Super Bowl 53: A Defensive Masterpiece

    Quarterback, Tom Brady, after the Patriots win the Superbowl
    Quarterback, Tom Brady, after the Patriots win the Superbowl
    Courtesy of Getty Images

    It is hard to find the exact words to describe Super Bowl 53. Some people may call it an epic battle between the weathered Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, versus the young blooded Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores, a long time pupil of now Detroit Lions defensive mastermind head coach, Matt Patricia. After eight years of being under Patricia’s tutelage, Flores produced a Patriots defense that turned an average player like Stephon Gilmore into an All-Pro and ranked second in opposing team’s yardage per game [holding them to a mere 295 yards]. These two men together clashed in what resulted in the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history, with a total of 16 combined points. To a casual viewer, this game might have been dull and boring. In an NFL season that brought high powered offenses and exciting shootouts between young quarterbacks, this one game happened to be the exact opposite. Instead of complaining about what people would have liked the Super Bowl to have been and what they felt was exciting, it is time to accept what happened. This game was a defensive masterpiece.

    There are many men behind the defensive success of the Rams, but none more that the previously mentioned Phillips. Before being a defensive coordinator, Phillips had successful years as the Head Coach for teams such as The Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys. Phillips ran the traditional 3-4 defense the entire season where he strategically selected rising talent to pair with veterans to help mentor the young guys.

    The 2018 offseason for the Rams was spent making key trades to beef up their secondary and aid their pass defense. March 14th, the Rams made a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs that sent stud defensive back and former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Marcus Peters, to L.A. In his previous three seasons with Kansas City, Peters had tallied a total of 19 regular season interceptions [21 including postseason]. The next big secondary move made by the Rams was trading for former Broncos All-Pro corner, Aqib Talib. In Talib’s ten year stint as a pro, he has a combined total of 34 interceptions and ten pick sixes to nicely go along. The Rams sent a fifth-round pick for him.

    It is impossible to mention the Rams defensive without talking about hands down the best defensive player in football, Aaron Donald. This past offseason after becoming Defensive Player of the Year, the Rams signed Donald to a six-year 135 million dollar contract making him the highest defensive player in football. Donald responded to this contract by having one of the greatest seasons  by a defensive tackle ever. Donald production improved, racking up a total of 20.5 sacks, only behind the NFL record set by the New York Football Giants Hall of Fame Defensive Linemen, Michael Strahan.

    Resilience. That is the best way of describing The New England Patriots and what their defense was able to do in stopping the most productive and efficient offense in the NFL. There is no doubt that the resilience and toughness showed by The Patriots is all thanks to their Defensive Play Caller, Brian Flores. Flores has served almost like a Swiss Army knife in the Patriots organization, taking obscure and lesser known jobs almost everywhere.

    Talking about The Patriots defense is strange because, in full honesty, they do not have many standout players or superstars like the Rams do. One notable player, however, is seventh-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore spent the bulk of his career as a member of the suffering Buffalo Bills and gladly signed to the ultra-successful Patriots once he became a free agent. As a member of the Patriots, Gilmore breathed life into his career and became one of the best 22 players in the NFL, making it on The First Team All-Pro Team. During the season he became an elite pass defender and is now known as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

    It is strange to think that The Patriots have the best-run defense in the NFL when they do not even have a single Pro Bowler on the defensive line or in their average linebackers core. One player, however, who has been quietly putting up borderline elite numbers is young 23-year-old defensive linemen Trey Flowers. In Flower’s short four year NFL career he has yet to make a Pro Bowl, but for the last three seasons, he has averaged at least six and a half sacks a season.

    In short, Super Bowl 53 ended in a 13-3 Patriots win. The Patriot’s defense stunned third-year quarterback Jared Goff, and with key plays made by Jason McCourty defending a game-tying touchdown pass to catch everything receiver Brandin Cooks, and a critical late-game interception by Stephon Gilmore, The Patriots completed the upset. The Rams defense initially started strong when cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman picked off Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on his first pass attempt of the game, but the inability for the Rams offense to stay on the field tired the defense and caused the Rams to give up ten unanswered Patriot points in the fourth quarter. To casual fans, the story of Super Bowl 53 may be Brady capturing his sixth Lombardi Trophy and solidifying his G.O.A.T. status, but to the educated fan it was clear the battle of the two defenses was so epic and was a beauty to watch.      

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    Joey Pickel
    Joey Pickel, Sports Editor
    Joey Pickel is a senior and The Sentry's Sports Editor. This is his fourth year on staff.

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