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Super Bowl LV: The Defense, the Misfits and Patrick Mahomes

by Jonas Clark

Just like that, ladies and gentlemen, the NFL season is over. Watching Super Bowl LV was rather shocking in the moment, but reflecting back on it the next day, was it? Statistically it was. 

The Kansas City Chiefs fielded one of the most talented offenses of playmakers, if not the most talented unit in all of the NFL, and couldn’t find the endzone once in 60 minutes.  Patrick Mahomes, a first round pick, a NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP looked super human (not superhuman), for the first time in his four seasons. Sure there were injuries, but few teams ever reach this point fully intact anyway. 

The Buccaneers didn’t light up the stat sheet either, which is also shocking. Who would’ve thought that neither offense would have more than 350 yards of offense? Not to pat myself on the back too much, but if you read last week’s article, I believe I said something about this game being more important for the defenses than the offenses.

When the confetti settled in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, it was red, pewter and white, and once again Tom Brady was on the podium hoisting a Lombardi trophy. That’s where the shock wears off. Haven’t we been here before? Oh yeah, six other times. Yawn.

So what did we learn Sunday night from Super Bowl LV?

1) This is arguably the best time to be a linebacker

One of the most shocking things from the Super Bowl was that Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP. Alright, alright – Maybe it too isn’t that shocking, but naming him the most important person in the game is a complete oversight to the competition that took place on the field.

When the Chiefs and Buccaneers last played each other in Week 12, Patrick Mahomes went off for 462 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, Mahomes was limited to just 270 passing yards, 146 of which came in the fourth quarter on the Chiefs’ final two drives when the game was over. Mahomes completed 26-of-49 pass attempts for two interceptions and no scores, resulting in a passer rating of 52.3, which is ten points fewer than John Wolford’s passer rating on the season in a similar number of attempts.

All this goes to say that it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that deserved to be recognized for their performance, with one of their own being presented the MVP trophy instead of Tom Brady. Two of the likely candidates for the award would have been Lavonte David or Devin White, two of Tampa Bay’s linebackers who had outstanding games, making plays all over the field on their way to leading the team in solo tackles.

Todd Bowles’ defense put on a clinic for how to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs and Mahomes. All conditions and extreme talent of the players aside, every defensive coordinator out there took notes and will be asking more of their linebackers next season, which could favor the young guys coming out in the draft. If you’re submitting tape to teams, be sure to highlight your sideline to sideline speed.

2) Misfit Toys No More

Last week I wrote in this column that I was watching the Super Bowl to see how the discarded “toys” of the Buccaneers would fare, and they fared pretty well. In fact, they may have made themselves attractive enough for another team to give them a third (or fourth) chance to showcase their talent away from Tampa Bay. 

Antonio Brown (5 catches, 6 targets, 22 yds 1 TD), Leonard Fournette (135 total yards, 1 TD), and Ndamukong Suh (2 tkl, 2 sk) all players with checkered pasts on or off the field, all signed one-year deals to ride along with Tom Brady, and all may experience a revival of their careers now that they’re Super Bowl champions. Even Rob Gronkowski, who was in the final year of his contract that came out of retirement with him when he was traded from the Patriots to the Buccaneers, may have found a renewed desire to keep playing football, and may decide to play without Tom for the first time in his professional career.

Why would another team decide to dip into this talent pool with tainted pasts? The thought could be that the process of working with Brady and learning to put the team above the self en route to a championship has rehabilitated the individual, and Super Bowl talents are always desired on teams looking to reach that level themselves.

3) Patrick Mahomes Will Be Fine, Maybe Better

Ok, Patrick Mahomes’ dreams of having an undefeated record in the title game like Michael Jordan is officially gone, but that won’t hurt his campaign any as he continues in a career that one day may be in the GOAT discussion. If anything, his performance in Super Bowl LV, coming up short in his bid to be the first quarterback to repeat as champion since Brady did early in his career, will be better for him in the long run.

If Mahomes would’ve led Kansas City to a win, despite the health and quality of his offensive line, the front office may have felt they wouldn’t need to address line depth as early as they are surely going to now. Why would they need to focus on depth when Mahomes can win a title behind swiss cheese? Management could maybe then get more pieces on defense, or start thinking about life after Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. 

Mahomes’ abilities can make receivers and skill players better, and at times may cover for a hole here or there on the line, but if he doesn’t have time to get his eyes down field, it’s hard to win games, especially the Super Bowl. Line depth just jumped the priority chart.

By the way, can I just join in the conversation freaking out about some of the ridiculous passes that he nearly completed? Some actually hit his guys, and some were close, but just WOW.

That’s going to do it for the 2020-2021 season y’all. Honestly didn’t think we’d make it here, but we did. Like Tom Brady, I’m already done with this season, let’s start looking at next year! This column is going to continue throughout the offseason as we prepare for the 2021-2022 NFL season, and I’ll bring you the three biggest things I learn each week from around the league. 

 

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