Belichick’s best attribute: Making you think twice

I want to make this brief for all who claim the NFL is a pass-until-you-shred-your-rotator-cuff game.

Much like Super Bowl XLIX two years ago, when the Patriots edged Seattle 28-24, yesterday’s New England title came about because an offensive coordinator goofed and tried to outfox Bill Belichick instead of simply running the ball.

You might recall the Seahawks were about a yard away from victory on the final play of the game that year and instead of having an angry and lethal Marshawn Lynch seal the win by smashing into the end zone, Seattle elected to pass. Russell Wilson’s ill-advised lob was intercepted in the end zone and millions of people were in shock.

The Atlanta Falcons stormed out to their massive lead in Super Bowl LI yesterday due to the running game and damn sure lost it with the pass. How do I know? Davonta Freeman averaged more than six yards per carry, primarily with runs off-tackle to lessen the burden on center Alex Mack, who was playing the game with a broken fibula. Moreover, the team averaged 5.8 yards per carry. 

This, in turn, forced the Patriots to respect the run and opened up the passing game. In other words, a traditional football game plan instead of this stupid Madden video game throw-deep every play mindset.

The Falcons wound up losing that 25-point advantage, in part, with a fourth-quarter fumble by quarterback Matt Ryan who had no business passing in the first place. It’s the fourth quarter and they still led by 16 points. That turnover in Falcons territory led to a swift New England TD. Had the Falcons ran and failed to pick up the first down, the clock would have kept ticking and the resulting punt would have forced the Patriots to mount a much longer scoring drive.

Later, with the Falcons still clinging to an eight-point lead, Julio Jones nabbed an iconic reception that — had Atlanta held on — would have replaced Dwight Clark’s touchdown decades ago as “The Catch.” That play set up the Falcons at the New England 22. Run the ball three times. Kick a field goal for an 11-point lead. Game over.

Only the Falcons channeled their inner Seahawk. Somewhere Pete Carroll was grimacing at what he watched.

This is not to suggest that Ryan or Jones should be jettisoned and outgoing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan should be replaced with a high-school coach who loves the double-wing.

This is to insist that the reputation of Mssrs. Belichick and Brady — their aura — makes people forget their damn common sense when you need it the most.

Common sense dictates you run the ball. It worked in the first half because it kept the Patriots on their toes. It would have worked in the second because it would have killed off most of the clock.

Run to set up the pass. Run to protect your quarterback. Run to protect the guy playing with a broken leg and for the love of the Lombardi Trophy, run to protect the lead.

Here ends the lesson. You should have learned it back in 2015.

Now we’re supposed to believe in Josh McDaniels?

In the nanoseconds after Jeff Fisher’s deserved dismissal as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, rumors started to circulate about potential successors. The Jim Harbaugh one was particularly hilarious, but at least it’s not distressing.

Current Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels? Now that’s one that will bring grief.

Here’s the logic from your local NFL beat writer: Well, he’s helped create a scoring machine in New England. He did coach the Denver Broncos. He’s only 40, so he must be an innovator. And he’s learned the game under the great Bill Belichick.

Oh, Belichick is excellent at what he does … but creating great future NFL coaches is not one of them. Since everything that builds up McDaniels’ resume stems from working with the great Bill Belichick, we can reach a conclusion that hiring him would be a disastrous move by the Rams.

How do we know?

Let’s take it apart brick by brick. First of all, the Patriots aren’t necessarily a great offense because of McDaniels. They have this guy playing quarterback that you might have heard of.

Yes, McDaniels did manage to open with a six-game winning streak in his first year with Denver. Then he followed that by losing the last four games of the season to miss the playoffs. Afterward, he convinced the Broncos to invest the 25th overall pick of 2010 on Tim Tebow. McDaniels was later fired when the Broncos started 2010 with a 3-9 record.

That was about six years ago. In the meantime, he also served as the Rams offensive coordinator. You don’t think they had their fill of him when he was with the franchise the first time?

Finally comes the alleged Belichick coaching lineage. You’ve learned under the master, right?

Wrong, at least at the NFL level. Nobody is going to question the accomplishments of former Belichick assistant Nick Saban at the college level. But six Belichick assistants have gotten at least one opportunity to lead an NFL team. Of that, only three managed to reach the NFL playoffs and two managed to win a playoff game — Eric Mangini and Bill O’Brien.

O’Brien is the only former Belichick assistant working as a head coach in the NFL. He’s currently trying to figure out how to win games with Brock Osweiler under center in Houston.

Other super geniuses from the tutelage of Belichick include Jim Schwartz, Al Groh and Romeo Crennel. As for college, Kirk Ferentz is well-respected in Iowa, but Charlie Weis reduced Notre Dame to rubble.

Which brings us back to McDaniels, who supposedly has the tool set to turn Jared Goff into Tom Brady.

Patriots assistant coaches are the cockroaches of professional football. The hype that surrounds them — this aura in a hoodie syndrome — convinces beat writers to argue on their behalf. Make your team like the Patriots. Hire a Patriots assistant.

It’s the same argument that Madison Avenue made when it claimed wearing Uggz boots will land you in bed with Gisele Bundchen lookalikes. It’s fool’s gold. You have to pass on it.