Super Bowl 53: Three key take-outs for the coaches
The culmination of the NFL season was a history-making affair, with New England Patriots’ 13-3 victory over Los Angeles Rams the fewest number of points scored in a title game during the Super Bowl era.
The Patriots were favourites in the Super Bowl odds for the game and never looked in any danger of losing. They led 3-0 at half-time, then scored the game-winning touchdown with seven minutes remaining.
The Rams weren’t able to get their prolific offense rolling and didn’t run a single play inside New England’s 26-yard line.
Read on as we look at three things the coaches of both teams could have done differently in order to change the scores.
McVay’s Plan ‘A’ exposed
The Rams’ offense had been superb all season, scoring the second-most points and gaining the second-most yards in the run-up to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots shackled quarterback Jared Goff, dismantled the Rams’ offensive line, shut down their skill players and left McVay scratching his head.
Belichick surprised the Rams by starting in zone defense after playing man-to-man all season and McVay’s lack of an alternative plan was brutally exposed.
Playing zone coverage confused Goff and his coach couldn’t resolve the problem. Trying something other than his favoured Plan ‘A’ could have changed the outcome.
Belichick gives a coaching masterclass
McVay admitted after the game that he had been “out-coached” by Belichick – it’s fair to say that was something of an understatement.
The Rams were humiliated statistically, gaining just 260 yards, recording 14 first downs and punting nine times.
Belichick’s decision to switch his system ensured that the game would be a tactical, low scoring-affair, and it worked a treat.
Playing a more open system would no doubt have led to more points in the game, but the Patriots won by following Belichick’s plan to the letter. It was a coaching masterclass.
Gurley’s diminished role was baffling
Todd Gurley had been a key part of the Rams’ offensive during the season, yet McVay barely used him against the Patriots.
Suspicions of a lingering knee problem were ruled out by McVay post-match, making it an even bigger mystery as to why Gurley was utilised so sparingly.
Gurley managed just 35 yards on 10 carries – a bafflingly low return for a player who had performed so well for the majority of the campaign.
McVay’s inability to get Gurley performing on the biggest stage was a crucial factor in the Rams putting just three points on the board.