By Ray Glier
Research shows that 73 percent of middle-aged men over-think.
ATLANTA____Dan Quinn and play-caller Kyle Shanahan did everything right for three quarters in the Super Bowl. They ran the ball. When New England gives you the run, you take it. Matt Ryan threw just 23 passes. You keep Tom Brady off the field. You limit turnovers. You own the physical part of the game.
The Falcons did what previous victims of the Patriots and Tom Brady did not: Atlanta ran the ball and led 28-3.
But…..well, here is some background.
I saw Bill Belichick mouthed the words in a New England game several years ago to his play-caller, Josh McDaniel.
“RUN THE BALL.”
The Patriots were inside the opponent’s 10-yard line on a decisive drive. Run the ball, Bill commanded. “I will,” McDaniel said. It wasn’t the Super Bowl, but Bill stepped in on the play-caller’s turf. The Patriots won the game.
Seattle should have run the ball in the 2015 Super Bowl. Atlanta should have run the ball in the fourth quarter of the 2017 Super Bowl. Dan Quinn should have over-ruled Kyle Shanahan on the sideline and said, “Now, run the ball.”
You know about the Seahawks in 2015. Trailing 28-24 to New England, quarterback Russell Wilson could have turned and given the ball to the best running back on the planet. It was second-and-goal from the New England 1-yard line and Marshawn Lynch could have gotten one-yard with one blocker in front of him.
Russell Wilson passed and it was intercepted with 20 seconds left. Seattle lost.
Last Sunday, the Falcons got to Patriots’ 22-yard line with 4:40 to play and…withered with over-thinking. A run, two passes, a sack, a penalty. It was calamity. The Falcons could have run clock with three running plays. Then the other Matty Ice, Matt Bryant, could have kicked a field goal and it was a two-score lead again, 31-20. Maybe 3 minutes left for the Patriots to score twice.
The Falcons lost.
This is not second-guessing. This is material for a textbook. It keeps adding pages.
Here is some more background on Belichick. While writing a book about Alabama football I found out this: the Cleveland head coach Bill Belichick in 1991 would say in meetings that included Nick Saban, “I don’t want to be talking about this on Sunday.” He meant that his coaches had to plan for every eventuality Monday through Saturday. Get prepared. Cover every angle.
In the run-up to the Super Bowl, Quinn thought of everything to get his team prepared. There were lectures to young players to stay in their groove with the same schedule. He preached about ball security every day. He ran practices the same. Players avoided the open locker room with media so they didn’t have to talk about the game too much. It all worked….for 3 1/2 quarters.
Quinn is a really good coach and a really good evaluator of talent. The Falcons are about to become a consistent playoff-contender and Super Bowl contender.
Maybe Quinn got it backwards. Pete Carroll won, then lost a Super Bowl. Quinn will lose one and then win one.