Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl LV

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Vincent Verhei

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Lions fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 "at" Kansas City Chiefs 9

Aaron Schatz: It all comes down to this!

Tom Gower:

Vincent Verhei: "And there it is" also works.

Predictions? I'll go KC 31, TB 21.

Bryan Knowles: So, I've been somewhat out of it this week. This is just a one-on-one showdown between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes to determine 100% who is the best quarterback in NFL history, right? Or will the other Chiefs and Buccaneers get to play?

Aaron Schatz: My prediction at ESPN was Chiefs, 34-31.

Scott Spratt: Mine in the EdjSports video was 34-30, so it seemed like I was copying Aaron.

Rivers McCown: Keeping in mind that I have read nothing about football this week that hasn't involved a preacher/proxy owner so if I'm wrong I blame that, I would also take the Chiefs by a 30-28 score.

Bryan Knowles: Andrew and I both took Tampa Bay +3.5 in the Prop Bet Extravaganza, and I'm sticking with it.

Carl Yedor: I've only been half-watching the pregame but I hope Laurent Duvernay-Tardif gets a mention at some point on the broadcast since it's a natural football/medical field tie-in.

Also, what are everyone's thoughts on the CBS scorebug? I believe this is the debut for this iteration but I could be wrong.

Bryan Knowles: Carl, I'd like a solid black line between the various regions of the scorebug; the Bucs' flag blends into the Chiefs' color somewhat. But that is a nitpick, and we have seen far more disastrous scorebugs in recent years.

Carl Yedor: I'm personally more a fan of the one FOX introduced last year but I think the CBS one is generally fine. I think I'd prefer a slightly different font here and I was somewhat hoping for something with a little more spice.

Aaron Schatz: Bucs bringing pressure with four early. Play with a screwed-up line call ended up with nobody blocking Shaq Barrett. Mahomes did scramble on third-and-7 though for the one first down before the Chiefs had to punt!

Scott Spratt: The over 6.5 punts prop is looking dangerous after those first two series.

Bryan Knowles: We have already seen the big difference between Brady and Mahomes so far -- Mahomes, under pressure, has extended plays and scrambled for positive yards. Brady, at this point in his career, just has to kind of take the sack.

Puntapalooza continues, but it's early.

Aaron Schatz: I was trying to figure out how Tampa Bay had decided to cover Tyreek Hill and it looks like a lot of zones so far. They just blitzed two cornerbacks and had Antoine Winfield on Hill and Mahomes evaded the rush and launched it to him in the end zone and it bounced off his facemask. Chiefs kick a field goal, now up 3-0.

Bryan Knowles: It took 10 attempts, but Tom Brady has finally scored a touchdown in the first quarter of a Super Bowl. And was that ... an RPO to Rob Gronkowski? I don't recall the Buccaneers running many RPOs this season -- Pro Football Reference has them with just 14 during the regular season, and I certainly don't remember seeing one aimed for Gronk.

I'll take it, as I had Gronk +1600 to score the first touchdown of the game, mind you.

Aaron Schatz: Tampa Bay marched down the field pretty easily on that drive. Some good running by Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, some chunk plays. Loved the RPO to Gronk with Mike Evans blocking.

Vincent Verhei: Thoughts on a surprisingly defensive first quarter:

  • Lots of punts -- lots of bad punts. The longest net was only 40 yards.
  • Chiefs offensive wounds have been somewhat self-inflicted. First third-down failure, Mahomes missed on open Mecole Hardman on the right side. Next drive, Hill had a pass bounce off his facemask near the goal line before they kicked their field goal.
  • Bucs have the lead but haven't hit a deep-deep ball yet. Longest catch was the curl by Antonio Brown for 16 yards.

Scott Spratt: Ronald Jones drop. I'm shocked.

Aaron Schatz: Chiefs immediately go three-and-out after a good kickoff return. Their offensive line is a real problem right now; Mahomes had two guys in his lap on third-and-4.

Bryan Knowles: I am stunned the Buccaneers did not run the Tom Brady sneak on fourth-and-inches at the goal line. Stunned. I think that's a stop and Chiefs' ball.

Aaron Schatz: I actually am shocked, but not by the drop. Tampa Bay was the best team in the league running in short yardage this year, Kansas City was the worst defense against short-yardage runs, and yet the Chiefs just stuffed the Bucs twice in a row at the goal line. Wow.

Bryan Knowles: The Chiefs might want to check the locker room for some Stickum at the half. They have had a number of big drops so far -- or at least, balls they could have, but haven't, caught.

Vincent Verhei: Another third-down gaffe for the Chiefs -- Mahomes makes a superhuman throw under pressure, but Kelce drops what should have been a conversion.

And then we get yet another lousy play by a punter as Tommy Townsend drops the snap. Townsend recovers the ball and actually gets his best punt of the day, but there's a hold on the Chiefs and we're going to punt again. AND THE NEXT PUNT SUCKS. Bucs starting inside the Kansas City 40! 42-yard difference between the two punts!

