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Home / Articles / Mike Handzelek's Super Bowl 57 Smart Takes

Mike Handzelek's Super Bowl 57 Smart Takes


By: Point Shaver Handzelek
Date: Feb 18, 2023
   
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It's easy for an average sports journalist to eschew traditional gamers for feature & human interest super bowl stories. However, I love taking the in-the-trenches, X's & O's angle that gives subscribers a truer & better feel. Even though it appeared costly at the time, KC & HC Andy Reid's move to trade up to 10th in the 2017 NFL Draft from 27th, thus giving up a 91st pick & their 2018 1st-round pick looks brilliant right about now. It was Mahomes who actually rumored out to the Chiefs that the Saints might take him @ 11 before the trade was made. The rest is history as Reid & Mahomes get their 2nd Super Bowl ring in just 5 years since the draft. For Super Bowl 57, I was very disappointed in the new turf that was installed @ State Farm Stadium since several players complained the traction was slippery (giving a better edge to the offenses). Yes, local 94-year-old Edwardsville, Pa. native George Toma has been there from Super Bowl 1. However, his Bermuda grass base with rye grass overseed (rolled out just 2 weeks before the game) created tough traction as many players changed cleats after the 1st half as the field got a little worse in the area where music performer Rihanna's halftime stage was built. This was apparent right from the second half opening kickoff that saw Philadelphia kicker Jake Elliott nearly twist his ankle of his planting foot before contact. All of us saw a first half that was a clinic for Philadelphia who ran 44 plays in which 32 of them revolved around QB Jalen Hurts. His 3 rushing TD's tied Broncos' HOF RB Terrell Davis' output in Super Bowl 32 when they beat Green Bay 31-24. The Kansas City defense was very multiple under DC Steve Spagnuolo who dialed up 5-man pressure but also used 4-man exchange pressure where he either rushed a LB or used a 3rd-level man while dropping a D-Lineman. The KC "D" failed as Hurts executed well against it but 1 costly mistake/fumble created a 14-point swing that meant the Eagles had to settle for a 10-point lead instead of 24 heading into the locker room. Philadelphia converted 61% on 3rd down (11-for-18) & dominated the clock 35:47 to 24:13. Keep an eye on what the Green & Black do with RB Miles Sanders in the off-season since Kenneth Gainwell was used more in their 3 playoff games. Speaking of double-digit leads, Kansas City bucked a 26-1 SU trend where SB teams with a double-digit lead @ the half also won the game. So where was this game won? No, we can't fully blame the Carl Cheffers officiating crew for the holding penalty on KC WR JuJu Smith-Shuster by CB James Bradberry. What bothered me was when it was called & its inconsistency with how the officiating was calling the game throughout. An earlier no-call tug on Smith-Shuster wasn't called. Why was the last one called when the precedence was already set prior by the crew? Does a professional baseball umpire change his strike zone after calling a game a certain way for the 1st 8 innings? For integrity purposes alone, I also felt the holding call being called way after the play was over instead of when it happened was wrong. We'll never know if Hurts would have pulled the game out or tied it for OT in the minute & a half that would have been left IF there would have been a no-call. Getting to the nitty-gritty X's & O's, the 2nd half was won by the execution of the KC offense & the lack of effectiveness by the Philly "D" as a whole. Andy Reid took Eagles' DC Jonathan Gannon (now HC of Arizona) to school! He was a master at using multiple TE sets that gave Isiah "Cheetah" Pacheco excellent running success out of the 13 personnel formation (1 RB, 3 TE,1 WR). In fact, 17 of their 53 offensive plays involved motion. The poor eye discipline that resulted in coverage breakdowns by CB Darius Slay on WR Kadarius Toney & CB Avonte Maddox on WR Skyy Moore led to easy TD's. Reid's brilliant so-called "Corn Dog" play utilized a radical reversal of the man-in-motion that baited the Philly secondary to the middle instead of 100% following their guy in man coverage. When you have that many breakdowns late, it's a clear reflection on your DC. Reid's schemes forced DE Haason Reddick out of the box & into coverage many times which was critical since their lack of defensive pressure created NO sacks & NO turnovers. Jonathan Gannon's 5-2 base defensive front couldn't stop the run. They lost the line of scrimmage as the KC O-Line clearly pushed them back as they never generated any traction. Gannon's choice of NOT to rush his LB's played a large role in their lack of success. Reid's use of formation-motion play design created the avoidance of RT Andrew Wylie/DE Haason Reddick & LT Orlando Brown/DE Josh Sweat matchups which would have dramatically increased the Philly pressure & sack rate. For the game, Mahomes wound up facing a blitz rate on just 29.6% of his dropbacks that created just 7 pressures with no sacks or turnovers. On passing downs, he had a good 2.69 seconds to throw which was a comfortable time. The Philly "D" did blow a golden chance for a Mahomes TKO after LB T.J. Edwards 2nd qtr. tackle landed on him reaggrevating his right ankle injury. I also felt the 65-yard special teams punt return by Kadarius Toney was a game-changer since its like having an extra turnover. My bottom line says you can't make mistakes like Philadelphia made & expect to beat good teams. Will the loss of both their offensive & defensive coordinators have a big impact on the Eagles success in 23'-24' remains to be seen. Even though Mahomes already did his Disneyland commercial, expect Kelce to host SNL in the upcoming month. Keep it here as I'll cover the impact on many off-season coaching & QB moves that are coming up soon as well as a few XFL surprises before we head into the NFL draft. As always, we'll see YOU @ the window!
 


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