The New England Patriots managed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship even with the greatest quarterback to ever play, Tom Brady, suffering from a wrist injury. Somehow, someway, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady head to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a date with the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52.
Brady and the Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24 to 20. Make no mistake. It wasn’t close to being an easy win for Terrific Tom and the rest of the Pats. Brady threw a 4-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola with only 2:48 left on the clock. It was Tom’s 54th comeback win. Without the comeback win, the Patriots would have lost to the Jaguars.
New England now has a chance to be the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots pulled off the repeat in 2004 and 2005. Check out a profile of the 2017-2018 AFC Champion New England Patriots.
New England Patriots Super Bowl 52 Profile
I analyze the Patriots offense, defense, and coaching staff. Then, I add a few thoughts about New England’s intangibles.
New England Patriots Offense
Based on most measure, the New England Patriots have the best offense in the NFL. The Pats average 394.2 total yards per game. That ranks first in the NFL. The Pats go for 276.1 passing yards per. New England averages 118.1 yards per on the ground. The Patriots score 28.6 points per game. The total yards per game ranks first in the league. The Pats rank second in both passing yards per game as well as points per game. The Patriots even rank in the Top 10 in rushing yards per game. With 118.1 rushing yards per, New England ranks tenth.
The key to New England’s success on offense, like it has been since 2001, is the play of QB Tom Brady. Brady had a fantastic season. He threw for 4,577 yards. He also tossed 32 TDs to only 8 interceptions. Terrific Tom completed 66.3% of his passes. His QB rating ended up at 102.8.
Brady continued his excellent play in two NFL Playoff games. Versus the Tennessee Titans, Tom threw for 337 yards and 3 TDs. He didn’t throw an interception. In the AFC Championship win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady threw for 290 yards and 2 TDs. He completed 68% of his passes.
The reason it’s so difficult to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots’ passing attack is because New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel doesn’t make it easy on defenses. Brady mustn’t throw the football to TE Rob Gronkowski. He loves to throw the football to Gronk. He mustn’t, though. Brady doesn’t have to throw to either one of his wideouts, Chris Hogan or Brandin Cooks.
In fact, slot receiver Danny Amendola caught both of Tom Brady’s TD passes in the AFC Championship. Amendola was also extremely effective against the Tennessee Titans. Add in the fact that most every running back on New England’s roster can catch the football, and what you’ve got is the most feared passing attack in the NFL.
New England Patriots Defense
Early during the regular season, it didn’t appear as if the New England Patriot’s defense was good enough to help the Pats get back to the post-season. The Kansas City Chiefs dominated the Patriots in Week 1. New England lost 42 to 27. What was equally disturbing about the Pats’ defensive performance in Week 1 was how Kansas City not only passed all over the Patriots, but they rushed all over the Patriots. KC rushed for 185 yards. Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith threw for 368 yards and 4 TD passes.
The Patriots’ defense didn’t play much better in Week 2 when allowing the Saints to score 20 points. Week 3 saw another bad defensive performance. New England almost allowed Houston rookie QB DeShaun Watson to rally the Texans in a 36 to 33 Patriots win. The Patriots’ D was horrendous in Week 4.
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers marched into New England and dominated the Patriots. Newton threw for 316 yards and 3 TD passes. He rushed for 44 yards and a TD off only 8 carries. What was so surprising about New England’s performance on D is that Carolina didn’t enter Foxboro with any surprises. Everyone, even the most basic NFL fan, knew what the Panthers were going to try and accomplish. The Patriots still couldn’t stop the Panthers.
After Week 4’s loss to Carolina, most of New England Nation rung their hands in disbelief. Could the Patriots be that bad on defense? Was New England’s chances at a repeat Super Bowl win over before it had even started?
Nope. If New Englad wins Super Bowl 52, NFL historians will look back at Week 5 during the regular season as the moment the Patriots turned their season around. In Week 5, New England traveled to Tampa Bay to battle the Buccaneers. Winning any game on the road in the NFL is tough. Beating a team on the road while your defense is playing awful is almost impossible.
Beating Tampa is exactly what New England did. But, the Patriots didn’t beat New England via their offense. They beat the Bucs via their defense. The Patriots held the Bucs to 14 points. Tampa could only muster 14 points even though Jameis Winston threw for 334 yards and a TD.
What happened? New England decided to bend but don’t break opposing offenses. It worked to perfection. It also worked for the rest of the regular season as only 2 teams, the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers, scored 20 points or more versus the Patriots’ defense.
Could the Patriots employ their defensive philosophy against Philly to a Super Bowl 52 win? My opinion on that is for next week!
New England Patriots Coaching Staff
I’m convinced that the greatest coach in NFL history is Bill Belichick. This season is Belichick’s 42nd as a coach. He’s coached the New England Patriots for 18 straight seasons. He’s won five Super Bowls. Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The real key to Bill Belichick’s success, like it is for Nick Saban at Alabama, is hiring the right coordinators.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is one of the most creative play callers in the NFL. McDaniels finds ways to get the most out of his players. He doesn’t need a top running back to average close to 120 rushing yards per game. He mustn’t find Randy Moss so that Tom Brady has success in the passing game.
The defensive coordinator is Matt Patricia. Patricia is fantastic at switching up his defense to forcing either mistakes or field goals once an opponent gets into the red zone. That’s Patricia’s entire defensive philosophy. What that tells me is that like McDaniels, Patricia is excellent at getting the most he can out of the players he has. He doesn’t need Ndamukong Suh to get pressure on quarterbacks or to stop the run. Also, he doesn’t need the best cornerback in the NFL to play man-to-man. He just needs his defensive players to follow his philosophy. In most cases, that’s enough for the win.
What Are the Patriots’ Intangibles?
An intangible for the New England Patriots is how the coaching staff communicates. Belichick, Patricia, and McDaniel are always on the same page. Because the coaching staff is always on the same page, the players on both offense and defense are always on the same page.
That’s why New England is so difficult to beat. The Patriots rarely make mistakes. 99% of the time everyone on Patricia’s defense is in the right position. 99% of the time everyone on the offense does his job correctly.
The biggest, most important, intangible for the New England Patriots? Professionalism. From top to bottom, the New England Patriots are the most professional organization in football. That’s how owner George Kraft and coach Belichick have created one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history.