection. The Redskins would never have been able to do that against that offense.

2 - Part of the reason why the Patriots could post the shutout from that mark is because Kyle Shanahan chose to stop running the ball for the most part.

He only chose to run nine times after halftime.  Devonta’ Freeman was blown up for a three-yard loss on the first play of the third quarter and then lost another three yards on a rushing attempt inside the Patriots-10 yard line (2 nd/1/NE-6) right before the Falcons scored that final touchdown. On that same drive, Tevin Coleman had rushed for five yards and no-gain on two different attempts but Freeman ripped off nine-yards off the right side, spinning off a few tacklers, to get to the Patriots-6.

After that scoring drive, the Falcons ran the ball only four times. Coleman had a minus-one carry that was wiped out by a holding penalty, so the play didn’t count.  

The other rushing attempts were Coleman + 8 and + 1 on back-to-back plays setting up a 3 rd/1 at the Atlanta-36 which led to a sack/fumble lost and recovery by New England. On the Falcons next series, Freeman had a two-yard gain and a loss of minus-one yard.

So the Falcons ran the ball NINE times after halftime and only FOUR times in that final 27:29 of the game. 

That’s on 27 total plays (Run 33%) after halftime and 16 offensive plays (Run 25%) after their final points with 8:31 still on the clock. IN THE THIRD QUARTER!!!!

This was a bad nightmare that I've lived over and over again, watching the Redskins. 

I know that it is a chunk yardage league and I understand that you are trying for the knockout blow. I’ve got all of that. However, a 3 rd/1 shotgun snap with a five-step drop doesn’t make much sense to me.

Sorry, it doesn’t. You have to at least sell the illusion of run. For the love of humanity, run a play-action fake to the flat. Easy, quick and highly successful. You have to at least provide the guesswork for the Patriots defense. Instead, it’s a sack, fumble and turnover with the return by Alan Branch to the Atlanta-25. The bad choice and design wasn’t bad enough. The execution was abysmal  and the Falcons lost 11 yards along with the ball.

Five plays later, the Patriots were in the end zone and then converted a two-point conversion.

THIS IS WHERE THE ENTIRE GAME WAS LOST. THIS SEQUENCE.




It completely reminded me of what the Redskins like to do. They’d much rather pass than run on 3 rd/1 or 4 th/1. That’s not to say they do not run in those situations but the desire is almost always to pass and sometimes with no effort to keep a defense on its heels. 

You not only run the ball  or at least sell the idea that you are running the ball for these reasons, but also to give your defense a break. The Patriots ran the 42 first half plays and then 51 SECOND-HALF PLAYS!

When teams are going to figure this out - I'll never know. 

3 - As an extension, there's the "Run the Damn Ball" Crowd as my buddy Danny Rouhier likes to use. There are some that are suggesting because the Patriots abandoned the run Sunday night and won, that every team should do this and throw the ball around the yard non-stop. 

NO!

The Patriots only ran the football on 25-of-93 offensive plays or 26.8% of their offensive plays. 

There's one quarterback, maybe two, that can do that. Tom Brady did it. Aaron Rodgers could do it, although I would want to check the numbers. 

The Redskins ideally would throw 64-68% of the time in their world and they don't get it. When it works, it's brilliant. Like it ultimately was for Tom Brady and even then, he had drops, sacks, hard-hits and near interceptions. 

When it doesn't, it's not good at all. The Redskins ran 1009 offensive plays this year and dropped back to pass (attempts + sacks) 630 times. That's 62.4% of the time and does not include quarterback scrambles for no gain or positve yardage. 

You know what the Redskins don't have? With all due respect to Kirk Cousins, they don't have the greatest quarterback that ever lived. 

Image result for tom brady


These are just three specific and detailed areas that remind me of the Redskins and the distance they have to go, before they can play in or win another Super Bowl. 

It doesn't mean they can't do it, but the challenge is massive. Still! Although, if symbolic history is anything - their last Super Bowl trip and win was in January 1992 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Super Bowl XXVI. The next Super Bowl is back in Minneapolis. 26 Super Bowls later. Number 52. On the same grounds but in a mega state-of-the-art football palace. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for six seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for the last five. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Network (www.DCHotRead.com), WashingtonTimes.com, BreakingBurgundy.com & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN


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