Scott Spratt: Oh man, that defensive holding call is just brutal for the Chiefs. It erases a beautiful Tyrann Mathieu interception. And honestly, that ball was out and deflected within a second and a half, so I don't even know how there was time for holding.

Aaron Schatz: And then offsides erases a Ryan Succop field goal and Brady throws a touchdown to Gronk on the next play. And Kansas City gets flagged on that play too, and it didn't even matter. Is Kansas City aware this game is counting?

Bryan Knowles: And then, they get a stop, but are offsides on the fourth-and-5 field goal, resulting in a new set of downs, and a second Gronk touchdown.

The Chiefs just keep shooting themselves in the foot, and the Bucs are taking advantage.

Vincent Verhei: Tyrann Mathieu interception wiped out by KC penalty. Field goal turns into a first-and-10 on a KC penalty. Bucs, given a THIRD chance on the drive, finally convert on a touchdown pass to Gronkowksi. 14-3 Bucs as the Chiefs are playing like hot garbage.

Bryan Knowles: One day, the Chiefs will just win a game outright without any nervousness, without falling behind or something. Today is not that day.

The Chiefs have four come-from-behind playoff victories in the last two seasons. That ties the league high from 2015 to 2020.

Aaron Schatz: Tampa Bay front four is winning this game so far. Just forced Mahomes to throw it away on third-and-4 in the red zone. The Bucs are putting a lot of defensive backs back -- they do not want to let the Chiefs go deep on them at all. And they're having trouble setting up even the underneath stuff because the offensive line is getting killed out there. Field goal by Harrison Butker and we're now at 14-6 with 1:01 left in the second quarter.

Scott Spratt: The Chiefs have committed seven penalties for 80 yards versus one for 5 yards for the Bucs. Given the Bucs' lack of discipline from the regular season, I think that's my biggest surprise of a surprising first half.

Andrew Potter: Pretty sure the offensive line is also affecting the play calling. We're just not seeing the Chiefs go deep into the bag of tricks like they usually would. They can't even hold up long enough to set up a screen.

Bryan Knowles: I think you're right, Andrew -- Kansas City doesn't look like Kansas City, because the Bucs' pass rush versus the Chiefs' backup offensive line is a mismatch.

Game's not over, mind you, but I think the Chiefs need to score on their first drive out of the half.

And we should note the record for penalties in a Super Bowl is 12, shared by the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII, the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII (versus Brady!), and the Panthers again in Super Bowl 50. The record for penalty yards is 133, set by the Cowboys in Super Bowl V.

One of those teams (the XII Cowboys) actually did win, so all is not yet lost for Kansas City

Vincent Verhei: It's not just the number of penalties, it's how many extra chances they have given Tampa Bay. The Bucs have 18 first downs -- six of them have come on penalties. The Chiefs have just been playing so, so badly. And yet ... it's only 21-6. That's not good, but it's not insurmountable. And they get the ball to start the half. That goal-line stand has left Kansas City alive.

It's shocking how much Kansas City's offense, though, looks like a vintage Russell Wilson team. Every play they have made, he has had to scramble away from pressure to make a throw or a run. They had some success early in the half with designed rollouts to move him away from pressure. I'd like to see them go back to that more in the second half.

Bryan Knowles: Vince: I believe the previous record for first downs by penalty in a Super Bowl was four -- that's certainly the post-1999 record, at least, and it looks like no game before that broke that mark. Six in one half is crazy.

Aaron Schatz: If the Kansas City "flip the switch" theory is real, the first drive after halftime would be a good time for them to get a-flippin'.

Bryan Knowles: Check out Mahomes' first-half passing chart. Zero deep shots -- the Chiefs need to figure out some kind of way to buy him time to get his receivers downfield, because right now, the Bucs know that Kansas City just doesn't have time to go deep.

Aaron Schatz: Here are some stats from Next Gen Stats on just how much the Bucs are playing with their defensive backs deep and taking away the deep ball.

The Buccaneers aligned in two-high safety shells on 21 of 29 plays (72%) in the first half to take away the Chiefs' downfield passing game. Mahomes failed to complete any of his four passes traveling 10-plus air yards in the first half.

Tom Gower: Halftime, Bucs up 21-6.

The Chiefs game-planned like they were terrified of their offensive line against the Buccaneers defensive line, and, well, they were right. If not for Patrick Mahomes' ability to elude pressure and make second-reaction plays, this game wouldn't be remotely competitive. But in that alternate world, the Chiefs almost certainly wouldn't be here at all. As adjusted for circumstances, Mahomes did well to try to make plays, and the biggest real play completely killed by quick pressure was the third down before the second field goal. I wonder more about the early attempt to manufacture touches for Mecole Hardman (five first-half targets) rather than Travis Kelce (who took a couple ofdrives to get involved as the middle option in front of the two-deep) or Tyreek Hill.

