Following the Patriots’ historic comeback in Super Bowl LI, Brock Huard and Mike Salk listed a number of takeaways that are applicable to the Seahawks moving forward:
Atlanta’s team speed: Huard pointed to an old adage: speed kills. And that’s what happened for Atlanta through the first three quarters of the Super Bowl. Huard said the Falcons looked like the Seahawks from a few years ago: Faster, younger, hungrier, finishing tackles with oomph. But the team couldn’t keep it up. “Speed only kills while you’ve got gas in the tank, and they ran out of gas.”
Need for takeaways: The Seahawks’ defense need to return to its days of causing turnovers, Huard said. “It’s got to be one of the absolute top priorities of all their self-scouting and evaluation. That when you think back to their dominant run, their Super Bowl against Denver where they took the ball away, and what those takeaways did for Atlanta. You knew after that fumble, Atlanta would go down and score a touchdown. You knew after that pick-six, that it would take a Herculean and heroic effort for New England to come back. … That takeaway number was 39 in their Super Bowl year. For some reason, I never forget that number. That’s what the Seahawks created through that Super Bowl run. How can they possibly find ways to take the ball away? Got to be Priority 1 this offseason.”
Play-calling: Be conservative or aggressive with a big lead? While Huard said offensive coordinators are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, Salk said there should be a way to do both. “Kyle Shanahan, you are just as bad as Darrell Bevell. Those play calls were awful,” Salk said. Huard noted that Green Bay was criticized as being too conservative during the 2014 NFC Championship Game, when the Packers didn’t trust Aaron Rodgers enough against a beat-up Seahawks secondary. But when the Falcons chose to trust their MVP quarterback and be aggressive on second-and-11, to throw on third-and-1, it also failed. “I honestly wonder, though, if it was Russell Wilson in those moments, around the country I think Russell gets blasted, I think he gets put on blast. Now Matt Ryan’s the MVP, and because he’s the MVP and he carried the team … but he should absolutely be owning every bit of that, too,” Huard said.
Mistakes: How many big mistakes have been made in Super Bowls against the Patriots? Salk counts major ones in four of New England’s five wins. In 2003, the Panthers kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Tom Brady the ball at the 40-yard-line. In 2004, Salk said, the Eagles completely bungled the clock in the fourth quarter, played with no urgency and Donovan McNabb puked on the field. In 2014, well, you might remember how the game ended — with the Seahawks’, you know, throwing at the goal line. Salk: “And then all the mistakes the Falcons made. At some point it’s not a coincidence, right? It’s Bill Belichick’s attention to detail that I think all other coaches are not at the same level of.”
Winning formula: 68 to 35. That is Pete Carroll and the Seahawks formula for winning, Huard said. Take the number of completions, add it with the number of rushing attempts, and if you get to 50, you have a great chance to win. You get to 55, you should win. You get to 60-plus, you usually dominate. And if you get to 68 like New England did Sunday? “You get to 68 and you overcome the largest deficit in the history of the Super Bowl. … On the other side, Atlanta, only 46 plays, so still 35 combined completions and rushing attempts but 46 plays is all they could get. Couldn’t sustain drives.”
Don’t bet against Jim Moore: He did it again.