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CAPACCIO: Bills can learn from Pederson's aggressive approach against Patriots

The Eagles head coach kept attacking the Patriots en route to a Super Bowl victory

Sal Capaccio
February 05, 2018 - 10:47 pm
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Early two-point conversions, going for it on 4th-and-goal late in the first half when a field goal gives you a six-point lead, a trick play throwing it to the quarterback on that same play.

Win or lose, Doug Pederson wasn’t going to leave anything on the field. The Philadelphia Eagles' head coach and offensive play-caller not only turned the pages of the playbook, he went really deep into it.

And that’s the way he had to coach to win Super Bowl LII.

What do we hear almost any time a team plays the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots?  

“Play keep-away."

"Grind the clock with the running game and keep Brady on the bench.”  

Pederson had his own response: “The heck with that!”

And that’s why there will be a parade down Broad Street Thursday, complete with all the confetti and one Lombardi Trophy.

Bills fans need to hope that head coach Sean McDermott and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, a former Patriots assistant, take the same approach against The Evil Empire when they meet them twice next season.

Counting the Super Bowl Sunday, the Patriots had four losses in 2017. In those four games, they averaged 28.75 points scored. That’s on OFFENSE. But the teams they faced in those games - the Chiefs, Panthers, Dolphins, and Eagles - scored 42, 33, 27, and 41, respectively, for an average of 35.75 points scored against the Patriots’ defense. Those teams attacked. They were aggressive. They didn’t sit back and let Brady just get to 20 points and win.

Of course, we still don’t know who the Bills’ quarterback will be in those two divisional contests. Maybe Tyrod Taylor, a veteran free agent, a rookie. I’m sure that will matter to the coaching staff.

But maybe it shouldn’t.

Bill O’Brien and the the Houston Texans didn’t care that they had rookie DeShaun Watson under center when they scored 33 points and had the Patriots beat until a controversial touchdown catch by New England in the final minute.  

Even Doug Marrone let Blake Bortles - yes, THAT Blake Bortles - throw 36 times in the AFC Championship game in an effort to beat the Patriots. Bortles finished with 23 completions for 293 yards and Jacksonville came within 2:48 of taking New England’s place in Minnesota Sunday.

And it goes further than that. Going back to 2001, the year this Patriots’ dynasty began, they’ve lost 10 playoff games. In those games, they’ve allowed an average of just under 28 points per-contest. They allowed 33 or more points in three of them. The lesson: the teams that have beaten the Patriots in the playoffs have done it by scoring, not sitting back and hoping to play good enough defense.

At halftime of the Super Bowl, Pederson told NBC’s Michele Tafoya, “We had just gone all the way down the field and I wasn’t going to stop. I wasn’t going to let our offense be stopped on the one yard line,” when asked about the 4th-and-goal call.  

He might as well have been talking about the entire gameplan and philosophy, and what it takes to beat the Patriots, because they didn’t stop. Pederson kept calling an aggressive game and quarterback Nick Foles kept executing it. Their reward was The City of Brotherly Love’s first-ever Super Bowl title.

For too long, the rest of the league has been too scared to take the aggressive approach against the scary Patriots. They’ve tried to beat them by slowing the game down, grinding out the clock, and keeping Tom Brady off the field. Pederson showed once again what others have discovered before: when the boogeyman appears don’t run and hide. Face him head-on and use everything you’ve got.

I’m not sure how much ammo McDermott and Daboll will have next season, but whenever they play the Big Bad Patriots, they need to use all of it and come out swinging.


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