Maybe just because of the way it happened, I thought the Chiefs defense was pretty OK in the first half. They got the early huge fourth-and-goal stop, an area where they have struggled this year. The second touchdown started in great field position and required a ridiculous (by before-today playoff standards) holding call to get any points at all, and a "why didn't we get a down-the-line shot?" offside penalty to get seven points instead of three. The third drive doesn't happen if Andy Reid doesn't call timeouts (plural -- the second one after the positive pass was simply an atrocious decision) and required some flag-happy officiating. Maybe they're getting run over after the early start, and Brady isn't getting pressured, but this is really a Ansas City offense-driven result through 30 minutes.

Aaron Schatz: Kansas City gets some nice gains on the ground on their first drive of the second half and then, ugh, Andy Reid kicks another field goal, this time on fourth-and-7 from the Kansas City 34. EdjSports model had that as a go for it by 1% GWC.

Bryan Knowles: I know counting the Chiefs out at any point is a fool's errand, but after the Buccaneers came out and marched right down the field, I think that might well be ballgame.

Kansas City will probably get on the scoreboard more, with 23 minutes left on the clock. But I have no trust in the Chiefs' defense to get anywhere near the needed number of stops.

Tom Gower: OK, that first Bucs drive of the second half and its hot-knife-through-butter nature was a sign that maybe the Chiefs defense is not good.

Vincent Verhei: There is not a projection system, forecast, or injury scenario that ever would have suggested the Bucs holding Mahomes to 114 passing yards through three quarters.

Aaron Schatz: Can Todd Bowles be the Super Bowl MVP?

I realize that the Chiefs have injuries on the offensive line, but four of these linemen started against Buffalo two weeks ago and they absolutely did not look like this.

Vincent Verhei: Well, a lot going on on that failed Chiefs red zone drive. Shaq Barrett has been eating Mike Remmers for lunch, but he wasn't rushing against Remmers there it was ... Vita Vea? Who has no played defensive tackle, edge rusher, tight end, and fullback tonight? Vea for MVP!

Regardless, Mahomes is running for his life on every play. Three straight snaps, he's scrambling back and forth for seven-plus seconds. Twice he nearly threw touchdowns anyway. The fourth-down incompletion may have been the best throw of his career:

Carl Yedor: I honestly don't have much of a takeaway for the Chiefs offense beyond 1) they're dropping passes/not making tough catches, and 2) their offensive line is a sieve. Mahomes has someone turned loose on seemingly every play, meaning he doesn't have time to go through progressions at all before scrambling for his life. The Bucs pass rush is putting on a clinic against Kansas City's depleted offensive line.

Vincent Verhei: Hey Scott, the Bucs just threw a deep pass on third-and-1 and then punted! They're driving you nuts on their way to a championship!

Scott Spratt: Haha Vince, I was just typing that! I guess Bruce Arians gets the last laugh.

Vincent Verhei: Twenty-two minutes later, the Bucs threw deep on third down and punted again, and there's really nothing else to talk about during the worst game of a pretty lousy postseason.

Aaron Schatz: I'm pretty sure that this will be the legendary, long-awaited Patrick Mahomes game below replacement level. Although you can't fault him. He made some amazing plays to get out of pressure and those passes turned into drops.

It turns out there was no flipping of the switch. It was just a good Kansas City team having two very good games, which happens all the time. Tampa Bay has been higher than Kansas City in DVOA since after Week 3 and I listened to all the criticism from the rest of the analytics community and doubted my own numbers. But the fact is, winning games close instead of winning them big does matter. In the long run, it does tell us something.

Bryan Knowles: Well, we can talk about Bruce Arians winning his first Super Bowl ring -- it's not quite as sweet for me as seeing Andy Reid win his last year (well, theoretically sweet -- I remain a 49ers fan, after all), but Arians is a football lifer and, by all accounts, a great guy who deserves every bit of this. And maybe after this performance, Todd Bowles will eventually get another chance to run a team, and maybe not the Jets this time!

Vincent Verhei: Mahomes has had negative DYAR once: in Week 17 of 2019 (in a win they needed to clinch home field, not a rest-the-starters game).

I'm also happy for Lavonte David. And hey, we now live in a world where Blaine Gabbert has a Super Bowl ring!

Tom Gower: This ended up a complete throughgoing butt-kicking, and not a lot to say. Didn't make for a bunch of Audibles conversation, especially with, say, me, sticking to my normal "watch the game and don't say much the first half" routine. The Chiefs needed to execute really well on offense in the second half, and the Bucs pass rush never got to the point the 49ers did in the fourth quarter of last year's game where they weren't getting enough to Mahomes that he had the chance to make plays downfield. And when he did have the chance to make plays, well, it would have been a more interesting game had the Chiefs players in the end zone caught the passes that hit them in the face. Or had Chiefs players made a contested catch, any contested catch, since I sure don't remember them doing so at any point in the game. But Buccaneers cover players won that matchup almost as badly as the defensive front won their matchup, and the team that struggled against good teams in the regular season gets to hoist a Lombardi.

