1. The Mysterious Benching of Malcolm Butler.
This is one of the more baffling decisions I have ever come across. There are many questions about this saga and there have been multiples reports stating different things. From missing curfew to going to a concert to being caught with some weed. If any of these reports are true, than I totally understand the benching. However, even if he did violate team rules, it was the timing of it that was so horrendous. The overall belief here is that this benching hurt this team and there's really no other way about it.
Belichick usually drops his typical quotes when he makes these game day decisions. However, after seeing his team get thrashed by Nick Foles for 41 points, Belichick had the audacity to say this after the game,
“We put the best players out there and the game plan out there because we thought it’d be the best to win.”
Just let that sink in. Bill Belichick, one of the greatest coaches of all time, just said that Eric Rowe, Jonathan Bademosi and Jordan Richards were his best players for the SUPER BOWL. He actually thought this was the best chance for his team to win the game. Did he have a lobotomy in Minnesota right before the Super Bowl? I mean seriously, I don’t even wanna hear it! BUTLER IS YOUR BEST PLAYER AND HE CLEARLY GIVES YOU THE BEST CHANCE TO WIN THE GAME. End rant.
2. The Patriots D was Horrendous.
The Patriots defense couldn’t have gotten any worse on Sunday. The Patriots have had a tremendous red zone defense this season and they played their prototypical “bend, don’t break” strategy on defense. The Pats allowed a ton of yards on offense but were a top 5 defense in points per game. However, in Super Bowl 52, the Eagles had the blueprint to defeat the Patriots. The Eagles converted on about 75% of their 3rd or 4th down conversions and the Eagles scored on almost every single possession; besides one interception and one punt.
The Patriots had problems on all three levels. There was no pass rush the entire game. The linebackers were over-matched on both running and passing plays. There was no discipline on play-action fakes. It was just a pathetic display of defense. The funny thing is Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards and no one is criticizing the Philly defense. Their holes just weren’t as glaring as the Patriots.
The secondary, plain and simple, could not stop a nosebleed. Duron Harmon got lucky on his lone interception. Devin McCourty was getting torched and missed a few key tackles. The only Patriots defensive player that was great was Stephon Gilmore, mostly because he was even targeted for the entire game. The Patriots need an entire defensive overhaul next season and that’s not going to be an easy thing to do.
3. Doug Pederson Out-Coached Bill Belichick.
For all the questions about Nick Foles beating the Patriots, it’s harder to believe that Doug Pederson out-coached Bill Belichick. In my opinion, it just seemed like the Eagles were much more prepared the Patriots. Granted neither team could stop the opposing team’s offense but Pederson made better, more efficient play calls and took some major gambles that paid off. If you want to beat the Patriots, you need to take some gambles and they executed to perfection.
The key moment for me in this game was the two trick reverse plays that eventually had the QB receiving a pass. Here is the difference. The Patriots used their trick play at such an unnecessary time in the game. The score was 9 to 3, Pats down 6, and they are at their own 40 yard line. Amendola slightly overthrew Brady and it was 4th down. If the conversion was made, it maybe at best would be have a 20 yard gain. Their trick play was worthless and untimely. The Eagles did the same exactly play on 4th and goal from the 2-yard line. No one is thinking that they are going to use that same play. The Philly Special was ran to perfection and it caught the entire defense off guard. Well Done Pederson.
4. Nick Foles is NOT a Backup Quarterback.
Bryce Petty. DeShone Kizer. Drew Stanton. At this moment in time, they are considered NFL starting QB's. Nick Foles has proved that he is not a backup QB and if Carson Wentz is healthy at the start of next season. These NFL teams need to be making some moves to aquire him. Do these teams really need another season of a trying to develop a QB and then suffocate the franchise when he sucks. Just spend some money, solve you problem and Nick Foles will cash in. Cash in now. Just ask Joe Flacco.
5. The Eagles Dominated the Run Game. The Eagles had 6.1 yards per carry in the Super Bowl. Blount had 14 carries for 90 yards and a score. Jay Ajayi had 9 carries for 57 yards. It was clear that the Eagles wanted to establish the run. Nick Foles was dishing out passes left and right and he exploited those one-on-one match-ups when they were presented to him. If the Patriots had any linebackers who could tackle, then the running game might have been contained. Blount and Ajayi were a dynamic duo and were vastly underrated coming into this game. They are both tremendously tough to tackle and often need multiple defenders to bring them down. The trade to get Ajayi may have been the most underrated acquisition that the Eagles made, in order for get over the hump. If their backfield just had Blount, I think that New England would know enough of his tendencies for them to at least contain him for the game. Ajayi, to me, was a huge difference maker.