Jan. 31, 2019
Road to Super Bowl LIII: Still Here
Wait, we thought they were finished. They were too old, they were too slow, and we saw them play terribly against teams like Jacksonville and Pittsburgh. They were done. The dynasty had finally died after nearly two decades of tyranny. At least, that’s what we all thought. At some point, we’re going to run out of stories to tell about this team. They will have played the St. Louis Rams and the Los Angeles Rams within the same championship window. That alone speaks to their longevity. We’ve focused on the owner, the coach, the quarterback and discussed how they’re the best at their selected profession. But in reality, their success lies in the mastery of the details.
Since the start of this blog, I have always pointed to a style the Patriots play. They beat teams through superior execution, not making any mistakes, and capitalizing on the mistakes of others. Take their run through the AFC playoffs this year as the perfect example. The Chargers were probably considered the most talented team in the AFC. They had more pro bowlers than any other team in the league. Their defense heavily relied on a zone defense and exotic pass rushing. The Patriots rendered their pass rush useless with superior blocking and a power running scheme. While the Chargers played with extra defensive backs, the Patriots countered with an extra tight end and a fullback. They simply mauled them with one simple and straightforward plan. And when the Bolts showed they were reluctant to make adjustments, New England kept going and buried them in one half. Against the Chiefs, they double-teamed Tyreek Hill all night and limited his production. Thus, the Chiefs best offensive weapon was practically removed from the game. And when the Chiefs had the game-winning interception, it was called back on a simple mistake made by Dee Ford. The Patriots then took advantage and ended up winning the game. When playing the New England, they create a margin of error that is too small for most to compete with.
This is just what they do. They’re simply one step ahead schematically and take away what teams do best. They’re disciplined enough to not make the silly mistake, and exploit those same mistakes made by other teams. They operate with a love for the game and a football IQ that has yet to be matched by other teams. That modus operandi oozes from the organization from top to bottom. Having one of the greatest Owners, Quarterbacks, and Coaches in history only tell part of the story. There have been plenty of teams with all-time greats at those positions and didn’t win a single championship. The difference is strictly in the details. Look at what the Patriots do well. It’s the same thing that has been successful for nearly 100 years in the NFL. Smart drafting, a focus on the details, players buying into the team culture, opponent-specific game plans, and accountability just to name a few. The Patriots just do these things better than everyone else.