Vincent Verhei: Watching some of the postgame, and Nate Burleson congratulated Byron Leftwich for running his usual offense, or something along those lines. I love Nate, but he's wrong there. They averaged 9.6 yards per catch tonight, 2 full yards below their season average. They totally changed their offense to attack the Chiefs' weaknesses, and it worked perfectly.

Rivers McCown: I think there are some iron-clad truths in football and the level of pass protection that Kansas City had in this game is just difficult to win with. Credit to the Bucs front four and the creative blitzes that dominated this game and had Mahomes throwing off his third and fourth adjustment all game. Kansas City couldn't find a screen around it, got too far behind to run on it, and that was about it.

Tom Gower: Oh, one more note from me: the Bucs offensive line was by and large terrific the last part of the season. After the big Frank Clark play early, the Chiefs got basically nothing from their pass rush. Brady ended up getting pressured four times on 30 dropbacks, the lowest pressure rate of any of his Super Bowls. And outside of the goal-to-go stop, the Bucs ran the ball pretty successfully.

Vincent Verhei: Mahomes, meanwhile, was pressured 29 times in 56 dropbacks.

I also like this graphic, showing each quarterback's movement out of the pocket (or lack thereof):

Vincent Verhei: And now here's a great thread by Next Gen Stats on Tampa Bay's defense, and how they broke all their tendencies tonight.

The Bucs won the Super Bowl by playing an entirely different brand of football than they had all season on both sides of the ball, and that's a huge credit to their coaching staff.


200 comments, Last at 11 Feb 2021, 7:00am

62 I seem to recall saying "I…

I seem to recall saying "I wanted the Eagles to grab Bowles for HC, because of what he's done in Tampa with the DL talent there."

waves hands wildly. DAMNIT!

KC struggling versus that defense didn't surprise me that much though: Andy Reid offenses really rely on being able to confuse linebackers: screens, short passes, jet sweeps, wheels, etc. all target linebacker "drop back when you see a pass set" reactions, and David and White had a game. Relying on linebackers to screw up is usually a safe bet - it's usually easy to put them in lose-lose positions and they're typically compromise athletes (somewhere between big and slow or small and fast) but I don't think I saw White screw up anything.

Brady as MVP was total horse-crap. Yeah, he played well, but really someone on Tampa's defense should've gotten it, but the problem is that it was really like, 5 great performances. David, White, Barrett, Suh, Pierre-Paul. Jeez. White had 12 tackles last night - double that of anyone else on the team. That's a whole damn defense playing one hell of a game.


80 Haters gonna hate, I guess…

Haters gonna hate, I guess.

Brady as MVP was total horse-crap.

Brady was the clear MVP of that offense, both from his physical play and masterful decision making. Look at how well he spread the love among his receivers and backs. And before effectively shutting down their scoring attempts after three quarters, the Bucs did put up 31 points, so giving the MVP to an offensive player makes sense.

The defense was also very good. But short of a multiple interception game with a pick-six, you cannot really expect the MVP to go to a defensive player when the QB has a rating as high as that, and the offense is dominating that much.


92 Brady's performance 5 years…

Brady's performance 5 years ago in Denver, in the conference championship, was hugely more impressive to me. A qb putting up the numbers Brady did last night, at home, great weather, with zero pressure, against a mediocre defense, with talented receivers? I mean, fine, but that's what an above average qb should do, at a minimum, just about every time. 5 years ago? Brady walked into the stadium of a great, great, defense, in pretty nasty weather, had the feces stomped out of him from start to finish, with less talented receivers than he had last night, and in the 4th quarter was making extremely high quality throws in the most adverse conditions, to keep his team in the game. Mahomes was better than Brady last night.

103 Agreed

If anything, I give credit to Brady last night for NOT being great, as weird as that sounds. Brady basically never tried to force anything, he took what the defence was offering, and even his long throws in the 4th were low risk high reward basically arm punts, where the worst that was likely to happen was an interception way down field. Brady didn’t make many high difficulty throws, but he was never in a position where he had to, in part because he was so cautiously efficient during the first few quarters.

108 He's smart

In reply to by MRCHalifax

It's hard to quantify but his football IQ is high. He knows when and where to do things. Like you said was efficient to start and knew when to "push it." That's been his MO for a while. 

117 Absolutely. It was a…

In reply to by MRCHalifax

Absolutely. It was a thoroughly professional, extremely intelligent game from Brady. No reason to expect less. Him being named MVP is just the normal excessively QB-centric short sighted way of seeing the game, so it doesn't strike me as notable. The performance of the Bucs o-line will get insufficient attention, but again that's typical.

128 "The defense was also very…

"The defense was also very good. But short of a multiple interception game with a pick-six,"

Brady was playing the Kansas City defense. Meh.

Tampa's defense was playing the Kansas City offense. The defense wasn't "very good." The defense was flat-out stellar. Brady was very good.

KC's defense averaged around -6.8 EP/game for the regular season. This game they put up -10.75. So Brady was around 4 EP better than average. Cool, that's great.

KC's offense averaged 15 EP/game during the regular season. In this game they put up -7.90. The TB defense was 22.90 EP better than average. *brain explode*


136 I wonder if the KC offense…

I wonder if the KC offense wasn't the mirror image of the Ravens offense of 2012. That o-line had single player added, became better at 3 positions all at once, and suddenly a championship was realizable. This o-line removed a player, might have become worse at 3 positions, and could no longer execute at a high level.

152 Don't really buy that. Keep…

Don't really buy that. Keep in mind, Tampa is the only team in the league with 2 All-Pro linebackers. I'm... not even sure I can think of another team that could possibly have had that game, even with KC's OL injuries.

Kansas City (like all Reid offense teams) is totally designed to attack linebackers. Yeah, you get deep shots and such, but really you don't go for those until the safeties start to push closer due to having to help out linebackers. Screens, slants, etc. - those are all linebacker targets.

Then look at their players: yes, Hill's a bit of a challenge one-on-one for a corner, but he's not a size mismatch deep. He's not Mike Evans, or even Godwin. Corner+safety high and that's basically fine. But the problem is that he's just so good in open field that unless you can cover him all the way from the LOS to the safeties, you're in danger. He's just too quick. Similar problem with Kelce: he's too fast for a linebacker to easily cover, so again, you pull down the safeties, and now you're being asked to have zero holes in your coverage.

I mean, keep in mind, KC won the regular season matchup 27-24, and that's with Tampa taking a while to figure out Tyreek Hill. 

String those games together into an 8-quarter game, and you get (KC-TB):

Q1: 17-0
Q2: 3-7
Q3: 7-3
Q4: 0-14
Q5: 3-7
Q6: 3-14
Q7: 3-10
Q8: 0-0

That's literally 6/8 quarters where Tampa outscored Kansas City. I really think Tampa's just a very, very tough matchup for KC in general, and with the injuries they had it just made it impossible.


70 thoughts

1. There have been two (sort of) home teams for the Super Bowl. Both the 49ners and Tampa beat high flying offenses with ease. But, both were very good teams and their opponents had obvious flaws. Two data points is not enough to say much about this. Although anyone that heard Don Shula talk about the experience, probably bet on Tampa (like me)

2. It's clear the Chiefs were playing to and across the line on wide outs. But it wasn't a bad plan. It often works in play off games. Where you either draw a flag early and then refs think, I've done my job. Or it never gets called. Here the refs called it close and the Chiefs had no effective plan B. Without the DPI the game would have been more watchable for fans. Were they the difference? It didn't feel that way.

3. Two teams that come to mind are the over the hill gang in Washington (they lost). And the Steve Young monkey off the back team (they won). Neither aged well. Tampa has a lot of in their prime talent too, but there is the idea the cap hit and the past sell by date on some of these vets might be a warning for an easy repeat.

4. The AFC had a lot of good teams, no great one. The NFC seemed to have a lot of talent stacked on three teams. Obviously one distribution in better than the other for winning the big game, but it feels a little unusual. The NFC over the past few decades has been a hard place to repeat. Have the times changed? 

5. It wasn't a great game, but it's still sort of cool; Tampa Bay and Kansas City were trading blows on Super Bowl Sunday. Go into your way back machine to the 1980s and the idea seemed a million years away. Buc fans suffered a lot of unwatchable dull seasons. It was a great day for their fans.  

123 Of course football outsiders will have to try

It will be interesting to see where Tampa comes out in their book. You have a lot of players like White who seem easy to predict (he seemed like the best guy on the field for them yesterday) and then you have Brady. If football outsiders gets Brady wrong next year, it seems perfectly excusable. There simply is not data points on GOAT at age 44 to make a prediction with. At this point he's a data point of himself. The rest of the one year rentals seem more manageable. It would seem they can find vets to play for the minimum to replace people if they choose to retire, or go for one last paycheck.  


It was a weird season and yet, Brady playing in and winning Super Bowl was both the least strange (it always seems to happen) and MOST strange (literally it's not suppose to seem so easy to keep going to the Super Bowl and at age 43!) thing of the past two decades :)

133 I watched 3 games this year,…

I watched 3 games this year, prior to last night, so I know nuthin', but if you had told me that Brady was going to be allowed to be very comfortable in the pocket, and the Bucs defense wasn't going to give up a lot of points,  I would not have been surprised at the Bucs winning the last game. Good defense and your offensive line making your qb comfortable is a good formula.


101 Tampa should win their…

In reply to by johonny

Tampa should win their division next year (Saints are 100 million over the cap, Falcons are rebuilding, so Panthers are the only real threat and they don't have a QB yet), but their coach will be 69 and their quarterback will be 44.  They also have 31 free agents according to Sportrac, many of whom are not that important, but Barrett, David, Suh and Godwin are on that list.

184 TB vs NO for NFCS

The Saints were ~100 million over the cap. Per several sources, Brees cut his salary almost 24 million--so there's 1/4 of that fixed. Second, the final number hasn't come in. The Saints were due to be over that 175 million minimum by ~100. So, if the cap is more like 180 million, then it's that much easier. There are several players that they will want to keep who will be in the final year of their deal, so there is some expectation of an extension that might lower the salary cap charge for 2021.

For TB, the issue is that they have a number of high-profile FA's, which you mention. Plus, while Brady seems to be fitter than most anyone his age, the cliff is still quite near. One injury (that I am not rooting for, even as a Saints fan) would cripple their hopes. To me, either one of them winning the division would not be a surprise, with the other being a WC. Both teams seem talented enough to play well with even ok play from the QB.

186 Bucs Future.

Barring injury, I don't see anyone in the South who can stop the Bucs from winning that division.

Saints are rebuilding and no I don't believe in Hill at QB.

Falcons are in heavy rebuild.

Carolina is rebuilding, but do you trust Bridgewater?


Arians could reasonably coast to another playoff run.  Then it becomes more about Brady's health and ability.

Brady might be the best conditioned 43-year old we've ever seen in the NFL.  Anyone have a comparison at any position?   Herschel Walker?  Did he even play until 43?



86 The telling stat at the end of the article

Mahomes was pressured on 29 of 56 drop backs, Brady on 4 of 30. 

With that stat, if you replay the game 100 times, how many times are you expecting KC to win? 

Mahones at times looked like Josh Allen of season’s past.   To his credit he was only sacked 3 times.  KC was so dominated in this game that I do not see any series of referees calls, or dropped passes (mostly well defended passes) that would lead to a KC victory.


90 Surprised

I am surprised no one is lambasting Bieniemy who failed more than anyone else on the field.  You know TB has a great pass rush, you know your line is a disaster waiting to happen, and what do you do? Have extra linemen? Have your TEs block? Have your backs block? Go to a quick hitting short passing game to get the ball out quickly (which is what “Long Ball” Leftwich did to negate the KC pass rush).  See they are playing two deep and at least try and run the ball, as you did in the first Bills game?  No, no, no, no and no.  It was a complete coaching failure.  And if you are going to blame Reid for all of the failure, then why give Bieniemy any credit at all for the previous success?

There were two fabulous coaching jobs last night (both of whom are African Americans).  And there was Bieniemy.

106 Probably because yall didnt give him credit

In reply to by Raiderfan

anytime before hand. Thinking he's a puppet of Reid (who's lambasting him though?) 

That and it's one game. But of course it means more for him despite already winning a SB. Despite giving all the credit to Reid. Now he gets all the blame.



109 The extra linemen/blockers…

In reply to by Raiderfan

The extra linemen/blockers point is a good one.  I'm not sure what the H2 personnel stats came out as, but I don't recall seeing KC line up with 6 OL or 2 TE very often. 

Maybe they just didn't have the healthy bodies available to play those formations?  I'm not sure, but at some point you'd think maybe they would have tried something to give Mahomes more time.  If I'm KC, I'd rather see him have one fewer target downfield but a little extra time to find someone.  Especially where both edges were regularly getting blown up.  At least if you shore up one edge, Mahomes has somewhere to go to extend the play, other than running straight backwards.

121 It gets tough if there is…

It gets tough if there is more than one obvious weak link. Remmers was indescribably bad, but there were two others out of position, and struggling. In particular, scheming around two tackles playing poorly is really hard, especially once you're down double digits.

173 Per 670 The Score in Chicago…

Per 670 The Score in Chicago, KC used only 5 OL in 92% of formations. As indicated by that metric, providing extra protection did not appear to be a significant part of the game plan. To me, this suggests a few things: 1) KC's coaches believed very strongly in a repeat of their passing-game success from the first matchup, without substantial alterations; 2) they believed the protection afforded by the remade OL would be good enough for those pass-game advantages to materialize; and 3) they did not believe Mahomes's ability to escape pressure was significantly compromised by his own turf-toe injury. We all saw the results. 

ETA: confirmed via NextGen Stats:   


157 They did try a lot of…

In reply to by Raiderfan

They did try a lot of screens early but it was a disaster. Agree something might’ve been better than what they were doing, but it seemed like there were incomplete passes to every section of the field, with only Kelce getting anything done.

187 Here's why.

In reply to by Raiderfan

Andy Reid runs KC's offense, not Bieniemy.  If that needs to be explained to you, you really don't know the inner-workings of the team.

I don't come down on Bieniemy because he wasn't responsible for the poor gameplan; it was Reid.

I don't see Bieniemy getting an upper-echelon HC position, either.  GM's interview many people and know what others think of all the candidates.  Bieniemy has a negative rep among them, obviously.  Look at people's actions, not what they say.

"Oh, he's a bad interview". = He's not someone I want as the face of the franchise - He has no plan - I don't personally like him - He doesn't run the Chiefs' offense - I don't like this past.


It could be any one of those.

115 Let me rephrase my point…

Let me rephrase my point about Mahomes. I don't think game exposed him or anything. I don't think it was all his fault and I recognize he is a superlative player.


My point was, I have seen other qbs try to mitigate pressure by drifting backwards deep and then having to pirouet around defenders. Look, it's much harder to pass block, even pass block poorly, if your qb is going to just leave the pocket or drift way back. I have seen Josh Allen fall into this trap. I have seen Daniel Jones fall into this trap.


Maybe it's all moot and even if he had maintained pocket integrity, it would have ended badly. 

118 If he had stayed in the…

If he had stayed in the pocket he gets sacked and hit more. That doesn't give his team a better chance to win.It's not a bad play for Mahomes to get out if the pocket, if he eventually throws the ball to where receiver can get his hands on it.

126 There are ways to mitigate…

There are ways to mitigate pass rush via being in the pocket. Yes if the pass rush is just going to get there immediately, its all useless. I think at least to start, it didn't begin that way. Once the score turned lopsided, the entire offense came unhinged and ti was all moot. I don't blame him that way. 

I just felt like early in the game, his pocket feel was too frenetic. I think the play calling certainly never adapted - it was always trying to find that one huge deep kill shot to even the game. Maybe that approach is overall correct because all it takes is a couple and we are assessing way after the fact.

All that to say, either he or the team did never adjusted when faced with the fact that they were under seige. You have to go to a different approach or its just going to end badly. 

116 I absolutely HATE the fact…

I absolutely HATE the fact that both teams have violent domestic abusers playing prominent roles. Tyreek and AB (and any others) can go get fucked.

I've been mostly watching European soccer this year, and soccer doesn't have this same problem that American sports do. In Europe, promising athletes are enrolled in a club's youth academy from as young as 6. I don't know what kind of education they get, but they have adult supervision, and presumably healthy food. There are still violent crimes committed by soccer players, but it's nowhere near the rate we see here.

In contrast, the NFL does literally nothing for youth athletes. In America you are on your own until college, and by that time you've learned all sorts of awful stuff that poverty teaches. Poverty literally turns good people into criminals. 

I feel like the NFL should do more here. Besides being beneficial to the kids, it would eventually raise the level of play, if athletes had real instruction from a young age. But that would require an investment now that wouldn't pay off for years down the line, so it will never even be seriously considered.

197 I'll offer my take which is…

I'll offer my take which is said with no ill intentions and certainly not meant to demean your views or your take ways.

The NFL could do those things. Maybe in the long run it would be beneficial. But the issues of poverty turning good people rotten is not something I think should be left to the private sector. It sounds evil to word it like a company's job is to generate profits, but in effect, that profit motive leads to creating a great product for the consumer. Take it away from the NFL for a moment, but the profit motive is precisely why the vaccine was created so fast. Its why the iphone exists. Its why the car went from being an unattainable luxury to something almost all adults can afford. I don't claim all profit seeking behavior is virtuous or beneficial, but the messy profit system has worked better than any other system ever devised. Faults and all. 

To that end, I don't think a company should be compelled to be charitable. Instead, that responsibility falls on the government and us as tax payers to improve education and early childhood. But even here, a lot of the research on this topic has shown that floods of money haven't fixed education. We spend more per capita on education than any country. The results - we simultaneously have the best education in the world and one of the worst. Rich neighborhoods with great school districts are insanely onerous to afford.  Some of the worst performing schools are in poor neighborhoods. Why that is is complicated and I am not going to wade into the charter school movement either. But fixing education is a lot harder than most people think it is. 

But there is also a second angle and that's partly cultural and parental. For better or worse, we have lots of variation in how much involvement parents have with their children and its not always defined by money. Lots of poor families from immigrant countries come here and their children do so much better and our country is better for it.  

My personal policy proposal? I think we need to start shaming absentee fatherhood the way we seem to shame other forms of behavior. 

189 Settle down, baby Mountain...

Your virtue signaling is showing.

I hope the NFL stops appeasing SJW's because they're going to lose more revenue like the NBA if they don't.

You sound like someone who comes from a middle class home with a decent upbringing.  Do you honestly think most professional athletes come from the same socio-economic class that you did?

They don't.  Similar to the military.

In order to outgrow your upbringing you need to want to.  Many of these guys don't want to. That filters down to their personal choices.

Why does any of this escape you?

196 +2

In reply to by ChrisS


198 The irony is I somewhat…

The irony is I somewhat agree with your post, though the tone and tenor are both awful. There has to be a way to politely disagree without calling someone out. Your political views are not the mainstream. That's ok but if you want to try and bridge some gap in world views, may I recommend being polite about it?

124 I can't remember ever…

I can't remember ever enjoying a Super Bowl less. I admit I've felt my fandom slowly evaporating over the past several years for a wide variety of reasons both on and off the field (and rooting for the Bears certainly doesn't help), but I think I might be done with all of it.

On the field, I thought that apart from being a boring game, the officiating was clearly one-sided in the first half, when it actually mattered. I don't understand how they can call PI on uncatchable balls. I see others have commented that the Chiefs offensive line got away with holding all game, so maybe that's where it evened out. But therein lies my problem with the onfield product: if by rule, there are so many penalties (offensive and defensive holding being the biggest, though PI is usually more impactful) that amount to judgment calls that could plausibly be made on a large number of plays, you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to think that the NFL could be putting their thumb on the scale of game results.

Off the field, the entire enterprise has felt more and more gross. I've had the cognitive dissonance of enjoying the game despite the physical and mental toll it takes on the players, and the disproportionate wealth accumulated by the owners, for a long time, of course. But some of the specific things that not only happened last night but were highlighted on the broadcast are a bridge too far. Perhaps nothing better epitomizes this past year than holding a moment of silence for the lives lost to Covid-19 at the beginning of a superspreader event. Listening to Nantz wax poetic about the brave Capitol police officers who were invited to the game, without remotely alluding to or reflecting on exactly what happened to cause them to be invited to the game (much less who could reasonably be blamed for it) made me want to puke. And the icing on the cake was hearing him stumble over "thoughts and prayers" to the little girl that Andy Reid's son left with life-threatening injuries after driving drunk just last week. Not to worry, though, because after Reid is given a slap on the wrist as he assuredly will be, next year the narrative will be how he overcame the tragedy. Just as Antonio Brown was lauded for his triumphant return to the league, after of course being absent due to accusations of heinous and erratic behavior, the most charitable explanation for which would be that it's a result of the accumulated traumatic brain injuries he's received playing football. Ugh.

141 Thanks for that perspective

I thought it really odd that Romo/Nantz basically would not discuss the penalties other than they were called and then after Boomer went off at halftime which was basically 'this is BS' they did make more comment

144 I have a different take,…

I have a different take, though I basically agree with every one of your points. This has become the climate we are in - virtue signaling. You see it everywhere, including the ubiquitous commercials. It doesn't phase me that much.

151 I don't mean this…

I don't mean this politically at all, but ya' gotta have a heart of stone not to laugh out loud at an elderly half billionaire, clad in denim. in an ad for Jeep, giving solemn insights into unity! Hee! Hee!

190 You've been holding that in for years?

I agree with your 3rd stanza wholeheartedly, but understand that you have to look past all of that to enjoy the game, otherwise you will get bitter about the whole thing.

Also, at least you guys had 1985.  The problem is that I think you should have had Buddy Ryan as your HC instead of Ditka.  I think he had more of a connection with that team and they respected him more.  

Your FO has proven itself to be inept and I'm not sure you would have made a SB if you had Mahomes or Watson.  

Also, Andy Reid's kid is not getting a slap on the wrist.  He already has multiple DUI and admitted to drinking before the accident.  He's going to do prison time and if the young child dies in the hospital, that's vehicular homicide.  No lawyer will get him out of that...

147 Answering theslothook comment after week 17

Your comment:

Take a mental note of what you think of the quality of these teams as of right now and then think about where they shake out in your memory of the best teams of all time.  Because in about 6 weeks, you are more likely to be misled about a team's quality than informed. 

My comments at the time:

I am going to try what you said to do.

Lets do Super Bowl era, none of the 2020 are top 50 all time.

The only way I can put anyone in 2020 in the top 50 of all time is by winning each playoff game by 20 points, or in each playoff game show some other form of domination, leading to a championship.

We do look at a championship as an absolute, that they are the best team, but in reality in any given season in this era of parity, any of a number of teams can win the championship.  

My comments now:

Now I truly get your point, it is difficult to leave Tampa off of the top 50 of all time, but since I am not going to make a list of all of the teams, I think that they would not qualify, but would be in the top 75.  

Despite the fact that I think Tampa is the best of the many very good teams this year, if the playoffs were replayed from the beginning 10 times I believe that in just 10 such series we would have Super Bowl Champions:

KC, GB, NO, Buffalo and at least one other most likely Baltimore.  Now it sure does not sound like Tampa should be top 75 does it?

I assume that the point of your comment is that we will all overate Tampa some here, and maybe I am.  I just believe that this playoff run was special as it did not any plays where you can say, "Well if not for that play, they never would have won that game."   The only play that may qualify was the last play TD of the first half against GB.  

154 "I assume that the point of…

"I assume that the point of your comment is that we will all overate Tampa some here, and maybe I am"

Somewhat. I was more concerned that certain segments of fans were already preparing to tout their team's offense as the greatest of all time, especially if they laid waste to whatever defense was put in front of them.

More to the point, this isn't the NBA and even more so, the officiating and injuries injects further randomness into an already random game that drawing conclusions off of one iteration is a serious mistake. Instead, take the 16 weeks of play and realize its going to inform way more than 1 playoff run.

In a way, and I believe I wrote this either in the week 17 threads or in audibles, The Bucs are a formidable team and one of maybe three teams that had any kind of two way balance - along with Buffalo and Baltimore. I knew GB and KC had the passing offense trump card but that didn't make them immune to getting upset.